Diversity Debases Emergency Planning
January 04, 2007, 04:22 AM
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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.