Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Pobre Arizona. Tan Cerca a Mexico, tan lejos de los Estados Unidos.

by msedano

You may have read news stories about a group of paramilitary kooks billing selves as “Minutemen”, arming themselves to patrol la frontera with aerial surveillance, pick-em-ups and assault rifles. As the bumper sticker philosopher notes, “bad boys have bad toys”, que no?

The resurgent English-only crowd has come up with a new ballot issue to declare English Arizon’s Official Lanuage. You can read an interesting column by academic and journalist Salomón R. Baldenegro at the Tucson Citizen site,

But that’s not what moves my fingers today. Check this out, excerpted from Baldenegro’s essay (click link in title for full article):

"He couldn't speak English, so me and the other workers made fun of him."
- State Rep. Russell Pearce, referring to a teenage co-worker. Arizona Republic, Feb. 11
. . . .
(I can't help noting the irony. In poor English - using the objective-case "me" rather than the correct nominative-case "I" in the above quote - Pearce offers himself as champion of the English language.)
. . . .
Attacks on languages are really attacks on the language speakers. An e-mail I received a while back regarding one of my columns illustrates this well: "My problem with you Hispanicks (sic) is ... with you peopel (sic) foreverry (sic) trying to force the loser Spanish language on us, demanding we give full spanish (sic) names to our cities and streets."

I count at least two ironies. The schadenfreunde that the language-intolerant crackers cannot use “SAE” (Standard American English) while insisting it be their homestate’s language. Then there’s the pro-diversity critic exercising his own brand of language intolerance, prescriptivist grammar, to fault the opponent’s dialect.

I’m sure the jibe will burn Pearce’s butt, but it leaves me a bit uncomfortable that “my side” fights intolerance with intolerance. Me, I have a soft spot in my ears for vernacular speech of all sorts. To paraphrase Baldenegro, when you attack the language you attack the culture, and that doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it’s only me. I wish Baldenegro and his fellows good fortune in the battle for the tongues of Arizona.


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