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Letters to the Editor
Posted on Tue, Apr. 06, 2004
White America shouldn't fear Spanish-language speakers


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 priority.

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 communicate meaning.

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





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