update -- English-only rules Univision's Spanish-language presidential debate
debaron at uiuc.edu
Mon Sep 10 02:34:45 UTC 2007
Now that the debate has aired, there's an updated version of this
post, with more pix and analysis of breaking news...
There's a new post on the Web of Language:
English-only rules Univision's Spanish-language presidential debate
On Sunday, Sept. 9, the Univision cable network and the University of
Miami host the first Democratic presidential debate aimed
specifically at Hispanic voters, and although the participants will
be required to answer questions in English, those questions will be
asked in Spanish, making this an event likely to enrage the English-
only crowd, which strongly opposes any public display of Spanish.
Historically, opposition to languages other than English in the
United States has been a veiled attack on immigrants (including as
foreigners in their own land both Native Americans and Spanish
settlers who came to the New World before the Anglos).
With immigration a hot-button issue in the current presidential race,
language-waving has become the equivalent of flag-waving, because
it’s not always politically correct to say, “I hate you, go back
where you came from,” especially on national TV, but it’s OK to say,
“We speak English. So should you, if you know what I mean?”
Seeing and hearing other languages makes monolingual English speakers
want to market their own language more insistently to nonanglophones
or to wrap it in legal protections. Earlier this year Newt Gingrich
suggested that Spanish was the language of the ghetto, while English
was the language of money. That was before the housing bubble burst
and the dollar began to plunge.
If English won’t guarantee riches, then at least it will keep the
country in one piece, say English-only supporters. Adding to the
fear that immigrants and their languages, most of them perceived to
be illegal, are turning one nation into many, and that English is the
only thing that can keep our increasingly-fragile union whole, the
ever-eloquent Tom Tancredo proclaimed during the CNN Republican
debate, “We need that thing to hold us together.”
Find out more about the great Univision debate
on the Web of Language
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801
read the Web of Language:
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