Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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.

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