Tuesday, June 10, 2008

American Pink Collar

I have lived in the US for a very long time and being bilingual has given me a real edge in getting continuous employment. So many American firms are doing business with Canada because it is the number one economical partner and Canadian law recognises two official languages, French and English. This is requiring that contracts be available in both languages as well as all marketing material.

But the best part is that having a bi-cultural experience is beneficial to all.

It makes us richer in experience, knowledge and understanding.

Original post is here.


Prepared Remarks for Bob Mecklenborg's Visit to Shitsville, OH

(English Version)

When I was a child growing up in Ohio my dad had a good paying job at the mill.
He worked hard and he was paid a fair wage for that labor.

When I was child, Ohio was a much different place.

Back then, there were enough jobs for every man willing to work.

Things are different now. But I don't need to tell you that.

Your town of West Shitsville, OH has the highest unemployment rate in the state and the third highest in the country.

Again- I don't need to tell YOU that. You have to live through this every day.

But I didn't come here to bore you with numbers and facts. And I didn't come here to remind you about your problems.

So why did I come here, you ask?

I came here to give you this message:

It's not your fault.

You didn't make the good jobs go away. You didn't do anything wrong.

You did everything you were told. Worked hard. Got your GED. Got married. Had kids. Took out a loan for a new trailer.

You did everything you were told and you were promised the American Dream.

But how many of you here today feel like you are living the American Dream?

How many of you here today feel like the American Dream has been stolen from you?

And I'm here today to tell you: it's not your fault.

The American Dream was TAKEN from you - and it was taken by people who aren't even Americans!

It was taken, my friends, by Illegal Immigrants!

My friends, I came here to South Shitsville, Ohio to tell you that you are not alone and you are not forgotten.

Your struggle is my struggle. And as your representative I will do everything in my power to stop illegal immigrants from taking away your jobs.

I will do everything in my power to keep America the English-speaking, Christian country our fathers founded.

I will do everything in my power to give you back the American Dream that you were promised and so rightly deserve.

It's your dream, my friends. The AMERICAN dream. And together we can take it back!

Original post is here.

The Chief Source at The Point

Today, a group of Ohio bloggers is posting in a foreign language as a subtle protest to Ohio HB 477. The bill would require "the use of the English language by state and local government entities in official actions and proceedings." The protest was organized by the Ohio blog Writes Like She Talks, which has a complete list of other blogs participating in Ohio. The purpose of all these sites blogging in a different language is to show readers how exclusionary HB 477 is. I have chosen to post mine in Spanish because it is the language that most of these bills are intended to target.

Original post is here.

bitter-girl :: musings

Jill Miller Zimon posted about HB177 here. This legislation is
incredibly offensive for a number of reasons. I used to live in the
German speaking countries, and so I am writing in German. I am also
writing in the language of Goethe because until very recently, many
cities in Ohio had sizable German-speaking minorities. Cincinnati is
one such example. Jill quoted someone from the comments who said,

Too bad no one cares to remember that until the 1940s much of
Cincinnati spoke German. Street signs were in German as were many
church services. In fact, a couple of old churches in OTR still have
German language masses, and we still have a German language school in
Clifton. Your grandparent and great-grandparents are turning in their

In fact, German very nearly became the official language of the United
States! (Ok, ok, maybe not).

Please contact your senators and ask them to vote against this racist bill.

Original post is here.

Pho's Akron Pages

Ohio's English-Only Bill: No Problem, No Solution

Ohio House Bill 477, currently under consideration, would apply to any "public body" -- basically any government entity, state or local -- requiring that "the English language shall be used for each meeting of a public body and for each official action of any state agency or political subdivision, including each record prepared, meeting held, policy issued, or other action taken under color of law."

Given that we don't currently have a problem with, say, the Ravenna City Council publishing its minutes in Slovenian, the law is directed at translation services to immigrants. The law would limit, somewhat, the ability of government agencies to make translations of official documents available to those who need them. But then the law includes a number of exceptions that cover nearly any circumstance under which an agency might want to provide translations. Among them:

(3) Protect or promote the public health, safety, or welfare;

(4) Protect the rights of parties and witnesses in a civil or criminal action or proceeding in a court or in an administrative proceeding;

(5) Provide instruction in foreign language courses;

(6) Provide instruction designed to aid students with limited English language proficiency so they can make a timely transition to use of the English language in the public schools;

(7) Promote international commerce, trade, or tourism;

(9) Engage in informal and nonbinding translations or communications.

So the bill actually changes very little. I happen to sit on the Board of Directors of a nonprofit that works with immigrants and refugees, primarily from Asia. I corresponded with our Director who assured me that an overabundance of translation is not currently Ohio's problem. H.B. 477 might make some fewer translations available, but since Ohio does not currently provide all the translations needed to "protect or promote public health, safety and welfare" probably not by much..

477 is a solution in search of a problem. Generally this means the problem being addressed is getting people reelected and that certainly seems the case here. The bill plays on fears -- fears of a polyglot, Balkanized America, and corollary fears of people who don't look and sound like us, whoever "us" is.

We've had this debate here pretty much forever. From the NINA1 signs in eighteenth century business windows to the closing the door to Jewish immigration during the war that doomed thousands to die in gas chambers, we've always heard dark warnings about those other people who would come here and change American culture. In the end, those people came and changed our culture for the better.

It's somewhat ironic that the Balkans serve as a benchmark for the badness of cultural diversity. The breakup of Yugoslavia was a messy and bloody affair, but not, in the main, because of the actions of cultural minorities. The majority Serbs shed most of the blood in pursuit of a Greater -- and "purer" Serbia.

In other words, difference isn't the problem; intolerance is.

We've had this debate here pretty much forever. From the NINA1 signs in Nineteenth Century business windows to closing the Jewish quotas2 of the Twentieth Century, we've always heard dark warnings about those people who would come here and change American culture. In the end, they came and they changed our culture for the better.

Using the Balkans as a benchmark for the badness of cultural diversity underscores the wrongheadedness of the argument. The breakup of Yugoslavia was a messy and bloody affair, but not, in the main, because of actions of cultural minorities. The majority Serbs shed most of the blood in pursuit of a Greater -- and "purer" -- Serbia.

In other words, difference is not the problem. Intolerance is.

1"No Irish Need Apply."

2which by the way doomed untold thousands to die in gas chambers as they were maintained during World War II.

Original post is here.

Blue Bexley

Even Old New York Was Once New Amsterdam

If you are reading this in Dutch, then I probably do not have to convince you of anything. If you are reading this in English, then I assume you have found the page with lots of great arguments against HB477. I am not going to have much to add, but I will make a few comments: HB477 demands that governments in Ohio use only English when possible, and report the costs of using any other language when it is necessary to do so. It also prohibits requiring bilingualism as a condition of public employment unless it is directly related to the job description. So now imagine if your kids were in a burning building and the 911 dispatcher refused to take the call reporting the fire because the caller didn't speak English, and English was the only language any of the dispatchers could speak...

This might never happen, because the law grants governments an exception for promoting public welfare or protecting public safety. Of course, I cannot think of a single instance of a government using multiple languages that is not for the express purpose of promoting public welfare or safety. So, this law might only exist as a big middle finger to the generations who have come after your ancestors. Of course, they won't necessarily get the message. Imagine if everything written about HB477 was written in Dutch?

The Dutch settlers were here as early as the English settlers. Dutch would make a fine official language. Not as good as Navajo, Lakota, or Ojibwe, perhaps, but a fine candidate nonetheless. You can make the argument that it doesn't matter which language came first, what matters is that American society has settled on English as the primary mode of communication. You'd be right. And it happened because people chose to learn English when they could, and their children learned it as a matter of course. Not because of any law.

Original post is here.

Tim Ferris

Jill Zimon and Gloria Ferris have requested I speak out against HB 477, referred to as the "English-Only Bill." I followed Jill's link to HB 477 to find out what I needed to get all self-righteous and cranked up about. I found a silly bill that emasculated itself right after it got rolling. It's a heap of nothing. I don't understand why our legislators are doing this at all. It gives the impression its going to be restrictive, and then lifts all the restrictions. It's a big woof, followed by a whimper and a whine and a retreat with the collective tail between the legs. I reminds me of that thing from Shakespeare we had to memorize in high school, something about "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Folks, this in a non-event. It gives a bad impression of the zeitgeist in Ohio. It effectively does nothing, and we're paying for it.

Original post is here.

Blue Ohioan

Ohioans are Americans who speak English. Got it?

Listen up Ohioans! We have a developing crisis of the most serious nature. If we do not act immediately, our state and nation will be at risk. We can no longer choose to sit by and let this happen. We must rise up as one and collectively make our voices heard!

Except, we must do it in English.

That means all you people who aren't from here should sit down and shut up. Because this is about you. It's about you being different from the rest of us. It's about the way you talk, the way you look, the way you dress. It's about how the rest of us feel when we hear you talking in the supermarket lines. We know you're talking about us. And we don't like it.

We don't like having to "press 2" or even having to choose between English and another language on the ATM. We don't like those clever little signs at the airport that point you to the Sunglass Hut or Concourse D.

We don't like things we don't understand. Non-conformity opens the door to trouble. Once we let people talk differently, they'll start thinking differently too. You know what's next. Soon, we'll be forced to accept them, tolerate them, and let them live their own lives on their own terms. That's simply un-American.

In a world with so many problems, we Ohioans can fix it all by rallying together. Against "those people." Once we shut them up and drive them to Kentucky and Indiana, our economy will flourish, schools will improve, and taxes will drop. By sending a message to the Mexicans, Germans, French, and Koreans, that they aren't welcome in Ohio, we can finally get gas prices to drop back to $2 a gallon. If we make it known to the world that the world isn't welcome here, we'll be able to send all those foreign companies and their billions of dollars in investments back to where they came from. Good old English speaking Ohioans will finally be able to reestablish ourselves as an economic powerhouse by trading with Michigan and Pennslyvania instead of Norway and Israel.

We will finally be free of the chains that hold us back.
We will finally be able to walk in to any Taco Bell - whether it's in Fremont or Marietta - and order a hamburger and fries with pride!

By supporting the first step, HB 477, we can feel good about ourselves again.
It's finally our time, Ohioans!

We shouldn't feel like second class citizens.
Those other people should.

Original post is here.

Bring Ohio Ohio (Paul)

Government was formed in this country to serve the public and part of serving the public is making sure it is capable of talking with its citizens.

HB477, if it were to be passed, would shut government off from those who may need it the most.

The Declaration of Independence states:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal"

It doesn't say anything about only those who speak English. If Government is to serve the people, it must be responsible to the people's needs, not forcing the people to be responsible to Government's needs.

I urge the members of the state legislature to reject HB477. It is designed to disenfranchise and marginalize those who would not support the current majority party, as do voter ID laws. Reject HB477 and work to make Ohio a place where we all come together, all get to work and all strive to make Ohio better for our children.

Original post is here.

Bring Ohio Home (Ryan)

Blog against HB477 now.

HB477 is bad. We should learn many languages. We must treat people with
respect. We must HELP people.

I will not support this legislation. It will hurt business in Ohio. Ohio
is losing jobs. We should not approve legislation that will lose MORE
jobs. Ohio should not reject people because they are different. Ohio
will lose good people.

Language is important. All languages are imporant.

Vote against HB 477.

Original post is here.

Gloria Ferris

Ohio House Bill 477--Bad Legislation On So Many Levels

In an era when we should be inclusive instead of exclusive, again, we in Ohio show ourselves to be on the wrong end of the spectrum. We are a state losing population, and therefore, we should be embracing immigration. But, our state legislature in its collective wisdom has decided to show the world that we believe in isolationism.

This English Only bill is nothing more than a diversionary tactic. Our state legislators continue to propose bills that really aren't worth a hill of beans. It is a known fact that immigrant families who come to America within three generations become acclimated to the English language, and it is the language of choice often to the chagrin of elders who worry about the loss of ethnic culture.

With the advent of technology is it truly so burdensome to translate into other languages? Should we not embrace the learning of additional languages by our young people? When we pass such restrictive legislation does it not send the wrong message? Do we not have "English as Second Language" classes to promote the learning of English by people new to our country?

Why do we the electorate continue to allow our legislators to continue to ignore the elephant in the room? Which elephant you ask? Pick one--the economy, the burden of taxes, the number of people leaving our state-young and old, the medicaid crisis, and on and on. Instead we allow them to pass laws that are meaningless, albeit restrictive and exclusionary. Convince me that we will be better with the passage of such a ridiculous notion. This country was built by immigrants. Cleveland is known as a melting pot. We should all stand up and tell the state legislature that we want them to be better, to be bigger, and to envision a state where all are welcome to live, work, and play.

Original post is here.

Ohio Daily Blog

The English-only bill now before the General Assembly is pointless with respect to it's stated goal and pernicious as to Ohio's economy and reputation.

Purportedly intended to encourage the use of English language, the bill accomplishes nothing of significance on that front. It requires the use of English in certain official proceedings, but such proceedings are already conducted in English. It is like passing a statute that requires the serving of hot dogs at baseball stadiums - what is the need for such a law?

What the bill is truly about is expressing hostility to immigrants. It is a piece of red meat tossed by conservative legislators to xenophobic Ohioans. And because of this political message, the bill is harmful to Ohio's economy.

The fact is, Ohio needs immigrants. We are a state from which the work force is fleeing. Ohio should do everything possible to be a welcoming home to people who speak other languages. Experience shows that those persons will endeavor to improve their English language skills without the incentive of English-only statutes. When we pass such laws, which convey a provincial, hostile attitude toward people for whom English is not a first language, we harm only ourselves.

Ohio already suffers from a bad reputation as a provincial backwater, which is directly at odds with Ohio's goal of becoming a vibrant part of the global marketplace. Let's send a signal that Ohio understands the multi-lingual nature of the modern global community by rejecting this needless, harmful measure spurred by fear and ignorance.

Original post is here.

Bad American

Welcome to today's entry – Blogging in Tongues against HB 477. I took my mother's ancestral language of Polish to make a statement against this bill.

Have you heard about the English only bill in the Ohio Legislature – HB 477?

So I go up to the ATM machine at my local bank and I am presented with a dizzying array of choices in languages to use for my transaction.

I am more fascinated that offended. Chase could care less if people speak Urdu, Polish or Spanish as long as they get their money.

Which is why I am always curious about why the right wingers put forward these 'English only' language measures. Most of them are ardent capitalists and many of them are business owners.

You mean to tell me that any of these guys will throw anyone whose English isn't good out of their store? Even if they're waving a bundle of cash?

Of course not. That's not what this bill is about anyway. It's about bigotry plain and simple.

This is about throwing a bone to the kind of conservatives who are more weighted toward the bigotry leg of the conservative stool. The other two legs of conservatism are greed and militarism.

This is so these cowardly Ohio Republicans who are pandering to the worst type of Lou Dobbs voters can say they did something. In fact, they did nothing except add extra legal language to the lives of Ohio governments.

And whatever happened to smaller government anyway?

It's the same principle as the idiotic protection of marriage amendment measure to the Ohio Constitution. Something to make the bigots and haters feel like they 'did something' to stem the tide of people they believe are messing up their nice little world.

In the meantime, the country is, economically, going to hell in a handbasket, but the Republican guardians of decency are busily trying to stoke the flames of bigotry while telling the rest of the nation that Ohio is inhabited by narrow-minded people of prehistoric sensibilities.

The rest of the world is going bilingual. But not here. We're better than the rest of the world – we're Americans and God exempts us from the trends the rest of the world contends with.

So let the haters have their little temper tantrum. Hopefully wiser heads in the Senate will send this bill and all such others back to the dustbin of bad ideas.

For more great commentary on this issue, check out Jill's blog (because this was all her idea anyway, she should get some hits) -

Original post is here.

Buckeye State Blog

I am certain that many of you have no idea what this post means,
unless you are reading the English translation. This is one of many
articles being published around the state by bloggers who are opposed
to the "English Only" legislation being considered by the general

We believe that this bill is unfair to immigrants who have recently
moved to this Country, or who choose to continue using their native
language. I think America is the great nation that it is mainly
because of the the cultural differences we have. We are called the
"Melting Pot" because most of us are immigrants here, and our
ancestors each brought with them the best parts of our native

If you need an example of this, look no farther than the English
language itself. It is filled with words that have been adapted from
other languages.

And it is also worth pointing out that if we were all forced to speak
the language of those who were here first, we would all be speaking
one of the Native American tribal languages.

Original post is here.

The Daily Bellwether

I have written in French about Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which appears to be the namesake and homeland of State. Rep. Bob Mecklenborg, the Republcan who is sponsoring Ohio's official- English bill. Mecklenburg, a German state on the Baltic, operates an official Website in Polish and English, along with German, and has what it describes as a cross-border relationship with the French region of Poitou-Clarentes.

Mecklenburrg shares its border with Poland, and in the post war years was a part of East Germany, the Soviet satellite state that dissolved when the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunified. It is the home of German Chancellor Andrea Merkel. The state government of Mecklenburg boast that it is not afraid of different cultures or different languages. Rather, it embraces them as economic development tools:

"Our federal state actively supports crosss border cooperation in the Baltic region. There are partnerships with the voideships of Pommeria and Western Pommeria in Poland, as well as with the SydSam regions (Sweden), southwest Finland and the Leningrad Region (Russian Federation). In addition, a partnership with the French region of Poitou-Clarentes also exists."

After centuries of conflict, the Europeans of the 21st Century are setting aside their divisions based on nationalities and borders, and though they speak different languages, they don't seem to fear those tongues. They use them in trade and business and tourism and schools. And the European Union is becoming a major competitor of the United States, with the Europeans using their diversity of languages -- including English -- to their advantage. The German and the French, the Germans and the Poles, the Germans and the British, the Germans and the Russians -- all have fought and been bitter enemies on the battlefield. But now you find examples of those languages used freely, fearlessly and frequently on government Websites, and in trade. You can easily find English spoken on the streets of Mecklenburg, or French, or Polish.

Bob Mecklenborg's efforts could likely hamper or harm Ohio's efforts and grow and develop and flourish in the global economy of the 21st Century. By pretending that English is the only language, he enforces a cultural hegemony and wraps the state in a coccoon of backwater mentality. He puts us on the road of the French cultural purists, who have created a bureaucracy to preserve the purity of their mother tongue. But it has a downside. Thus, in France there is no ice cream. And no French fries. Only French words for those tasty treats that the rest of the world knows by their English names.

Original post is here.

Rowsey Blog

Why are many people in the United States so afraid of what they consider the unknown? As a language instructor, I work everyday to try to open the minds of my students to learn about other cultures through a variety of means: language, literature, media, and popular culture. Although many students begin taking a language as some type of requisite course, it often opens up their eyes and minds to the lives of our brothers and sisters throughout the world and creates a spark of interest for further study.

As the world becomes smaller and more interconnected, why would Ohioans want to become more insular? What are the fears of allowing people to speak languages other than English? Are you afraid that we might all be forced to speak Spanish, or maybe even Somali?

Immigrants that come to our county, legally or illegally, come to make better lives for themselves. In order to do so, they must learn English to thrive in this society. But in order to do so, they should also receive help from our government to facilitate that process and the time it takes to learn a language. We can't throw them into a land where no one can communicate with them and expect them to quickly assimilate and forget their mother tongue. Language acquisition takes some time. Now it is our moral obligation to give it to them.

Original post is here.

Glass City Jungle

Over the last week I have not been able to find even one government entity or agency that maintains its "official record, actions or proceedings" in any other language than English.

Can the sponsors and proponents of this legislation please answer this:

If there is an imminent language crisis in Ohio, where is it?

How many governmental entities or agencies maintain their official records in any language other than English? One, ten, a hundred, five hundred or….. None!.
How many complaints have been filed because of the use of a language other than English in any official proceedings in Ohio?

Is it just possible that there IS no crisis, that the danger of Ohio to become a "English optional" state as Rep. Macklenborg suggests, really DOESN'T exist and that the words, the language, in this legislation is really used in a calculating, Orwellian way, to divide not unite the citizens of our state… particularly on the eve of a critical election season.

Taken from testimony given by Representative Peter Ujvagi on May 28, 2008 on HB 477.

Original post is here.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Ohio's "official English" bill (HB 477) is currently passing through the Ohio General Assembly. It will soon arrive on the governor's desk. This bill is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

Ohio's recent Hispanic population increase has prompted this bill. There are concerns for dilution of American (read: Caucasian) "culture." This bill is a reaction to fear, encouraged by racist groups and news reporters like CNN's Lou Dobbs.

While our main language is English, it has always been one of many. Our history demonstrates that we have always used many languages. English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and many Native American languages have long been used in the United States. For historic reasons, French is spoken in New Orleans. Spanish is spoken in Miami and Los Angeles. German is used in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. There are more examples, but you understand my meaning. This is a nation of immigrants; the use of many languages is impossible to avoid.

Is this a problem that demands a solution? It never has before, why now? Why devalue our own multicultural history?

This article was not published in English for this reason: we need to view this issue from a wider perspective. Many people will be affected by this, not only Hispanics. Immigration to America will grow more difficult. Does Ohio really want to say "keep out" to the rest of the world?

This bill is just an election-year scare tactic. It is intended to scare voters with fear of the unknown. Don't panic, we can handle this issue. We always have before.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
""Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!"" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Original post is here.

Writes Like She Talks

Someone in this thread in which I announced the Blogging in Tongues project wrote, “I have to think protecting what is the language today is wise.”And my reaction:

Protect it from what? What exactly are we afraid of?

I don’t see where, practically speaking, we have anything to fear about the use of language - language is a way to communicate but we all already communicate in multiple ways. Having multiple languages is no different. We provide accommodation for sight and hearing differences. Why not language?
The purpose of making state-related information available in languages other than English is to enrich not just the individuals who need that alternative, but the rest of us for the experience and knowledge and skills those individuals bring.

Why is the organic (as well as invited) evolution of any society, from something homogeneous into one that includes people with differences so hard for people to accept? What is the actual fear?

I just don’t get that. To me, it’s arrogant and uninformed and disrespects some of the basic premises of what makes many of us most proud of our country.

People need to get with the 21st Century and stop being so fearful of what is different.

You can read the bill here. You can find the contact info for your representatives in the senate here (it's already passed the house).

This post of mine includes comments written by regular Ohioans in which they express, vehemently at times, why this bill in theory as it would be in practice, is so repulsive. Finally, the ACLU is urging that the legislation be quashed because it is "ill-conceived, will lead to costly litigation and will hurt Ohio's ability to attract innovative companies and good jobs."

See the original post here.