Dare to Ask: Say 'Hola' along with 'Hello'?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Is anyone else offended by the United States being taken over by the Spanish
language? Customer service lines ask you to "Press 1 for English" - why?
Glenda, 26, black, Cincinnati
I agree. The same administration that overlooked illegal Spanish immigrants
is the same one giving them rights. It's all politics.
Peter, 21, black, Jacksonville
Really refreshing to know you speak Native American fluently since you live
Daryl, 30, Asian, Texas
I completely agree. Now they want to make it a requirement in our schools
that the children need to take up the language. What is wrong with making them
who come into our country learn our language, English?
Rhea, 22, white, Albany, N.Y.
"Taken over"? Giving people an option on a phone line means being taken over?
Amy, 42, white, Philadelphia
In a historic decision, the Commission on Dare to Ask Debates rules the
"Spanish is OK" guy and the "but English is more OK" lady below each have 14
seconds to make a point.
Mr. Juan Tornoe, blogger with market research firm Hispanic Trending and an
international consultant, your opening statement, please:
"It's only a very small minority that are not ever learning English. They
want to learn. But there's a period of time when you come here and just don't
know English ... so it makes business sense to offer services in English and
Ms. Raegan Baker of the non-profit ProEnglish, which works to make English
the official language of the United States, your response?
"We need to be able to communicate with each other. Most countries have an
official language. Countries with two or more languages are falling apart. In
Belgium, they have French and Dutch. They are breaking apart."
"Knowing more languages is better; it helps the brain develop more. You have
more access to science, to literature, etc. ... If you go to Switzerland, they
have three languages and aren't bickering about it. In Central and South
America, people are speaking in English and Spanish. ... Here, it's a system
that is not stimulating people to learn things outside of their own ZIP code. We
get immersed in micro-communities and don't see what's going on outside."
"At the government level, we want English as the official language ...
Obviously if we have to do things like print ballots in more than one language,
that costs taxpayers ... but the main thing is, it's hard to succeed if you
don't learn English. We try to stress that we want immigrants, but they can't
succeed if they can't communicate. And we want them to succeed."
We'll be back after these words from our sponsor, the entire financial system
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to email@example.com. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his