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Bukan Aku Kata: Stop Speaking "Ugly American" Please. Huha!

++ Nota: Sila teliti benar-benar akan kenyataan salah seorang dari ramai-ramai bangsa Amerika dalam blognya (sila klik tajuk yang berbahasa Inggeris yang aku tampal di bawah ini). Sebagaimana kita berjuang demi bahasa Melayu, begitu jugalah dengan dirinya. Namun dia dengan faktanya, aku dengan faktaku; biarlah dengan mereka kerana aku tidak berada di sana. Untuk apa berbicara dalam bahasa Inggeris sesama bangsaku sendiri. Berlatih? Ah, tak usah nak mengarutlah weh...

Tak Kerjalah Aku Tanpa Bahasa Itu

barulah aku
tahu bahawa
aku takkan berjaya
dalam kerjaya, juga hidup
seandainya aku tak
tahu, dan pandai

Stop Speaking “Ugly American” Please

I speak English, why would I need anything else?

To think that in this day and age there are people who believe the above notion is astonishing to me, but perhaps it shouldn’t be. The typical American is normalized into thinking much worse.

Yes people, English is an important language (and I’m not just saying this because I’m an English major). It has gained popularity in usage globally and makes communication in world relations just a bit easier. But to think that one language alone is enough is to restrict yourself from thinking, learning, appreciating and understanding the world around you. You may close yourself off from accepting those who seem initially different without realizing it.

The United States, though bills have been repeatedly proposed, has not yet adopted English as its official language. And why should it?

States may individually pass laws declaring the all-important idea of “Here, we speak English,” which quite a few have done. There are also groups like the English Only and English First movements to campaign for their other-minded views. They are bothered by the educational system allowing diversity, concerned about governmental policy and simply irritated by the slew of immigrants that come into our country every day.

Informally, English is already the language of the United States (according to wikipedia and sources alike, the percentage of English speakers in America is upwards of 90). However, are we also not known to be something along the lines of a “melting pot” or “bread basket” nation? There should be no need to specify and limit our language to one as we are of many.

Looking back historically, not everyone’s priority was to learn English when they got to America. Our ancestors who came with their own culture, their own ideologies and their own language, could not communicate in English but raised their families in hopes of a better life and are just as much American as any. I find it worse that many of the primary languages are being lost in families through recent generations.

An alarming detail about the movements toward ‘English only’ is the lousy attitude that some hold in truly believing that English should be the only language used to teach our children and decide our elections. Though often denied by reasons of pride and union (in one language), this to me is racism in its simplest form. Ironically, it is just not acceptable to be foreign in the land of liberty and equality.

Others in support of adopting a sanctioned language state reasons of saving the country’s money. Okay, so translating official papers into Spanish and giving some extra attention to the girl whose first language is Korean can be a bit time consuming. But is only printing one set of public documents going to get us out of debt and our current economic crisis? Doubt it.

I’ve always thought that this issue was concerning as an American. Now that I have taken a look at it from the outside perspective (with the chance to study abroad) my concerns are only affirmed. I find myself in admiration and envy of the people I come across daily who speak two, three, or five different languages (usually one of which is English).

If America paid a little more attention to the importance of all language I believe we’d be much better off as a country. Small steps, like teaching children a second language as part of their beginning education, will lead to smarter, more open-minded American adults.


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