Some questions and thoughts on language that I am currently pondering:
1. Why are Americans afraid of the Spanish language being spoken in the United States? Without a doubt, Spanish is the second most used language in the US. Equally without a doubt, Spanish is subordinate to English in the US. Many countries have more than one “official” language. For example, English and French are the official languages of Canada. Many other countries have more than one “natural language” spoken in their country. For example, Spanish, Catalan, Valencian, Basque, Gallician, Asturian, Castillian (“Castellano” to everyone who ever took a Spanish course), are all natural languages of Spain. Heck, the natural language of the US consists of various different Native American languages (most of which are dead or dying). What is the big deal with speaking Spanish in the US? Why is it wrong? Why is one looked down upon if you speak Spanish?
I am tired of hearing “learn English or go back to Mexico” being yelled at our recent immigrants. At the turn of the last century, I am sure everyone heard German, Italian, Polish, Irish (Gaelic), etc. being spoken all around New York and the East Coast. Don’t worry folks, as time will show, the children of recent immigrants and their decendants will probably never learn to speak Spanish. Just like German, Italian, Polish, etc. is not spoken by the descendants of those immigrants at the turn of the last century. They will all become the beautiful thing known as the monolingual American.
2. Why do native-born Mexicans look down on Chicanos who do not speak Spanish? Growing up, I worked with a lot of recent immigrants who looked down harshly on Pochos who only spoke English. Doubly so if you were a dark skinned Chicano. “Ese mendigo buey tiene el nopal en la frente y ni puede hablar Espanol. Que mamon!” Luckily, I spoke both English and Spanish!