by MALU BRADFORD BEYONCE
Why are people so scared of different languages? Not so long ago I saw a verbal war on an online garage sale blog because two people had a conversation in Spanish. It went back and forth and of course, just like most things that deal with culture, it got nasty.
I was born in El Paso, a border town. I spent half of my life there. I am ashamed to say my Spanish is very remedial. When you grow up in a border town, hearing Spanish is a daily event. El Paso was extra special because it also has a military base, Ft. Hood, within its county. I was exposed to so many different cultures and languages. Speaking a different language was an everyday occurrence.
© 2014, MaLu Bradford Beyonce During the Super Bowl there was a lot of controversy about the song, “America the Beautiful,” being sung in several languages other than English. I didn’t comment on this controversy because I still to this day haven’t seen the commercial. I can’t have an unbiased opinion because I heard of the controversy before I saw the commercial.
I am on the fence about whether or not the United States of America should have some sort of standardized language. My brother’s first language is Spanish. I’m jealous of him. He speaks both English and Spanish. However, when he was about 8 or 9, I had to literally force him to speak English. Now, he thanks me for pushing him to speak English. I would tell him, he is in America and you need to speak English.
Of course I have nothing against Spanish speakers. My grandma’s first language was Spanish. It just seemed unnatural to live in Texas and not speak English at the time. I have to fight my thoughts of people who are so against Spanish speakers as being racist. They could have different valid reasons, that have nothing to do with race. The main reason I think you should do your best to speak and read English is because of feasibility. It cost so much more to print everything twice in two languages. To me, it just make economical sense. Now to my Spanish speakers, I am not against you. I am myself part Mexican and proud of it. I know there are some Spanish speakers that resist speaking English. Some of my own family belongs to this group. My maternal grandmother didn’t speak English at all. I have cousins that I am close to that do not speak English; however, they live in Juarez, Mexico. They are perfectly happy coming over to El Paso and can manage quite well without speaking English. A couple of them even work in El Paso but yet have not mastered the English language. I constantly debate with them, sometimes in Spanish, as to why it is important to not only know English but to speak English.
From multiple debates with friends and family, here are the top reasons I found as to why native Spanish speakers, choose to not speak English: 1. They simply don’t know it and don’t think they can learn it, 2. They are uncomfortable to the point of embarrassment when they try to speak English, 3. It’s a habit; they are so use to speaking Spanish, it is just natural to do so. 4. They don’t want to forget their culture and their language is one of the best ways to hold on to it. 5. It makes them feel good to speak Spanish even when they know English because they know a lot of people only speak one language. Yes, it makes them feel superior to know two languages. Let’s talk about point number five. I know alot of people don’t like it when people speak a different language in front of them because sometimes we immediately think they are doing it to talk about us or to deceive us in some way. I can understand that because it does happen. However, I have this motto. If I don’t say something to your face it is because I respect you. For example, if I tell my husband, man I don’t like her haircut but to your face tell you I think it is nice, it is out of respect. There are a lot of things we all say but would never say it to their face or want them to know we said it.
Same goes when something is said in a different language. I think there are more pressing matters in this country to have debates about that have more weight than different languages being used in America. I find it kind of ironic that a Super Bowl commercial sparked so much controversy. I wish I spoke Spanish better. I don’t know why my grandma didn’t teach us better. She was very fluent in both English and Spanish. As her Alzheimer’s got worse, she forgot how to speak English. I think that says a lot. When you grow up speaking Spanish or whatever is your first language, that is what you hold on to no matter where you are living. It is who you are and why would anyone want to deny that.
© 2014, MaLu Bradford Beyonce