Respectful Insolence

Spell-checking is a good thing

Too bad this woman forgot a cardinal rule about making signs boosting English as the official language of the U.S.:

i-43437a586d5b776f9235f57d4b5b1e7d-OfficalLanguage.jpg

Sorry, I saw this picture and just couldn’t resist…

Hat tip, though, to Orcinus, who reminded me of this other example of a protester who could use a little remedial English:

i-3d4fd52d879b559b33d8d9f928fac76b-prowarprot 2.jpg

Now why on earth would he be so mean to poor Larry and his family? I may not always agree with him (an understatement), but Larry’s a smart guy. Besides, Canada is not our enemy.

Note to self: The next time I call someone anything derogatory, make sure to spell the derogatory term correctly.

Comments

  1. #1 varkam
    May 7, 2008

    You know when you encounter someone wearing the American flag for a shirt, you’re not exactly going to get the most reasoned in analysis and discourse (much less accuracy in spelling).

  2. #2 blf
    May 7, 2008

    I’m slightly surprised the lady holding the sign (who I assume is also its authour) is even aware English is the name of most commonly spoken language in the USA. Why? Well–even without the odd spelling–the time cube like colouring; the causal insulting of the people, countries, cultures and languages of two entire continents; and the apparent hostility towards other languages, cultures, et al., means I’m bit surprised she doesn’t think the language itself is called “american”. I’ve heard USAians–or at least those presumably similar to the lady pictured–call the English language “american” so many times by now its actually become a bit grating.

    And I wonder if she agrees that, for instance, color is a valid but poor alternative spelling of colour, or similarly for the pronunciation of tomato? It’s all the English language, somewhat similar to “America” isn’t necessarily just the USA. I also rather wonder what languages her ancestors spoke?

  3. #3 Badger3k
    May 7, 2008

    I always consider that flag outfits to be tacky, and possibly illegal, though it has been a while since I have seen the wording of the law. Flag shirts (or outfits, and I won’t google and link to some country and western outfits – ick) seem to me to be the refuge of shallow individuals who need to proclaim their loyalty to the world through material goods.

  4. #4 Bob O'H
    May 7, 2008

    I think the lady is actually protesting to make English the most offal-filled language in the US.

  5. #5 Laura
    May 7, 2008

    Great. They’re in Texas. Of course. So sorry. Their numbers seem to be increasing, perhaps, like the vultures, as a side effect of urban sprawl.

  6. #6 Swiftsure
    May 7, 2008

    It would be good practice for the people in the photographs to practise their spelling and grammar.

    That sentence might look odd to most Americans, but I am English and was taught the English version of English at school. That sentence differentiates between noun and verb-forms of the same word.

    I’m not too worried about the relatively minor differences between US and UK versions of the same language, but I did take exception to someone from that awful Conservapedia website who ranted on about how terrible it is that anyone should actually use UK English on a US website.

    Anyone can make a typo, but to see just how bad things can be, just visit any fundie website forum.

  7. #7 Bartholomew Cubbins
    May 7, 2008

    America’s Oh Fickle! Language

  8. #8 notmercury
    May 7, 2008

    Isn’t it possible that the protester in the second picture is objecting to Erin Moran’s poor career choices following Joanie Loves Chachi?

  9. #9 TheProbe
    May 7, 2008

    varkam said: “You know when you encounter someone wearing the American flag for a shirt, you’re not exactly going to get the most reasoned in analysis and discourse (much less accuracy in spelling).”

    I often wear a shirt with an American flag. And, I do give reasoned analysis and discourse when warrarted.

    In fact, I have several flag shirts, including the original Stars and Stripes and others of a historical nature.

  10. #10 andrea
    May 7, 2008

    So does that mean they should be deported?

  11. #11 jamie
    May 7, 2008

    “I often wear a shirt with an American flag. And, I do give reasoned analysis and discourse when warrarted.”

    Think you just proved their point there, buddy.

  12. #12 Owen
    May 7, 2008

    I’ve always enjoyed the irony of having The Decider Man saying we should make everybody learn to speak English.
    You first, Dubs. You first.

  13. #13 outre
    May 7, 2008

    I always get amused when ‘English as the official language’ supporters make mistakes like in the pictures. Mind you, I’m not perfect(stopped caring about spelling/grammar post college) but English isn’t my native language and the little snob in me comes out for a joy ride in the irony.

  14. #14 DavidCT
    May 7, 2008

    The American problems with language reminds me of when I was stationed in Europe. I remember sitting at a cafe in the Netherlands, and watching the waitress going from table to table speaking a different language at almost every one. On returning to base I noted that my countrymen were having difficulty with just one. It says a lot for elementary education.

  15. #15 Sven DiMIlo
    May 7, 2008

    Flag shirts seem to me to be the refuge of shallow individuals who need to proclaim their loyalty to the world through material goods.

    Or not.

  16. #16 Sven DiMIlo
    May 7, 2008
  17. #17 GDad
    May 7, 2008

    When I was in Montreal, I saw a hotel desk worker switch effortlessly between English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. He may have spoken more languages than that.

  18. #18 vlad
    May 7, 2008

    Just cause the lady is half literate doesn’t change the fact that she has a point. I learned the English language and I think they should require it to work here. They sure as hell should not give multilingual version of the immigration test. Now there are limits to this obviously. Hospitals and courts should provide interpreters for as many languages as practical.

    I don’t wear flag t-shirts for the simple reason that most of the people I have met who do scare the crap out of me.
    This idiot being a prime example of what I’m talking about.

  19. #19 vlad
    May 7, 2008

    Being bilingual in the current world is either VERY important or required for success. However if you work in a certain country you should speak that countrie’s language.

  20. #20 LanceR
    May 7, 2008

    There is a vast difference between “if you work in a certain country you should speak that countrie’s language” and making that language the official language. I would be willing to wager that most, if not all, immigrants working in America speak English.

    To reiterate a previous poster’s point, if you insist on making other people learn English to work here, perhaps you should be familiar with it yourself. (country’s)

  21. #21 Umlud
    May 7, 2008

    Aren’t some of these people the same ones that want the flag code made into law? Well… here’s some pertinent portions of the code:

    From the Flag Code (section 176):
    http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html#176

    (d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery…

    (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.

    (j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.

  22. #22 Jen
    May 7, 2008

    She underlined it. That’s what cracks me up. Of course I can’t throw stones regarding spelling and grammar.

    The US flag should also never be printed on t-shirts. I have seen mustard stained faded t-shirts with the unfortunate words “These Colors don’t run” when they obviously have.

  23. #23 Calli Arcale
    May 7, 2008

    Technically speaking, it is not illegal to print a picture of the flag on a t-shirt. Depending on how one interprets the Flag Code, it may be disrespectful, but there is no law stating that you must never use the flag as apparel, drapery, etc. (There is a difference between “should” and “must”, after all.) It’s also not illegal to drag the flag on the ground, even though the Flag Code advises that this is improper.

    Bottom line is that it may be disrespectful to wear the flag, which can make the actions of some uber-patriotic folks ring rather hollow. One thing that especially bothers me about overuse of the flag in apparel is when it appears in conjunction with Christian fundamentalism. It calls to mind the prohibition against graven idols. The flag should be respected as the penultimate symbol of our nation (historically, the reverence for the flag was intended as a counterpoint to the more typical reverence for a monarch). But it should not be deified.

    I would not have a problem with making English the official language of the United States. Such an action essentially just codifies what language ought to be used for official business. But I would expect translation to be provided for those who cannot speak English. I don’t have a problem with translating official business for the benefit of those who don’t speak English well. Not everyone can learn another language easily. I had a classmate in high school who came to this country knowing two phrases: “where’s the bathroom?” and “here’s my passport.” He had fled the Soviet Union with his mother. By the time I met him, four years later, he was completely fluent in English. Had people refused to speak Russian to him from time to time, he would not have been able to do that. Heck, many of my ancestors did not speak English when they came over. One of them spoke only Swedish, and found herself doubly isolated, moving into a community of Norwegians in Wisconsin. By the time of her death, she not only spoke English but also several dialects of Norwegian well enough to pass for a native. So there’s nothing unamerican about immigrants not being fluent anglophones. At the same time, people do need to learn the local language or they will never succeed. This is why I wholeheartedly support publicly-funded ESL (English as a Second Language) education. The alternative is to see the creation of a de-facto second class which speaks the minority language.

  24. #24 vlad
    May 7, 2008

    “To reiterate a previous poster’s point, if you insist on making other people learn English to work here, perhaps you should be familiar with it yourself. (country’s)” I’m not suggesting that you become an English lit major. I don’t care how well you spell or if you use a spell checker. If your job requires that you type multiple written reports your English should be better in the finished product than my blog posts. If you job requires that you speak English you should be able to do so. This should include (in fact mandate) those native born American who can’t form a simple sentence.

    I’m not sure how making English the official language is going to help or harm immigrants learning it. I don’t think it would have an effect either way.

  25. #25 vlad
    May 7, 2008

    “Had people refused to speak Russian to him from time to time, he would not have been able to do that.” I’m not sure how this relates to English being the official language? Allowing one to converse in their native language is part of being American . I’m also all for ESL. Also part of being an American is being able to converse with people from other cultures, so either we all become multilingual or we all keep our native tongue and learn English as well.

    One thing I’d like to point out that is we put the official language issue to a vote I’m not certain English will win.

  26. #26 robert estrada
    May 7, 2008

    I am always frustrated when I see some bozo berating an emigrant who is trying to communicate in imperfect English. Most of those bozos do not realize how imperfect their English is and only rarely have a second language, and sadly that is usually Pig Latin.

  27. #27 khefera
    May 7, 2008

    “The flag should be respected as the penultimate symbol of our nation (historically, the reverence for the flag was intended as a counterpoint to the more typical reverence for a monarch). But it should not be deified.”
    ummm callie….since this is a grammar nazi thread
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/penultimate

  28. #28 David D.G.
    May 7, 2008

    LanceR wrote:

    There is a vast difference between “if you work in a certain country you should speak that countrie’s language” and making that language the official language. I would be willing to wager that most, if not all, immigrants working in America speak English.

    I cannot believe that you have spent much time in Texas, or probably even anywhere in the whole southwest. I live in Dallas, Texas, and I have to cope with a language barrier (usually Spanish, but not always) frequently in dealing with people at restaurants, at stores, and in other service positions — even at the pharmacy and in doctors’ offices. And I know from my own experiences and those of others that you can forget about holding a conversation in English with most construction site workers or fast-food kitchen staff. These people occasionally have *some* grasp of English, but not nearly enough; a 4-year-old American-born child’s English vocabulary is far greater, and so is his pronunciation.

    There are parts of Dallas where you can drive for blocks and not see one business sign that isn’t at least half in Spanish, Korean, Arabic, or something else — sometimes ENTIRELY in a non-English language. This disdain for learning and using English is rude and disrespectful in the extreme, especially since these same people insist on having their own linguistic needs met when THEY want it. The double standard employed here is just outrageous.

    For the record, I have learned one foreign language and hope to learn another one or two someday; I greatly lament that my school system would not teach us multiple languages in our early years, when it would have been easiest. I have no problem with people retaining the culture and language of their homeland or ethnicity; in fact, I applaud it, because it adds a great richness to life and can be a big part of one’s identity. But I do have a problem with these people’s refusal to assimilate in a functional manner into an existing society that THEY CHOOSE to live in, especially when they expect to reap its benefits. That’s just maddeningly beyond the pale.

    ~David D.G.

  29. #29 SC
    May 7, 2008

    Since the level of language learning to which most US citizens (who have the luxury of not having to leave their home country to support themselves or their families) aspire is this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngRq82c8Baw

    I think some humility and basic human compassion for migrants is in order.

  30. #30 Karen
    May 7, 2008

    I was an engineer in Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) for more than 2 decades. My parents grew up in the midwest, of Northern European descent. I learned a little bit of Spanish in high school, but that’s the extent of my foreign language skills. In Silicon Valley I needed to interact productively with other engineers, many from south or southeast Asia, who had trouble with spoken English. Since I needed to get my job done, I learned to listen with both my ears and eyes, focusing on body language, reading up on cultural habits, and trying my best to dissolve the language barrier. It worked pretty well. I’m told I acquired a reputation among our Asian engineers for being the best white person to work for, and a reputation among our mostly white management for the person who seemed to interact most smoothly with Asian engineers. I still don’t know a word of any language other than English and a smattering of Spanish, but I got results by making a real effort toward listening.

    After that experience, I find that making myself understood to fast-food restaurant employees, gardeners, etc., is not hard at all. It usually just requires patience, a willingness to listen and be aware of body language, and courtesy. Damn near everybody understands a little English. The onus on those of us who speak it fluently is to patch the little pieces together.

  31. #31 brook
    May 7, 2008

    My 9yo spotted the misspellings instantly. He also made the offical: offal language.

    My dh’s favorite misspelling was a bit of graffiti pronouncing its writer to be a proud member of the aryan brotherhood; with aryan misspelled.

  32. #32 Liesl
    May 7, 2008

    “I cannot believe that you have spent much time in Texas, or probably even anywhere in the whole southwest. I live in Dallas, Texas, and I have to cope with a language barrier (usually Spanish, but not always) frequently in dealing with people at restaurants, at stores, and in other service positions — even at the pharmacy and in doctors’ offices.”

    Really? I can’t recall ever having that problem here. I have to wonder if you live in an area that might make this an issue. Then again, I lived in east Dallas, a historically hispanic area, for years and still did not have this problem.

  33. #33 Joe Max
    May 8, 2008

    I always consider that flag outfits to be tacky, and possibly illegal, though it has been a while since I have seen the wording of the law.

    Wasn’t Abbie Hoffman arrested in the 1960s for wearing a shirt made from an American flag, for violating some “flag desecration” law?

    My, how times have changed…

  34. #34 Natalie
    May 8, 2008

    Joe, I think it’s different if one has taken an actual flag and made a shirt out of it, versus printing patterns from the flag on a shirt.

    On the subject of a national language, those in favor of one should consider that, in order to have a national language one has to codify exactly what that language is. One of the major advantages of English, and one of the reasons it has spread across the world, is it’s flexibility and versatility in adopting new words. This will end if we have some appointed language board deciding exactly what is English and what isn’t.

    As far as signs and what not being in another language, that’s a courtesy. What is the problem with that? David DG, how exactly do you draw the conclusion that immigrants have a disdain for learning English from the fact that some signage is partially in another language? It takes years to become completely fluent, even in total immersion, so the simple fact that a person doesn’t speak fluent English doesn’t mean they are not trying. Furthermore, just because someone is fluent in another language, that doesn’t mean they aren’t more comfortable in their native language. And lastly, on what grounds to you claim “these same people insist on having their own linguistic needs met when THEY want it.” In my experience, at least, companies provide things in multiple languages to increase their own customer base and bottom line, not because they’re being held hostage by immigrants.

  35. #35 natefoo
    May 11, 2008

    Dunno about the “offical” one, but “morans” was intentional:

    http://unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=1590

  36. #36 natefoo
    May 11, 2008
  37. #37 TLB
    May 12, 2008

    Thanks for the last link, but “Orac” might consider whose interests highlighting the first sign serves. Based on the site, this post, and the comments above I think that’s going to be very difficult, but do your absolute best. Don’t worry: being a useful idiot doesn’t have to be a permanent condition.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.