Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Making Things Better

I've had it. I'm sick of the racist, clueless discussion on what we should do about illegal immigration, and the posturing over making English the national language in the U.S. We need to be focusing on making things better (thank you, bfp), not scapegoating and making things worse.

The solution to illegal immigration is not building fences and establishing English as the national language. To get to a solution, we have to examine why things are happening as they are, and then deal with those issues. That's not sexy, you can't put it in a sound bite, and it also requires treating illegal immigrants as human beings.

My solution: I'm going to learn Spanish.

This is no minor gesture. I'm not a person who can learn multiple languages easily. I took Spanish for 4 years in high school and apparently learned nothing. Giving up on my ability to learn Spanish, I took French in college. I remembered just enough Spanish to drive my French teacher up the wall. Apparently all of my articles and pronouns were coming out in Spanish.

French teacher, near tears: "spotted, this is French class. Please stop speaking Spanish!"

spotted elephant: "I'm speaking Spanish!"

So I'm going to study Spanish again. Being able to communicate with people who aren't exactly like you is a really wonderful thing. We should be encouraging Americans to learn more than one language. It can promote cognitive flexibility, decrease nationalism, and provide the opportunity for Americans to appreciate other cultures.

My Spanish studies will begin in earnest once I finish my book on HTML. I can only handle so much at a time. But I'm going to learn. My first word:

conejo

Conejo means rabbit. What a shock, huh?

17 comments:

Amy's Brain Today said...

Oooh, oooh oooh, coneJITO! That means BUNNY!

Yo te escribire en espanol para practicar!!!!!!

Or I will when you get that far. :)

spotted elephant said...

Thank you! When I looked it up, I also saw how to say "rabbit stew". :(

I didn't know you spoke Spanish! That's excellent. I think your sentence says you will write to me in Spanish so I can practice. That may be a long wait. ;)

hexyhex said...

What a great idea, SE. Sometimes the smaller and more personal gestures really mean a lot.

And yeah... I've been completely stumped by this bizarre idea that it's patriotic and wonderful to only speak one language and prevent others from speaking any other. WTF?? Yeah, let's shape our countries into closed off phyles that can't communicate with anyone else! That's really doing ourselves a favour!!

Madame DeBarge said...

Actually, learning to speak spanish will open up a wide variety of jobs for you in the Pacific Northwest. Most of the city jobs I see advertised are for bilingual people, and they generally are looking for spanish speaker here.
I took French for 2 years in high school, and also don't speak it. I wish they would start teaching it in kindergarten, like other countries do with English. Reade has kids in his classes that speak it, and asks me about it. I can count to nine. Maybe.

Kim said...

Oh fer ...

Tuve espanol en high school and college. Pero ahora, olvide (?) tan mucho -- especailly all those damn verb forms!

Tengo mucho "clients" de Puerto Rico. A veces, hablo un poquito espanol con ellos. Tengo VERY VERY media of looking stupid!

You know what tho? Most of the Puerto Rican folks in my neighboring town are fully bilingual or learning or not afraid to speak the English they know. And here I am terrified by my quasi-intellectual fear that I'll sound stupid.

Had a family come in earlier this week -- he spoke English, she didn't. I looked at her, shrugged and said "Lo ciento." ("I'm sorry.") Still, she understood that and corny dumb-ass as it sounds, there was a flicker of understanding and a smile between us.

Son of a --!
I'm going to hone my Spanish!
I am!
Thanks, SE!

Oh and caballito!
Horsie!

Kim said...

I believe that should have been "Lo siento."

I have a lllllong way to go!
But: GATITO is kitty :)

L. Wu said...

¡Buenas suerte!

spotted elephant said...

Kaka-Thank you for translating.

L.Wu-Please help me. What did you say? "Buena" is the feminine form of good, I think.

Mandy said...

Kaninchen is German for rabbit. It is one of my favorite words.

cameo said...

after spending 6 years in San Antonio, all I know is how to tell my dog to come 'here'. but everybody thinks it's great i have a 'spanish speaking' dog.

Justjuliefornow said...

"Buena suerte" is "good luck", Yo entiendo y hablo un poco espanol, para es necestitas para todos personas hablan muy despacio.

Very poorly that says, "I understand and speak a little Spanish, but it's necessary that all persons speak very slowly.

Important thing to know, "Como se dice...? What/how do you call this?

I went here, http://www.spanishdict.com/ to check on one of the words.

quakerdave said...

What? What do you mean, no more scapegoating? Then who, pray tell, we will blame all of our problems on? What will have to talk about, if not how all those little brown people are ruining America, with their funny talk? Why work to make things better, when you can have so much fun treading water in the muck?

Goo luck with the Spanish. I wish I had the time to learn. It would come in handy, and it would be cool to be able to read Spanish or Mexican literature in the original. (How unAmerican of me.)

I had the chance in high school, and wasted two years faking my way through German.

quakerdave said...

... and pardon my myriad typos. I obviously am still having trouble with ENGLISH...

Mary said...

Go go gadget languages!

This year I plan on polishing up my shitty French and learning a little German on the side. We should start a second-language support group or something.

BloggingMone said...

Your post has put a big smile on my face. Your country is so big that you can travel forever and everyone (well almost) is still speaking English. And even if you travel abroad, you are very likely to find people speaking English. Germany is very small and is sourrounded by 9 different countries with different languages. So whenever I put a foot over the border, I am confronted with another language. Europe still isn't as big as the States and we already have 26 official languages. And no one in the world seems to speak German. As Quakerdave said, faking one's way through German classes seems to be a good idea. It seems to be an awful language to learn. For us it is just everyday life to pick up bits of foreign languages and to use them. Viel Spass beim Spanisch lernen!

Suebob said...

Bienvenidos a una nueva lengua, Spotted. Podemos practicar conjunto!

spotted elephant said...

QuakerDave-By the very *end* of my French classes, I could read snippets of French literature and understand them (you know, without stopping to translate each word), and it was fantastic!

Mary-A support group would be wonderful. As much as I am excited about learning, I'm dreading fighting my brain every step of the way.

Bloggingmone-I always thought that was one of the greatest things about Europe-that recognition that everyone around you speaks different languages, so *of course* you pick it up. So you don't end up language-challenged like Americans!

Suebob-I think you said something nice and helpful, so thank you. :)