When in Rome: A Letter to the Editor on Language, Immigration, and Culture

charlottetown diversity festival 5

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2 Responses to charlottetown diversity festival 5

  1. Keith says:

    Well done! All research tends to demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of those who are second generation (born to the newcomers who struggle with English) become quite fluent in English. Sadly, many lose the ability to speak the language of their own grandparents back in the country from which they immigrated. Some years ago I took a group of college students to Spain. One young man whose parents had immigrated from Mexico went along. I asked him if he spoke Spanish (we were all trying to learn), and he said, “No, but that is why I am on this trip. My mother and father are fluent in Spanish, grew up speaking the language; however, they insisted we speak only English so we would know English as our country’s language. I could never talk with my grandparents in Mexico, because they only spoke Spanish. One of them is still alive, and I just want to be able to talk with my grandmother before the last dies.” The original multicultural movement was not designed to divide; rather, at least as I understood the proponents, it was designed to keep roots in both new world and old world, to celebrate our roots and our transplanted life. Isn’t that what we do when we sign up on Ancestry.com, learn more, and make trips to places like Ireland, Scotland, England, Russia, Germany, France, or an African nation, or an Asian or island or region of the Southern Hemisphere? I did not aim to insult my usage of regions of the U.K.; rather, it is my own quest, which I find hard since almost no one from one side of my clan ever recorded precisely where they came from. Why not keep that alive?

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    • Thanks Keith, this is a peculiar North American trait, to forget one’s language. Not all have. Religious languages like Yiddish, Arabic, and Dutch stick around a bit.
      I am tempted to learn Gaelic because of my heritage!

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