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Dark Knight
11th Jan 2009, 02:09
In Nashville, a Ballot Measure That May Quiet All but English By ROBBIE BROWN Published: January 10, 2009
Edited for Length - Full version here: NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/us/11english.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

NASHVILLE — In crisp Japanese, the metropolitan councilman read aloud his resolution to limit Nashville government workers to communicating only in English.

Eric Crafton, the metropolitan councilman behind the proposal, calls the plan English First.

"It’s part of a larger problem," David Morales said of the plan.

"Kono jyoukyou wa kaeru bekidesu," said the councilman, Eric Crafton, who is fluent in Japanese. Translated, it meant, "This situation must change."

The fact that few people, if any, attending the council meeting understood Mr. Crafton proved his point. Nashville, like most cities in the country, allows government officials to communicate in any language they choose, and Mr. Crafton wants to end that practice.

In a proposal that has defined him publicly and dominated local politics for two years, Mr. Crafton hopes to make Nashville the largest city in the United States to prohibit the government from using languages other than English, with exceptions allowed for issues of health and safety. On Jan. 22, city residents will vote on the proposal, which Mr. Crafton calls English First and critics call English Only.

"I happened to see a state legislature meeting in California where several of the state representatives had interpreters at their desk because they couldn’t speak English," Mr. Crafton said. "That’s not the vision I have for Nashville."

But the vision he does have for Nashville — and eventually America — has drawn criticism from Mayor Karl Dean and a broad coalition of civil rights groups, business leaders, ministers and immigration experts. The leaders of nine institutions of higher education in Nashville wrote an opinion article in The Tennessean newspaper opposing the proposal, which they said would sully the city’s reputation for tolerance and diversity.

"The irony of the city known as the ‘Athens of the South’ becoming the first major metropolitan community in America to pass ‘English only’ is a distressing prospect," they wrote.

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, in a rare alliance with liberal groups like the Green Party, has opposed the proposal for business reasons.

"Economics is global, and to be competitive you cannot drive away immigrants and the businesses that rely on them," said Ralph J. Schulz, the chamber president. "Businesses from outside Nashville have been calling and saying, ‘Is Nashville a xenophobic place?’ "
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Ah! A little commonsense begins to creep in at last.

This movement requires full support, maybe peaceful demonstrations in the streets further promoting the ideals.

Can be made made bigger than Saving the Whales, Global Warming and done proper, bring about an end to the GFC (global financial crisii.)

DK

Peter Fanelli
11th Jan 2009, 02:14
I wish I could vote in favor of it, but I'm in the next county.

birrddog
11th Jan 2009, 02:58
I wish I could vote for that.

When I took my drivers license written test in NY I had ~ 16 languages to choose from.

It was needless to say a little disconcerting to think that one did not have to prove a basic level of English or ability to read road signs (the non picture ones) in order to drive in this state.

Explained a bit (amongst other experiences getting a NY drivers license) why taxi drivers are so bad....

And before anyone thinks I am being insensitive, they didn't offer my mother tongue as one of the options, which I would have found equally silly.

If they had English, Spanish, and the other Native American languages I could understand, but 14 non "American" languages seems a bit silly.

arcniz
11th Jan 2009, 08:08
Wikipedia has an interesting entry about the number of languages spoken in the USA at LINK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_United_States)

"Approximately 337 languages are spoken or signed by the population, of which 176 are indigenous to the area."


One recalls reading that California spends in the hundreds of millions of public $$ annually to accommodate non-English readers-speakers in schools and other government services.

ORAC
11th Jan 2009, 09:30
Multi-Lingual England: (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000786/)

Of the pupils whose first language is known or believed to be other than English, specific language was provided for almost 79% of pupils; for these 79% of pupils, some 240 different languages were recorded.

Non-English Languages (Excel download): (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000786/Language081b.xls)

Panjabi: 102,570
Urdu: 85,250
Bengali: 70,320
Gujarati: 40,880
Somali: 32,030
Polish : 26,840
Arabic: 25,800
Portuguese:16,560
Turkish: 16,460
Tamil: 15,460
French: 15,310
Yoruba: 13,920
Chinese: 13,380
Spanish: 10,000
Persian/Farsi: 8,510
Albanian/Shqip: 8,350
Other Language: 8,160
Tagalog/Filipino: 7,990
Akan/Twi-Fante: 7,230
Pashto/Pakhto: 7,090
Hindi: 6,740
Italian: 5,090
Nepali: 4,860
German: 4,500
Shona: 4,420
Lithuanian: 4,350
Swahili/Kiswahili: 4,180
Malayalam: 4,030
Greek: 4,010
Russian: 3,840
Kurdish: 3,740
Lingala: 2,850
Vietnamese: 2,790
Caribbean Creole English: 2,670
Igbo: 2,610
Dutch/Flemish: 2,530
Slovak: 2,510
Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian: 2,170
Czech: 1,870
Japanese: 1,700
Thai: 1,570
Pahari (Pakistan): 1,490
Luganda: 1,470
Korean: 1,430
Romanian: 1,420
Tigrinya: 1,310
Sinhala: 1,260
Bulgarian: 1,220
Caribbean Creole French: 1,120
Katchi: 1,050
Amharic: 1,050
Malay/Indonesian: 1,020
Other language codes (189 categories, each recording less than 1,000 pupils): 20,860

Farmer 1
11th Jan 2009, 09:33
For once, I agree with a politician. In particular, that American bloke who said, "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for me."

tony draper
11th Jan 2009, 09:49
Yer we didn't give you your independence to have a load of folks wandering about the place talking furrin.
:rolleyes:

BlueWolf
11th Jan 2009, 10:12
Heh, it cracks me up that we have umpteen various Governmental publications duplicated in a dozen or so Pacific Islands languages, when most of the speakers of same can't read or write, and none of the languages had a written form anyway until the white man came along and phoneticised them.

Incidentally New Zealand has two official languages, Maori and Sign Language. English is not an official language here :uhoh::confused:

blue up
11th Jan 2009, 14:50
Here in Wales (The bit hanging to the left side of England) we have English as the first official language but the local Welsh is also much in use. All road signs here are meant to be bilingual. There is a translator online who sends translations direct to the printer for inclusion on the sign.

BBC NEWS | Wales | E-mail error ends up on road sign (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7702913.stm)


In English the sign said...."No entry to heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only"

But below it, in Welsh, it said..."I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated". :}

bnt
11th Jan 2009, 16:33
I think it's important that there be one common language, for the sake of communication. It doesn't matter what language it is, as long as everyone speaks it. I think English is the best candidate, because of how flexible and resilient it is, and thus how easy it is for non-native speakers to make a start in it. I don't care if it's "superior" or not, only how easy it is to learn. I could imagine learning Esperanto for the same reasons, if necessary.

By comparison, Japanese, which I started learning a few years ago, is incredibly finicky: a slight error in tone can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Then you find out that you've been learning "school Japanese", which is very different from that spoken on the street, or on TV - so you still can't understand what anyone's saying. :ugh:

CUNIM
11th Jan 2009, 16:37
Hey BNT - try Welsh, they can't understand each other if from different areas of Wales.:confused: