English Only, Only English

I have discovered I LOVE learning another language. It is like this massive puzzle (infinite, really) where you are doled out a few pieces each day and try to fit them together. To make it more exciting, you can earn additional pieces by reading books or magazine, watching movies or TV, or speaking with the locals. (Although in the last case, if the locals are drunk they might give you a piece that belongs to an entirely different puzzle which you aren’t necessarily interested in constructing. You won’t know this until you try to use the piece and someone laughs at you. Good times.)

A group of us were chatting at the break from German class about languages, and Bernhard, our teacher, commented on how people from the UK or NA frequently only speak English. Oh, I am well aware, and I think it is a complete travesty, as well as being fairly embarrassing. Bernhard made a good point that you really learn the grammar in your own language only when you study another language. Which is why some schools still teach Latin. And of course there is the whole narrow-focused perspective thing. Discussions about the language inevitably lead to topics about different countries’ culture, people, food, clothing and customs. Of course, I am additionally blessed in this course, as everyone else is from a different continent from me so I am pushed even further to think outside the tiny North American box (or I should say cube, this being the high-tech generation.)

Whenever I have this English-only discussion, it always reminds of my favourite post on Stuff White People Like: #78 on the list: Multilingual Children. It starts out:

All white people want their children to speak another language. There are no exceptions. They dream about the children drifting in between French and English sentences as they bustle about the kitchen while they read the New York Times and listen to Jazz.

As white people age, they start to feel more and more angry with their parents for raising them in a monolingual home. At some point in their lives, most white people attempt to learn a second language and are generally unable to get past ordering in a restaurant or over-pronouncing a few key words. This failure is not attributed to their lack of effort, but rather their parents who didn’t teach them a new language during their formative years.

White people believe that if they had been given French language instruction when they were younger, their lives would have turned out very differently. Instead of living in the US, they would be living and working abroad for the United Nations or some other organization with a headquarters in Switzerland or The Hague.

Sometimes I swear these people have a wire tap directly into my brain (see Grammar, Bad Memories of High School and Apologies), which would be deeply disturbing if it wasn’t so hilarious. And I should point out that this website is specifically referring to American White People, which can usually be transferred pretty easily to Canadian White People. Being a European White Person is the end goal…so in effect, by moving to Austria and learning German I have hit the jackpot in terms of white person ideology, as long as I get passed ordering in a restaurant that is.


One Response to “English Only, Only English”

  1. Brian Barker says:

    I see that Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wants all schools in the city to teach Latin. However I would prefer Esperanto, not only because of its relative ease of learning, but because it has great propaedeutic values, also.

    A glimpse of the language can be seen at http://www.lernu.net