Thursday, May 24, 2007

But i don't understand, and neither do you.

I had one of those weird things happen to me today, one of those things that makes you feel like you need to go home and take a shower.

I was at the Driver's License place (a cauldron of diversity) with Em, getting her a learner's permit (OH MY GOD!) and i ran into this woman that i know from a committee at Em's school. I don't really like this woman, but in an incidental way, not an active loathing way.

We chatted vacantly for a few minutes. Then she leans over in a conspiratorial way and tells me that when she first came in to the office that that man over there (an office employee) was not even speaking English, not one word.

"Okay," i think, "and your point is?"

"I think that people should learn English if they are going to drive in this country," she declares. And then, and this is the icky part, she leans over towards me in that we-white-people-understand-each-other sort of way and whispers "I know that's not politically correct, but that just how i am."

You know what, i think that yes, people who move here would have an easier time if they learned English. But i also know that i have no frame of reference for being so economically or politically oppressed that i felt like i had no choice but to leave my homeland. I have never been asked to learn another language, and culture. So this white person does not understand.

I don't know the answer, but i know enough to know that i don't know enough to make blanket statements about what other people need to do.

65 comments:

deb said...

I had to learn a second language as an adult and I have a new found respect for immigrants. It's tough. Not only is it hard to learn but it's hard to use everyday.

Lynn said...

How insulting that this woman assumed that you were at her level. (the basement, that is.)

Jenn said...

I totally know what you mean. Hate it when people group me into their prejudices

Jenn

Melessa said...

This white girl doesn't understand either.

jen said...

makes me want to kick someone in the shin.

urban-urchin said...

This sort of thing makes me want to poke people like her in the eye.

flutter said...

ew

Popeye said...

Yeah. Damn. Sigh.

mrschili said...

"I don't know the answer, but I know enough to know that I don't know enough to make blanket statements about what other people need to do."

THIS is exactly the point, isn't it? If more people thought like this, Meno, there'd be SO much less trouble in the world.

I'm with you - and I think that there should be a greater effort to provide a good, quality language education for the people who come to this country without a strong understanding of English. It's entirely hypocritical that we should bitch and complain that "they" don't speak English, but that WE not provide them with the means to do so. I live in a part of the country where immigration is not a real issue - the most we get here, really, are a few Jamaicans who make the trip up for the apple harvest in the fall - but I would be the first person in line to volunteer to teach English language classes in my community if there were a need. We can't just bitch that something is wrong the way it is and not be willing to step up to do something to fix it.

By the way - did you SAY anything to little Ms. White Bread?

mrschili said...

Sorry - I'm going to post again to clarify what I'm saying up there:

I understand that there ARE English language classes in place for immigrants but, to the best of my (admittedly limited) expereince, they are inadequate to the task, often inconveniently scheduled, and underfunded and staffed (pretty much up to the standards of education in this country, is what I'm sayin'.) We HAVE to do better than this, not just for immigrants but for EVERYONE.

(and I now yield my soapbox...)

Sober Briquette said...

One of the Indian women I know through Fiona's class was taking her driver's test. I really, really wanted to warn her that the driving part of the test is not as straightforward as she might think, and they fail you on a "feeling." (BTW, as an adult out there on the road, I'm beginning to think that the experts "feeling" is a good thing and might save lives.)

As I guessed might happen, she passed the written part fine, and failed the driving. (She had never driven in India or Canada, either.)

Lucia said...

I'm running around in circles with my hands on my head. Good lord! Not speaking English is not a disability that would prevent driving! (I could say much more...but I won't.)

Maggie said...

At this point in my life, I think I would have been tempted to slap that woman square on the face, but only after trying to make her understand what exactly she's imposing. Imagine that you've only spoken one language your whole life. You move. You need to work to support yourself and perhaps your family. You need to buy a house, a car, get health insurance, register your kids in school, get a ss# and driver's license. But, you haven't had time to learn the new language. And each of these incidents require very specific language. Now imagine your frustration when you also know that you are just doing your best and the people around you are all staring and sometimes whispering. And I'm not poor or forced to leave. For us it was a choice. I think its easier for me to bear with that in mind. But it still hurts. Oh the times I've come home crying because someone was cruel about my lack of French skills. Learning a new language as an adult is so difficult. Your brain has to be re-trained. I challenge anyone like that woman to try it.

Ok I'm done ranting. I love that you have this automatic reaction to see the other side of the coin. Its such an admirable quality about you Meno.

patches said...

This post has so many topics springing forth. Blanket statements, check. Language/potential immigration issues, uh check. Oppression, uh check. Hmmm, Alex I'll take teenage driving for $500, please....

So is it irresponsible to be inebriated in preparation for you sixteen year olds first driving adventure is downtown Seattle? Umm, I think I know the answer, but I'm just sayin'.

Maggie said...

I just wanted to slip in one more comment. This woman assumed that the non-English speaking person wasn't learning English. Bad assumption. As I mentioned before, it takes time and for specific situations it can be difficult to have all the language to survive. Most people in a new country want to learn the language around them. Who wouldn't? Of course they want to be able to communicate! Bah, I'm ranting again. Sorry.

Bob said...

and what language will this woman speak when she goes to Cozumel and rents a jeep to drive around on her vacation? Will she teach herself spanish in order to feel qualified to drive there? will she even learn the road signs for Mexico?

It is amazing how insular Americans are - a country founded only 250 years ago by people of other nations (and very few of those actually living here at the time).

Believe me, the majority of people who come here to make a living and plan to stay will learn english - because they will need to in order to survive.

judgemental, provincial bitch.

sorry.

Bob said...

oh, by the way. I went to the Defense Language Institute for a 47 week course in arabic (this same course is now 65 weeks) 7 hours of instruction a day 5 days a week. I left the vocabulary and language skills of a high-school graduate.

One of the first things we were told was that, as difficult as arabic is to learn, the most difficult language to learn is english.

SUEB0B said...

What Maggie said.

gr said...

I hoped Maggie would jump in, but basically, as far as your aquaintance goes: fuck her. People spend a lot of time NOT minding their own business. Is this woman's life better or worse because somebody else is speaking different languange?

Stucco said...

Consequences be damned- life is too short to abide such people. My recommendations:

#1) "No habla Engles"

#2) "Sucky sucky five dollar!"

#3) [in a really loud voice] "No, I don't thing giving that guy a blow job will make this line go any faster..."

#4) [also loudly] "Why are you calling INS?"

Really anything loud, disrespectful, and politically incorrect ought to do.

Lisa said...

What an ignorant, privileged bitch.
I hope karma is real.

Irrelephant said...

We as a race are a pretty sorry lot, aren't we? There are times when I have to honestly wonder how we got so far so fast without tearing ourselves to shreds.

Oh wait, we are. *S*

TTQ said...

Where I lived further south here in Florida,the Haitian and Cuban population is quite large, and conversations are often strings of broken languages as we tried to understand each other. The point is we tried, I can't speak for everybody, as of course there were alot of small minded territorial citizens as well. My point is how in a course of a few hundred years, could we shut the lid on the melting pot of America? The refugees in South Florida are escaping lives that most of us will never understand, so who are we to judge? If we (Americans) give them asylum than I do believe that they we all (the refuges and Americans) have a responsibility to understand each other,to make it a harmonious situation. I don't feel quite the same about illegal aliens and their impact on the "system" but that's another story for another time.

meno said...

deb, and i doubt that this woman knows how hard it is.

lynn, yeah, i hate that!

jenn, it really felt gross.

melessa, how would we? We are lucky enough to not be in that position.

jen, me first!

u-u. i just hate being included in her world view without my permission.

flutter, yes indeed, Ew.

popeye, she punched a hole in my shiny little world. Bitch!

mrs.chili, i didn't say anything. I was kind of taken aback and was gathering my thoughts to say something thoughtful yet opinionated when her phone rang and she went outside. And even if we provided great ESL classes for all, it's still HARD to transact daily life in a language you are not comfortable with. (She declared, ending a sentence with a preposition!)

de, did you know that 80% of people consider themselves to be above average drivers? That cracks me up because i AM.

lucia, c'mon girl, let us have it with both barrels.

maggie, i knew you would have an opinion on this one. When you come to Seattle i'll find this woman and let you have at her. You should maybe post about this so we can all have some idea what it's like. Right ON!

patches, do you think alcohol will be strong enough? I was thinking Xanax mixed with martinis.

bob, don't be sorry, i agree with you. But that makes me easy to convince. You speak Arabic? I am really impressed.

gary, good questions. I'll ask her if i am ever unfortunate enough to see her again.

Marsha said...

I feel like jumping on an airplane and going to Seattle to give you a big hug. You have made my day. The reason I love blogging is because I have somehow managed to find so many friends like you. Sometimes the ignorance of the world overwhelms me and it is nice to know I am not alone.

As you know I have lived in and traveled to many countries that do not speak English. I have also driven in these countries. I only know how to speak English. I was able to learn enough of different languages to read signs, did you know that English is the official language of road signs around the world. If you go to Italy, France, Germany - the stop signs say STOP in English. Most communication is non-verbal. I was able to get by in Japan for 4 years only knowing how to say, good morning, thank you, and pardon me. Mostly I pointed, bowed, and smiled. I stopped at the red lights and stop signs, waited my turn, and continued on my way. (Stop signs in Japan are in Japanese-and triangle shaped-yet I was still able to recognize this sign and stop when appropriate).

TTQ said...

PS. I rather enjoyed the colorful neighborhoods..nothing like good authentic cooking and diversity to keep things interesting. I miss my Cuban Sandwhich shop, Cuban Coffee..Paella..okay I'm hungry now. Oh and there is a French Bakery where they all speak French..and you kinda have to point at times..

Tink said...

You should have told her, "I feel the same way when it comes to intelligence. But then they'd have to kick you out."

meno said...

stucco, damn, you are GOOD! I'm just not quick enough with the responses. I'll be thinking of what i should have said for days.

lisa, i'll light a candle in hopes that karma is real.

irrelephant, i wonder that all the time as i listen to the news. Don't worry, someday the earth will be consumed by the sun and we'll all be gone. Just not soon enough.

ttq, "how could we shut the lid on the melting pot." That's the question. Now i'm hungry too. :)

marsha, all hug are accepted. Thank you for your perspective on this. It's always interesting to hear from travelers on this subject.

tink, ha ha ah ha ah. You shoulda been there for me.

Lee said...

And not even smart enough to keep her ignorant opinions to herself. Now I want another shower too.

Cagey said...

I have a frame of reference since my husband is an Indian immigrant. However, that reference is fairly weak since he came from a former British colony and started learning English at the age of 5. :-)

It doesn't anger me when immigrants don't learn English - it makes me SAD. Sad, that they are limiting themselves and their futures by not learning the primary language of our country. I agree that there are a myriad of situations where an immigrant will come here not already knowing English and I don't think one should be expected to know speak it upon entry. Regardless if folks think that English should be the "official" language or not, the fact that remains that the majority of folks here speak English and your opportunities for success are greater if you speak English.

That said, what that lady said would have made me want to take a shower, too!!

thailandchani said...

People need to speak English to drive? Geez. That's news to me! People drive all over the world without knowing a word!

That woman sounds like a moron. It's obviously you didn't like her on instinct for a reason.


Peace,

~Chani

Nancy Dancehall said...

Damn. Next time (IF there's a next time) lean over and say, "Well in that case, I think WE should learn Suquamish if we want to go fishing..."

Mona Buonanotte said...

I can't top Maggie or Stucco's comments, but I will say this...Gary SWORE!

And Meno...dear, sweet, wonderful Meno...will you marry me? You so rock.

Mother of Invention said...

Yikes...do they let narrow-minded people like that drive??!!!

Anonymous said...

You all do realize that you're expressing exactly the same kind of intolerance she is, don't you? Think about it. SHE is wrong. SHE shouldn't think the way she does. SHE shouldn't believe this & that. It all sounds the same to me. You are as critical of HER as she is of THEM and that puts you in exactly the same catagory as her in my book. Cece

Scott from Oregon said...

You know, that was one area where Pops taught me well. I would have laid right in to that woman ala Stucco's perversity (no, she wouldn't have understood)and pretty much told her off.

If Rosa Parks had the courage... what about a privaledged white woman from the suburbs?

Next time... Meno...

meno said...

lee, i left you some hot water.

cagey, yes, life would be easier for someone in this country if they speak English, no question about that. I just know that i don't have the experiences to understand what obstacles there might be to accomplishing that goal. Her attitude was creepy.

chani, guess i should listen to that little voice more often.

nancy, you spoke some Pacific Northwest! You rock!

mona, that was an exciting moment wasn't it? Who would have thought he had it in him? Sure, i'll marry you. In what state?

moi, apparently they do.

cece, well i can be intolerant, so you have a point. But in this case i don't know if she is wrong or not, i just know that i'm not qualified to judge.

scott, your daddy raised you right, at least in this. You know, i just am not that fast on my feet. I was sitting there thinking, "Did i hear what i think i just heard? Did she just assume that i think like she does because we are both white?" when she got up and went away. If i hear it again, i'm ready.

Bob said...

I guess that I am being judgemental. I did indict American culture in a broad swath, so maybe Cece is right to a certain degree.

But does being critical of someone mean that I am intolerant? Maybe. I do have little tolerance for behavior in others that demonstrates a close-mindedness or lack of understanding of the problems of others. That lady has a right to her opinion, but I have the right to disagree with it.

QT said...

Many moons ago when I was a reporter, there was a bill proposed in WA state that would have required people to take the driver's test in English in order to get their license. When I called the DMV, they told me they offered the test in 10 different languages, and the impact would have been huge - especially for farmworkers.

I don't see the point in her statement, really, and would have been similarly grossed out by her conspiritorial whispers. What a small-minded woman.

Antonia said...

One of the many things I love about living in London is that when you get on a bus, there are up to twenty different languages being spoken around you.

My mother doesn't like that aspect of living in London. We agree to disagree.

My local shop is run by Turks: I ran into the head manager the other day and said "Hello!" He said "Hello! How are you? Very good day!" And then he stood there and smiled, then sort of bowed, and bimbled off. I realised that he couldn't say much more than that in English and I walked home thinking, well, he doesn't NEED to. He's a friendly guy who will stop and say hi in the street and make people feel like part of a nice community.

liv said...

I know. I know. It's just gross.

TaraDharma said...

i am continually amazed at the lack of common decency and compassion that some people exhibit...her world view is sadly teeny tiny, as is her cold dark heart.

meno said...

bob, and i have the right to be intolerant of people who assume that i think like they do.

qt, yes, i remember that time. Who would have picked all the apples i wonder?

antonia, nice story. That's cute that he said hello to you in the street.

liv, as qt put it, the "conspiratorial whisper" is what got me.

tara, (i hope that's the right nickname) she certainly exhibited a lack of empathy.

Em said...

I hate when people do that "lean in" thing...it implies that they already think you agree with them. This is going to be between just you two. YUCK! So not true. I'm so liberal I rarely agree with them!

Ruth said...

Wow. Well-written. Well-thought-out. Nice. A good argument (although I agreed with you before I read, so I can't really say).

Schmoopie said...

I envy people who can speak multiple languages. Unfortunately, a lot of people in this country think only English should be spoken. In almost every other country in the world people can speak at least two languages. (I know a girl from Bosnia who, for her, English is her third language!) A lot of people feel uncomfortable when they can't understand people who are speaking another language. That woman was speaking out of fear of the unknown.

lu said...

I'm never as quick on my feet in situations like this either. I'm usually so stunned I need a minute to process what I just heard; I don't think of an appropriate response until I've lost the opportunity. Except in the classroom, I never ever let a prejudicial comment go if I can avoid it, which usually means I have to call someone on something several times per class period. Our society is in love with stereotypes, blame and name-calling.

Anonymous said...

Oh Hello? I know this is a very unpopular point these days, but this IS America and our national language is ENGLISH. Not Spanish, not Tagalog, not Chinese, etc. etc.

Here's where I part company with people who have soooo much tolerance for others that they fail to see what's in front of them.

Don't tell me about the melting-pot. We're not the same as we were when all the original immigrants came here. The main difference? They WANTED to BE AMERICAN. They worked hard for their citizenship (have you checked out the easy-breezy citizenship test of today? I have and it's ridiculous.) They WANTED to learn the culture here. Not so today. People want all the freedoms we have, but they don't want to blend in and become Americanized. That's why you have a million stores where you can't get a word of English from anyone. I don't care if you move here == but you belong back in your own country if you've moved here to simply benefit from the freedoms and bring your own language and culture and IGNORE what is truly American about America.

And by-the-way -- the lady may have been "leaning in to talk" to you because she didn't want anyone to hear her and be hurt. Did that ever occur to you? Probably not. So sure are we about what someone else means, or doesn't mean. Easiest way to find out is to simply ASK HER. "I'm sorry, but are you telling me all this because you think I think that way?" That's all you had to do. You'd have had your answer from how she responded -- not by concluding things on your own.

I detest discrimination in either direction...though I think I detest the reverse-descrimination just a tad more than the basic kind. With the reverse -- the person pretty much knows they shouldn't be saying what they are saying. TThe generic prejudice is usually from pure ignorance and stupidity. And it's pretty hard to knock a stupid person. They don't know better.

AND -- like it or not -- we dislike in others what we see in ourselves. Chew on that one awhile. Danica Bailey-Brooklyn, NY

Sienna said...

I love our big melting pot of our world and our different languages and culture(s), that person that said those words Meno is someone who speaks out of ignorance or fear, discrimination or whatever...and/or a combination of all of the above, it is disturbing to hear them....she would have shocked me too....the good thing mate is the response, you and all these wonderful people see it as for what it is, I am so proud people see the injustice spoken...if it's alright with you can I use that line..in a screenplay, just as an example of racial intolerance and discrimination....I have this *thing*, I get mad, then I get even...

"That's just how I am.."

Peace

Pam

Maggie said...

I'd like to know if Danica Bailey has taken the time to speak to any immigrants in person about their lives. If she has asked them if they are learning English or want to learn English. If she has ever experienced being in another country and needing something but not knowing the word for it. If she has given thought to how much there is to go through to immigrate legally to another country - because there is a lot more to it than taking a test - a lot. And we've done it from both ends, we started immigration process for my husband in the U.S. and jumped through those hoops and paid many fees before we ended up moving to his country, Canada and went through the immigration process here. I wonder if she has ever been in a completely new culture with new foods and new ways of doing things and had to try to fit in while still longing for the things she grew up knowing. I wonder if she has chewed on a few of these things herself.

You are not reversed prejudice Meno. I didn't even see judgmentalism in your reaction or response. I saw questioning. And that is the key. We need to question. We do need to ask if people want to live with a new culture. There are some compromises to make. Most people make them. Some don't its true. But in whole, I believe that the difficulties of such a vast change in lifestyle are great enough to allow us that have not undergone that change to be more patient and try to be understanding. Walk a mile in their shoes please. And I also believe it should never be assumed that people immigrate to the U.S. solely for benefits like cars and jobs. Many people come for many reasons - individually they have their hopes and beliefs and needs and we cannot know those unless we get to know them.

Most importantly I just believe that we need more tolerance in this world - everywhere we go we are all human with as different ways of thinking as there are people on the planet. Tolerance.
Like tolerance of people's learning curve for a new language and culture. But, I don't believe tolerating ignorance is necessary - we can be patient of those who do not realize they are speaking about something they do not know but we do not have to condone that way of thinking.

Bobealia... said...

I think anything I could say about this has already been covered. I think about this a lot because I hear a lot of people who have the same mindset as your Ms. Whitebread. The hardest to argue though, is when a Chinese person with a heavy accent says that hispanic people should learn English, the "I did, why can't you?" kind of stuff. Ack! The whole issue is a bowl of complicated ingredients. I agree that people would ideally learn functional English, but some of the people who immigrate here from Mexico, for example, in my town never went to school in Mexico, not even elementary school. Not being sensitive to the fact that a person like that might have an extremely hard time learning something in a school setting is just ignorant hate.

meno said...

em, eh, you flaming liberal you. It was the lean-in thing that grossed me out.

ruth, thanks for that.

schmoopie, i envy people who are bi-lingual too. I tried to learn Spanish a while back and gave up after 3 semesters because IT WAS HARD (and my motivation was slacking.)

lu, that's because you are a natiral born teacher!

Danica Bailey from Brooklyn, NY, You sure seem angry. This is certainly an issue which gets people all excited. For the record, again, i think that people who come here should learn English too, but i also know that i don't know what kind of issues there are that might prevent that from happening, because i have never done it.

Pam, write away young lady! Or should i say write on! I guess that's pretty stupid, but that's how I am. :)

maggie, You tell it sister! Very nicely put, from someone who would know. But i do have prejudices, reverse or otherwise, just like everyone else. A hispanic man ran into the Mister in my car and i drove up to the scene and took one look at him and thought, "Shit, he doesn't have any insurance." The fact that i was right doesn't make me feel proud of that reaction.

Joan said...

I cannot believe this woman would share her prejudices with someone other than her family members (who probably love her despite her ignorance).

Maggie said...

Meno, you're so right. I have them too. The thing is that no one has the right to accuse you of prejudice in this instance, imo. I didn't put that quite right I think. We do all have them but it is when we recognize we do and try to change them that matters. Thanks for letting me rant a bit.

capacious said...

In this town, there is a huge immigration debate. Many people, including our mayor, would like the immigrants to disappear. The authorities keep rounding them up and sending them home, separating them from their children who were born here and who speak better English than their parents. The children are okay but the parents have to go.

Immigrants are people, first and foremost, no matter what language they speak. They are just other PEOPLE, not aliens from another planet.

The people I have met who are vehemently anti-immigrant in this town were born here and never lived anywhere else. They never had a friend who came from outside the state, never mind another country. It apparently feels good to them to feel superior and put someone else down. They frighten me.

Lee said...

In this complicated issue, I can't help but just wonder, where is the compassion? Does anyone wonder how horrible a life must be in order to abandon your home with nothing concrete in your future?

At the risk of sounding naive, we are human first. God forbid we treat each other as such.

meno said...

bo, a bowl of complicated ingredients is right, and nicely put.

joan, It reminds me of people who tell racist jokes because they think i'll find them funny too.

maggie, you put it exactly right, i just didn't want anyone to think that think that am pure of predjudices. And rant on!

capacious, they frighten me too. Wishing they would disappear ignores the amount our economy depends upon them.

lee, "Does anyone wonder how horrible a life must be in order to abandon your home with nothing concrete in your future?" Yes, exactly. I do wonder, but i can never really know.

Mama P said...

Try being part Jewish but going to a Catholic school growing up and having people make comments about "cheap Jews" or "big noses". Because I'm Irish looking, people assume I don't know anything of other faiths. Pisses me off. (and I'm not blaming Catholic schools...I got a great education... it happens everywhere. In fact, my Mexican neighbor, ironically, made a negative Jewish remark to me.) I've decided that it says more about them than anyone else, and it's just sad.

Anonymous said...

It all depends on several things: your life-experiences, your family's biases and prejudices (or none), what your neighborhood was like, whether or not you traveled so you'd have a perspective wider than an inch, and whether or not you were born in this country. The woman at the DMV who thinks-outloud and includes you in her observation really is a whole lot more honest than the rest of you here who wouldn't admit prejudice if your life depended on it. Oh, no! It's soooo politically incorrect to decide ahead of time about something or someone. Ick!

I've lived in Germany, Scotland and the Netherlands and my parents are immigrants, I speak three languages (English, French and German) fluently. I am an American citizen and I'm sick of the whole issue.

I've watched funding in public schools go big-time into programs for children who aren't even citizens -- while my friend's child who needs special tutoring can't have it because there aren't enough of his race in the program. You think I make this up? If you do, you aren't in touch with what's really going on in this country. Today. Now. At the very least, you could read "Death of the West" by Patrick J. Buchannan. No. You won't read it. The truth hurts.
--it's just so much easier to be a bleeding-heart liberal. Danica B..

meno said...

mamap, you have a unique perspective on this. As a part Jewish, Irish, Catholic girl!

danika, that's cool that you can speak so many languages. And thank you for the book recommendation.

Anonymous said...

RIGHT ON, MENO!

Oh, The Joys said...

So strange that she would just assume that you, a total stranger, would agree with her bizarre and screwed up politics.

Antonia said...

"Archaeological as well as geological evidence suggests that the present-day United States was originally populated by people migrating from Asia via the Bering land bridge starting some 20,000 years ago. These people became the indigenous people who inhabited the Americas prior to the arrival of European explorers in the 1400s and who are now called Native Americans. Many cultures thrived in the Americas before Europeans came, including the Puebloans (Aztec) in the southwest and the Adena Culture in the east. After a period of exploration by various European countries, Dutch, Spanish, English, French, Swedish, and Portuguese settlements were established."

-Wikipedia

"...you belong back in your own country if you've moved here to simply benefit from the freedoms and bring your own language and culture..."

-Danica

Antonia said...

I'm not trying to be over-snippy with that last comment. It's just that we are all immigrants, or descendants from immigrants. England? Full of immigrants and their descendants. I'm descended from Danish immigrants who steamed over here to beat up the locals 1000 years ago. Ian is descended from Russians who came here to escape a pogrom, and thank heavens they did, or our daughter wouldn't be here.

English, the national language of both America and England, is chock full of words from other languages. Dungarees? Hindi. Kangaroo? Australian aboriginal. House? German/Dutch. Immigrate? Latin. We speak a language that is constantly welcoming and accommodating, and which has been for centuries.

I'm going to have a cup of tea (t'e, Mandarin Chinese, later tee, Dutch) now.

capacious said...

And thank you for the book recommendation.

Meno, you crack me up.