The imminent philosopher, Emanuel Kant said, “The two great dividers are religion and language.”
No civilization can withstand the tension, trauma, misunderstanding and misinterpretation of multiple languages among its citizens. Examples abound in Canada; in Cyprus; Lebanon, in Pakistan, in Holland, and in the United Kingdom for starters.
In this continuing series with Canadian writer Tim Murray, he explains what his country faces that pertains to all countries admitting endless languages via immigration.
Tim Murray, www.immigrationwatchCanada.org , http://sinkinglifeboat.blogspot.com or http://biodiversityfirst.googlepages.com, said, “I came upon an orchestration, the environmental movement, and all the musicians were playing violins to the tune of “Overconsumption, overconsumption, overconsumption.”
In “One Nation, Two Official Languages. Quite Enough,” Murray states the obvious.
“A new study revealed by the Lexington Institute of Virginia confirmed the conclusions reached by Ed Rubenstein more than a half year earlier when he said in “The Costs of Diversity” that, multicultural school curricula has come at the expense of a shared American experience and ESL has replaced English immersion,” said Murray. “America has become The Tower of Babel. The Economic consequences are profound.
“According to the Lexington Institute, the United States economy loses $65 billion every year due to the lack of fluency in English of immigrants. Canada fares just as poorly. Some 46% of immigrants surveyed in the late nineties were found unable to converse in either of the two Official languages. Fluency in the mainstream language is a critical job skill, but one alarmingly lacking in both countries. The consequence is not only cultural fragmentation but a fiscal burden of immense proportions. $200 billion in America each year and more than $18 billion annually in Canada.
“Mass immigration apologists argue that the answer is more money allocated to ESL programs, not a cut back in immigration. At the same time, however, they typically advocate on behalf of those ethnic lobbies that fight for official language status for their native tongue. Bilingual education is thought to be both politically pragmatic and advantageous to students. But research indicates otherwise.
“The Lexington Institute found that ESL training was appropriate for adults, but not students, who respond best to English immersion and are actually inhabited by exposure to the language of their parents in other classroom situations. The late Vancouver-born Linguistics Professor of Japanese-Canadian ancestry, the famous S. Hayakawa, has been vindicated by this finding. Hayakawa took the politically incorrect tact many decades ago that an English language monopoly would provide ethnic minorities with their best pathway to success in America, and that a buffet of languages would not only break down inter-ethnic communication but serve as a disincentive to assimilate.
“The advocacy group, “ProEnglish” agrees. “In a pluralistic nation such as ours, the function of government should be to foster and support the similarities that unite us, rather than institutionalize the differences that divide us. Our nation's public schools have the clear responsibility to help students who don't know English to learn that language as quickly as possible.
“To do otherwise is to sentence the child to a lifetime of political and economic isolation. The Lexington study validated that position with the discovery that, “The number of English learner families living in poverty, 26.3 percent, is more than twice the national average. (And) Immigrants who speak English “well” earn 33 percent more, and those that speak English ‘very well’ earn 67% more on average, than immigrants who speak English poorly.”
“In Canada of course, “assimilation” is a dirty word. The PC alternative is “integration”. Keep the language and customs that you arrived with, but acquire English—or French---to connect with the other ethnic colonies that co-exist with you. Fine theory, but it ain’t workin’. To know why, one need only look at Canadian experience. Canadian armed forces personnel lived in Wiesbaden, Germany for years at a time. They were served, like the British, by English media as they lived in an Anglophone bubble on base. Most did not, in all the time they were there, pick up much German.
“Why would they? They had no incentive to. Foreign born immigrants of ethnic minorities in Canada find themselves in a similar situation. They have their own newspapers, both printed and on-line, their own TV programs, and ATMs, commercial and hospital signs to serve them. In Vancouver, even TV hockey games are simulcast in Hindi. Folks in 1968 thought that two official languages would divide the country.
“Little did they know that we would become 5 or 6 solitudes instead of two. For some see this is an example of ‘enrichment’, but to others it is a blockade to societal consensus. If it is valuable to cross-pollinate the ideas and experiences of a diverse population, how will these diverse groups share their ideas and experiences if so many cannot communicate in the common language? Or if all news and commentary is filtered through their ethnic media, which conveys a necessarily narrow view of the country, how will they truly understand the mindset of other ethnicities? How can we meet the ecological challenges of this century, as Dr. Rees pointed out in “Globalization, Migration and Trade” if we don’t fashion a consensus? Not surprisingly, Rees does not favor the current model of Canadian multiculturalism.
“In 1886, when he completed construction of the family house in Victoria, BC, a house that is still standing today, my great grandfather gathered his family together and announced, in broken English, that from that day forth, English would be the language of the household. He recognized that the future of his children and their children depended on their mastery of the dominant language.
“But more than a ladder to success, his calculated decision to submit his family to English immersion was a gesture of commitment and respect to his new country. We would retain Icelandic cuisine, folklore and celebrations, but we saw ourselves as Canadian. And among the first phrases that my grandmother learned and passed on to my mother, was, “In Rome, do as the Romans do.” Moreover, like her mother, my mother’s favorite book was the English dictionary, which she often placed at her side, and used as a reference to mercilessly correct our mistakes.
“It was this meticulous attention to correct diction and grammar that allowed my closer brother to become flawlessly fluent in three languages, and made writing habitual for me. So from my great grandfather’s resolution a chain of thinking followed. It was the belief that only through communication can dissension become consensus. That is how nations are made.”
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at www.frostywooldridge.com He is the author of: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies available: 1 888 280 7715