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Desert Tales No. 8, Vol. 2

Protest of a Polyglot

The American federal government has sued Wisconsin Plastics, Inc., a private company, under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, for discrimination alleging it improperly fired a group of Hispanic and Asian employees for not speaking English in the work place; stating that was discrimination based on their “national origin” — which includes “linguistics.”

Let me see if I get this straight. One group is speaking Spanish to each other, while the other group is speaking an Asian language, so nobody is communicating and they don’t understand each other; while the supervisor who speaks neither language, only English, cannot do his job property because of this polyglot problem.  

IATA, (International Air Travel Association) has an international rule that states all foreign pilots must speak English on the radio, and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has a federal law on the books that states that all pilots must speak the international language of communication: English, on the radios. Any other foreign carrier entering American airspace must also speak English on the radios in order to communicate with the towers, and also so that all aircraft can understand one another to avoid collisions. You can imagine the danger if pilots could not communicate with the towers or other aircraft. In fact, there was a Colombian jet which crashed in New York, killing all passengers, because the pilot could not speak English to the Air Traffic Approach Control to explain he was running out of fuel and needed to land.

My mother was an ESL teacher, (English as a second language,) she taught Cubans, Poles, and African American children who spoke Ebonics at home and in the streets. In other words, she taught them to speak English correctly so that they could advance in their education, and hopefully pass an entrance exam to a university; not to mention get a job. English, in this country, must be spoken in the work place to avoid accidents, create harmony, avoid dissent, and pardon me for saying this, but to COMMUNICATE! Can you imagine six different languages in a bank, or law firm, or hospital? Obviously documentation must be standardized.

I am a polyglot, and speak several languages fluently, but I am a firm believer that English only should be mandatory in schools, work place, and public venues. If people want to speak their native tongue such as a Native American Hopi, etc., in their homes so as to maintain their own culture, that is their freedom to do so, but to force private companies to permit different cultures to speak any language of their choosing is counter-productive.  

I resent “press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, 3 for Portuguese, 4 for German, 5 for Mandarin. Where does it end? This is America which progressed economically because it was an English speaking country where immigrants from many countries were forced to learn English in school and speak English in the work place. I think the Obama administration with its twisting the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to further its own political agenda is doing a disservice to industry.

There are 6,900 distinct languages in the world. There are also many dialects peculiar to some social group or region such as Scots Gaelic; and many “dead” languages such as Latin. It is only spoken in the Vatican these days. So if employees cannot speak English they should look for jobs in other areas that do not require communication. After all, English is a difficult language for many foreigners. And many Hispanics do not have a fourth grade level of education because they are of an Indian descent who do not speak proper Spanish; rather speak a dialect, as evidenced by the onslaught of illegal immigrants arriving now.  

The world is divided as follows: 880 million Chinese who speak Mandarin. 325 million people who speak Spanish. 380 million people who speak English. 425 million who speak Arabic. 185 million who speak Hindu. 180 million Portuguese speakers. 145 million who speak Russian. 130 million who speak Japanese; and 95 million who speak German; and this does not include dialects such as Gaelic and Scots. Can you imagine the disruption in the workplace if the federal government wins this lawsuit? Nobody will be able to do an efficient day’s work! What is this administration trying to prove?

The US State Department recognizes 195 countries in the world. It is not a matter that Americans feel less powerful as foreign minorities increase in population; it is a matter of common sense. English evolved world-wide as a commercial language and is used widely on the internet; so for business purposes it is working just fine. The object of the Obama administration is not to force private companies to accommodate individuals of “national origin” but rather to dilute the power of the English speaking owners, (who built this country,) with a superficial argument stretching the Civil Rights Act to the point of ridicule.    

Keep in mind, the argument here is not that African Americans are speaking Ebonics (etymology: ebony, meaning black, and phonics, meaning sound; so the two words combined, mean Black English.) The purpose of the lawsuit is to punish the owners of the company for demanding English only be spoken on the job, and this sets a dangerous precedent.

While I think that foreign languages should definitely be taught on a grammar school level in the USA, as is done in Europe, in order to facilitate communication and understanding as we are currently in globalization with the internet, I do not believe the government should be interfering in telling American private companies how, what and when, to do business. That is the business of socialism. 

If the plaintiff is relying on the 1974 Supreme Court ruling that the San Francisco School District was violating non-English speaking students’ rights under the 1964 Act, by placing them in regular classes rather than providing some sort of accommodation for them, then the issue here is not similar, since the defendant cannot provide interpreters for both Hispanic and Asian languages. Not all Latinos speak the same Castilian Spanish and there are too many different Asian dialects which would necessitate the defendant hiring dozens of interpreters. It would make more economic sense to raise wages, and hire Americans who can communicate with each other in English; thus avoiding danger and lawsuits.

Yes, there is a changing atmosphere in America under the Obama misdirection, but if we do not have a common language such as English then what language is the president suggesting we speak? Arabic? And if we don’t insist on mandatory English in this country, that will be fait accompli. And that is one language I am not interested in learning. I am already disturbed that voting ballots have to be in Vietnamese, Spanish, and hieroglyphics. Why not Polish? Better yet, Irish Gaelic.

See the point? It becomes ridiculous.

Alinka Zyrmont -


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