AngryFrenchGuy

English Country Converts to Spanish

with 11 comments

You’d think they had it all: beaches, calypso and English.

Think again.

Trinidad and Tobago wants the entire country to learn Spanish by 2020.If the government did not take this step, to ensure our nationals are not left behind this global trend of bi-lingualism, our nationals would not be competitive in the global marketplaces of tomorrow“, reads the website of the The Secretariat for The Implementation of Spanish.

Latin America is expected to be one of the booming economies of the next century. Demographically Spanish is on the rise all over the continent(s), including in the United States where Hispanics are now the most important minority. Brazil requires all schools to offer Spanish classes and encourages students to pick it as a second language instead of English.

The capital of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain, is actively campaigning to be the seat of the
Free Trade Area of the Americas. The challenger is Miami, the unofficial capital of the Hispanic USA.

Should French and English-Canadians still spend all their resources on learning each others languages or is not time for us to learn our own continent’s common language?

Discuss.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

June 10, 2008 at 9:53 pm

11 Responses

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  1. Wow. Bad news for French speakers in North America. Not only do you have to deal with the tidal wave of English but also the tsunami of Spanish!

    I’m kinda having fun with you AFG, but I’m also making the point that I wouldn’t gloat too much.

    Down here in the states, for every immigrant couple that will never become fluent in English, they have children that will. This will only swell the numbers of English and Spanish speakers. And where will that leave French in North America???

    But I realize much of your anger towards English stems from the Quebec issue which I cannot understand fully as I have no dog in that fight.

    Roger

    June 10, 2008 at 11:40 pm

  2. “Should French and English-Canadians still spend all their resources on learning each others languages or is not time for us to learn our own continent’s common language?”

    That time may come sooner than you think. It seems that I am hearing more and more Spanish in a place that I hadn’t expected to: right here in the Outaouais.

    The thing with the Spanish-speaking population is that it is spreading on its own. No laws are forcing its ubiquity. French, by comparison, seems to be on the ropes (though this would be a bit of an exaggeration). French represents a very low percentage of the population of the Americas. Portuguese, by comparison, is buffered by a comparably high population of speakers in Brazil.

    Spanish seems set to win the contest over which colonial language will come to dominate this continent. What this means for English remains to be seen, but for French, it may not bode well, particularly for the rather futile attempts at bilingualism in parts of the ROC.

    Geo

    June 11, 2008 at 10:16 am

  3. Things don’t bode well for Danish, Swedish, Norwegian or Dutch on a European continent increasingly dominated by English and, to a much lesser degree, French and German, yet no one frets for these languages over there.

    I’d say second-language Spanish isn’t really a threat to francophones in Canada, since it doesn’t have the institutional backing to rival for top spot locally with the languages that are already in place. (In this sense, it is quite different from English, which does have the institutional backing in the *Canadian province* of Quebec to potentially take over.)

    If anything, a broader reach for Spanish might be beneficial to French, as it might jolt the people we share this continent with into consciousness that there are other languages in their midst and that North America isn’t just one big English-only monolith.

    Don’t forget that quite a few Quebec francophones are trilingual in French, English and Spanish. In the educated classes, some knowledge of Spanish is actually quite common, and many people in my personal entourage have pretty decent knowledge of it. I know I do, and so does my wife as does my brother. I think it’s something like between 3 and 5 percent of Quebec francophones that are trilingual in this way, which is about half the percentage of anglos in the ROC who are bilingual in English and French.

    Acajack

    June 11, 2008 at 10:55 am

  4. I guess AFG may have been expecting this when he set up his blog, but I find it interesting how numerous schadenfreude-type posts are here. You know, the ones that say: “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated… even if you become independent!”.

    It reminds of the Roman statesman Cato, who for 10 years ended every one of his speeches, regardless of the topic, with “Carthago delenda est” (Carthage must be destroyed)!

    I guess that’s the idea: hammer the idea home enough times and eventually the message will sink in.

    Now, I can’t predict the future but I can tell you that people in Quebec (just like people elsewhere) aren’t that easily duped. People from Quebec have been to Copenhagen, they’ve been to Bratislava, they’ve been to Tallinn, and Helsinki and Zagreb. They’ve also been to Geneva, to Liège and Antwerp.

    So when you try to pull the wool over their eyes and convince them that the current Canadian arrangement is the have-all-end-all and that they’re gonna have to settle for it and if their distinct nation dies out as a result, then so be it… well, that’s a non-starter.

    The truth is that a emboldened package of linguistic and cultural assurances that go beyond what is currently in place are going to be implemented in Quebec eventually, and Canada is going to have to give its blessing, agree to it begrudgingly or perhaps hold its nose just to get it over with. And if this doesn’t happen, Quebec will just seek it out through other channels, perhaps disruptively outside the current Canadian federal arrangement. I am not saying that any of this will come to a head any time soon, but it likely will eventually, especially if the populace at some point perceives that its much-vaunted (sometimes exaggeratedly it is true) distinctiveness is being eroded against its wishes.

    The reason for this is simple: the “general will” (or volonté générale, as elaborated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau) that Quebec remain a mainly French-speaking has overwhelming buy-in in the province.

    Polls show that this vision of Quebec has increasing buy-in from immigrants who have made their home here and surprisingly even from many anglos. These days, there are more anglos that tell pollsters that it’s most important for immigrants to Quebec to learn French than there are that say that it’s most important for newcomers to learn English!

    Acajack

    June 11, 2008 at 12:56 pm

  5. I am surprised that most Anglos on this forum seem unable to step outside the Canadian framework and even consider that there are other forces at work in the world beyond the very regional tug of war between Anglos and Francos in the small area between Sudbury and Caraquet.

    Globalization of the economy, unprecedented migrations from South to North, the rise of China and Latin America, the rebirth of Europe, Internet, satellite TV, cell phones and the obliteration of concept of distance for diasporas and geographically spread out minorities, and the adoption of English as a global language by non-native Anglophones.

    All of this is brand new. It’s a new paradigm for linguistic and cultural relations.

    And you’ll have me believe you know how all of this is going to play out? That a “war” has been won?

    Sorry bud, it just started…

    angryfrenchguy

    June 11, 2008 at 1:38 pm

  6. The Brazilians I have met in the US do NOT like to be addressed in Spanish, and I have also heard anecdotally that it is a bad idea to try to use Spanish in Brazil; if you don’t know Portuguese, so I’ve heard, it’s best to attempt to communicate in English or even French there.

    littlerob

    June 11, 2008 at 4:53 pm

  7. “The Brazilians I have met in the US do NOT like to be addressed in Spanish, and I have also heard anecdotally that it is a bad idea to try to use Spanish in Brazil; if you don’t know Portuguese, so I’ve heard, it’s best to attempt to communicate in English or even French there.”

    Doesn’t mean that they don’t KNOW Spanish. Kind of like those French-canadians who dislike being addressed in English.

    SM

    June 13, 2008 at 8:02 am

  8. Brazil is a huge country with around 200 million people. This is just a guess since I don’t know the place that well but I’d say just based on those two factors your average Brazilian who doesn’t have frequent professional dealings with the rest of South America wouldn’t know much if any Spanish. So Brazilians who immigrate to the U.S. would quickly pick up English rather than Spanish as the language of their new life in the States, and wouldn’t refuse to speak Spanish out of pride, but rather because they can’t.

    Acajack

    June 13, 2008 at 9:20 am

  9. The global reality is that an English Canadian can more afford to learn Spanish at the expense of French, than a French Canadian can afford to learn Spanish at the expense of English.

    Peter

    June 16, 2008 at 10:20 pm

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  11. “The global reality is that an English Canadian can more afford to learn Spanish at the expense of French, than a French Canadian can afford to learn Spanish at the expense of English.”

    Actually, the reality is that English Canadians are not going to learn Spanish OR French, no matter what happens.

    Acajack

    June 19, 2008 at 10:33 am


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