Thursday, July 10, 2008

English is the universal language

Red Herring alert: Senator Obama uses one of the oldest tricks in the politician's book. He accuses his opponent of something opponent did not do. Then tears him up for what he did not do. Obama accused McCain of proposing "English only," which, I presume, is not allowing any other language to be spoken in the USA. McCain proposed making English the official language of the US, which would require that all government communication be in English, but does not otherwise restrict the speaking of Spanish or any other language. Red State Obama ignores the fact that Americans speak English in Europe, in part, because everyone else does. English is the language of the world. We did a half-day elephant "trek" in Pattaya, Thailand last year. The entire tour was conducted in English, of course. There were about 50 people from Russia, Europe, India, Malta, the US and we were together for 3 to 4 hours. My wife and I were the only native speakers of English. If there were no universal language this business would have to conduct several tours in specific languages and many customers would either stay away or go on a tour where they understood little or nothing. Speaking English in other countries may be the favorite sin of American elitists, but it is how the woman from Brazil speaks to people from Norway, Japan and Vanuatu. And it's how she communicates with the hotel desk clerk. The elephant trek was a highlight of our trip. We have a photo of the khan - elephant trainer - speaking on his cell phone while riding on the elephant's neck. Update. Time Magazine says that the French are the most despised Western tourists - impolite, prone to loud carping and inattentive to local customs. Most Obnoxious Tourists? The French - Yahoo! News:
American tourists top the list of tourists credited with trying to speak local languages the most, with the French, Chinese, Japanese, Italians and Russians coming in last in the local language rankings
John Hinderaker observes:
Does Obama really not know that for the last several decades, every school district in America has been relentlessly pushing the study of foreign languages? Is he unaware that it is now commonplace for American high school students to travel abroad in school groups to practice their German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and so on?

2 comments:

Bill Chapman said...

As a British citizen, I won't commrent on American politics, but I will comment on a linguistic matter. I would like to argue the case for learning and usinf Esperanto. It is a planned language which belongs to no one country or group of states. Take a look at www.esperanto.net

Esperanto works! I've used it in speech and writing in a dozen countries over recent years. What do you think?

Ron said...

The tour guide at the elephant trek didn't speak Esperanto. If he had, how many of his customers would have requested a refund because they didn't?