Tag Archives: English

English, language of self-enslavement

One of the best outcomes of having grown up in a Hispanic dominated culture, El Paso, Texas, having Hispanic and Mexican (from Mexico) friends and family, and speaking the language… is that I can spot and counter all the pure BULLSHIT that racist organizations like the “TeaBags” and their sponsors like Dumfox Noose tell their poorly educated followers.

One is that Hispanic people are mostly “illegal” immigrants, despite the fact that first Texas, then the U.S., picked two wars with Mexico, in a shameless land grab, using propaganda that makes the WMD story look like a Shining Example of Gospel Truth.  Makes the “incubator babies” (from Gulf Wars I) crap smell like fresh-picked roses.  Thus obtaining more than a third of Mexico the same way German acquired Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Belgium, etc….  “Might Makes Right”

Or that neither recent immigrants nor families whose presence predate the Conquistadores by 10,000 years even attempt to learn the language forced onto us by the Arrogant Anglo wanna-be Emperors.  Ama yetli desda ya da ni-luk Ka, nokwo, hu-hwan a hist Tsa-lagi!!

Or that speaking our own languages even in our own homes, somehow weakens the “god-given” dominance of the Anglo “race”.  Saying your race is “English” is admitting that your people were conquered at an average rate of once every years by every other European tribe since the first time a literate culture, the Romans, did it to you and started the documentation of your subsequent really humiliating beat-downs.

Now, the ones the Anglos “conquered” and the ones they brought here in chains, outnumber the Anglos.

How strong is Your “Manifest Destiny” NOW?

P.S. The Empire which can be Subverted by the use of other Languages? You “English First” Hate-Freaks!!  HaHa.

Futbol or Football, it’s all about us

Americans already have a “football” and so come into conflict with a majority of the world when our television broadcasters have to say “soccer” and assuage the confusion of US viewers when confronted by everyone else’s “football.” And ironic too, the sportscasters like to explain, compounding their error, because it’s about the foot and the ball, unlike domestic football which is about using your hands to carry an un-spherical bladder. But this humor presumes another American overreach: “Futbol” incorporates “foot” and “ball” only if you speak English.

In a preponderance of languages, futbol defines neither foot nor ball, and mimics simply the phonetic term used by the British, whose colonial representatives were responsible for spreading the game across the world. As long time English speakers, the Brits have no difficulty with differentiating football from American Football. But Americans didn’t come by the term “soccer” on its own, which brings to light the other side to the complexity of FIFA’s hope to standardize the World Cup experience. Americans are not alone in resisting globalization’s attack on their cultural identity. A great deal of the world doesn’t call it FOOTBALL either.

To survey just the languages which share our Arabic alphabet, here’s how others refer to what we call soccer: Sokker (Afrikaans), Fodbold (Danish), Voetbal (Dutch), Jalgpall (Estonian), Jalkapallo (Finnish), Labdarúgás (Hungarian), Calcio (Italian), Sepak bola (Indonesian), Putbol (Filipino), Peil (Irish), Pêl-droed (Welsh), Pi?ka no?na (Polish), and Nogomet (Croatian).

Teabonics parlee-voo

Tea Party anti-Immigrant rally
While we’ve been fussing about whether to dub them TEABAGGERS or just TEABAGS, someone’s honed in on the pejorative that binds them, TEABONICS –with apologies to African Americans whose variant dialect reflects cultural influence not lack of education or intelligence. Irony of course flies IQ levels above Tea Partygoers, as central to their anti-immigrant anglo-centrism is the insistence that real Americans know English. Here’s a Flickr collection of proclamations in Teabonic.

Tea Party Anti-Immigrant RallyMy favorite is at right. Today’s US exploitation of undocumented workers is a disingenuous equivalent of slavery. Our American economy depends on low wage laborers who can be deported as “illegal” when we want to change them out with cheaper ones. Those tea party faces are the same who opposed abolition and blocked the Civil Rights marchers in Selma.

Obama said The Ukraine not Ukraine tsk

Old map of Empire Russe with Russia and the UkraineOn the subject of spinning the debates…
 
Did you hear about Barack Obama’s horrible gaffe in the first debate?! According to public radio, Obama referred to “The Ukraine” instead of the less diminutive “Ukraine” sans-the. PRI’s The World trotted out tsk-tsks from a Ukrainian-accented expert who derided Obama for his un-PC insensitivity to her country’s post-Soviet independence.

Self-respecting nations don’t require “the” to distinguish them apparently. “The” is only for provinces or regions, the expert explained. The Balkins, the Riviera –I can’t remember her examples. Certainly you wouldn’t say The France, unless you were referring to the ocean liner. How undiplomatic for Obama to malign poor proud “Ukrayina.” The would-be statesman [in evident need of more experience] should come visit, suggested the expert. But the report revealed [Instead] Obama was campaigning in Ohio.

Shall we look into what the Ukrainian expert didn’t explain: why English speakers unconsciously need to add “the” before Ukraine? Is it simply because we used to, when Ukraine was a part of Russia, and then a member of the USSR. But we didn’t say the Georgia, or the Belorusse…

Unless we meant THE Republic of Belarus. But that rule applies to every formal title. Then also we say the United States, we say the UK, and we say the People’s Republic of China. We say the Netherlands, but not the Finland, nor the Afghanistan. We do not add THE to any of the -stan states, which was a Russian suffix meaning “land.” Perhaps as we don’t use THE for nations ending in -land either.

We say the Philippines. We say the the Maldives. There seems to be a pattern related to territories in the plural. So it’s nothing to do with client states but rather collected lands.

As usual, I’ve entertained myself before doing the research.

1. The Ukraine
Is the Ukraine (I can’t help but say it that way) a reference to plural regions? Or is there some other idiomatic pattern which governs usage for English-speakers? The answer turned out to be the former.

Apparentely, Ukrayina is named after the Old East Slavic for “border region.” The Territories of Ukraine were the old Russian empire’s western edge. Perhaps this suggests why Ukrainians want to be considered their own land, and not part of someone else’s.

There, the expert is right. A historically geographical name does not suggest a sovereign nation. The Transvaal, the Yukon, the Sahara, the Midlands on England’s border to Scotland. I think it’s interesting that no US state needs a “the,” compared to their previous incarnations as the Dakota Territories, the Louisiana Purchase, etc.

But to complicate the matter, in the Ukrainian language the word means “country.” Doesn’t it go against their own tongue to eliminate the definite article? To refer to either concept, country or border, requires “the.” At least I know it is so in English. Which is my point here.

Since their independence from the USSR the Ukraine has asserted an identity minus “the.” The distinction is for diplomatic papers. So I’m not sure that international conventions govern how foreign languages bend to suit another’s domestic decree. Germany for example is known by as many names as it has neighbors, and none of them is Deutschland.

How appropriate is it to try to mock Obama for speaking the King’s English, aka English?

Isn’t your interest piqued about other places to which a “the” wants to cling to an earlier vestige? The Ivory Coast would seem to have become an effortless Ivory Coast, maybe because the plurality of “coast” is ambiguous.

2. The Sudan
What about the Sudan versus Sudan? We know it through the English colonials as “the Sudan,” but now the post-colonial English-speaking diplomatic class asserts it’s just Sudan. I can’t help but wonder if there’s some Globalization edict for nation-state nomenclature compliance. Is it for the sake of easier alphabetization?

That reminds me of how China lined up the Olympic participants in the 2008 Opening Ceremonies. Nations were ranked based on how many strokes were required in their Chinese character. American commentators thought viewers would probably consider the order nonsensical. How much sense does it make to require state names to conform to an anglo-file system?

As an aside, is the French “Sud” for South, related to the Arabic “Sudan” for “Blacks?” Both that direction from the then-known world. Not so further aside, the French say “Le Sud” in the same way we use “the” to differentiate the destination from the direction.

In any event, in Arabic, the language of the population of Sudan, the country calls itself “al-Sudan.” Post-9/11 westerners know “al” translates to “the.” That would be Sudan with the “the.”

Uh, t’be or not t’be well spoken enough

Barack Obama does it. So does Sarah Palin. On the national stage before millions of TV viewers. I think it’s time t’make it official. The word “to” has become an apostrophe’d “tuh.” Americans should have t’spell it that way if we’re going t’let our most prominent panderers put it forth in speeches for our schoolchildren t’emulate. Murcan, as some linguists call it, differentiates itself from British English by adapting common usage, taking the shtreet most traveled, basically. Americans consider it a shtrength t’be unshod mustangs, uh, mavericks.

Obama also contracts “y’know” to a back of the throat extreme I can’t even spell. “Yghn?” is how he prefaces every informal aside. He seems to rely on “you know” like teenagers use “like.” But is it an affectation meant to make him seem more pedestrian?

On the other hand, Sarah Palin shows herself to be the poor-mannered plain girl with “ya know” and ceaseless, unadorned YAs. “Ya gotta” love it apparently.