"Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by cuchuflete, May 4, 2006.

  1. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Read a few of the recent threads here, or a newspaper or blog.

    Look out the window! There are lots of immigrants around.

    Immigration is not going away.

    Some people are unhappy about that, while others like it, and many are indifferent.

    When immigrants move to a new country, they may follow one or more paths---
    One is the so-called 'melting pot' assimilation seen in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in which native cultures were largely abandoned or greatly diminished over time, in favor of the host country culture.

    Another is to gradually adapt to and adopt host country culture, while consciously striving to maintain native culture, obviously including language.

    In reality, these are areas on a continuum. Nearly all immigrants adapt to new country culture, while holding on to some of what they brought with them. The difference is in degree, and the rate at which they learn or embrace the new.

    Do you think it's better for immigrants to be speedy, to wholeheartedly embrace as much as possible about a new culture, or to progress more gradually, and leave, in large measure, the assimilation of new country culture to the next generations? It would be especially useful to hear from those who have immigrated--permanently--to a new country.

    Please note: The paragraph above is the thread topic. Other related topics can be discussed in other threads, hence, please don't offer ideas here about whether immigration is good or bad, or matters other than rates of assimilation.
  2. maxiogee Banned

    If we're going to have immigrants in _______ (insert your own country here) then I think we had best assimilate some of their culture too.
    This is best done by the first generation holding onto as much of their native culture as they can, and disseminating it to us, through their children and grandchildren. If they assimilate too quickly they run the danger of becoming more _______ (insert your own nationality here) than we are, and losing sight of the wealth of their own culture.

    However, that being said, I think that there is a huge difference between migration nowadays and, say, 50 years ago. Back then the migrant was probably leaving their homeland for life, and cutting all ties except by letter and the occasional mailed newspaper. They were very likely leaving their food, music and literature also, unless they happened to be going to an already thriving community of their fellow nationals. This is not the case today, with the internet, cheap travel and with ethnic music, food and literature being almost ubiquitous.
  3. From the three groups mentioned above, those who have most readily embraced British culture are the Afro-Carribeans. While generally maintaining their own culture at home, in matters such as diet for example, they have integrated quickly with the indigenous people of the UK. Inter-racial marriages are commonplace and becoming accepted.

    Those from the Indian sub-continent appear to have maintained their culture and I don't think that they will assimilate easily into British culture - nor will future genertions. However I don't claim to be a prophet.

    The third group, from Pakistan and Bangladesh, generally find it unthinkable ever to give up their traditional culture. There has been some evidence of breaking away by the younger generations but this is rare.

    Immigrants from Europe have readily adopted the British way of life while still maintaining their culture in the privacy of their homes.

    It is beyond the scope of this thread for me to say why two of the ethnic groups are unwilling to be assimilated.

  4. maxiogee Banned

    Are the Irish not an official ethnic group in Britain? I'd swear we outnumber the Asian contingent. Your source quotes 1.6 million alone in N.I. to say nothing of the southerners in England.
    Or is it that the powers-that-be don't want to go there?
    The southerners in England are definitely 'migrant', and fit meat for this thread. Terry Wogan alone must count as two people! :D

  5. I can only conclude that many Irish people didn't return their Census form Tony. Over a million of them have disappeared since 1997, according to the Irish Government's estimation. Or does "British-born" rob them of their ethnicity? My husband was born in London, but was as Irish as could be.

    To keep on topic, the Irish immigrants adapted very quickly to English culture. Likewise, those who emigrated to the USA soon started chewing gum and handing out nylons to bare-legged women.

    However, I think all immigrants to any country will never totally give up certain aspects of their culture. They will assimilate, yes, but cling on to that which has always been familiar to them. I can't imagine Irish people abandoning their Guinness or traditional dancing. Stand by for the chopper Maxi. :)

  6. morpho Junior Member

    San Francisco
    English, USA
    In terms of rates of assimilation, isn't there a "typical" pattern for immigrants?

    1st generation: Immigrates, doesn't integrate much into host society, works potentially low-tiered jobs to support self and family

    2nd generation: Born in host culture, heavily integrated in host society by 1st generation; some native culture transmitted from 1st generation, but also hugely encouraged to speak host culture language(s) and adapt host culture habits that 1st generation did not (viewed as essential for being successful in host society, at least by 1st gen)

    3rd generation: Born in host culture, assimilated into host society, speaks language / adapts social norms of host society, seeks to rediscover fmaily heritage/language/culture rejected or lost by 2nd gen

    Does this occur in the UK?

    NOTE: I had "typical" in quotes above. I'm not asserting all immigrants have this pattern. I'm just tossing out a thought here.
  7. maxiogee Banned

    Yes, but the question posed is should they do it at a certain speed.
    And, as LRV has pointed out some communities try harder than others. "Is there an optimum speed/level for trying?" would probably be a subtext of cuchu's question.
  8. I don't wish to stray from the topic of this thread but find it impossible to ignore the fact that some immigrants are from cultures of such long-standing tradition, (dress, religion, dietary regulations, social habits, etc.), which is totally at odds with the host country, that assimilation will take a very long time indeed, if it ever does. Such immigrants to the UK have created their own communities, driven out the indigenous people who have no wish to live among them, opened their own shops, built their own places of worship or taken over redundant (mainly English) churches and converted them. Their children are educated alongside others from their own ethnic group. They show no signs of wishing to integrate.

    Obversely, many indigenous Brits are delighted to go to these areas to shop, especially for the wonderful variety of foodstuff which cannot be found elsewhere. From personal experience I know that such customers are always made very welcome. I have asked questions about food items which were totally alien to me, been told how to prepare them and enjoyed new culinary experiences.

    It is important to distinguish, when speaking of immigrants, between those who have lived close to their chosen new country (South America>North America, Mainland Europe>UK) and those who have come from far away (Asia>UK). The latter have never experienced western culture from "close by". They simply know that better prospects await them in the west. But when they arrive they aren't prepared to behave like "decadent westerners" - they prefer to abide by their own principles. Can't say I blame them.

    Please feel free to delete this post.

  9. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod, I say, Moderator

    American English
    As someone who has been an expatriate and who works (and lives) with immigrants, I believe that it's better for society as a whole if an immigrant family assimilates more slowly.

    I agree with Tony that if the first generation throws off the home culture rapidly, the host society loses a lot of richness that the immigrant could bring with his culture's unique traditions and points of view. Then you get second-generation immigrants who can't speak their parents' first language... a deficiency they usually come to regret when they're adults and looking to connect with their heritage.

    I think that the first generation has a responsibility to themselves, to their children, to their host country and to their home culture to not assimilate too quickly, but to retain their language and the finer elements of their culture as long as they can, while assimilating enough to be successful in the host country.

    In turn, the host country has the responsibility to accept the first generation with open arms and a grain of tolerance for the aspects of the immigrant's culture that are divergent from the host culture.
  10. Papalote Senior Member

    Quebec, Canada
    Spanish, English, French
    Do you think it's better for immigrants to be speedy, to wholeheartedly embrace as much as possible about a new culture, or to progress more gradually, and leave, in large measure, the assimilation of new country culture to the next generations? It would be especially useful to hear from those who have immigrated--permanently--to a new country.

    Well, for once I fit the bill :D , perhaps a little too well since not only am I a full-fledged permanent immigrant in Canada, I am also the daughter, grandaughter and great-grandaugther of immigrants to Mexico from Spain, France and what used to be Prussia. Do I still qualify? ;)

    I`ve re-read myself and am afraid I`ve really rambled on. Feel free to skip most of this except for the last 3 paragraphs :D .

    Before I myself became an immigrant, I also thought assimilation was the sole responsibility of the newcomer. I mean, if they only put their minds to it, if only they truly observed how we behaved, if they really wanted to be part of our society, well, in no time they would be like us. I couldn`t have been more wrong.

    I arrived in my new country fairly young, fluently bilingual in both official languages, 2 university degrees (one from France, the other from the USA), fluent in 2 other languages, having studied in Mexican, American, British and French schools and universities, and look caucasian (how I feel inside is food for another posting :D ). How could I not assimilate? I was even RC. Well, it wasn`t enough. When I spoke French, I was immediately identified as the `maususe de française` (the accursed Parisian), when I spoke English, I was asked when I had left California, when I spoke Spanish, well nobody could believe I spoke or wrote it well `cause I don`t look Mexican. Okay, it was a little more than 2 decades ago and I guess there weren`t many immigrants like me around. Still.

    What I`ve found hardest, is that we are expected to assimilate but nobody ever invites us into their houses to really share what being Canadian is like. Unitl I married my Canadian husband, I had never been invited into a Canadian home, even though I had invited work and university colleagues to my house for suppers and barbecues and special occasions.

    How fast have I tried to assimilate? Every day, I believe, for the past 26 winters. I married a Canadian (well, not so I could assimilate ;) , love had a lot to do with this :D ), I`ve acquired a Master`s Degree in a Canadian university, I`ve participated in Canadian politics, I watch Canadian and Quebec t.v., I`ve learnt Canadian expressions to the point that my American and French cousins make fun of me. I`ve learnt Canadian crafts, participated in Canadian activities like Cabane à sucre, dog-sleding, downhill and crosscountry skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing, skiidooing; know all about Laura Secord and a lot about Canadian and Quebec cooking, studied and read about their history, literature, theatre, and music. I`ve camped from PE.I. to Dawson City. I respect the laws, have never lost any driving points, do charity work. I have spent endless hours in hospitals sharing the pain of my Quebec friends` wives and/or husbands when they`ve died. I truly believe I live like a Canadian, that I have shared in their pride of country and culture, in the pain of dead soldiers and environmental disasters.

    And yet, at moments, it is so hard to feel Canadian when I know I am not accepted as one. I am still being asked to give up everything that makes my cultural `profile` (French, Spanish, American, British, and Mexican - humour, food, pride, knowledge) to become a real Canadian. I feel I am being asked to give up everything that made me who I am in exchange of becoming invisible, but never a born-in-Canada-of-English-or-French-ancestors Canadian.

    So now I call myself, not a new-Canadian, but a multicultural one. I am richer for having lived more than half my life in Canada, but also for having lived in other cultures. I love Canada because it has made me into a richer person, more stable. I became and adult here. Canada has been very good to me, but it is true, I am not all Canadian and that also gives me a slight advantage, I like people from everywhere. I have become kinder, more patient. Walking in an immigrant`s shoes does that to one.

    Thanks for reading me. My intention has not been to offend any Canadian who might read this, but to try to make others realize why it is so hard to assimilate.

  11. moodywop Banned

    Southern Italy
    Italian - Italy
    A caveat: the impression I've formed (I haven't read the academic literature on the subject, which must be considerable) is based on my extensive socializing (over ten years, 76-86) with Italians who emigrated to the UK(mainly London and Bedford, where 10% of the population is of Italian descent, link) in the 50s and with their children. Most of them were from the South, like me.

    1. The pattern outlined in a previous post is what I witnessed: first-generation Italian immigrants clung to their culture and language, while their children embraced the host culture and language more or less wholeheartedly, although they maintained a sense of their roots. Most of the second-generation Anglo-Italians I met were only imperfect bilinguals: English was their primary language but they could speak their parents' dialect more or less fluently.

    2. I think that not only is it normal for first-generation immigrants not to become assimilated but that their clinging to their cultural/linguistic identity was the only way they could preserve their psychological identity and survive the culture shock. All of them came from small villages where the extended family they had now lost was the core of their lives. Their common Southern origin and the unifying focus provided by their strict Catholicism helped them develop a sense of community.

    On the other hand I met some first-generation Italian immigrants in London who had become isolated from other Italians. Their sense of alienation was only too apparent. In a few, extreme cases I met some who could only speak a mixture of Southern dialect and broken English.

    So I believe that not only is "assimilation"(whether speedy or slow) an unrealistic goal for first-generation immigrants but that their non-assimilation is a psychological survival strategy.

    Some might object that the situation I've described is no longer relevant today but I think that many of today's immigrants are not all that different from the Southern Italians who went to work in the brick factories in Bedford in the 50s.
  12. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Thank you for your eloquence is sharing facts and feelings.

  13. Bastoune Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    French & English - Canada
    Why is that?
  14. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    I think adapting is all what counts and the faster the better. You cannot expect a country to welcome you keeping your own language, own religion, own dress, own everything.

    I can speak as an immigrant myself and as coming from a country with a huge community of foreigners.

    When I was like 20 the immmigation in Germany was Italian and Spanish and Greek. Especially the Italian adapted fast, possibly not easy as life in Germany for them surely wasn't easy, the language difficult. But as they adapted they were soon welcomed.

    Then nowadays you have the vast Turkish community and I cannot see that they are accepted and I am sure this is because they do not adapt or even try to. They have their own churches, own food, don't try to learn the language, get on in their own communities, do not mix with Germans, have restaurants and shops sometimes with only their language announcing items. Young people , so the next generation is slightly different, but as adapting does not exist, even here you can see differences.

    I have lived in Spain for 30 years. I have adopted this country as my second home and adapted immediately, so I was accepted with ease. I even got married, only 17 years ago, when I was already more "Spanish" than my husband.

    As I am always saying: when you go to Rome, do as the Romans do.
  15. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I don't think you need to relinquish any of these, and that adaptation is a matter of adding the customs of the new home country, at whatever rate. I cannot imagine most people changing religions as part of their adapation, though they may well want to become knowledgeable about the predominant religion(s) of a host country.
  16. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    What would New York be if all of our immigrants gave up their culinary traditions? :eek: :eek: A sad strip-mall affair in which seekers of a cheap meal would be forced to eat at McDonalds, Applebee's and the like, instead of feasting on tamales, soup dumplings, pad thai, roti etc. etc. etc.

    That said, I have mixed feelings about the subject. I respect the slow process of assimilation as I have seen how it has played out in my family. I think Carlo was on the money when he asked how much the human spirit can be expected to bend in one lifetime. There are limits.

    However, I find myself resenting (perhaps unfairly) those groups who take the practice of non-assimilation so far (usually for religious reasons -- I'm thinking mostly of certain Muslim groups, and the ultra-orthodox and Hasidic Jews, although I know Hindu immigrant families from India who have also remained rigorously non-assimilated) that they deny the possibility of choosing assimilation to their children.

    When a community as a whole refuses to send its children to the public schools, particularly when that refusal is based around that community's attitudes towards gender and the appropriate education for women, thereby preventing its sons and particularly daughters from becoming "real" Americans, that upsets me. It seems to me that each generation should be able to make its own decisions, but that certain parents make decisions that foreclose their children's options.

    Similarly (kick me if I've bored you with this before) but in law school I had the opportunity to participate in some fascinating research on the Hmong practice of marriage by capture and the (largely North African) practice of female circumscision. Immigration has brought both of these delightful practices to our shores, and some extreme liberal legal scholars have proposed lighter penalties for practitioners of these practices (which in our culture are straight-up rape and mutilation, respectively) on the grounds that they are important parts of the originating cultures. I have no tolerance for that.

    If you do something that harms others (I'm not talking popping a little peyote here and there), I don't care if it's part of your culture. Leave it at the door. But I know others who think that's an intolerant position.
  17. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    Many Amish and similar Christan sects do the same thing, yet they are not "new" immigrants. If they chose to live in their own enclaves, I feel it is to their detriment, and theirs alone. I don't agree with it, but it is not harming anyone outside of their community.

    I agree with you here 100%. Individuals seeking to immigrate to a new country should be able to do so provided they follow the laws of that host country, even if it means giving up certain cultural norms to do so.

    For my town, one of the most homogenous, conservative and rather "ma and pa" places in the country, immigration has brought us great color and vitality. Not everyone believes this is a good thing. I personally cannot imagine what my town would be like without the countless fabulous Mexican, Vietnamese and/or Korean restaurants and shops.

    Our city leaders have recognized the importance of this assimilation as well, and are working with the leaders of these communities not only to facilitate "integration" of the immigrant communities into our greater community, but are also working to weave the special cultural traditions of these immigrant groups and make them a part of our city's cultural fabric.

    It's one thing about this city of which I'm extremely proud.
  18. maxiogee Banned

    If you read the piece you quoted from my earlier posting, you will see I explain why.
  19. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    Elaine, just as a matter of course, In Spain we had the same problem with African immigrants who had the girls mutilated on religious believes. The government in the end had to impose serious penalties to cut these practises short. These practices were finally considered as mutilation and thus forbidden.
  20. Chuck Mac New Member

    San Antonio, TX
    US English
    This is my first post. I have been reading the forum for a month or so, however. I enjoy this forum very much, because the discussions are so informative. I am trying to learn Spanish & have taken 3 formal classes. Because of this, the immigration issue is of great concern to me. With that said, I can't help but wonder how the immigrant feels when he/she hears of the great "democracy" in the US. That great "democracy" becomes contradicting once the immigrant arrives in this country. Upon arrival the immigrant learns that democratically it is not okay to maintain "self", but it becomes more prudent to adapt a new culture. It seems to me that in a democracy I have the choice to take on the new culture or not, to maintain who I am, & if I feel like I may lose myself in the process, then I have the choice to adjust as I see appropriate.

    But to have a democracy dictate whether I maintain self, & everything that goes with that, doesn't seem democratic. If I'm in your home, do I have to behave like you, or may I choose to act like me? Will I be accepted in your home? Will I be accepted or will you encourage me to take on your ways? If I'm not offending anyone by being myself, what harm is done? I'm from the orientation that an immigrant must feel accepted on the simplest of terms before assimilation becomes important. If I can't be accepted the way I am right now, then what's my hope of being accepted once I assimilate?

    I think that once any immigrant feels the acceptance in both directions, then the rates of assimilation may increase.

    Sorry for rambling, & I am hopeful that I'm going in the direction of this thread.
  21. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    I found your post very interesting. And very informing of how many immigrants think.they have to be accepted without assuming that they are NOT in their own country.

    this is very interesting. Why should you expect to be accepted living in my home if you don NOT want to behave like you were in my home? why should I accept your burping( for example) just because this is part of your culture? I expect from you to behave in my home like I would in yours, that is accepting the rules and adapting to the new place you have chosen to live.

    Why do you feel that democracy means to accept any kind of behaviour?

    I think that is what it is all about, that immigrants expect the host country to accept them as they are, and I think this cannot be done.

    I don't think I can go around scolding everybody for being late; I cannot be "liked" if I think that everything has to be spic and span; I cannot expect the people to eat at 12 and have dinner at 6.....

    I especially like your sentence that a democracy means you have to be prudent and adapt. Is that supposed to be funny?
    I wonder.....
  22. maxiogee Banned

    Were you to come to my home, heidita, I would like to think that you felt comfortable enough for you to behave as if you were in your own home.
    That, I think, is the essence of hospitality, making someone feel at home when they are not - be that in my house or in my country.
    Yes, I expect them to be somewhat circumspect, just as they would be in their house if I were their guest. One behaves slightly differently when one has guests.
  23. moodywop Banned

    Southern Italy
    Italian - Italy
    I can't find this statement in Chuck Mac's post. What he did say is:

    This is actually an extremely mild statement, which I can't see anybody disagreeing with.

    How else can you accept anyone except as they are? The attitude displayed in your statement, pushed to its extreme, led to the mass slaughter of Jews, gypsies, gays and mentally ill people in your native country.
  24. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    When I started this thread, I offered two distinct views for discussion...assimilate quickly, or assimilate more slowly. I also mentioned that there were many ways for immigrants to adapt, not just those two opposities. It's a continuum of choices and styles.

    We have now heard from advocates of the two end points.
    What seems to have received less attention is that in most countries that are large recipients of immigrants, there are dozens or hundreds of points on that continuum.

    Look, for example, at the US, Argentina, Mexico...three nations with a history of substantial immigration. In the US, we have had quick, slow, and every class of medium paced assimilation, and are none the worse off for it. To the contrary, much of our cultural and even economic richness comes from immigrants, including quick and slow assimilators.

    I'll ask the Mexican and Argentine foreros to speak for themselves. However, I am aware of Asturian and Gallego clubs in Mexico, and I don't believe the practice of immigrant Spaniards who stay close to their first home country culture has done Mexico any harm.

    This discussion is clearly--to me at least--not a dispute that can be won with a single 'right answer'. It would be more interesting, and enlightening, to discuss immigrant groups in the same host country, including both those quick and slow to assimilate, and see the benefits and detriments of each rate of adaptation.
  25. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    I do not think this would be the case if I were to come to your home for a long time, that is to live in your home. Then would you be willing to adapt to me? So we would eat a three, dinner at 10, go out for a beer every day, music at full speed (so to speak), MANY friends coming along at all times, no more sleep for anybody....

    I do not think anybody has a problem with "bearing" another person's special things for a short time, but not for a long period of time, not even being close friends.
  26. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    Here, here, look who is talking. One does live in glass houses..... and if you live in one, don't throw with stones.
  27. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Well, I think I may say without sounding hyperbolic my country has one of the biggest registered miscegenations and as far as I know this process of miscegenation and assimilation hasn´t been that difficult.
    Vera Lúcia Soares, from The Fluminense Federal University, an expert in literature says the immigrants integration into Brazilian society has been relatively tranquil.
    Some immigrants look like having the best of two worlds: they maintain at home their original habits and outside home they try to adapt themselves to the local habits.
    Japanese, for example, are very attached to their eating and family customs and it seems they are the slowest people to shift to our society way of life. A friend of mine was raised in a home where only Japanese was spoken, and where they cultivated all Japanese habits. However, I don´t see no problem with their particular way of living. They, the Japanese, are well integrated into society, being great agriculturists, having brought new techniques and thus enriching our methods, besides presenting us to their delicious food.
    The Italians came, at first, to replace the newly freed slaves on the coffee agriculture and were vigorous farmers. It seems they were faster to adapt to a new culture. My father tell us about growing in an Italian family with grandma cooking as a truly Italian mamma, but the whole family living their lives like all other neighbors.
    The Arabs also seemed to adapt very fast. I was raised in a town where those who aren´t from Italian origin are from Arab one (mainly Syrian and Lebanese). I still remember my Arab neighbors´behaving as if they were natives - well , I was veeery young then and didn´t know anything about immigration. All I knew was they were Arabs and that was enough for a little girl- made no difference!
    The Germans also brought their techniques, their laboriousness to the new country. In the south states, till nowadays, some of them live in special colonies- also there are Italians and some other Europeans smaller ethnic groups- speaking, teaching and living according to their parents´ languages and yet integrated into the country life.
    This integration happened for some at a quicker and for others at a slower pace, but in the end we all, natives and immigrants, have benefitted -and continue to - from this melting. I think it adds color to a already colorful people!
  28. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    The Irish are a special case.
    The Republic of Ireland is officially not a foreign country. [Ireland Act, 1949, s 2 (1)]

    Ireland and UK have no immigration restrictions in either direction.

    Republic of Ireland citizens have the right to vote in UK elections, join the civil service &c, &c.

    As for "ethnicity", how far back does it go?

    Sean Connery has an obviously Irish surname, and an great-grandfather from Wexford, but he's a Scottish nationalist now. Bob Geldof manages to be Irish, despite his Belgian "ethnicity".
  29. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    I think it is very difficult for first-generation immigrants to assimilate into a new culture; they should certainly try to learn the language and the customs and folkways of their adopted country, and have respect and gratitude for it. However, their children usually do that, and I think that works out well enough. At the same time, I believe that the children, grandchildren, and ancestors should not forget where they came from, while at the same time recognizing that the U.S. (or whatever country they immigrated to) is now their nation. An example; most people in Northern Minnesota trace their roots here back to some time around the turn of the century, when their great- or great-great-grandparents emigrated from countries Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Ireland, (French) Canada, modern-day Poland, etc.. I teach CCD (the Catholic equivalent of Sunday School), and I once asked my students where their ancestors came from. Some could answer and some....didn't know! That saddens me. Although they are now American, they still have a past, a distant origin, which they should at least know and take pride in. Some immigrant groups in the U.S., such as the Italian-Americans, seem to me to be very good at balancing pride in their ethnicity and pride in their country. I find it disconcerting and sad however, that one would not even know their heritage.
  30. Daniel4802 New Member

    I can give my father and others like him as an example. The area where I live was inhabited by a large French population following the Civil War - that being South Louisiana. Today, many communities still utilize the French language - as you can see by the countless bi-lingual street signs - and experience French culture when it comes to music and food.

    My father's first language was French. But just like everyone else his age, he had to learn English early. It was school policy back then for English to be the only language spoken in class unless it was a foreign language course. My father told me that teachers would slap pupils hands with a ruler if they didn't speak English.

    For them, it was a matter of survival as well as advancement to learn English as quickly as they could. Although they could trade and do business with others locally who predominantly spoke French, they could not do anything outside of those communities if they didn't know English. That meant employment opportunities were very limited.

    For example, my father was the first in my family to attend college. He studied to be an airplane mechanic at Northrop so he could follow his dream as well as provide a better future for his family, which at that time lived on a small ranch. He later worked at a local airport until he became self-employed and did his own private work. Now he is retired.

    If my father, and others his age in that community, weren't forced to learn English, a larger pressure would have been placed on us. What my father went through allowed us to begin our lives at a much better spot than him.

    So yes. It is a lot better for the first generation to assimilate as quick as possible. It not only will improve the life of that first generation who is learning the host language, but that of his or her family. The quicker they can assimilate, whether it is with a new language or customs, the better the chances are that following generations will prosper.
  31. maxiogee Banned

    Aaah yes, the old story of the dominant imposing their language on others.
    We all 'know' that when people who can speak a different language than the authorities do speak that language they are invariably, constantly and uncontradictably plotting the overthrow of the authorities. :) :D :(

    All those guys hanging around on street corners - who in any other set-up would be shirking work and eyeing up the opposite sex; talking about racehorses or foootball; and recovering from the last, or planning the next, night's drinking - must be talking revolution and sedition.
  32. lamariposita88 New Member

    Miami, Florida
    English- Miami, Florida

    Being that I am from Miami, Florida, I have a lot of insight into the immigration of individuals into a new country. My parents immigrated here from Puerto Rico about 20 years ago, and although the culture shock is not as harsh as say, a person moving from Peru, there is still some difficulty.
    Imagine you, as an English-native, lost your job, your house, and most of your money. The economy in your country had failed, and you had no where to turn except to try your life in a new country, so as to give your family a better place to survive. You pack what little possessions you have, and you make a long journey into a completely different culture.
    You have no knowledge of the language, the customs, or the people. You simply work to gain your visas, and find a job.
    To whom would you gravitate? Of course, the people of your culture. They are who will give you the strength and the resources to continue your journey into better livelihood, because they understand you. And most importantly, you understand them.
    In this manner, the immigrant family is slowly adapted into their new culture. Creating sort of a mix in the areas in which their culture thrives in the new country.
    So tell me, if you, an american, were forced to move to China after you spent 25 to 30 years in America, would you never eat a hamburger again, never say an English word again, and pretend you were Chinese for the rest of your life?
    Sounds proposterous, huh?
    Then why do you ask the hispanics, who are forced into our country by poverty and unstable governments, to pretend they were never hispanic?
    If you were an immigrant in China, and you learned Chinese as much as you could, but you were simply walking down the aisle of the grocery store with your family, would you speak Chinese to your family or English?
    English, right? And if a Chinese person walked up to you, in that grocery store, and meanacingly told you "You're in China, Learn to speak Chinese you stupid American.", how do you think you would feel?

    So if you contiue to tell hispanics, "Learn English, Spick."
    I hope that you will be forced to move to China. And I hope they torture you just as you have tortured the hispanic culture here.
  33. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    I wouldn't be so extreme as some of the foreros here. Not in either direction.

    Assimilation - yes. But not a "melting pot" type.
    Abandoning your own customs - no, if it does not molest directly the hosting country. And it depends on the customs you have, of course. For sure the ablation or sex discrimination is absolutely out of the question. But if I am used to have dinner at 7pm and my hosting country at 10pm, what harm is done to hosting country if I have dinner AT MY HOME at 7pm??? Of course, I cannot go around being mad at restaurants because they open at 9pm... But these things are noncense to discuss about.

    I really identified myself with the post written by Papalote. No matter how hard you try to "integrate", including that you are not coming from a country so different from your hosting country, you will always be "a foreigner" "an immigrant", unless you "melt", and not even then, sometimes.

    One should accept the customs of a hosting country, but one shouldn't forget where they come from. It is very sad to see a person with a Serbian name living in USA or Canada or wherever, and not speaking Serbian, or speaking it with a strong English accent...
  34. djchak Senior Member

    USA English

    If the economy in my country had failed, or wasn't performing, and I wanted to move to Germany...the first thing I would do is learn German! It's common sense!

    If I found a job, and knew I could stay, I would want to live among other Germans, not isolate myself to a segregated community forever...

    If it was my choice to move to China, I would learn chinese and bring the best of my traditions with me, while accepting my new adopted homeland.

    Let me ask you something. Why is self segregation good? Why is learning to speak english and wanting to live with people of other nationalities "torture"?
  35. djchak Senior Member

    USA English
    Why is it sad? A tall serbian guy sold me my last car. Is he "sad" becuase he speaks english with a serbian accent? Will his children be "sad" becuase they speak serbian and english with an american accent?
  36. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Just a little correction. THEY will not be SAD because of this, IT will be sad. There is a big difference, at least for me.
    As far as the father is concerned, not at all. He speaks English as you say, and I am very sure he tries to immerge and melt with American culture and way of life, since I know how are my people as immigrants. But as far as his children are concerned, in a way, yes. But it doesn't have to happen, if he gives his best and try that his children speak Serbian with a Serbian accent and English with an Engliah accent, and if they speak some other language, better. One should embrace the culture of a new homeland and follow the rules of behaviour of a hosting country, but one should never forget where his roots are... As a matter of fact, I think it is cool to have two cultures that you can call as yours, the more you know, the more diverse is your own personal culture, the richer a person is...
    At the end, this is ONLY my personal opinion, and this is what was asked for in this thread, not final truths. Or I am wrong again?:rolleyes:
  37. Bastoune Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    French & English - Canada
    A little dramatic, n'est-ce pas?

    Maybe I'd still eat my poutine and pate' chinois but I would dress as the Chinese did and speak their tongue.

    No one is "torturing" Hispanics in the U.S. Au contraire, the U.S. is giving them everything en espanol so they can just assume they can speak it wherever they want.

    And yeah, sadly the Cajuns have suffered a lot at the hands of English-speakers but even without slapping the hands, Louisiana was turned over to the Americans anyway thanks to Napoleon, so learning English would eventually have to happen.

    There's no reason one can't retain one's own language and learn a new one. GASP! It happens every day!

    I only have to question why it bothers people that the inhabitants of a country would expect immigrants to learn their language?
  38. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod, I say, Moderator

    American English
    Would you learn German before you moved there and started working? How would you pay for classes and what would you do for work until you moved there?
  39. djchak Senior Member

    USA English
    Yes, you can teach yourself some basics with Books and CD's. If only classes worked, then there wouldn't be any Books or CD's teaching language.

    Once I was there, I would be able to make better, as everyone speaks german. So once you have little choices, the paradox is you learn to speak the basics very quickly.

    And this isn't an issue of speed or profieciency, it's "why do they not learn it if they have been here for years, and want to stay here for years."

    How is it that people from countries much farther away learn english more quickly than people who from countries right next to us? Could it be they feel that learning it is optional?
  40. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    Well, isn't it? It is in the US.

    Is there a law that says you have to learn English when you move to the United States? Is learning English obligatory for immigrants to the UK, Australia, Canada? Anyone?
  41. maxiogee Banned


    The following is a joke and is not true!
    Please don't over-react!
    Yes - but as it's only published in English, who cares, or knows?
  42. djchak Senior Member

    USA English
    I understood your sentance the first time. As in, "IT will be sad". What you didn't explain is "WHY IT is SAD". Why does it matter if they can speak serbian in an american, canadian, austrailian, or UK accent?

    Are you saying that american accents and dialects are "sad"?

    Why does it matter if someone speaks english in the US with a serbian accent? As long as their command of english, serbian, spanish, or gujrati is correct, why the long faces for differnt accents or dialects?

    You know, I think I appreciated the US more and more as I travelled to other places, and came back and compared attitudes. Different is GOOD. The world would be a boring place if everyone had the exact same dialect and accents.

    I never said you were "wrong" about anything by the way. I just want to hear why you think it's "sad".
  43. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod, I say, Moderator

    American English
    Assuming that the severance package that you received when you were fired from your job was enough to meet expenses and to afford books and CDs.

    Many immigrants do not have the resources (time, money, opportunity, etc.) to study the language of their host country -- they're too busy working, for too little money. Assimilation isn't cheap.
  44. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    This reminds me of a story my friend told me when she was a child. She asked her mom to buy her a doll and her mom said she didn't have any money. Not having quite yet grasped the concept of money, my friend then suggested her mother just write a check.

    Some people who come here don't have money for CDs, and some don't even have a CD player to play it on if they did. And some have no use for books for they can barely read or read at all. Some, gasp, don't have a Giant-Chain Book/Coffee Shop store in the village where the live!

    If I were an economic migrant looking for work in France I would buy tapes, books, attend the Alliance Française, hire a private tutor, and take a University course in French or two. I mean, who wants to live in France and not being able to communicate with the French? Why some immigrants in France don't speak French is beyond me. Why don't they just write a freaking check.
  45. djchak Senior Member

    USA English
    Wow. Apparently there are no "how to learn english" books and CD's in Mexico, Central America, South America, Asia..... only the rich europeans and americans can afford those luxuries with a hefty severance package.

    What a crock. Do you have any idea how insulting that assumption is? Do you honestly think that only well off legal immigrants can "afford" to learn english?

    What about the MILLIONS that came here knowing no english, but gradually learned enough, and earned enough to buy a place here?
  46. djchak Senior Member

    USA English
    Ah, so I see. These people are victims, not knowing you can LEARN english on your own with cheap study aids. Apparently only the ELITE can learn english to a point that is understandable. Despite the fact that millions have done it, when the original language they spoke is completely different from any latin based language.

    Learning english to Spanish / Spanish to English is probably one of the easiest language changes anyone would ever have to do. Your "facts" don't add up.
  47. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    No importa. La realidad es que hay millones de personas que viven en los Estados Unidos y no hablan inglés. Muchos tienen los medios para estudiar inglés pero les falta otras cosas: tiempo, talento, la edad edecuada, la necesidad, etc. No todo el mundo tiene la misma capacidad de hacerlo. Aprender inglés es como dejar una pareja: siempre es fácil cuando eres tú que le dices o otra persona que lo haga pero no sabes lo que es hasta que te toca a ti. La cosa más fácil de mundo es botar a un mujer ajena.

    Muchos tratan de aprender inglés y no pueden por muchas, muchas, razones, que tú no podrás jamás entender. Todos, todos, saben que les iría mucho mejor si aprendieran inglés. Hasta los que no piensan quedarse saben que es un idioma muy útil que te sirve en cualquier país.

    Además, aprender inglés no engorda.
  48. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Hope I explained enough.

    I would like to add something. There is no law that an immigrant should learn the language of the country where they go to start a new life. But it is in their interest to learn it, if necessary. I live in Catalonia, and I don't speak Catalan, because I am doing just fine with knowing only Spanish. Yes, I would like to learn Catalan, too, but I am not FORCED to do it in order to survive, so I postpone it in a way, I don't have time, and deep inside, I am just lazy. But I am sure that I would have learnt it very quickly if my existence depended on it.
    On the other hand, I understand people - natives, when they, let's use the eufemism, - protest because some immigrants do not learn the language of the country they are. It is not the protest because they do not speak it when they come, or because they have a bad accent or they never learn to speak it correctly or fluently. It is directed towards those who come to their country, make their own cities within the cities, their wn societies within the societies and never even try to adapt not a little bit to the hosting country. In my opinion, in this way they are not "opening the way for their children to the new homeland, they are only making it more difficult for them. Children are ok while they have contact only with their parents, family and neighbours of the same nation, until they don't have to go to school, and to make friends with other children. But when it happens, if a child is not adapted and prepared to meet the outside world (and that would be, at least, to speak, and to speak as good as it is possible the language of the hosting country) it will be different. And children in general can be very cruel, we all know that, because we all had or maybe of us even were "the freak" of the class...

    Adapt and learn about your new home as much as you can, but don't forget who you are. Cherish in the same way the new and the old culture, in a way that it does not bother anyone. Learn and teach at the same time. I think this is the best thing to do, but also the hardest one.

    PS: One question, just for curiosity. Why don't you write names of languages in capital letters? Is it just carelessness or there is some reason for it?
  49. djchak Senior Member

    USA English
    It is in thier best intrest,and I fully support free english language classes if they will help. (to anyone who can't afford them) I just think that you guys are exagerating the difficulty of learning english. It's not an "elite" skill as your posts sarcasticly seem to suggest.

    Well, getting back to the original question. I think "melting pot" assimilation is a good thing. I don't view it as a problem, or a failure of a society to keep thier culture seperate. It will have more ups and downs then a homogenous society (like japan, norway), but it also has it's strengths.
  50. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod, I say, Moderator

    American English
    You need to chill out a little. I'm not insulting you or being rude to you -- I'm asking what you would do if you were a poor immigrant, so you can empathize a little.

    I can't count the number of immigrants that I have worked with, especially in small towns, but also in big cities, who barely have a basic education in their native language, who work long hours for low pay, who live far from schools and people who could be resources to them in learning English.

    I have also met immigrants who frustrated me because they did not make any effort to learn English, instead relying on family and friends to translate for them. But for every one of these, I've met 10 people who honestly want to learn English but don't have the wherewithal to start.

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