December 13, 2009

"English Lessons"

My March 23, 2009 article in The American Conservative on the first decade after the demise of mandatory bilingual education California was never fully on line, so here's the whole thing.
I was visiting a typical Southern California public high school, one in which the student body is close to three-fourths Latino, when it dawned on me that virtually all the kids’ hallway conversations with friends were conducted in English. Indeed, most of the students spoke English without an accent. Well, to be pedantic, they had teen accents -- it’s practically impossible for a high school girl to roll her eyes and exclaim “That is so gay” without sounding a little like Moon Unit Zappa in Valley Girl -- but only a minority of the Hispanic students had Spanish accents.

Nor, I recalled, had I heard teachers lecturing in anything but English. I found out later that a couple of percent of all the classes were conducted in Spanish for the children of parents who requested it, but few parents did.

I realized then that I had barely heard any public discussion in half a decade about the once contentious topic of bilingual education. Yet, it had been promoted adamantly by America’s educational and political establishment from 1968, when Congress passed the first of five Bilingual Education Acts, through the 1990s.

I went home and read up on bilingual education. I quickly discovered the topic of educating “Limited English Proficient” (LEP) students is buried under a bureaucratic jargon that appears to consist of literal translations from some distant language unknown to Earthlings. For example, when an LEP child masters English, he becomes a Reclassified-Fluent English Proficient (R-FEP). His R-FEP status is tabulated at the federal Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited-English-Proficient Students (OELALEAALEPS).

Eventually, I discovered that bilingual education is by no means dead. Yet, it has clearly lost the momentum, the sense of inevitability, it long enjoyed.

That means that America may have dodged a bullet, a long-term threat to our national unity, because nothing divides a country more than multiple languages. In contrast, a shared language enables shared sentiments.

In the three decades when America’s great and good actively promoted Spanish in the public schools, giving official blessing to a second language, it seemed plausible that our country was inflicting upon itself something that could turn into another Quebec a generation or two down the road. Or worse, a Kosovo, which was plunged into war in the 1990s by decades of unassimilated illegal immigration from Albania into a Serbian part of the republic formerly known as Yugoslavia.

And, it struck me, the man who did more to head off the dangers posed by bilingual education is a friend of mine. In fact, he’s my boss: The American Conservative’s publisher Ron Unz.

Okay, I’m biased. But a decade after the 61-39 landslide victory of Ron’s initiative, Proposition 227, put bilingual education on the ropes in California, America’s forerunner state, it’s time to review how the seemingly predestined triumph of bilingualism was knocked off track.

The history of educational plans in America is notoriously littered with broken dreams.

Unintended consequences predominate because the reigning dogma of the education industry—the intellectual equality of all students—is wrong. This obdurate refusal on the part of everybody who is anybody in the education business to admit publicly the manifold implications of some kids being smarter than others makes it difficult to get anything done in the real world.

Thus, for example, George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy got together in 2001 to pass the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, which mandates that by the 2013-2014 school year, every student in America’s public schools score on reading and math tests at the “proficient” level (roughly, a B+). This, I can assure you, won’t happen.

Yet, the terrible irony about the decades wasted pushing bilingual education is that the conventional wisdom that no child need be left behind is much truer for young children learning English than for anything else in American education. That’s why the otherwise often zany NCLB has helped consolidate the progress initiated by Unz’s pro-English initiatives.

The most popular public rationale for bilingual education -- that the children of immigrants need to be taught in their native language so that they don’t fall behind academically while they spend many years learning English -- sounds plausible as long as you forget how remarkably good small children are at learning a new language.

Most little kids can pick up a language simply by being immersed in it. But if they wait until high school, it becomes a struggle that many will never overcome.

Linguist Noam Chomsky’s 1950s research showed that very young people have an innate language-learning ability. As he noted by email, "There is no dispute about the fact that pre-puberty (in fact, much earlier) children have unusual facility in acquiring new languages.”

Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, author of the bestseller The Language Instinct, told me, "When it comes to learning a second language, the younger the better…. People who began to learn English at six ended up on average more proficient than those who began at seven, and so on." Pinker pointed to the famously thick Bavarian accent of Henry Kissinger, who arrived in America at age fifteen. In contrast, his one-year younger brother acquired a nearly perfect American accent. (Walter Kissinger, though, has suggested another reason for the fraternal accent difference: “Because I am the Kissinger who listens.”)

Judith Rich Harris, author of the The Nurture Assumption, pointed out, "The problem with bilingual education is that these programs create peer groups of children who do not speak English well. They don't have to learn English in order to communicate with the children they want to play with, and they don't have to learn English in order to be accepted by their classmates. So, their motivation to learn English is no different from their motivation to learn the state capitals or the multiplication tables.”

The hidden reason why bilingual education supporters wanted to drag out the learning of English over many years was to keep Latinos from ever being fully adept in English. The chief donor to the campaign against Proposition 227, for example, was the Republican Italian-American billionaire Jerry Perenchio, then-owner of the giant Spanish-language Univision television network. As Perenchio evidently reasoned, bilingual educations keeps Hispanics chained to Univision.

Similarly, Hispanic political leaders want American-born Latinos to go through life marked by Spanish accents so that they will feel isolated from the American majority … and thus in the need of Hispanic political leaders.

Bilingual education was always widely disliked by the public (a national Zogby poll in 1998 found that 84% of Republicans and 72% of Democrats favored requiring schools to use English immersion), but the bilingual industry succeeded in branding it a civil rights issue, intimidating most would-be opponents.

Unz, a theoretical physicist (who had studied under Stephen Hawking) turned Silicon Valley entrepreneur, had debuted in politics at age 32 by challenging incumbent California governor Pete Wilson for the GOP nomination in 1994. Wilson beat him (and went on to win re-election by 15 points), but Unz garnered 34 percent of the vote. Since Ron may have the least stereotypically political personality I’ve ever come across, I’m still amazed by that percentage, which seems as unlikely as would, say, Babe Ruth having won a bronze medal at the 1928 Winter Olympics in Men’s Figure Skating.

With the help of immigrant parents tired of having their children not taught English, Unz’s English for the Children organization put on the ballot Proposition 227, which made one year of “sheltered English immersion” instruction the default. (Bilingual instruction was only allowed upon a parent-initiated request.) It passed easily, and even won 37 percent of Latinos and 57 percent of Asians.

Unz’s Proposition 203 campaign in Arizona in 2000 showed this was no fluke. With 29 months to learn from their California mistakes, the best that bilingual advocates could come up with for the rematch was to ignore Spanish and campaign against Prop. 203’s impact on the right of Navajos and Hopis to school their children in their own languages. Native Americans didn't decide to come to the U.S.; instead, the U.S. had decided to come to the Native Americans. This clever tactic cut Prop. 203’s 50-point lead in half, but it still wound up winning 63-37.

Ron’s initiatives were a rare example in recent years of an assertion of cultural self-confidence by the American majority. Proposition 227 meant that California schools were finally told to sell to immigrants what the world wants to buy: the English language.

Immigrant parents understand that English is the language of money, the lingua franca of the global economy. (In Switzerland, for instance, 24% of the work force speaks English on the job). And their children have reacted positively to schools asserting the primacy of English. After all, English is the world’s coolest language, the mother tongue of blockbuster movies.

When the No Child Left Behind bill came up for debate in Congress shortly after Unz’s victory in Arizona, proponents of bilingual education were in disarray. Not a single member of the Hispanic Caucus voted against dumping the 1994 Bilingual Education Act (which had called for "developing the English skills ... and to the extent possible, the native-language skills" of LEP students) in favor of a new English Language Acquisition Act as part of NCLB, in which all references to “bilingual education” and “bilingualism” as goals were stricken.

The 2001 NCLB legislation wound up muddled. For example, the law directs that by 2014 every student in the Limited English Proficient category be proficient in English, which isn’t even theoretically possible. Still, the NCLB’s obsession with testing for progress in math and “English language arts” achievement (and penalizing school districts that fall behind) had the salutary effect of making long, drawn-out bilingual programs an expensive luxury.

At least some of the government funding incentives have finally started pointing vaguely in the right direction. Consider Garfield H.S., the 99 percent Latino high school in East L.A., once home to famed calculus teacher Jaime Escalante (played by Edward James Olmos in the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver”). Back in the 2002-2003 school year, before the effects of NCLB were fully felt, exactly zero students were reclassified as having become proficient in English. In other words, the Garfield administration wasn’t in the mood to see students learn English. In 2006-2007, though, 155 students were reclassified. This is out of 1862 “English Learners,” so progress isn’t quick. Still, you can at least say it’s up ∞ percent.

[A student, no matter how accent-free in English, can't get reclassifed as no longer being an English Learner until he achieves at least a Basic score on a scale running from Far Below Basic to Advanced on the California Standards Test in all subjects, including math. So, lots of students remain locked into classification as English Learners not because they haven't learned English but because they are below average in intelligence -- a problem, unlike not speaking English, that schools can't do all that much about.]

This de-emphasis on bilingual education hasn’t solved all problems. The test score gaps between ethnic groups remain substantial, and the huge number of illegal immigrants means that many communities are de facto Spanish-speaking.

At least, though, in the decade since Prop. 227, the country has slowly been cutting back on the schools using the taxpayers’ money to make America’s dual language problem even worse.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

37 comments:

TGGP said...

Why haven't you published anything recently at The American Conservative? Are they hard-up for cash to pay contributors or does Unz not care for you?

Anonymous said...

Here in Chicago the notorious Bill Ayers has been entrenched in the field of, just guess, education. Does anyone seriously think that he and others like him are in this field only because they care that little Jimmie learn proper grammar? The educational establishment is top heavy with politically connected careerists, sub-par but glib bureaucrats, ideologues, followers of educational fashion and other worthless check collectors who have wormed their way into the system. For the health of the country the educational establishment needs some sort of purge to shake out this harmful accretion. Either now or later, it'll have to be addressed. May as well face up to it and start thinking about the form it should take.

michael farris said...

As a practicing linguist I'm somewhat familiar with bilingual education theory. Every model I've ever seen in the US emphasizes the acquisition of English over the students' native language. Where they vary is in how much (and what kind of) attention is paid to maintaining and/or cultivating the native language.

From what you write, all we can tell for certain is that the kids test scores aren't improving. There's no evidence offered that they weren't learning English before.

On the other hand, English speakers in general (and Americans in particular) have an odd zero-sum-game view of language knowledge where literacy and or ability to speak one language necessarily comes at the expense of knowledge in another. It's very peculiar and not backed up by any linguistic science whatsoever.

It's legitimate for voters to not want tax dollars to go to first language education for immigrants, it's quite another to use erroneous arguments that aren't backed up by linguistic science or evidence to justify that.

"Linguist Noam Chomsky’s 1950s research showed that very young people have an innate language-learning ability."

The observation that small children are good at learning languages was not first made by Chomsky. And, actually what he eventually suggested was that children have an innate model of what a human language is like with some possibilities (parameters) of variation and that exposure to one parameter (such as postpositions) sets off a bunch of others (typical of head final grammars) and closes others.

And, basically, Chomsky's always been a deductive theorist who cherry picks examples that happen to support his theories (every one of which has big holes in it which his more .... fervid supporters don't like being pointed out).

Finally, linguistics is actually a field that doesn't support HBD at all (it doesn't necessarily contradict it, but it certainly doesn't support it all) as there's no evidence that any particular genetic phenotype corresponds with any particular language feature (I recall an attempt to link prevailing blood types with interdental consonants, but it was pretty unconvincing). There's also no evidence so far that children from any particular genetic background have trouble acquiring a maintaining any particular language they are exposed to.

Mr. Anon said...

"Linguist Noam Chomsky’s 1950s research showed that very young people have an innate language-learning ability. As he noted by email, "There is no dispute about the fact that pre-puberty (in fact, much earlier) children have unusual facility in acquiring new languages.”"

I think this was known earlier than that. By mothers, for example. From roughly.....the dawn of time.

May as well credit Chomsky with discovering that the Sun rises in the East, as I'm sure he's noted that at one time another as well.

You'll forgive me, Steve, if I don't share your enthusiasm for Ron Unz. He opposed Prop. 187. He's no friend of mine.

Dutch Boy said...

"The chief donor to the campaign against Proposition 227, for example, was the Republican Italian-American billionaire Jerry Perenchio, then-owner of the giant Spanish-language Univision television network. As Perenchio evidently reasoned, bilingual educations keeps Hispanics chained to Univision."
- a merchant has no country.

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

"On the other hand, English speakers in general (and Americans in particular) have an odd zero-sum-game view of language knowledge where literacy and or ability to speak one language necessarily comes at the expense of knowledge in another."

I don't think the problem is acquisition of other languages per se, it's the intertwining of the issue with a highly unusual circumstance for our country: immigration, much if not most of it illegal, from a single ethnic-cultural-linguistic cohort. No thinking person would say that learning French or German or Japanese is anything other than an opportunity to broaden one's horizons, but having to know Spanish in order to get around in one's own country creates annoyance and resentments.

This is a case of micro versus macro to some extent. Being bilingual or multilingual is an asset for an individual, but a deficit for a society. Simply put, any society functions more smoothly when its members can communicate clearly with one another. Allowing a second language to take root and flourish within our borders makes everyday communication more, not less difficult, and has the effect of discouraging a certain percentage of the population to not bother learning the majority language.

Anonymous said...

Steve -- Nice column! But I too would be very interested in learning why you aren't publishing in The American Conservative any more. It seems unfortunate, since I think you probably had more influence there than at Taki's Magazine (which I never see on newsstands).

michael farris -- It does seem likely to me that at least some of the political proponents of bilingual education supported it because they hoped to maintain Hispanic cultural solidarity in the United States by limiting linguistic assimilation. Do you disagree? It may be hard to stop young children from learning new languages, but if that's what you want, isn't your best hope to make learning the new language as unnecessary as possible?

It's an interesting point about language and HBD. Language acquisition does seem to be one of the few areas where differences in ability between people from different parts of the world really do seem to be vanishingly small. I've seen arguments that the "cultural explosion" of 50 thousand years ago was triggered by the full development of language, but the universality of this ability suggests to me that it has to be older than that.

I don't like Chomsky for political reasons, but I'm forced to acknowledge the respect he gets in the linguistic community. You say his arguments are full on holes? I'd be interested in hearing more about that!

OhioStater said...

The only way to manage a diverse population is assimilation.

It used to be the pinnacle of America was white, English, and Protestant, and people looked up to them exclusively but as other role models (Jewish businessmen, black athletes, etc) have culturally marginalized the WASP, immigrants don't know what to emulate, or don't like the new role model, and keep their old ways.

John Kerry's ancestors are Jewish, but exposed themselves to people like George Bush's ancestors and eventually assimilated into the WASP culture to the point its hard to remember Kerry is Jewish.

English as the national language is a good first step in this process.

Tanstaafl said...

In Commentary, November 1999 by Ron Unz, COVER STORY, Unz writes:

Californians of European ancestry---"whites"---became a minority near the end of the 1980s, and this unprecedented ethnic transformation is probably responsible for the rise of a series of ethnically-charged political issues such as immigration, affirmative action, and bilingual education, as seen in Propositions 187, 209, and 227. Since America as a whole is undergoing the same ethnic transformation delayed by a few decades, the experience of these controversial campaigns tells us much about the future of our country on these ethnic issues.

Our political leaders should approach these ethnic issues by reaffirming America's traditional support for immigration, but couple that with a return to the assimilative policies which America has emphasized in the past. Otherwise, whites as a group will inevitably begin to display the same ethnic-minority-group politics as other minority groups, and this could break our nation. We face the choice of either supporting "the New American Melting Pot" or accepting "the Coming of White Nationalism."


Unz consciously and deliberately opposes the interests of "whites as a group". He seeks to defuse a perceived threat to "ethnic minority groups", including his own, by denying to Whites the same politics non-White groups enjoy.

Anonymous said...

OhioStater The only way to manage a diverse population is assimilation.

I would urge you to consider the very real possiblity that there is NO way to "manage" a sufficiently "diverse" population [Andy Stern's best efforts to the contrary notwithstanding].

Tanstaafl said...

Ron’s initiatives were a rare example in recent years of an assertion of cultural self-confidence by the American majority.

By his own admission Unz's initiatives were motivated by a desire to prevent a stronger, presumably more effective assertion of self-confidence from Whites, such as engaging in ethnic-minority-group-style politics. He could have addressed that, as well as a host of other problems, by working to restrict immigration. But again, by his own admission, he supports immigration.

This de-emphasis on bilingual education hasn’t solved all problems.

If you've been to any Lowes or McDonalds recently and examined the signage, you can see it didn't even solve biligualism.

As with crime, education, healthcare, employment, or any of the other ways in which the negative consequences of immigration have manifested, "the American majority" is pathologized for expressing our group interests against this harm, whether we recognize ourselves collectively as White or not.

Diversity is divisive. Immigration is genocide.

keypusher said...

As a practicing linguist I'm somewhat familiar with bilingual education theory. Every model I've ever seen in the US emphasizes the acquisition of English over the students' native language. Where they vary is in how much (and what kind of) attention is paid to maintaining and/or cultivating the native language.

Would be interested in your comments on Heather McDonald's article, then (several posts down).

Anonymous said...

Kerry, Jewish? He's from an Irish Catholic background. (I assumed as much from the name, but I checked to be sure.)

TGGP said...

Anonymous 12/14/2009:
If you followed Mr. Anon's example I wouldn't have to add the date.

It seems unfortunate, since I think you probably had more influence there than at Taki's Magazine (which I never see on newsstands).
Taki's is web only. I'd also say it's generally of lower quality than AmConMag.

Speaking of TAC and Chomsky, Austin Bramwell argues that his linguistic work lends support to conservatism here.

Middletown Girl said...

"Linguist Noam Chomsky’s 1950s research showed that very young people have an innate language-learning ability. As he noted by email, "There is no dispute about the fact that pre-puberty (in fact, much earlier) children have unusual facility in acquiring new languages.”"

"I think this was known earlier than that. By mothers, for example. From roughly.....the dawn of time."

------------------

True, but Chomsky did make an important contribution at the time because the prevailing idea among social scientists back then was behavioralism, and even language was seen this way--as something mostly or purely conditioned. Chomsky, in his nasty and vicious way, did punch holes in theories then pushed by the likes of B. F. Skinner.

But of course, Chomsky had ideological reasons for pushing his concept of universal grammar. It's a variation of the blank slate theory: pre-programmed slate theory. It rejects the leftist notion that man is all about social conditioning but still promotes the leftist viewpoint that EVERYONE is wired identically in the area that makes us most human--innate language skills. If Marxism called for the creation of New Man, Chomsky argued that the essential man is already there in the child. All children are programmed to think, speak, and reason rationally and identically around the world. Thus, from universal grammar to minimalism, Chomsky is making a case for developing the naturally universal biological qualities of man. This may be closer to Rousseau than to Marx except Chomsky has the intellectual viciousness of Marx than the romantics leanings of Rousseau.

I would say Chomsky is essentially right about all people being born with the same pre-wired set of innate language skills. But, the races are wired differently in terms of emotions, groove, rhythm, etc. Part of language is communication and logical but part of it is musical and expressive. Thus, even the same langauge is spoken,'performed', and felt differently by different races. Though I oppose Ebonics, there is some justification for blacks arguing that it's the more natural style of English for blacks in tune with their natural rhythm and feel. Similarly, Jazz is more naturally black while classical is more naturally white. A white man can play jazz--even really well--but he is venturing outside his natural whiteness, and a black man can play classical--really well--but he is venturing outside his natural blackness.
This is what Chomsky has ignored. He himself has a naturally Jewish way of thinking and feeling. Jewishness has largely been genetic, and certain Jewish traits are hardwired in the brain.

Middletown Girl said...

It's important that Mexican-Americans learn English, but that's not enough. Irish took up English, but they still didn't want to become part of Britain.

In India it was the educated Brahmin and merchant elites who sent their children to study English abroad. Those people led the independence movement and the overthrow of British rule.

As American institutions in media and education becomes more 'progressive' and liberal, learning English paradoxically can mean becoming more anti-American. I find it amusing that many immigrants who barely speak English love this country. Their children learn English and PC in schools and hate this country.

Middletown Girl said...

I wonder what is more crucial to assimilation: Learning the new language or forgetting the old?

Learning the new language may not necessarily make one feel closer to the new country, especially if the overall community is hostile or suicidal. Suppose you're a Japanese-American and everyone calls you a "Jap". You may speak English but feel uncomfortable, what with everyone calling you names and discriminating against you. On the other hand, suppose the society is overly apologetic and does nothing but confess its 'sins'. As a minority, you would be taught to look upon the majority community as evil 'racist' and not worth respecting nor assimilating into. So, both extreme chauvanism and extreme suicidalism isn't good for assimilation. The host nation has to be proud but also welcoming--on certain conditions that the newcomer respect and seek to learn the culture of the host nation.

But, whatever the social attitudes of the majority in the host nation, newcomers may feel compelled to assimilate if they forget their language of origin. Even if the minority community senses hostility from the majority, it can never go back because its members have forgotten the language of their ancestors--plus the fact that their nation of origin may be poor, backward, and oppressive; oftentimes, it's better to be poor in a rich nation than rich in a poor nation. What passes for poverty in the US is richer than rich in Africa.

Many immigrant groups chose to stay in America even when life was tough because their children forgot the language of their origin. Italian kids couldn't go back to Italy because English was all they knew. Most Polish Americans I know can't speak a word of Polish. There was a piece in the NY Times some yrs back about Koreans in Japan. Though never welcomed by Japanese society, they chose to stay because they had forgotten the Korean tongue and culture. There was no going back.

So, even though it's great to know lots of languages, it wouldn't be a bad thing if Mexican-Americans forgot Spanish. It would cut their ties to Mexico. Chauvinistic Mexicans may label them as traitors, thus making them feel closer to the more enlightened and tolerant America.
Think of Oscar De La Hoya. He felt both Mexican and American pride. He said his hero was Julio Caesar Chavez. But, how did Chavez and Mexico treat him? As a gringo-ass kissing traitor. He got NO respect from Mexicans when he defeated Chavez twice. I'll bet Dela Hoya never felt as American as when hordes of Mexicans were calling on Chavez to kick his Americanized assez.

Dutch Boy said...

It was discovered in 2003 by genealogist Felix Gundacker,[7] working with The Boston Globe, that Kerry's paternal grandparents, who had been born "Fritz Kohn" and "Ida Löwe" in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, changed their names to "Frederick and Ida Kerry" in 1900 and converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism in 1901[8][9] or 1902.

Difference Maker said...

Bilingual education is worthless. It is not how the military intelligence teaches language (or so I am told), it is not how children naturally learn language, it is much akin to our failed foreign language programs in high school.

If you don't use the language you'll never learn it

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian I can only warn, - implore - Americans that "bilingualism" is a very bad thing. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with "equality" or "civil rights", although it may be packaged and sold as such. It is a disastrous policy. A Trojan horse to avoid at all costs. A unilingual country is better off in every possible way.

Jim O said...

Anonymous between Keypusher and TGGP: where did you check? Whatever source it was, don't trust it anymore. Try again. Kerry's Jewish grandfather picked "Kerry" as his new last name because he saw it on a map of Ireland and liked it.
This was gone over in tedious detail during the 2004 campaign.
Kerry claimed to be Irish till he was caught, whereupon he blamed his Senate staff for making a wrong assumption, just like your source did.

Anonymous said...

When I taught LEP kids, the ones who weren't smart enough to pass the state exam were called lifers. They could never be reclassified because they could never pass the Reading TAAS. They ended up in a mix of Special Ed and ESL because the ARD committee wisely tested their IQ's and determined the true nature of their disability.

The Western Confucian said...

I had a professor of applied linguistics who had the same experience as the Kissingers. He came from Cuba at 13 and never shook his accent, while his younger brother by two years aquired accent-free English

Anonymous said...

If you followed Mr. Anon's example I wouldn't have to add the date.

Or you could just quote me.

Oh. Wait...

John Seiler said...

Back around 1986 I attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in a Washington hotel. I wandered into another part of the hotel, where a bilingual-ed association was holding a lavish conference pushing their specialty. It featured professors, book publishers, educators, and other experts -- all funded by the taxpayers.

Bilingual ed always was, and is, nothing but a racket.

Anonymous said...

Man, lately I am batting 0.000 with Komment Kontrol.

Is this blog trying to go "mainstream"?

Anonymous said...

Not wanting to go over that tedious ground again...

You wont meet any Irish people with the surname Kerry, yes it sounds like an Irish surname, but thats all.

As a first name, thats different.

dormouse said...

He's aroused interest in language development in a way that has grabbed attention, but he's no great unveiler of any mysteries, even those hiding in plain sight.
Chomsky attempts to "debunk" at least two big question marks of the 20th-early 21st century. Says he doesn't care.
A man of his generation, with his connections and contacts, never wondered about or questioned the lingo surrounding the JFK assasination? Not to mention the others that have occurred over the years. Huh? He accepts the official line on 9/11 too. To not be skeptical and question the official line on these event is weirdly unacademic, particularly given the extensive, credible research done. While you have to be careful, to question the "government" and the "officials" is something every thinking person should do. Yet here's our man of language,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7SPm-HFYLo

Tells me all I need to know about whether to trust him.

Anonymous said...

"Their children learn English and PC in schools and hate this country."


Maybe the problem is more PC than English.

liamascorcaigh said...

OELALEAALEPS: Very obviously Finnish as spoken in the southern region bordering the former Soviet Union.

liamascorcaigh said...

"a merchant has no country"

Unless he's from Hollywood, then his allegiance is to any and every country that hates the US of Amerikkka and if the movie tanks it tanks.

Middletown Girl said...

This is an academic question but what if an immigrant child has a father who taught him French and a mother who taught him Japanese. None of them speak English well. Would he have to sign up for trilingualism? Take classes in both Japanese and French while learning English on the side?

helene edwards said...

You say the native spanish speakers didn't have accents? Really? Even the males? At least here in SF, it's just about impossible to hear "hispanic" youth who don't sound like the gangbangers in "Colors."

Anonymous said...

Man, lately I am batting 0.000 with Komment Kontrol.

and

... with his connections and contacts, never wondered about or questioned the lingo surrounding the JFK assasination? Not to mention the others that have occurred over the years. Huh? He accepts the official line on 9/11 too. To not be skeptical and question the official ... (yada yada yada) ...

Wow! The comments that get filtered must be truly awesome, if conspiracy kooks can get comments like this through, while others are complaining about Komment Kontrol!!!

dormouse said...

"Wow! The comments that get filtered must be truly awesome, if conspiracy kooks can get comments like this through..."

uh--I think you're probably on the wrong blog. You are displaying the desperation that the perpetrators and conspirators are feeling just now.
Opinions and interests here differ, but most know that MSM and government approved conspiracy theories are bunk so ply your mind-control "ridicule" elsewhere. Or go tell it to the authors of Crossfire and a host of other meticulously researched books on the JFK assasination. Vast numbers of thinking people have questioned the officially approved conspiracy theory since it was delivered to us before dinner, Nov. 22, 1963.. Still at it after all these years.
Question the government line and you're a wacko. Accepting the official story without question is what dictators demand.
And they wonder how democracy and dies.

btw, what auto-generator do you come from?

Blode0322 said...

As a Canadian I can only warn, - implore - Americans that "bilingualism" is a very bad thing. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with "equality" or "civil rights", although it may be packaged and sold as such. It is a disastrous policy. A Trojan horse to avoid at all costs. A unilingual country is better off in every possible way.

I agree. (I should also note that I love Canadians, only I heartily dislike some of their political institutions.)

Philip said...

You're blaming the Kosovo situation entirely on the Albanians? That's the kind of nonsense you specialise in debunking. I've been reading your stuff for several hours, agreeing with most of it, and now I'm embarrassed for you. I'm no expect on the issue, and have no personal stake in it, but I know enough to realise that your description of it is cartoonish Serbian propaganda that someone has somehow planted in your head, and for once you haven't bothered to assess the facts.