Thursday , May 23 2024
If a tree falls in an American forest but there are no English-speakers around to hear it, does it still go “thud”?

The English Language as a Weapon of Discrimination

Let’s start out the week with a language game. Ready? Try the following (my apologies deutsche Sprecher for the use of an online translator):

Weg zurück im Oktober 2005, der Eigentümer von Steaks von Geno, Joe Vento, des Südlichen Philadelphias, legte ein Zeichen in sein Schaufenster, das seine nichtenglischen sprechenden Kunden ermahnt, mit ihm seinen Weg mitzuteilen. Sein Zeichen sagte, "Das ist Amerika: wenn Sie bitte bestellen, sprechen Sie Englisch."

If you weren’t able to read the passage, it’s because you don’t understand German. The passage could’ve told you any number of things – that your spouse has been cheating on you since 2005 or that you must forward this message to 2,005 of your closest friends lest you will meet a horrible death in the coming days.

It doesn’t matter what it says, what it requests of you, or what information it holds that might be of help to you. The passage might as well not exist for non-German speakers for all the good it does someone who doesn’t understand German.

For clarification, I give you the passage in English.

Way back in October 2005, Geno’s Steaks’ owner, Joe Vento, of South Philadelphia, placed a sign in his shop window exhorting his non-English speaking customers to communicate with him his way. His sign said, “This is America: When ordering please speak English.”

As if it weren’t enough that Mr. Vento wrote his proclamation to non-English speakers in English, The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations still, two years later, asserts that the sign was offensive to those who couldn’t read it. In a couple of months or so, the commission will conclude its 2006 investigation by deciding whether or not Mr. Vento was in violation of a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination.

The waste of Philadelphia’s taxpayer money aside, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or more than a few minutes) to conclude that Mr. Vento is not guilty of discriminating against non-English speakers, much less offending those who don’t understand the language. Until I told you what the opening passage said, you didn’t know what it said – and couldn’t have been offended by it.

Mr. Vento is just an English-centric idiot, evidenced by his use of English to chide those who don’t understand English. If that’s a crime, start building bigger prisons because we’re going to be locking up about 80% of America’s population.

About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.

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