Phi Beta Cons

Bilingualism Growing

I find alarming that the presidential candidates are going to hold a Spanish-language debate.  This would seem to indicate that there are voting citizens in the U.S.–that is, people born here or who have been here long enough to become citizens–who don’t understand English well enough to follow an English-language debate.  Either that or it indicates a political agenda–the desire to impress upon America that it is becoming a bilingual country, and the desire to show that there are the numbers and the clout to make this happen.  
The other day I saw on cable television one of those small-claims court shows, with a real judge and a real dispute and a real legal settlement, and behind the judge was a U.S. flag and the whole thing was entirely in Spanish.  (I actually enjoyed the show, aside from being alarmed at what it indicated.)
Even if the first generation (meaning those born in the U.S. with at least one foreign-born parent) and second and third generations are speaking English, as immigration supporters say (something I’m not really sure of–a fully bilingual friend finds that many are adept in neither language)–but even if we grant that the generations born here are fluent in  English, if the immigrant generation continues to be so large and constantly replenished by immigration, we will have huge and growing Spanish-speaking enclaves that ipso facto make us a bilingual country, with an enormous number of people needing services in Spanish.  As indeed we discover practically every time we pick up a phone. 


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