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Bilingual Government Signs – Should They be English Only? [POLL]

Flikr user Jeffrey Beall
Flikr user Jeffrey Beall

We don’t have an official language; a sore point with a good many of us who are either native to this country; or have come from abroad and have struggled to learn the language.

So anytime we see signs written in a foreign language, especially if it’s a sign or notice issued by a governmental agency, some of us blow up.

It’s as though we’re coddling a minority that avoids speaking the language of the majority.

English.

So when the Flemington township council voted 4-2 for a bilingual notification of its change of garbage day, saying it would promote a “good neighbor” policy, my initial reaction was, “please, spare us the violins!”

According to this:

When Flemington changes its garbage day starting in April, news of this change will be mailed to every household in the borough in English and Spanish.

The decision to send out the bilingual notification was made after a lot of debate and a vote of 4-2. The dissenters, Phil Greiner and Brian Swingle, were afraid that this would set an expensive precedent for official borough communications.

They also argued that although 26% of the borough population is Hispanic, many Latinos can read English.

Greiner said that one reader of English, such as a school child, in a household can translate for everyone else.

Councilman Joey Novick, who had proposed the resolution, argued, “We’re simply being good neighbors. There’s a significant portion of the borough that speaks Spanish, and we’re making them knowledgeable about when their trash is picked up. This is not some great leap into a major change” in how the borough communicates with its residents.

It says…Empezando en abril, el dia de recoge de basura estara los jueves en vez de los miercoles y los viernes.

Pienso que el senor Greiner tiene razon!
(Excuse me, I got lost there for a second. Happens when you’ve been the recipient of the high school Spanish medal.)

I think Mr. Greiner is right. Many Latinos can read English, and among those who can’t, there’s always a child in the home who can translate for them.

Just like my aunt had to do with my grandmother when my dad came home from kindergarten with a note attached to his shirt written by the teacher saying, “speak English to this child!”

My grandmother had no clue as to what it said.
My father told her it was probably a medal.

That is, until my aunt told her what the note actually said.

Case closed.

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