||Letters to the Editor
Posted on Tue, Apr. 06, 2004
|White America shouldn't fear
Patrick J. Buchanan's April 2 Other Views column, "America no
longer white, united, English-speaking", states that
Hispanics are holding onto their language and culture, which
could eventually destroy the foundations of an American society.
Educational research, however, demonstrates the opposite.
Research findings in sociolinguistics and second/foreign
language acquisition demonstrate that there is a language shift
across generations. Children of those who migrate to the United
States speak more English than Spanish.
Studies also show that Spanish speakers' perceptions of language
and identity have changed. For many, they can be Hispanic
without speaking Spanish, and because survival requires English
in almost every setting, the maintenance of Spanish is not a top
Additional evidence is available in the Department of Foreign
Languages and Literatures at the University of Miami, where the
majority of students of Spanish-speaking families pose a
challenge to foreign-language educators. Many of these students
demonstrate limited competency in reading and writing in Spanish
and in usage of several Spanish grammar structures necessary to
Interestingly, many of the Spanish-language errors that these
Hispanic students produce are almost always consistent with the
errors that English-speaking students produce in Spanish
foreign-language classes -- additional evidence to suggest the
possibility that there has been a language shift from Spanish to
English among Hispanics.
It saddens me that many individuals utilize arguments of
language and culture to scare American citizens into believing
that there is an agenda to take over ''white America.'' The
arguments made by Buchanan echo those made throughout the
centuries against many different ethnic groups and communities,
which, in the end, led to wars and ethnic cleansing.
I have lived in many states and have met a number of
English-speaking Americans (mostly Anglo Saxon), who are proud
of their German, Italian, Irish, Polish or Scandinavian
traditions. These people have held onto their culture and
traditions and call themselves German Americans, Irish
Americans, etc. Holding on to one's culture is not a sin. If
Anglo Saxons can hold on to their European traditions, why can't
Hispanics hold on to their Latin/Hispanic identity?
FRANK MORRIS, director, Basic Spanish Language Program,
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of
Miami, Coral Gables