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The curse of the monolingual


  1. When my Mom first landed in Miami from Cuba back in 1961, she saw a sign on a restaurant door that read “No dogs, No Cubans”. Good thing she was bilingual.

  2. Regina. The opinion of a liberal art critic in Seattle means just bunches. Mexico is a dysfunctional country run by criminals. They kidnap and kill on a whim. Crossing the border are their victims and the criminals themselves, seeking new meat. What’s your solution, to learn Spanish, so I can scream for help in two languages? I’d like to live in an Arizona that isn’t Mexico. That’s what this is about, not racism or an inability to learn a second language.

  3. Hi Laura. I’ll bet that sign is as old as the country itself. It probably said, No Indians or No Quakers. When my dad was a kid in Boston, a child of Irish immigrants, he saw signs that said, No Irish.

  4. Making lemonade out of lemons, Hakim Bey has come up with the concept of “fortuitous mistranslation”, in which phrases like the ones on the sweatshirt become the seeds for new meanings to sprout from- kind of the linguistic equivalent of genetic mutation.
    The new world is not binary/either/or, its not Spanish/or/English.
    Its Spanglish, and Japanglish, and Turko/Germanic. Its illegal chinese immigrants selling Ginseng to Koreans in Russia. Its Palestinian used car salesmen selling japanese cars to Kenyans in Dubai.
    The Engrish website has been documenting the misaplications of foreign languages since the late 90’s.

  5. Dennis Webb says:

    Very perceptive and accurate, Regina. I would go further and say that much of the animosity of certain conservatives toward progressives stems from the same source.

  6. Harry Kessler says:

    I’d be careful if I were you when talking about dysfunctional countries run by criminals, as long as you are living in one that is increasingly…..dysfunctional and where criminal behavior (disregarding safety precautions on oil rigs deliberately, attempting to bring down a financial system with “deals” designed to rob some to enruich others) is as common as English.

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