Diversity Debases Emergency Planning
January 04, 2007, 04:22 AM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF
When I am the only English-speaking person riding the bus I am not celebrating diversity, but hoping that the next earthquake does not happen until after I get off.

In the same way, emergency planning in the United States of Babel is made vastly more difficult by our colorful assortment of languages, particularly in New York City [NYC's language issues adds challenge to emergency planning Newsday 12/29/06]

The city has made efforts to address the problem. Among other things, the guide for a coastal storm situation is in 11 languages, with more on the way. And 311, the city's information number, can be used in 170 languages. [...]

Census estimates put the number of New Yorkers who speak English less than very well at about 1.7 million, out of a city of more than 8 million. About 15 percent of city households are linguistically isolated, meaning no one over the age of 14 speaks English very well.

The majority of those people are covered by a handful of main languages, including Spanish, Russian and Chinese, but there are scores of other tongues spoken in the Big Apple.

There's no mention of what all this diversity costs the taxpayer however. Nor does any public official suggest that "immigrants" have a responsibility to learn the language of the country they inhabit, even to save their own skins in an emergency.