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06/05/11 - A Reader, Wintering In California, Can't Find One Construction Worker Who Speaks English
Re: Today's Letter: A Reader, Wintering In California, Can't Find One Construction Worker Who Speaks English
From: Dave Shanken (email him)
A friend of mine had a more egregious experience. He is fluent in English and Spanish, and lives in a retirement community. Some Hispanic types were doing ground maintenance, and he wanted them to do some special tasks for him. He approached, spoke to them in Spanish, then English and received only blank stares and head shakes. He then located their supervisor. The supervisor told him (in Spanish) that the workers spoke only indigenous languages, but for a reasonable fee he would tell them to perform the tasks that my friend wanted. My friend was satisfied, but I find the incident disturbing.
James Fulford writes: If you want to know what's disturbing about it, it's the fact that if Mixtec Indians have lived under Spanish rule for five hundred years without assimilating enough to learn the official language of Mexico, what chance is there that they'll assimilate to America.
But New York has a solution to the problem—they're funding Spanish classes so the immigrants can speak to other residents of the barrio. See New York Immigrant Assimilation: Mixtec Indians Learning SPANISH On Your Tax Dollars by Brenda Walker.