[lg policy] Connecticut: Atticus Bookstore's Management Reviewing Language Policy

Stan-sandy Anonby stan-sandy_anonby at SIL.ORG
Tue Jan 26 21:53:38 UTC 2010

Publicly speaking a (minority?) language in the earshot of majority speakers generally makes them uncomfortable. 

Even interjecting foreign word with foreign phonology makes hearers uncomfortable. For instance, if I'm speaking English in North America, and I interject a Spanish word with Spanish pronunciation, I notice I get dark looks. English speakers find it grating. If, however, I use an anglicized pronunciation, nobody minds. In Brazil, where I live, people often interject English words in their sentences. But if I'm speaking Portuguese, and I interject an English word, with English pronunciation, people think I'm snobby. (Other bilinguals have told me they get a similar reaction). However, if I talk Portuguese and use the same English word, but with a Brazilian accent, nobody minds. 

My family is bilingual, but English dominant. However, in public, we usually either try to speak Portuguese or remain silent. The reason is, we get a feeling speaking English in public in Brazil makes people feel awkward. 

I'm certainly in favour of people having the right to speak Spanish. However, I seem to have run into this problem of speaking a minority language in public in various countries. People who can speak majority languages often feel uncomfortable when others speak languages they can't understand. They even find it grating when you use words with foreign phonology. So I understand motivated Atticus. 

Stan Anonby

On Sun, 24 Jan 2010 09:14:38 -0500
 Harold Schiffman <hfsclpp at gmail.com> wrote:
>Atticus Bookstore's Management Reviewing Language Policy
>January 23, 2010
>NEW HAVEN — - Here in this liberal stronghold, the news that Atticus
>Bookstore and Café had imposed a policy restricting employees to
>speaking English in public areas has been greeted by widespread
>criticism. But it took most people a beat or two to get to the harsh
>words. "Atticus?" said lawyer Steven D. Jacobs in disbelief. "You're
>kidding me."
>Especially in recent years, New Haven has gone out of its way to
>distinguish itself as a place welcoming to immigrants, regardless of
>their legal status. Atticus appeared to fit comfortably, even
>enthusiastically, into this mosaic. A stalwart for more than 30 years
>in a rapidly changing downtown, Atticus prided itself on its quality
>baked goods, promoted the arts and environmental causes and fostered
>an air of multiculturalism at its Chapel Street location in the
>building that houses the Yale Center for British Art.
>"A lot of people are shocked that Atticus is doing this," said Deborah
>Malatesta, a spokeswoman for the New Haven Workers Association, the
>group that publicized the policy after it was contacted by two angry
>Atticus employees. In a statement released Friday, owner Charles
>Negaro said media reports of an English-only policy are not true.
>"If these news reports have offended anyone, I am sorry," said Negaro,
>who also owns the Chabatta Bakery in New Haven's Fair Haven
>neighborhood. "Atticus managers and staff are reviewing our policy of
>appropriate language usage to determine how we can avoid
>misrepresentations of this kind in the future." That does not go far
>enough for Malatesta, who said the intent of the policy recently
>posted in the store was explicit.
>"Here we speak English: effective immediately the official and only
>language spoken on the floor and behind the counter is English," said
>the memo, signed by manager Jean Récapet, who is trilingual and had
>been known to speak his native French in the store. "Spanish is
>allowed in the prep area, the dishwasher area and the lower level.
>Let's make our customers feel welcome and comfortable." Malatesta said
>one worker who complained about the policy was fired this week and
>should be rehired. A demonstration is planned for noon today in front
>of the bookstore. In an interview Friday, Récapet said the policy was
>to "encourage the usage of English," which he acknowledged was
>different from English only. He declined to comment on the fired
>worker. "English is the primary language in this business," he said.
>Negaro has a reputation as a socially responsible, model businessman,
>who frequently contributes to community causes, said Kica Matos, who
>has worked with the local immigrant community for nine years. As New
>Haven's community services administrator in 2007, Matos led the drive
>to create the Elm City identification card, which earned national
>attention because it was made available to immigrants even if they
>weren't in the country legally. "We have always considered Charles a
>friend of the immigrant community and a supporter of immigrants'
>rights, so this is really surprising," Matos said. New Haven Alderman
>Joseph E. Rodriguez said he had patronized the café and was so stunned
>by the news he insisted on seeing the policy for himself before he
>fully believed it. Then he shot off a letter to Negaro calling it
>"troubling, divisive and discriminatory."
>Despite management's promise to review the policy, Rodriguez said
>Friday, "My concerns still stand."
>Jacobs, the attorney, has represented workers who have been fired for
>violating English-only policies. He said federal and state laws permit
>such a policy, but only if it is necessary to promote the productivity
>and efficiency of a business or for a safety concern.
>"This policy appears to address none of those things," Jacobs said.
>In the bustling café Friday, Récapet said management was "working very
>hard" on reviewing its policy and appeared confident that the
>controversy would soon pass. He said he was proud that he started an
>English tutoring program a few years ago that partnered store
>employees with Yale students. About 14 employees currently
>participate, with Atticus paying for books and materials, he said.
>When a customer complimented him for selling a good cup of coffee for
>only $1, he smiled broadly. "And it's organic and free trade," he
>N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
>its members
>and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
>or sponsor of the list as to the veracity of a message's contents.
>Members who disagree with a message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.
>(H. Schiffman, Moderator)
>For more information about the lgpolicy-list, go to
>This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
>lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
>To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list