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.


Anonymous said...

Normally, I agree with you on other subjects, but this is one on which we differ. I've lived overseas for nine years, and he has a point.

We as Americans expect everyone to speak english in every country we visit. I know this for a fact ( we're military, and the ugly American reputation has been well earned; I myself have been embarassed by many others who yell at people in english in stores ).

The truth is, we really should learn a second language to compete in the global economy, or else be left behind.

Does this mean that we should all learn spanish? Maybe, logically it's one that can be used on a daily basis. The truth is we may all need to learn Chinese or Hindu in the future, so Spanish may be a good start.

That's just my take on things.

Judy Aron said...

Please Re-read my post - I never said we shouldn't learn another language - I just don't think it should be any particular one as Obama has stated.

I said, "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"

So essentially, I think we do agree on this.

Milehimama said...

Actually, he said "ALLS WEEZ can say is merci..."

He's not always the most eloquent.

And, he does not speak Spanish. Do his girls speak another language? I haven't been able to find out.

Henry Cate said...

It does seem like Obama has a clear double standard. First he says we should learn another language when we go to visit other countries, but doesn't think immigrants who come to the US to live should learn English.

And I would love to hear what languages his daughters know.

Keren said...

Wow, I am amazed by what seems like your willful misinterpretation of Obama's remarks. Do you really think he's demeaning himself and other Americans by pointing out the fact of our poor language skills?

Re-listen to his remarks: he is clearly making an analogy and Spanish fits into this analogy, just as you could fit in any other language you like. He is not advocating for one specific language! Oy vey, use some common sense and stop re-broadcasting Whittington's mindless drivel.

Anonymous said...

I am so disgusted with the fact that we americans(of which my husband is a soldier defending our rights in this country) are actually thinking of putting Obama in office! First off why should it be specifically spanish as a second language? My son speaks english and is taking french and is doing great. Another point, is Obama seems to have no respect for this country, and he won't even respect our flag or basically acknowledge it. Why should we put a someone into the white house that basically insulted our military heads in a meeting earlier this year and his wife talks as if she isn't even proud of this country till just recently. This is a disgrace to our country. We need someone that is proud of this country and will publically say so. This is America speak English first. I am definately not voting for him I can tell you that. Plus Congress right now is a disgrace. There are major issues and they are more worried about Dems vs Republicans. Get your jobs done and stop acting like your in kindergarden. This is an outrage. You have people going without to pay for gas to get to work. Pelosi is a disgrace to speak against our President. I am worried about this fall and what mess this country will be in.