I Guess They’ll Have to Change the Name of His Town

Interesting that the State Rep. who prefiled a bill to ban the use of anything but English in government documents is from a town in Georgia named Villa Rica.  Rep. Tim Bearden (R-Villa Rica) is the legislator who introduced the legislation.  I have not seen the text of the bill, but would this mean that there could be no mention of the name of his town in official government documents?  How about Martinez, Georgia? 

And then there is this from Rep. Willie Talton (R-Warner Robins) who is a co-sponsor of the bill:

“If we leave and go to a foreign country, what do we have to do? We have to learn their language,” Talton said. “Our forefathers spoke the English language and that is what we should do.”

Oh, really?  I’ve been to foreign counties and it seems than English is pretty much everywhere on signs.

And by the way Villa Rica means “city of gold” in Spanish.  

14 comments

  1. griftdrift says:

    It’s also rather just plain ignorance or to be kinder just plain forgetfulness that our national language was nearly German.

    That might not have played too well in the mid-20th century.

  2. kiosan says:

    Aside from the issue of the impact on tourism, this proposal also ignores the fact that some legal immigrants may have only a moderate grasp of English – good enough to get through the average day, but not suitable for reading and fully understanding intermediate legalese or advanced bureaucratish.

    I’m not a proponent of giving illegals a complete pass, but I don’t believe that punishing those who are in the country legally (whether permanently or on a valid visa) is a terribly good answer.

  3. DougieFresh says:

    Klosan,

    There has to be something to motivate people to learn English. If life is no different whether or not you learn the language, what incentive is there to even teach it to your children.

    Over time, this will lead to factionalism, like you find in Quebec (and other places). Language is the first and most important tie that binds a nation together. To ignore the danger in multi-lingualism is a bad mistake.

  4. jsm says:

    From http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dict_en_es/ :

    vi·lla
    f.
    (pueblo) village, hamlet
    (casa) villa

    ri·co -ca
    adj.
    (acaudalado) rich, wealthy
    (fértil) fertile, rich (land)
    (abundante) abundant
    cosecha rica abundant crop
    (magnífico) luxurious, rich
    (de valor) valuable, precious
    joya rica valuable jewel
    (sabroso) delicious, tasty
    figurative, colloquial (simpático) lovely, adorable
    ———————

    Villa Rica means “rich village.”

    Having an official language does not mean words or names from other cultures can’t be used. A language is much more than proper nouns.

    People who want to become citizens of America should want to learn English as a means of “melting” into our nation and our American culture.

  5. kiosan says:

    Dougie,

    The USA has been multi-lingual on one level or another since its founding, as are a number of perfectly civilized western countries. True, there are some hurdles extant in the concept that would not exist in a single-language society, but outside of some indigenous peoples, I’m afraid such things are difficult to find.

    Life is different here when you can speak English, just as it is different in France when you can speak French, or different in Portugal when you can speak Portuguese. To suggest that making government documents available in Spanish for the benefit of legal citizens who may require it for a full and complete understanding somehow negates the everyday interactions we take for granted seems a bit simplistic.

    As to incentives to learn English, everyday interactions are likely to provide more incentive than the inability to read a traffic ticket. And if you are a legal citizen, your children are more than likely attending an American school where English is a standard part of the curriculum (though the degree to which it is successfully taught even to natives may be debated).

    One cannot avoid factionalism. If not over language, factionalism over religion will present itself, or over politics, or over civil liberties. I believe we haven’t to look far to find those already extant in our society.

    I would argue that language, while a tie of some importance, is not the first and most important tie that binds us as a nation, else we would never have survived the influxes of Irish and Italians and Polish and dozens of others who spoke some other language, even in their enclaves. That someone speaks English in and of itself makes me feel no special kinship. Our national ties are not bound in our syllables and inflections, but in our common investment in freedom, in our common dreams of better lives for our children, and in our common hope that in America, you can, indeed, grow up to be anything you wish.

    A common language might be icing on the cake, but the idea that we ever had such a thing is simply not accurate.

  6. ColinATL says:

    DougieFresh, your dangers of multi-lingualism comment made me laugh. I have said it before and I will say it again. First generation immigrants, whether Korean, Mexican, or African, frequently don’t learn English over and above a rudimentary sign-reading ability. But their KIDS do. Within 1-2 generations, the native tongue becomes the second language. America is not in danger of balkanization by language, despite all conservatives’ protestations to the contrary.

    Besides, Quebec is a different story. I mean, well, they’re Frenchies, for crikey’s sake. 🙂

  7. DougieFresh says:

    Colin,

    Language issues have been a long time source of aggravation to cultural disputes. In World War I, England used it to great advantage to encourage our entry to their side of the war, when in reality we probably should have stayed out of it.

    When you cannot read a language, you cannot directly interpret what the other side says in speeches and papers, and you cannot speak directly to members of the other culture. There is little ability to develop common ground and experience.

    Instead of being viewed as neighbors and friends, the speakers of the other language are viewed as strangers and people to be feared or hated.

    Who can say this cannot happen here? Anything that prevents the people from looking to their national identity first and racial/ethnic/regional identity second will eventually contribute to its collapse.

  8. Amber says:

    Well, I lived in Martinez, GA from the time I was 6 years old until I was 18. (My parents still live there.) It’s pronounced “MART-in-ez” there, rather than the correct Spanish pronunciation. So maybe that makes it okay? (If so, what a relief… we won’t have to rename Ponce de Leon Ave., either!)

  9. heroV says:

    DougieFresh,
    India has survived in the face of multi-lingualism. I don’t think multi-lingualism by itself leads to the factionalism that you fear. We already divide into “factions” over many issues, pro-life vs pro-choice, north vs. south, etc.

  10. DougieFresh says:

    India has had coup d’etats in the recent past, and the other part of “india” commonly known as Pakistan is ruled by a military dictator with the title of President.

    Also, I have had friends from just about every faction of India, and the feelings among them is far from a happy love fest.

    It is probably fortunate for the ruling class that so much of the country is unarmed, living in squalor and unable to make their presence known in a political way.

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