babble home
rabble.ca - news for the rest of us
today's active topics


Post New Topic  Post A Reply
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » current events   » national news   » Be careful what you say (or at least what language you say it in)

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: Be careful what you say (or at least what language you say it in)
Briguy
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1885

posted 30 August 2002 01:36 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Click!

quote:
Sayed and Zazia, both 21, were in an AMC theater in suburban Orange on May 4, talking in English and Pashto while waiting for the movie to start.

They claim a security guard began to stare at them then returned with an usher and asked them to leave.

The students at California State University, Fullerton, were told only they had been ``speaking in a foreign tongue'' and looking suspicious, according to an ACLU statement.


Nice.


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Arch Stanton
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2356

posted 30 August 2002 02:48 PM      Profile for Arch Stanton     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What's Pashto for "fire?"
From: Borrioboola-Gha | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mohamad Khan
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1752

posted 30 August 2002 03:46 PM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
What's Pashto for "fire?"

i believe it's or (n.m.)


From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 625

posted 30 August 2002 04:31 PM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ugh! That's outrageous! The utter stupidity behind it all! This is just downright dispicable. argh!
From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 30 August 2002 11:57 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You know, I wanna know since when is it illegal to speak in any language you want in the United States?
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 31 August 2002 12:02 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, I thought that was only in Quebec.

(sorry, couldn't resist)


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 31 August 2002 12:50 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
snerk(TM)*

* Trademarked by Michelle Enterprises, all rights reserved.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 625

posted 31 August 2002 01:26 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't think that's funny, actually. No offence, it's just I think Québec gets unfairly picked on, and the "assault on the English" thing is blown way out of proportion. So I was mildly offended. But anyway...

[ August 31, 2002: Message edited by: meades ]


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 31 August 2002 01:30 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, I was only saying it with half a smile, meades. I don't think it's funny that ethnic minority people in Quebec can't put a sign on their business in their mother tongue either. I think if I had a Chinese or Indian restaurant it would tick me off pretty badly, in fact. But I realize that's not what this thread is about, so if we want to discuss it, I can take it somewhere else.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 625

posted 31 August 2002 01:33 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
that's okay, I edited my previous post to elaborate, hoping no one would post in the mean time. Alas- damn you, Michelle! Damn you!
From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mohamad Khan
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1752

posted 31 August 2002 02:28 AM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
nii Toronto de loko!

doesn't it remind you, though, of how lucky you are to live in a city as linguistically diverse as Toronto? i was sitting across from an older African couple on the bus a couple of months back. i spent the ride eavesdropping on their conversation, thinking what a beautiful language they were speaking, and not understanding a word of it. sounded like a "pure" African tongue; i detected no loanwords from English, French or Arabic, just an incomprehensible stream of deep, slow, melodic syllables. it's funny how hearing another language can seem to take you to another place. maybe i'm being an exoticist, but....

it's amazing to meet people like Michelle and rasmus, who can decipher Persian script or speak Urdu/Hindi fluently (better than many young South Asians, in this particular case). it's nice to be able to have a conversation with your girlfriend in shaayasta Urdu without listening to snickering behind your back. then there was that black lady who sat down next to me on the subway as i was reading Umraao Jaan Adaa by Mirza Ruswa, and kept looking at the pages. she finally took a guess:

"Excuse me...Is it Persian?"

"No, it's Urdu, but they're both based on the Arabic script. [my turn to guess] Can you read Arabic?"

"Of course, I'm from Eritrea."

"Salaam."

it was another Eritrean who saw sitting on a bench on campus wearing my pakol, and approached me, smiling, and saying, "I've seen people who look like you on TV." (he was talking, unfortunately, about the Northern Alliance.) we had a good laugh over it, and i learned a lot about the Eritrean situation. another guy at an RT station saw the hat and happily began to chatter away in Pashto, which i don't understand--but he looked so pleased it broke my heart to tell him i was a Punjabi Pashtuun. it sounds like such an oxymoron to most Afghanis.

one day in my later highschool years, when i was volunteering at the hospital's medical library, a lady came in and asked for the librarian. i asked her whether i could help her myself, but i have a very quiet voice, and i guess she didn't hear me, because she raised her voice, asking, "Do you speak English?!" of course, i didn't say what i felt like saying, i.e., "Yes, I speak English, and probably better than you do, so fuck off."

members of the second generation in many communities are forgetting their mother tongues, mainly because of the way they're brought up, i think. but i believe that for many of us, there's a deep underlying shame and a fear that we won't admit to--that's how it was for me, anyhow--and the stupidity of people like the security guard in the article can only serve to exacerbate it, of course. when i become a father, i want to protect my children (who will speak, read and write in Punjabi, insha'allah) from this.

even when they're silent, dedicated speakers of minority languages show their pride, quietly. there's a sort of nostalgia to it, but more importantly, a sense of unexpressed distress at the death of the language in the new country, or rather a desire to be reassured that the tongue is still alive in its strange surroundings. just yesterday a Mediterranean-looking man with a briefcase sat down next to me on the bus. he must have noticed the expanse of my beard, the colour of my skin, and the curve of my nose. he took out some papers, and centred on the first page was a long paragraph in Arabic. i thought that it would be rude to read over his shoulder(and in any case i wouldn't have gotten past the gist of it without a dictionary), but i could have. in fact, i had a strong feeling that he had put it there in front of me because he wanted me to read it, wanted to know that someone else could read it, and wanted the act of disclosure to speak to me: "Yes, I read Arabic. And I am here."

it seems far-fetched that this self-assured-seeming suited-and-booted guy would need to do that, but felt that he did, because i know that need, albeit from a different perspective. on the subway reading an Urdu book, wearing pants and a t-shirt, i've opened my book wide and raised it so that others, especially South Asians can see the writing on the cover. i want to say that the language need not die with the younger generations; some of us still care enough to pick up Sa'dat Hasan Manto or Premchand once in a while. conversely, i do the same with English books on the subway wearing a pakol, or shalwaar qamiiz. i want to say, "yeah, i'm wearing 'ethnic' clothing and i'm an English major. it doesn't bother me and it shouldn't bother you." (Tres, if you're reading this, this is precisely the sort of situation in relation to which i've begun to think about Irigaray's idea of "specularity," as articulated in Berger's essay.)

there's a sort of meta-language at work here in the sense that, even if you don't understand some of the languages in themselves, or if you understand them imperfectly, the very fact of their existence nevertheless says something when poured into your ears or put in front of your eyes. it's difficult for me to believe that Babel could be anything but a blessing.

سلام و شب بخیر


From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 625

posted 31 August 2002 04:18 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mohamad, I couldn't agree more! (I only wish I lived in Toronto, though!)

I wish I could speak more languages- I've always had this kind of fascination with languages. I just love being in the supermarket and overhearing two middle-aged women carrying on a conversation in Ukranian, or walking through the mall and hearing a group of old men debate in Italian. It's refreshing for a lot of reasons- most of all that the community has become too unilingual, and everyone's adopting English not only for business, but for their everyday lives.

I guess that's part of the reason I want to continue my Italian so much- I only took it because it was the only third language my school offered. But I realized that in a community like Sault Ste. Marie where nearly 30% of the population is ethnic Italian, and the Italian language is almost never used, it's a sad loss of local heritage for the language to disappear like it is. I feel a sort of emotional obligation to continue it, for the sake of my community(plus I love it, so that helps). Even though there's not a drop of Italian blood in my body, I still feel this sort of connection. It may not be the language of my ancestors, but it was the language of my community.

Two languages I really want to lear: Afrikaans (I want to go to Namibia. It's one of the many, many languages there), and Punjabi (Punjab's big on my list, too. The Indian section for the most part, but the Pakistani portion, as well.). And of course I have a big list of other that I might get around to afterwards (Norwegian, Gaelic, Swedish, Japanese, Arabic, Xhosa, Yiddish...) or perhaps in between, depending on what oppertunities arise. But I have no idea how I'm going to go about learning the big two on my list- I suppose there'll be more oppertunities when I move to a bigger urban center (most likely Toronto, though possibly Montréal), but beyond that, I'm clueless. I just know I want to do it.

Well, I'm going to stop on that positive, cautiously optimistic note, and pack it in for the night.


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
hibachi
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 956

posted 31 August 2002 08:11 AM      Profile for hibachi   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Exclusionary Nationalism of any form leads inexorably to fascism. This is as true in modern America and Quebec as it is of Nazi Germany.

Fascism is based on the principle that some race is under threat. The Aryan Nations say that the White Race is under threat. Others say their 'pur laine' culture is under threat. No difference.


From: Toronto, Ont. | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 31 August 2002 08:24 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oui, Michelle, faudrait qu'on parle anglais comme tout le monde, n'est-ce pas?

Hibachi, c'est carrément ridicule, oui il y a quelques fafs par ici, mais beaucoup moins qu'en Alberta, sans compter notre voisin du sud...


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 31 August 2002 08:59 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Lagatta, you already know that I don't speak French, so I don't see why you're addressing me directly in French unless it's to show off your superior language skills, which we all already know you have.

I didn't say I wanted English to dominate in Quebec. I don't really have a problem with Quebec trying to keep English from taking over by making sign laws and school laws and all that. Where I have a problem is when ethnic minorities (NOT English) get caught in the cross-fire. I think one of the coolest things about living in Toronto is hearing and seeing all the different languages around me, as Mohamad said. I think one of the most disturbing things I've seen out of Quebec is the leader of the province blaming the ethnics in the province for stopping Quebec from self-determination.

While I sympathize with francophones' minority status in Canada, I'm sorry but I can't sympathize with the racism and prejudice that so often accompanies the kind of nationalism you see in Quebec, whether it's out-and-out racism against visible minorities (which you also see in English Canada, but at least Mike Harris and the other premiers aren't blaming the visible minorities in our provinces for our problems), or that slightly superior attitude that some francophones portray (I think you yourself called it "Eurosnobbery", lagatta) when they go on about how much more cultured they are compared to English Canada. Sure, French culture is awesome and quite distinct from English culture. And I think English is pervasive and French needs to be preserved in Quebec, and if the sign law only applied to English, I wouldn't have a problem with it. But somehow I don't think ethnic minorities putting up signs in non-English languages is going to threaten French anymore than it threatens English in Toronto.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 31 August 2002 10:17 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Michelle, I did not write in French to show off... Now, if i could write in Farsi ...! Just to make the point that English language and culture are so dominant in North America and much of the world that I believe other cultures have the right to enact legislation to protect their language and promote their cultural development.

And to be honest, because your posting did piss me off just a bit - no I don't think you are an angryphone by any means but it is annoying to be lumped in with bigots like those cretins in Orange County. It is very rare that anyone here will make adverse comments about people speaking different languages. Even between French and English it is not very common any more.

Funny, in my neighbourhood (extremely multiethnic) there are a lot of signs in Arabic, Chinese, Tamil, as well as European languages, especially Italian and Spanish. Actually LaW 101 has done much to promote a multiethnic society in Quebec, as by now an entire generation of young people from all over the globe have attended schools alongside "pure-laine" Québécois pupils and students.

I agree that sometimes the OLF goes overboard on the sign law as small merchants from ethnic communities are much easier to take on than multinationals. They are bureaucrats after all, and like any bureaucrats anywhere want to mark points.

I apologise for posting in French if you thought the intent was to exclude you from what I was saying, which was simply a much more summarised form of my first point, as well as to say we may have some fascists (Raymond Villeneuve springs to mind) but there are far more in Alberta, say, not to mention our neighbours to the south.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 31 August 2002 10:51 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, what I wrote was snarky and I apologize.

So are you saying that non-English minorities are allowed to have signs in their own language in Quebec now? It seems to me that I saw lots of cases on the news where, for instance, Asian grocers or ethnic restaurants were not allowed to have signs in their languages. And it really makes me wonder when I see the leader of a province make such a racist statement as Parizeau did after the referendum - I can't help but wonder just how widespread those sentiments are. Then again, as you say, Quebec doesn't have a monopoly on racism considering that the Western provinces are refooooooooooooorm country.

I heard an awesome documentary on CBC radio a couple of months back, about kids at a Montreal school. They have to speak French in class, but on the playground, they speak all sorts of languages because it's a very diverse bunch of kids there.

I visited Montreal for a day a few years back, just as a place to go to for a drive that was different. It seemed nice, but unfortunately we didn't know the city and didn't know where to go or how the subway worked. Too bad.

I would actually like to live in Quebec for a few years sometime just to try to learn French. I've always felt it was a handicap not to know both official languages. And hopefully my son will be able to speak French fluently if I have him in French immersion for his elementary school years.

However, I can't help but have a problem with official language policies, where other languages are specifically excluded. I don't mind so much with English because English culture is dominant. But if it extends to minority languages that are even more marginalized than French, well, I think that's where nationalism turns into racism.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 31 August 2002 01:15 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's interesting listening to languages as well. I once heard a man speak Afrikaans, and the cadence and tone is similar to that of German, but there's enough of a difference that it sounds even more guttural than German.
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 31 August 2002 01:46 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, Afrikaans is old Dutch of course - when I was at the airport in Amsterdam there was a fellow from South Africa ahead of me and they succeeded in understanding each other in Dutch/Afrikaans. Linguists used to consider Dutch a form of "Low German" (the dialects from the flat, Northern regions) but I guess it is always a matter of dispute when a dialect becomes a language ... in any case both Afrikaans and modern Dutch are certainly close cousins of German.

As for language laws - yes, there is a silly bureaucratic thing about "French has to be twice as large as any other language on a sign" - no, other languages including English are not banned on commercial signage. This law governs commercial signs, not for example a church, association or other non-profit concern. I don't think the OLF bureaucrats are so much racist as bureaucratic, petty and at times ethnocentric - like food safety inspectors. To my mind the word racism should be applied to situations of brutal exclusion.

Michelle, you'll like this one - as you know franco-fascist Raymond Villeneuve - already convicted of manslaughter as a young FLQ terrorist (he killed a security guard) and more recently of criminal mischief - got a three-month SUSPENDED sentence, with an order to "obey the law and not issue death threats" (duh...). His handful of supporters were picketing the court here, claiming he was a political prisoner!

But he has no credibility or following whatsoever. Agree that it is important to be vigilant about fascist nutcases, but we sure haven't got any monopoly either on those or on the ridiculously lenient sentences they tend to get...


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
hibachi
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 956

posted 01 September 2002 07:48 AM      Profile for hibachi   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fair Enough.
From: Toronto, Ont. | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
hibachi
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 956

posted 01 September 2002 11:11 AM      Profile for hibachi   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
By the way, carrement was cute. Un cervau a chaque coin?
From: Toronto, Ont. | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 01 September 2002 12:47 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Speaking of points and angles, Hibachi, I don't quite get yours. Carrément is normal everyday French: frankly, or in certain contexts in English you can use the literal translation "squarely".

There is (or was) an anarcho-punky type antifascist group in France, mostly around Toulouse, called the S.C.A.L.P. (Société carrément anti Le Pen). One of them gave me a red and black bandana several years ago. I still have it. Unfortunately I didn't hear in advance when Haider visited Montreal, so I couldn't wear it against that particular reincarnation of la peste brune.

I do find your comparison between Quebec, a small nation under the steamroller of North American culture and Nazi Germany more than a bit specious. If you were talking about Native issues it could have a touch of validity, but even there it would be far more pertinent to point out the hypocritical aspects of Quebec policy than bring out the old Nazi bugaboo, when there is far less of a Nazi or neo-nazi movement (militias etc) in Quebec than elsewhere in North America. There are a few skinheads, and most are federalist I believe , crazies like Raymond Legault who has a handful of loser friends and gets laughed at, some antidiluvian anti-semites and a few bigots who fear non-white immigrants, but far less than you would find in Reform, not to mention in many parts of the US.

I certainly agree with vigilance about fascism, but it is ridiculous to have raised its spectre with respect to our language legislation. It is like men bitching about employment equity for women - the struggle to be able to work in French was originally a working-class struggle, raised by the union struggles at United Aircraft, General Motors and elsewhere and carried by militant labour spokesmen such as Michel Chartrand.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | rabble.ca | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008 rabble.ca