Friday, September 15, 2006

immigration a threat to English language usage?

There was a Reuters story this week about a recent academic study reassuring Americans that immigrants won't be a threat to the use of English language usage.

U.S. citizens concerned that Latino immigrants will have them singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish can rest easy, according to an academic study published on Wednesday.

A report in the Population and Development Review found that far from threatening the dominance of English, most Latin American immigrants to the United States lose their ability to speak Spanish over the course of a few generations.

It concluded that by the third generation, most descendants of immigrants are "linguistically dead" in their mother tongue.

See - Reuters article
Also - (PDF) article Linguistic Life Expectancies: Immigrant Language Retention in Southern California by Rubén G. Rumbaut, Douglas S. Massey, and Frank D. Bean

It is quite astounding that the loss of a language ability is gauged in such a positive manner, and the expectation of immigrants to lose their mother tongue in favour of English. Rather, they should be encouraged to retain their mother tongue and learn English, thus becoming bilingual. And that should apply to the generations that come after.

All people should try and learn as many languages as they can, instead of giving up one language in favour of another.

In Europe, most people speak at least two languages. In some countries like the Czech Republic and Switzerland, most people speak three or four languages.

In Australia, there is a moral panic at the moment about new immigrants not learning English. Thankfully, they are no longer expected to lose their mother tongues entirely.

We are multilingual in my household. There was a time when my human only spoke to me in German, so in response I meowed back to him in French. That little experiment didn't last very long.

*For more kitty thoughts, check out Camilla.


My human was a little late this morning so I ended up doing a poo while he was still here. Oh, how embarrassment! My human had to clean my butt fur before he went to work. I think pork is on the banned list now.

This evening Emily is here! Woohoo! The humans had a salad for dinner made with poached Atlantic salmon (farmed from Tasmania), boiled eggs, cos lettuce, grape tomatoes, Lebanese cucumber etc. We are watching a semi-final game of football between the Fremantle Dockers (Freo) and the Melbourne Demons.


Blogger Phodetheus said...

There is was a Reuters story this week about a recent academic study reassuring Americans that immigrants won't be a threat to the use of English language usage.

Want to bet??? Whilst being detained by US Immigration most of the conversations going on in there were in spanish. Ironically between officers and those being let in to the USA without any trouble whilst English people were being made to feel very uncomfortable.

see for more details.

Saturday, 16 September, 2006  
Blogger Keiser said...

I read your blog details. The problem you encountered was primarily relating to the entry visa (or waiver of) arrangements by the cruise ship. This would have felt even worse as you could not make yourself understood. The language problem wasn't the cause, and shouldn't have been a problem. Did you take this up with the American Embassy in London?

Saturday, 16 September, 2006  

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