Friday, July 11, 2008

Obama Says "Learn Spanish"

Mark Whittington wrote in Associated Content:
Barack Obama recently confirmed why many people find him off-putting when he admonished Americans to learn Spanish as a second language. At the same time he dismissed the idea that there was a problem with immigrants not learning English.

"Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish," Obama said at a recent campaign event in Georgia, according to a CNN clip posted on YouTube. Then he went on to scold Americans for their alleged lack of multi lingual skills. "It's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is merci beaucoup."
Sounds like Barack is demeaning Americans again. He must be rereading his copy of "The Ugly American".

Here's the video:

Will Barack be speaking German when he visits Germany? What's he doing campaigning in Germany anyway? I just hope he won't be telling everyone he's a jelly doughnut like JFK did ("Ich bin ein Berliner" - Kennedy should have said "Ich bin Berliner" to mean "I am a person from Berlin." By adding the indefinite article ein, his statement implied he was a non-human Berliner, thus "I am a jelly doughnut")

Pocket translators and other communication aides are always good when you travel and then you can say more than just "merci beaucoups". People appreciate when you make an effort to speak the local language no matter where you go - even to Canada "aay".

I agree that in the pursuit of being a more well rounded individual that people ought to be able to communicate in one or more different languages... but it is silly to say we should all learn to speak one specific one over another. Chinese is becoming a useful language to know and so is Arabic. So what's the deal with pushing Spanish? Sounds like a move by Barack Obama to pander to the Hispanic voters in this country.

As for why Europeans learn to speak's maybe because the European Union (EU) is composed of 27 member states and the total English speaking population of the combined territories is 229,850,000 including 61,850,000 native speakers and 168,000,000 non-native speakers. They have to communicate with their own members. Plus if anyone wants to transact business with the financial and business powerhouses of the UK, Canada, the USA or Australia, then English is primarily the way to do it. (Checkout the world's English speakers on Wiki)

Spanish is no doubt a popular language as well.
Castilian, usually known as Spanish, which is spoken in all the national territory, Equatorial Guinea, the Sahara, Central and South America ,except Brazil and the Guyanas, and parts of the United States and the Philippines, is the fourth language in the world in terms of the numbers of speakers; over 330 million.
Other studies about language usage and popularity show that Chinese, English and Spanish and Hindi are the top languages used in the world...

So yes, your child should learn another language... but not necessarily Spanish.

Then of course then there's Esperanto.