We are them . . .
A month ago there was a News story that could have been written (and been true) any time during the past century and a half. What it said was that over 20% of the people in our area speak some language, other than English, in their homes. And I shrugged and thought ‘what else is new’?
The next paragraph told me what’s new, and it was an 180% away from what I expected or has ever gone before. This time we were told of the ten languages most spoken, (not counting English) and then listed the words that we had better learn to speak and understand.
Anyway the top ten languages listed as needed (wanted?) today, and world wide, are: besides English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tongan, Chinese, Samoan, German, Serbo/Croatian, French, Portuguese and Russian.
Never before have we been advised to change our basic language. People come here for many reasons, they want to become part of us, and it’s been taken for granted that those who come would begin learning how to speak English.
My Dad came as a child with all his three R’s training in Sweden. And his Dad, was busy making a place for that family, and so ten or eleven year old Dad, knew it was up to him to learn to understand and speak English. And he did and, being both wily and smart, he found a book that had been dropped, and pushed around on the sidewalk, so he rescued it and made it his own.
It was the Book of ‘SHE’ , by Rider Haggard and was an Egyptian love story, (sexy for its day) but that book with the help of a slightly older American friend, Dad learned to read and speak English. Bet that was far from what Haggard had in mind when he wrote the tale, although the book is still published and read. Dad would be amused.
If your family has been here for a long time, you know how it worked. Perhaps the grandparents clung to their original language, but the younger ones turned to English, and often the children were chastised if they reverted to their childhood lingo, rather than the new English words.
At one time the Catholic church ran the world which was then those countries around the Mediterranean Sea, and so Latin was the then-known world’s most used language, and remains so in categories, such as legal, medical, and Spiritual writings. Music loved and still clings to the Romance languagaes, of Italian and French.
But then as the known world grew, the World Power gradually shifted from the Pope to Merchants, the business people of the world, who bought and sold cloth, food, jewels, seeds and such in all countries.
China was ahead in being aware of the need of a universal language, and knowing it could not be Chinese, they began requiring English classes for all higher education majors, no matter what the subject and they sent their young men to the U.S. to learn our ways. They were way ahead in their awareness and thinking.
Today, if one wants to do business around the world, people must know English and Business classes in schools in all major countries, teach our language. It was and is a Business necessity.
But is all the above foretelling another period of change???? The recent article even told us which words we should make part of our every day language. What a shift in emphasis, for in other times, right here, it was the aim of THEM to learn English, as their future language. One of the first thoughts of Mormon immigrants, and our learning theirs never considered.
What a difference and also what a different news story. We well know that the dominant world language has changed before, so what’s going on??? What language do those in-the-know think the next world language will be? Spanish???
Worth thinking about, and considering how the people who speak that language are becoming part of our very neighborhoods, developing their own shopping malls, churches and schools. Yeah, it’s happened before, and are our Daily Newspapers now alerting us of changes already in the making? Worth thinking about.