Are We Giving It Away? (Part 1)

Hi everyone,

Hope all of you who celebrate the USA’s birthday did so in style this past (hopefully extended) holiday weekend! We made it up to my brother’s for a good old-fashioned family BBQ. Got home in time to watch our town’s fireworks display from our backyard. Those ended just as the televised Macy’s display got underway on NBC. Can’t ask for better!

Mega-congrats to newly-crowned Wimbledon 2013 winner Andy Murray! He has grown so much as a player in the last year or so. What an awesome show of power, variety and mental hanging in there again World Number One Novak Djokovic. (Felt so bad for Djok, too. He had to fend off Murray AND the English crowd vying for the end of a 77-year English-winner drought at their prestigious tennis venue.) As seems to have become typical on the men’s tennis tour, these guys were pure class while being interviewed. I hope both are proud.

Okay, enough tennis talk. (I’m actually tennised out. Yep. It happens.)

Now back to our originally scheduled post…

Folks, I hate waxing political but every now and again “ya just gotta.” And as I said a couple posts back, this is my blog and I can grump if I want to.

Background: had the TV on the other day. Second time in just a few months I caught advertising in a language other than English, on a well-established, English-language-based, cable network no less.

The first commercial was for a popular household product. It involved two characters conversing; the first spoke non-English (with subtitles) while the second character translated to English, as per the first character’s request.

This irked me—has been irking me—enough to keep reminding myself to write a letter to the company. Not because I don’t understand the language. I studied it in both high school and college and am fairly fluent. And, I am a first-generation American child of parents who immigrated from Italy. Technically, Italian is my first language. It bugged me because it targeted non-English speaking folks first, a practice that seems to be implemented more and more, in more ways than one.

Guess I watched another, completely non-English commercial one too many times. This one was for a major national retail chain, and this time, there was no English at all.

That got on my nerves.

So…

I went to the retail chain’s Facebook page and wrote this:

Love your store. Seriously dislike the advertising you’re doing in _____. (BTW, I speak THREE languages, including ______.) Last time I looked around, though, this is the UNITED STATES. Our primary language is ENGLISH. Just sayin’.

Please understand: It’s not that I am without compassion for those who struggle with a language barrier. My issue is with “corporate”, if you will.

Speaking of, the company in question has yet to reply to my comment. (Doubt it will.)  I got quite a few Likes and a few supportive comments from good friends. One person, however, had this to say:

“And one the primary values of the United States is the freedom to conduct business in whatever language you choose.”

Person got 6 likes to my 25 or so. (Fist pump. Hey.That’s encouraging.)

My response to author of comment:

(Shakes head @_____.) Little by little this country is giving itself away. One day, you might wake up and not have a clue what language is coming at you. Sad. Go to other countries. You’ll find everything written in THEIR language first, usually English second. (And BTW, plenty of people from around the world speak better English than many Americans. What’s up with that?) Here, we don’t care. Just cater to the masses, who aren’t being put into a position to learn the language of the country they came to. Again, just sayin’.

I’ll stop here and pick this up next time.

I’d love your thoughts on this matter so far. What do you think about advertising in a language other than English on English-speaking television channels? I mean, have you ever tuned into the Italian station and listened to advertising in English? If you’re a tennis fan, what did you think about Murray’s win? Or Djok’s loss? Or Nadal, Federrer, Sharapova and/or Serena Williams’ losses? (Did I ask enough questions, lol?)

Enjoy the day, folks. Thanks for indulging me.

Joanna

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6 thoughts on “Are We Giving It Away? (Part 1)

  1. Joanna, you are hitting on a touchy subject. (I commend your courage.) You will probably get many opinions on the topic of language in this country. I often wonder why English was never declared the language of this country. We have legislation for many other things, why not this too? I don’t know if we will ever see English declared the language of this country now.

    As a second generation American, my grandparents preferred to speak to me in English instead of Italian because we were in America. My grandfather taught himself to read and write in English. He didn’t go to school here.

    But we now live in a world where everyone gets a trophy for showing up so how hard are we going to ask the people who reside in this beautiful country to work? Isn’t it easier to create equal results for all then to dare someone to be the best they can be?

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    1. Interesting thoughts, Stacey, especially your final paragraph. I had to push my mom to talk Italian to my kids. Any Latin-based language is only a help to the English speaker. But learn the home-country lingo first. Thanks.

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  2. Hmm, I don’t think this bothers me like it does you, but I admire you for sounding out on what you believe in. I’m always such a conflict avoider that I shy away from posts or comments like that. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. (You’ve been missed. 🙂 ) Guess it’s up there with exercising my right to free speech.

      It’s not so much the isolated instances that bother me. It’s where we seem to be headed in the long run, if folks don’t take notice.

      Great achievement on your next draft! You so have me beat!

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