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View Diary: Puerto Rico Governor-Elect Unable to Speak English? (95 comments)

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  •  The diary is meant to highlight PR's culture... (8+ / 0-)

    It's interesting how the ability or inability to speak English is of amusement in Puerto Rico.  I remember in school how my friends and I used to joke around that, to speak in English, all you had to do was add the "-ation" suffix to any word.  So, for example, in Spanish you would say: "Me gusta comer" (i.e., "I like to eat"). The translation would be: "I like comation." :)

    And PS, I speak Spanish, English, French, and Catalan (my dad is from Barcelona).

    •  There are some things (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gchaucer2, Anak, Tonga 23, Lost and Found

      that you can joke in a closed group about - but is offensive to the broader public.

      •  What is offensive about it, BDA in VA? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dennis1958
        •  Arrogance here is generally (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Anak, Kevskos, Lost and Found, skrekk

          a loser.  You made fun of someone trying to speak English (aka American).  Most people in this country couldn't speak a sentence in any foreign language.

          " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

          by gchaucer2 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:52:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not arrogance; it's humor. (4+ / 0-)

            And humor notoriously doesn't translate across cultures well.

          •  not sure that's entirely true anymore (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ycompanys, sebastianguy99, PeterHug

            over 20% of the country speaks a language other than english at home. but the proportion of americans who are bilingually or multilingually fluent is larger than that, since not everyone who can speak another language does so predominantly or regularly at home, even if they did so outside the home, be it in the workplace or the market or with friends or relatives.

            add to that the number of americans who have studied and practiced some language but who aren't totally fluent, and those who can manage a few sentences of some language they studied in high school, or americans with a grandparent or parent who is bilingual or monolingual speaker of a language other than english and so can manage a bit of that language even when they speak back mostly in english, and it probably ends up well over 50%.

            part of the problem when we visualize this is that the only reliable government on bilingualism is the census form's "dod you speak a language other than english in the home?" question, which is far narrower than ability to speak or understand other languages generally, and part of the problem is the unconscious assumption, drilled into our minds by centuries of right wing nativists, that foreign-language-speaking immigrants and native speakers of other languages aren't "real" americans like monolingual white folks from the heartland.

            i totally agree with the basic point you were making - that making fun of people for uneven ability to speak fluid english is lame - but just wanted to push back against the "americans can't speak foreign languages" assumption. apologies for the digression.

          •  Not really the same thing (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ycompanys, ConfusedSkyes

            He's supposed to be a political leader on a world stage.  Any working professional in most countries would be expected to be very comfortable with English, since it's the international language and necessary to do most high-level jobs these days.  If his English really is that bad, it's rather Palin-esque in international terms.  We don't have this equivalent in the US, since we already speak the language of international communication, and it's also the reason native anglophones are not good at foreign languages.  We rarely have use for them that's as frequent and regular as English for everyone else.

          •  I'm sorry, but given this person's upbringing, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bluedust, ycompanys

            he could be considered to have plenty of education and ample time to have learned English, particularly when it's considered an informal requirement for the job. There is a distinct difference between mocking a private citizen for not knowing something that is irrelevant to their lives, and mockery of a public figure for not knowing something that is very relevant. It is also different when it is the native population as opposed to outsiders.

            And that's merely from the political viewpoint.

            From the general viewpoint of humor, as someone who grew up in a mixed-language immigrant family, you're just entirely too dour about the subject IMO. Laughing about language difficulties is very often a good-natured topic of discussion in bilingual communities, from both ends. It addresses a very real problem in lighthearted framing.

            Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?

            by ConfusedSkyes on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 05:51:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  well for one thing you have (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gchaucer2, Anak, Tonga 23, Lost and Found

          changed your diary somewhat but it does not negate the fact that laughing at someone

          struggling to respond to a reporter's question in English
          is not funny to me.
          •  It's a cultural thang... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bluedust, sebastianguy99
            You made fun of someone trying to speak English
            I did not make fun of our governor-elect.  All I did was cite articles from Puerto Rico newspapers that make fun of him for his difficulties.  

            It was shocking to many Puerto Ricans that he appears unable to speak English.  This is why the video went viral on the islands.  In this sense, it's pretty similar to the situation way back when with George W. Bush.

            As I noted above, Garcia Padilla was asked during the campaign whether he could speak English, and he refused to answer the question.  

            For many on the island, this is now a source of embarrassment, especially considering that a governor needs to be able to have at least a working ability of English to manage the islands' federal affairs.  

            For others, this will be a source of national pride, since it will highlight the fact that Spanish is the language of everyday life in Puerto Rico.

            But for all, Garcia Padilla will now be the butt of jokes on the islands.

            •  But you seem to be agreeing that he should (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BDA in VA, Lost and Found

              be the butt of jokes. Your title suggests that it is crazy or laughable that Governor-elect might not speak English well.

              Frankly, I think your knowledge of Puerto Rico would have been better spent EXPLAINING to us the unique language situation in Puerto Rico and offering this as an example of that unique situation. Without this context, it sounds like you are just making fun the new Democratic Governor-elect.

              And you would also have to explain in detail on why it is ok because it is "just a cultural thang."

    •  I have always admired (8+ / 0-)

      anyone who attempts to speak in a language which isn't his/her own.  I don't find those attempts funny.  I appreciated the generosity of the Belgians who suffered through my broken French, German and Flemish.  They never laughed at me.  They were gracious because I tried.

      Glad you are multi-lingual -- now try to be multi-gracious.

      " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

      by gchaucer2 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:50:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And Americans think you just have to add (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lineatus, ConfusedSkyes

      the letter o to the end to make it Spanish and they never conjugate verbs, because English doesn't.  "I want food" becomes "Yo querer foodo."

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