CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 6, 2015 – Americans are spoiled. It is not our fault, but when the U.S. dollar and the English language are so universal, it is easy to take them for granted.
If a German walks up to an American on the street and asks, “Sprechen sie Deutsch?“ the American would most likely tell the German “No” or “I only speak English.”
Yet, somehow when traveling abroad many Americans have no problem asking, “Do you speak English?”
By people from other countries this is frequently taken as arrogance on the part of Americans. In truth, most of us don’t even think about it because our own language is the universal language of business, so it is spoken almost everywhere.
How often have those of us who have traveled to France witnessed a Frenchman get irate when someone does not speak French? Or, at the very least, try? It’s a fair question. If we are in France, should we not be expected to speak French? Are we not justified to expect citizens from other nations to speak English when they are in the United States?
All of which brings us to an important cultural question that may appear insignificant on the surface but could have major ramifications in the future.
According to Breibart News, more than 20 percent of the people living in the United States speak a language other than English when they are home. That is more than 60 million residents.
What the numbers indicate is a massive increase in immigration. In addition, more than 25 million of those people have problems speaking English.
Even more revealing is the fact that the U.S. is now the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. It is perhaps not surprising, given our size and the volume of immigrants, legal and otherwise, entering the country from our southern border.
Immigration has become a hot button issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. Language statistics do have a significant impact on the subject.
Perhaps more alarming is that the fastest growing foreign languages, percentage-wise, are those spoken by immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. Breitbart writes that there has been a 29 percent increase in Arabic in the past five years, 23 percent in Urdu and 9 percent in Persian. Iran used to be called Persia.
Even without the Syrian refugee problem in Western Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States, Breitbart reports that this country voluntarily accepts approximately 280,000 Muslim immigrants each year. What is not widely known, however, is that “these arrivals (who) are invited in the U.S. on visas can collect welfare, eventually apply for citizenship, voting rights, and the ability to bring in extended-family members via visa-sponsorships and other legal means.”
In a perfect world that might be acceptable, but the world is hardly perfect, and the reality is that a large percentage of the Muslim immigrants do not assimilate into American society and our values. Over time that creates a major schism. More than 90 percent of the recent refugees from the Middle East are on food stamps, and Arabic is the most common language among them.
The author of the report, Steve Camarota, wrote:
Immigration is not just an economic issue. English as our common language is part of the glue that holds our country together. These numbers suggest that the levels of immigration are so high that it may strain that. After the last great wave of immigration more than a century ago, the level of immigration was reduced and remained low for half a century, which helped with assimilation. With no pause in immigration levels in sight, the nation is headed into uncharted territory.
One shocking statistic reported by Camarota is this: “The number of people in America who speak a language other than English at home is now larger than the populations of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada combined.” Combined!
Given that Islamic cultures traditionally do not assimilate into their new societies and that the U.S. birthrate is decreasing, it does not take a genius to figure out that a breaking point has to be reached at some time in the future.
A prime example of economic, as well as societal, factors having a major impact on American communities is evident in Dearborn, Michigan, which has become known as the “Arab capital of North America.”
School shootings and suicide bombings may grab the headlines and dominate broadcast debates, but the subtle changes in American culture that slip beneath the radar are equally important.
Words do indeed mean things, and, in this country, at least, those words need to be in English.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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