5 December 2013
Multilingualism or Not?
Today in America, there is a raging debate going on: should we promote multilingualism or accept a "melting pot" ideology? The melting pot ideology dictates assimilating into a common culture and language. Views on this issue are very polarized, which make a compromise seem hard to accomplish. Two articles that pertain to this topic are "American Multilingualism: A National Tragedy," by Franklin Raff published on WND.com, and "English Only Laws Divide and Demean," by Warren J. Blumenfeld published in The Huffington Post. Both articles are direct contradictions of each other with Raff saying languages other than English are unduly practiced and embraced in America while Blumenfeld argues that America should promote the practice of multiple languages. While I do not find myself agreeing completely with either one, there are points in both that appeal to me and give me a better understanding of multilingualism, and the influences of its wide reaching effects on society. In "American Multilingualism: A National Tragedy," writer Franklin Raff introduces an ad broadcast on Super Bowl Sunday. It is a Toyota car ad, which is touted to be the first "bicultural, bilingual" advertisement. The spot compares the benefits of being bilingual to a hybrid car. Raff claims that the ad agency responsible for the ad has bluffed in equating bilingualism to anything good. He even goes as far as to say that the effects of promoting bilingualism can be fatal. To support his claim of fatality he uses the situation in where doctors are unable to
comprehend their patients. He also brings up the fact that workers who are unable to comprehend safety regulations at worksites meet untimely deaths. Raff speaks of the Chicago school system, which has an overwhelming population of Hispanics and is also the worst performing of all school systems. He then introduces a janitor, who cannot speak English and as such cannot get a better job despite his attention to detail, and a little Spanish speaking girl, who he encountered in the supermarket and cannot offer her help due to her not understanding English. Raff also provides statistics that portray Hispanics as unable to complete higher education courses due to their knowledge of Spanish and not English. He closes by saying it is a disservice to oneself to speak Spanish and as such it is a national tragedy.
Raff's article has a feeling of immense passion on something he feels is a great plague to the nation. He argues to great lengths on the extent of "damage" that speaking other languages causes to society. The Spanish language is his argument's main adversary. He uses rhetorical strategies such as pathos and angle of vision to significant effect to support his claim. In his attempt to gain emotional support from his readers he makes impassioned pleas and relates personal experiences. He introduces the idea of being unable to comprehend languages as being detrimental to the point of even causing deaths. He uses examples of miscommunication in a health care facility and safety regulations at work sites. Death being the worst fate of mankind is a useful point for Raff as readers would be appalled that death is a possibility for some and that it could be avoided. He also speaks of the failing Chicago school system which is densely populated by Hispanics and he insinuates that their practice of language is what fails them. Others he says afflicted by speaking Spanish include a janitor he knows and a girl he encounters at the supermarket. Raff seeks to gain support by relating the troubles he perceives and leading
people to believe that Hispanics would be afforded a better quality of life and possibility of success by relinquishing the Spanish language and adopting the English language. Franklin Raff's use of angle of vision lies in subtle inferences that readers have...
Cited: Blumenfeld, Warren J. ""English Only" Laws Divide and Demean." The Huffington Post.
TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc., 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 21 October 2013.
Raff, Franklin. "American 'multilingualism ': A National Tragedy." WND. WND.com, 02 May
2006. Web. 16 November 2013.
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