Children losing their forefather's language

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Residente Calle 13, Feb 25, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City

    My parents speak Spanish and I speak Spanish but my nephews don't and won't. I have two nieces who do and will but they live in a town where most people speak Spanish. Where my nephews live, most people speak English.

    Spanish-speakers in the US are, by in large, passing down their language to the next generation in many cases but in many families, it's disappearing. I have mant Hispanic friends who speak very little Spanish and some who speak none.

    In a sense, it's a shame they will never speak the language of the forefathers but in another sense, they are assimilating to the culture of their country and are 'fitting in.'

    Have you witnessed language loss? Do you not speak the language of your parents or do you know anybody who's in the situation my nephews are in? Do you live in region where another language was traditionally spoken but is now being replaced by a national language?
  2. grumpus Senior Member

    San Diego, CA
    English U.S.
    Hi Residente Calle 13,

    yes, this is a big and important issue. The U.S. is particularly backward with respect to promoting bi/tri lingualism. Spain is a much better model, regional languages are preserved and promoted.
    The way I see it is, children will speak the language of their peers and because Spanish has "second class" status in the U.S., it is not promoted in the schools, only English is. And, therefore, English will become the dominant language of the children. This is a crime.

    I live in the binational region of San Diego/Tijuana. The "pueblos/people" are binational, but you would not realize it if you looked at the "dominant culture" of San Diego -- only anglo culture/ English language are promoted. Again, I see this as profoundly ignorant not to mention very short-sighted.

    So far it doesn't appear to me that this will change in the near future. In the long term, it will have to.

  3. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    It is unlikely that "Spanish" will disappear in the near future. People keep using Spanish even when they go to the USA, but unfortunately, those who want to get good jobs and be "someone", learn English and forget about Spanish as soon as they can, because it is a "second class language" and English is the future, so many of those remaining ones who only speak Spanish do not normally have a good education, do not speak proper Spanish either or care about grammar (like we freaks do here) or proper use of the language. Spanish is eventually condemned to be a highly degraded and "contaminated" language in the end. Many other countries are absorbing English terminology and culture, but they preserve their own to a certain extent... because they don't live in an English-speaking country, of course; China, to name one.
  4. Edher

    Edher Senior Member

    Cd. de México, Spanish & English
    Hola Residente Calle 13,

    I've been living in California for quite some time now and I have witnessed everything that you mentioned. It is quite common in this region of the country to come across Chicanos that only speak English. After interacting with them for a while I always ask them why don't they speak Spanish and I could see them quickly get uneasy. I think this is because in many cases they are ashamed of speaking Spanish because they are afraid of being percieved as stereotypical Mexican immigrants. In other words, they choose not to even take Spanish classes because it is "not cool." In fact, some of them are proud not to speak Spanish because I guess they feel more Anglo-American, (more assimilated maybe) since they attempt to speak Spanish like them by placing an "o" at the end of every word. Yet, this is hilarious when they speak English with a thick Spanish accent, but again, they don't speak Spanish according to them. Another extremity, when they try really hard to speak with an "anglo valley girl/surfer" accent with their friends and when you see they're parents approach them speaking in Spanish they glow of embarrasement. I don't blame them personally for this. I think the media is to blame since foreigners are usually ridiculed in comedies.

    I've also been told that in some cases the reason why their parents didn't teach them Spanish was simply because "it wasn't a good time to be Mexican." In other words, they were afraid that their children were going to be highly discriminated against for speaking Spanish.

    But of course, I've also met Chicanos that really put an effort in learning Spanish because they are proud of their culture. Too bad that in my case, these are rare.

    I guess this has happened with immigrants from other countries during different times. I also wondered how and when German, Italian, Dutch, French, etc lost their language. I'm assuming it might be for the same reason maybe "it wasn't a good time to be a foreigner."

  5. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    Hi Edher,

    My brother went to L.A. many years ago to visit a "mexican" guy we met in Spain claimed to speak English as a first language. My brother did not learn any English over there staying with his family; in fact, he came with mexican accent. Apparently, his entire family refused to speak English except the guy we met, who seemed to be afraid/ashamed of admitting his family and mother tongue are Spanish, and prefer to speak English all the time.
  6. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    Thanks to all for the answers.

    I have another question for the people from Spain. Do you have the same problem with Basque, Catalán or Gallego in Spain? Do kids feel embarrassed to be caught speaking their regional languages?

    I have another question for our friends for Spain but I think it might be off-topic. I could start another thread and if the mods think it's the same issue, I think they can just merge them. Is that ok, mods?

    ['s about code-switching]
  7. mariovargas

    mariovargas Senior Member

    Ohio, United States
    Venezuela, Spanish
    I was born and raised in Venezuela for 17 years and then came to the US. Spanish is of course my first language. When I came to the US, I refused to speak Spanish with other Hispanic speakers (in fact I avoided going out with Hispanic people) because I wanted to improve my English.

    At that time I didn't care if I forgot my mother tongue because I thought it was "cool" if I did. How wrong I was! Now I am working on translating a highly challenging and technical website from English to Spanish and I've found it hard to avoid using literal translations and to make sense of them. Perhaps some users of this forum have realized that after reading my translations. It makes me feel bad that I did not appreciate my mother tongue when I could and I am making strides to "relearning" my first language.

    I am getting married with a Japanese woman next year with God's favor. I am now working on my third language: Japanese. I want my children to know all three languages. It will be of benefit to them in the future. Perhaps English will be their first language. I know that after the third generation those tongues will most likely fade away in my line. It is normal for the second or third generation to lose their mother language. I wish this wasn't the case.

    In my opinion, the issue with this country is mostly pride about English and, as I've read in this thread, the stereotypical and downgrading view towards Mexican immigrants. I am in no way implying this is everyone's view. I am proud that my first language is Spanish and I wish everyone living in this country who has a Hispanic background (not necessarily Mexican) would appreciate and embrace their beautiful language.
  8. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    I am about to make a lot of enemies, but...

    Gallegos speak "Castellano" most of the time, at least in front of people who don´t speak their dialect. I have watched a lot of "Televisión Gallega", and although it is different, it is understandable. It is a cute accent anyway.

    ¿Basque? Well... I have Basque family, Basque friends, and I have been there. I do not know anyone personally who speaks Basque, so.... :)

    Catalan is another story. They are bilinguals, and they switch to "Castillian" as soon as they realize someone doesn´t speak Catalan, so they don´t have any problem.
  9. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    Well said, Mario

    I have been living in the UK for the last 8-9 years, and I have married a Chinese woman (and tried to learn Japanses long ago: Talk to Spiceman). We want out children to benefit from the three most "important" languages in the world, so I refuse to forget mine, and I encourage my wife not to forget about hers.
  10. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    I have to say that I like the idea of a multilingual Spain. It demonstrates a great deal of tolerance. I know that historically bad things have happened but the effort being put into multilinguism today, despite its problems, is a sign of stregnth, I think. Especially when compared to many other countries who take a more "my way or the highway" approach. I read there are four million Catalan speakers and about two million Gallego speakers in Spain. That's not bad. Basque, my book says, around 750,000. Still not bad for a country of about 40 million.

    Do you think, Lazarus, that the confidence Catalaners display about their language has something to do with how good they feel about Catalunia's role in Spain, economically, socially, culturally?...and they do have a damn good football team. (DISCLAIMER: I'm not a culé :D).
  11. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    My response is to the first question being asked. A few years ago, there was a hugh immigration wave in Taiwan because of our problem with China. Many parents took their very young babies to USA or even had them born here. We call these kids who have 100% Taiwanese blood but can't speak a word in Chinese, not to mention Taiwanese, "ABC", which means "Americans Born as Chinese". I myself have some relatives and friends like that, they look Taiwanese, but that's about the only bit of Taiwanese you can get from them because they don't understand the language, the society, the culture, and everything that's related to Taiwan...The first time one of my godbrother went back to Taiwan, he was already 20 years old! And that's the first time he saw his "hometown":eek: He married, of course, an American, and has a job and a house and a car in America, I don't think Taiwan means anything to him in the end of the day....

    Even inside Taiwan, we are losing Taiwanese as a language which is being replaced by Chinese for quite some time now. I remember when I was a kid, we were punished in school for using Taiwanese to communicate....My grandmother who received her education when Japan was occupying Taiwan can only speak Taiwanese and Japanese, that's why I learn Taiwanese in order to be able to talk to her and not to forget my root.
  12. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I have witnessed language loss, by others. Many Egyptians imigrates who lare living in Europe or the States don't teach their kids their mother tongue, maybe because they don't have time, are not interested, or have no one to practice it with, I'm not sure. But the sad thing is that there are several generations of people who don't speak their mother tongue and who, when back home for holiday or for good, can't speak the language or sound like foreigners.
    I personaly don't see any problem with keeping one's mother tongue and "fitting in" in the new society, there's no contradiction in that.
    And I also agree with the idea that the fear of being considered as "inferior" plays a great role in people's neglecting their mother tongues.
  13. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    Hi Cherine,

    I have never felt embarrassed to speak Spanish but I understand and can appreciate how some people might have or still might today. I don't think you have to drop Spanish to fit in, not where I live, but to be honest, if I had to choose, I would rather my nephews do well even if it's at the expense of Spanish. English is priortity #1 in the US.

    Strangely enough, I'm more angry that Arabic speakers are not passing down Arabic to some of their kids!!! LOL! It's just something I've always wanted to do and think it's such a shame those kids are missing out on knowing Arabic.

    I know some Arabs who don't speak Arabic in the US but they are in the minority here in NY in my circles. I'm sure that's not the case with most of the country though. I don't think Ralph Nader or John Sunnunu, for example, speak Arabic.

    You, know, it's happened a million times before. If you go back far enough in time, you will find that somewhere in your family tree, somebody dropped a language for another. It still feels wrong, though.
  14. Edher

    Edher Senior Member

    Cd. de México, Spanish & English
    Hola nuevamente,

    It's ironic that people feel better about themselves for not knowing something. You would think that knowing two languages (regardless of what that second language is) would make you feel a little extra special than say someone who only speaks with one language. If anything you would have an advantage. So much for "knowledge is power."

  15. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    I think this pride in "not knowing" has more to do with not "being something." For many people "I don't know that language" is synomymous with "I didn't just arrive in this country", "I'm not a illegal", and even "I'm not poor."

    I was once stopped by the police in Puerto Rico and spoke to them in Spanish. One of the officers commented to the other that he could tell that I was "Dominican." Of course they could tell. Anybody in Puerto Rico can tell, after a little while, if you are from there or not.

    In Puerto Rico, being Dominican is not always a good thing and can be a big disadvantage. Of course, knowing Spanish, I think, is a big advantage and especially in Puerto Rico (in most cases) but from that moment on I spoke entirely in English. It was a way of telling them I was a US citizen just like they were and demanded to be treated like one. I was going to pull out my passport but they said it wasn't necessary. They got the point.

    Now that's a shame--and a bigger shame is that it mattered to them whether I was Dominican or not--but in that situation knowing only English would have been an advantage because, like it or not, speaking only English, or faking that I could only speak English, put me in a different group of people. And they could and would have made decisions based on who I was and how I spoke would influence those decisions.

    So yeah, I told them, in English : "I don't speak Spanish." and this was after having a very long conversation with them in Spanish. It was my way of establishing my citizenship, my equality with any other Puerto Rican before the law.
  16. Roi Marphille

    Roi Marphille Senior Member

    Catalonia, Catalan.
    well, it has nothing to do with it.
    It's just a language, like any other. We love it, like any other may love his/her language. It's our heritage, it's important for us.

    PS:...and yes, we have a great team now.
  17. Jpinzon New Member

    I think all the people must speaks more than one language, because some day you may need it. and spanish is an important language to learn.
    I think that all the people who think is embarrased or is not important other languages are wrong.

    people dont have to discriminate you beacause your language.
  18. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    There are many Portuguese immigrants in Hispanoamerica (I have a few relatives there). After a few years, they usually come back speaking Spanish. Or at least that's what they sound like, to us. A couple of years ago, a TV station interviewed representatives from various immigrant communities around the world. The one who spoke the best Portuguese was from Canada! :D
    I suppose that, because English is so different from Portuguese, there isn't much interference between the two languages. Immigrants who go to Spanish speaking countries usually end up switching to Spanish. The Portuguese of immigrants in French speaking countries seems to change less, but they usually acquire a French accent, which sounds quite funny. :D
    I have some relatives in an English language country, as well (not the U.S.) The first generation still speaks perfect Portuguese (with the occasional anglicism). Their children, however, are much less comfortable with our language, although they did learn it at home. They sound like foreigners. :D
    I think it's inevitable that the descendants of immigrants will lose their original language, and I guess it's a good sign, that they're integrating well.
  19. bernik Senior Member

    Brittany - french
    The Basque language is the indigeneous language of the Basque country, whereas Spanish is not the indigeneous language of the United States. Give me an example of a country where the home language is being replaced by the language of an immigrant population. In France, you won't find any school teaching Arabic. I don't know about Spain.

    I can see that all of you are taking the point of view of a newcomer who settles down in America or another country, and would like to keep his own national heritage at the same time. And it makes sense from his personal point of view. But when immigration takes place at a massive scale, you have to recognize that this is eroding the identity of the destination country. Southern California is not the same place it was 50 years ago. I think most Americans would like the Southern borders of the United States to be kept under surveillance so as to stop Mexican immigration. In Europe, immigration is increasing although most people oppose it.
    Where I live, Breton was still the main language until 50 years ago. Now, it can hardly be heard at all in the streets. This was caused by government policy. But even if the government in Paris some day becomes more tolerant of linguistic diversity, I think immigration will make it impossible for the Breton language to ever come back. In 50 years, I think the place where I live will look very much like a part of the Paris suburbs (which have been in the news a few months ago). No one in Brittany will care about their country any longer. I think it is the same in the USA. At a personal level, it's great for Mexicans to be able to come to the United States. But I suspect many Americans are mourning the loss of their country.

    I think the opinions expressed on this forum are in line with what can be heard in the media, but are in contradiction with the way most Americans/Europeans really feel about immigration.
  20. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    Thanks for participating in the discussion, Bernik. But just for the record, I was not talking specifically about immigration or how that effected language change. I was asking about the process of children not speaking the language of their forefathers. But thanks for telling us what you think.
  21. grumpus Senior Member

    San Diego, CA
    English U.S.

    Hi Bernik et al.

    I disagree. Spanish is far more "indigenous" to the region than is English. Spanish has been in what is now the U.S. (remember my region was stolen from Mexico) for more than 300 years. English has not and will never be an official language, wasn't meant to be. It's more based on xenophobia/racism of the dominant English speaking class.

    There is no "identity" to the United States, it IS an immigrant country. Genocide devasted the indigenous here so they have had little say in what should be the languages of this country. English was the dominant language, but competed with Dutch, German and other languages.

    A country where an immigrant group has replaced the language.
    Well, every single country that has suffered/suffers brutal French/English/Portuguese/Spanish colonialism. The language of Angola is Portuguese, the language of Liberia is English. Do I need to go on?

    You are right. The views of this forum are not the views of the "mainstream".

  22. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    In my country, the Dominican Republic, Spanish replaced Taino. But Taino was not the first language spoken there. The Tainos were a group who arrived on the island when it was already inhabited by the Ciboneyes, a people who were technologically less advanced than the Tainos and who the Tainos exterminated much like the Spanish exterminated them 500 years ago.

    Spanish in not indigenous to Spain either. It's derived from an Italian language but even Latin is thought to come from "somewhere else" and current Historical Linguists posit that there Indoeuropean languages replaced local languages in Europe.

    Its not new at all, this language change. It's so old and I think it's so old it's boring.
  23. bernik Senior Member

    Brittany - french
    "It's more based on xenophobia/racism of the dominant English speaking class."

    Seeing how American authorities are allowing or encouraging immigration to happen, I would not call them xenophobic. I think there is very little racial violence from "the dominant English speaking class". If you had that kind of immigration in China, Africa, or the Middle East, you would have civil war.

    "There is no "identity" to the United States, it IS an immigrant country."

    Of course the Americans have an identity !

    "Its not new at all, this language change. It's so old and I think it's so old it's boring."

    Yes, I know. It is like dinosaurs. The dinosaurs have disappeared. Someday, man will disappear too, and some other creature will take our place. But why rush things ?
  24. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    This has been a very interesting discussion. When I was in growing up (although I still am...Im only 20), I never took any interest in being Indian. I hated it, in fact. I took no interest in learning the language and I really preffered the use of English. My parents would say "speak to us in Hindi...we wont laugh" and I would roll my eyes and walk the other way. They never made a big attempt to teach us parents felt that English would be fine. I hated it. In high school, I was very embarrassed of my identity and pretty much knew nothing. It is a very weird feeling, being a first generation in a new country....I felt like I belonged to neither community. I would never be "Indian enough" and my skin color made it seem like I was a foreigner (and post 911 was no picinic). Anyway, I started college and had a horrible roommate experience, and I found that I needed privacy to speak with my parents about the incredible injustice I had living with a drug addict slob. I started speaking broken sentences and little by little it got better. I became obsessed then when I realized it was a reality. I remember I had my first dream in Hindi. It was a good night hehe! Anyway, I took classes and my fluency sky rocketed. Then I tackled Punjabi. I am now pretty fluent in both and only stumble every so often, which is expected after three years. But I am like a preacher at school now practicly....a total 180! I am always telling South Asians to speak more (with me) and a lot of them roll their eyes because they feel its strange (its really only natural for many to speak with their parents I guess) but many have actually taken an interest. Its a move in the right direction.

    I do not understand why, but I feel immigrants that live in an English speaking country are more prone to assimilation than in other countries. And now in the news, there is talk of officializing English, but I really think that if they are going to do that, add Spanish on as well. Predictions are that in 50 so years, this nation will be half hispanic. Thats fine by me, but I see no harm in trying to preserve their heritage in the process. Besides, being bilingual is an added advantage!
  25. wsitiplaju Senior Member

    USA English
    Indeed, when there was massive Anglo immigration to the US Southwest, the identity of the region was seriously eroded; English took over, and Spanish was marginalized. However, I would like to point out that communities of Spanish-speakers, descended from those who occupied the region before it became part of the US, survive in the Southwest to this day. This fact runs contrary to the idea, repeated frequently in this thread, that after a few generations the minority language "dies out." Though these groups are quite small, compared to the vast majority of immigrant Spanish-speakers, I think it is important to remember them.

    In New York once I met a young man who was working at the UN. As it became clear he was a native Spanish speaker, an older, Mexican man asked him where he was from. "Colorado." "Ah," the old man said knowingly, "Second generation." "No," the young man replied, "Seventh. We were there when the line crossed us."

    As for the topic of this thread, I studied my father's language, Chinese, in college, mostly because I wanted to study an Asian language and I had a slight head start in this one. I am sure, though, that I was also motivated by some annoyance at being labelled a second-generation ignoramus. I'm still an ignoramus, but somehow it doesn't bother me anymore now that I've spent a year in China.
  26. lizzeymac

    lizzeymac Senior Member

    New York City
    English - USA

    My on topic comment:
    On 1 side of my family I am both 2nd & 4th generation American - the family moved to & from Normandy to French Canada to the US in the past 150 years. My grandfather was a native French speaker, his children learned French at home & at school as a 2nd language & all the grandchildren learned some french when we visited as children & we all took French in school - it was required of us. Only a few are fluent but we have decent accents as we learned first from a native speaker & we can all read a newspaper in French - if you couldn't read & discuss a newspaper story with him, you didn't get dinner. He considerd it his responsibilty to pass on language & culture, not the government's.
    On the other side I am 6th gen. American of Irish & Scottish descent. I wish I spoke any kind of Gailic but I don't, some of my Irish cousins do. Supposedly my great great grandparents spoke English as well as Gailic but they wanted to assimilate & didn't teach their children Gailic.

    I am sorry of this strays from the topic, I feel it is relevant.

    Bernik -
    I appreciate & respect your opinions on your country but I do not appreciate your projecting your personal issues onto America. You don't quote statistics, you don't appear to have lived in the US, you don't talk about knowing any Americans personally. As several forer@s, Americans & others, have already pointed out, your understanding of the culture & history of America is incomplete & skewed. Neither Spanish nor English are the indiginous language of North America, but Spanish was spoken here before English was.

    Yes, we have problems with illegal immigration.
    Yes, we have racists & xenophobes - like every other place on this planet, do we need to talk about European Football here?
    You reference Southern California & Mexican immigrants - are you aware that "California" is a Spanish word? That more than 1/2 of the names of the 50 states are not English in origin but are Spanish, Native American languages, French, Dutch, etc.
    A conservative estimate is that more than 35% of all place names in the US are not of English origin.
    Yes, massive immigration affect the population of America. We are a nation of immigrants, we have had continuous waves of immigration starting the moment a European set foot here. The largest ethnic immigrant wave & largest ethnic group in America is German, Hispanic/Latin is the 2nd, then Irish, English, African American, Scandanavian, Asian & Pacific, etc.
    American is not a race, not a religon, not a language, it is a country & a committment.

    I am not saying you do not have a right to an opinion - that would be un-American & un-civil.
    I am saying you are expressing an opinion on facts you have no direct knowledge of and you are promoting assumptions about America based on your feelings on how immigration affects you & your country.
  27. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    My cousins in London speak awful Gujarati - in a cockney accent!!
    Actually, they don't speak Gujarati well at all - everytime we go there, they tell us to speak in English! I think it's a real shame - they struggle to speak to my granddad who only speaks Gujarati!

    I think when i have kids, i'll make sure they speak Gujarati (and Urdu too - such a nice polite clean language).
  28. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Are there any just Urdu speakers in your family (people who only speak urdu and no Guju)?
  29. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    no. why d'you ask?
    That actually wouldn't be so bad. If say, for example, I was forced to teach my children only one language for some weird reason (out of Gujarati and Urdu) I'd pick Urdu. I'd rather them be fluent in Urdu then pick up Gujarati (which wouldn't be so hard)
  30. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I assumed that maybe your cousins didnt Guju because there Urdu was better. I on the other hand would only teach Punjabi to my kids, as they would pick up Hindi and Urdu through movies. (the other way around doesnt work with Punjabis.....if they only learn Hindi or Urdu, they usually turn their back on my experience(and out of all the friends that I know)).
  31. tafanari Senior Member

    English, Spanish, French, and Italian
    How related are Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi? Can foregoing Urdu for Punjabi or vice-versa be considered like foregoing English for Spanish or more like foregoing Southern American English for a Northern "accent" ?
  32. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Its a very complicated subject, hehe. I start with Hindi and Urdu. Essentially, Hindi and Urdu are the same language. There are two big differences though. Hindi uses the Sanskrit script (aka Devanagri) which is also used by Nepali, Marathi, and some of the Hindi dialects (or languages depending on opinions). Urdu, on the other hand, uses the Perso-Arabic script (specifically, the script used is called Nastiliq, which differs from the Persian and Arabic script, nasq-- Nastiliq is written more at an angle, has some more letters, and is more cursive looking). In regards to vocabulary, the languages really are the same on the colloquial level, aside from some pronounciation differences. But the upper vocabulary for Hindi is more Sanskritic, whereas the the Urdu vocab would be Persianized. This becomes problematic, for example, when someone is watching the news in the other language. I can understand the Hindi news 85% and the Urdu news like 35%. The vocab is tough for me! But most people can communicate with each other perfectly fine, and sometimes they dont even realize you are speaking another language...I have heard so many times that I speak good Urdu when Im actually speaking Hindi...but the labels are all political. I like to call what I speak Hindustani, which is neither here nor there but in between. But I can do both Hindi and Urdu, but my Hindi is much better do to exposure.

    Punjabi is a related language to Hindi, as is Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Asamese, Oriya, Rajasthani (I use Rajasthani loosely to label the dialects from this region), and Sindhi. These are the main North Indian languages, and each of these languages has their own local region/state where they are spoken. Punjabi is a different language, with its own script, but it is similar to Hindi and Urdu, and many people can understand it fine. But for some reason, post 1947, there have been many Punjabi's who have abandoned the language because they favor Hindi and Urdu. Why they did this only God knows, and I would consider it like forgoing Spanish for English in the United States. As for the accent part, I would agree with that also because many consider the Punjabi language to be rustic and crude, where as Urdu is percieved to be more scholarly and erudite. While I agree that Punjabi can be harsh sounding, so can any language when spoken in an improper fashion. I personally feel that the parents should maintain their first language with the children...Punjabi children will learn Hindi through schools and exposure to films. That is a fact...I dont know many Punjabi's outside of India who arent comfortable with Hindi (well I know some). But all the Punjabi's I know who dont speak Punjabi wish they could but cannot. I hope I answered your question.
  33. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
  34. LaReinita

    LaReinita Senior Member

    East Coast, USA
    USA (Northeast Coast)-Inglés
    I know this is an old thread, but I would like to add something. I believe that many immigrants didn't teach their children Spanish, because they were trying so hard to learn English. They knew their children would become fluent in English and they wanted to be able to communicate in the same language as their children.

    Also, in a completely different way, I've seen Spanish not being passed on. I have a friend who's mother never taught her Spanish. Now being a 30 year-old Puerto Rican who can't speak spanish, she's too embarrassed to try to learn it, because she feels she should already know it and is in fear of making mistakes. She's lets people believe that she can speak it, but that she just won't speak with them. Then, I have another friend who has 3 children. She can speak spanish (I don't think she can read or write it though, and her spanish is not proper spanish, but rather Puerto Rican Slang) and she hasn't taught her children out of pure laziness. I find it a shame. Now her children will never be able to pass it on to their children . . so on and so forth . . . .
  35. CarolMamkny

    CarolMamkny Senior Member

    New York, NY
    Colombia-Spanish NY-English
    Well... I know almost everybody else wrote in English but I rather do it in my first language so.....

    Creo que esta cuestión del lenguaje es algo bastante propio de nuestra cultura. A mucha gente, especialmente aquellos que llegan a los E.U con ganas de convertirse en "gente", piensa que el hecho de que hablan español es una inconveniencia en vez de un arma más para salir adelante en este país. Les doy un ejemplo de algo que me ha pasado bastantes veces... Como ya sabemos (por lo menos en NY) la mayoria de las personas que trabajan en los restaurantes de comidas rapidas (BK, McDs etc.) son de habla hispana. Una vez entre a uno de estos restaurantes y sabia que la persona que me atendia hablaba español ( Debo añadir que se llamaba Chavelo) más no quise hablarle en español inmediatamente. Cuando él me habló no le pude entender bien (ya que su inglés no era muy bueno) y le dije, en español, que por favor me hablara en español. Este señor se puso furioso y, en inglés, me dijo que el no hablaba español. Bueno lo deje así y pedí mi orden en inglés. Pocos minutos después le escuche hablando con otro empleado en español....
  36. Glitz Member

    UK/Croatia - English, Hrvatski
    I think its a real shame when people dont teach their children their mother tongue. I don't think speaking only English ( that is in an english speaking country) is a good sign of intergration, to intergrate doesn't mean you have to loose all cultural ties. I know plenty of bi lingual kids who can speak both languages just as good as one another. I don't think its fair on the people who miss out on learning both languages, the fact that people are to lazy to teach their children is just irritating. In the end part of their idenity is lost, the parent shouldn't be able to take this away from their child.
  37. LaReinita

    LaReinita Senior Member

    East Coast, USA
    USA (Northeast Coast)-Inglés
    I agree whole-heartedly Glitz. Laziness in NO EXCUSE!!! . . Why should your family's culture stop with you?? (not you directly, but to those who don't take the time to teach . . hahaha, and clearly that wouldn't be anyone in this forum!)
  38. little_vegemite Senior Member

    I think that Australia is like america in that it is an 'immigrant country' - especially in the urban areas. In Sydney you'll find that many "1st generation immigrants (children of immigrants)" will speak the language of their parents, and are encouraged to do so. I think it's important that you speak the natural language of your parents - My parents speak spanish but they always deliberately spoke to me in english so I never learnt spanish, though now I'm learning it as if it were a second language (more easily than other people who don't come from a spanish speaking background but still, its not my first or natural language).
    I'm not able to communicate with any of my extended family (they all live in argentina and speak spanish) and my parents used to have a very effective way of being exclusive when speaking about "adult things" - they just spoke in spanish.
    Though I don't think parents don't teach their children their language out of laziness! Wouldn't it be easier to speak to your own children in your first language? I think that most parents, immigrant parents, teach their children the predominant language of the country so that their children dont experience exclusion and the 'language barrier' in school or at work.
  39. Glitz Member

    UK/Croatia - English, Hrvatski
    Though I think most of the time it is laziness or even more so the fact that people move to more westernised places and they want to get rid of any previous ethnic ties i.e. go to America and live the American dream.
    I don' think there are any language barriers presented by speaking in both languages, children learn which to talk to whom in. Its only when the parent can't speak the language of the country that they are living in and only speak to their child in their mother tongue. That it can become difficult for the child as an infant only knowing their parents language, to intergrate and learn the host countries language at school etc.
    Otherwise if they are equally exposed to both, kids are very capable to handle two or more languages without diffculty.
    I suppose I can sympathise with people who marry someone of a different nationality, having different 1st languages they may choose to speak to their children only in the language of the country they live in. But I don't understand why people who share the same 1st language choose not to teach their children it.
  40. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Many Turkish immigrants in Germany need to make the same choice as the title question. My observation is that those who speak fluent German and do speak German in their family, too, are well-integrated and have almost equal chances, while those whose family still speaks Turkish are usually not speaking good German, are less integrated and have tremendously less chances in life and career. I believe it is important to accept your host countries culture and totally immerse in it if you and further generations want to stay in a new country.

  41. Glitz Member

    UK/Croatia - English, Hrvatski
    I understand what your saying, but this forum alone proves that people can speak one language just as good as they can speak many others and in no way does speaking another language hold them back, but rather its an extra bonus.
    Its true people should try and intergrate if they are going to live in another country. They should abide by its rules, and be open minded towards different customs etc, otherwise there would be no point in it and they might aswell have stayed in their own country.
    Though the thing is people can only change so to immerse themselves to a certain extent. A black person is never going to fit into a crowd of white people and an white person is never going to fit into a crowd of asian people. Its better if we accept both cultures without having to loose our own for the sake of not being different, becuase in the end everyone is indivdual and your nationality is just as important as your ethnicity.
  42. Athaulf

    Athaulf Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    I've seen quite a few immigrant families here in Canada, and in most cases, the parents are enthusiastic about teaching kids their native language alongside English, while the kids are the ones who are lazy, constantly rebelling against their parents' attempts to teach them what they perceive as an unnecessary extra language. Kids do have amazing language-learning abilities, but it's wrong to think that this task is trivial or effortless for them. They will invariably learn the language of their peers in school and on the playground, but they will learn other languages only if absolutely forced to do so.
  43. Glitz Member

    UK/Croatia - English, Hrvatski
    It is effortless for kids to learn languages. If the parent speaks to them in both languages they just learn naturally. Yes I know kids can be reluctant to speak in a second language especially around friends, but this doesn't stop them from understanding it. There are loads of children who are spoken to in another langauge but reply back in English.
    Maybe as a child having to reply back in another language is a bit of a novelty, but as people get older confidence grows and they have the oppertunity to speak it and appreciate this ability.
    Talking to my friends about it, they all say to would have loved to have had the chance to be brought up bilingual.
  44. Athaulf

    Athaulf Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Not according to the experiences of the people I know. As soon as kids figure out that they can communicate with their parents using the same language that they speak with their peers, they normally won't bother with the parents' native language any more. If the parents try to force them to learn it, they will often resent such attempts and actively rebel against it.

    I know a bunch of people who grew up in Croatian immigrant households here in Canada, and those who speak Croatian well are good at it only because they really had no choice but to speak it at some point. In fact, all of them who actually speak it like true native speakers were spending a lot of time in Croatia as kids (e.g. by going there on long holidays each year, or by moving back and forth several times).

    As far as I know, my impressions are consistent with the research done on the subject.

    I'm sure that's what they think now as adults, but it's very different when you try explaining to actual kids that when they grow up, they'll be sorry for having wasted all that time instead of learning something cool or useful. :D
  45. Glitz Member

    UK/Croatia - English, Hrvatski
    They may not be able to speak well, but they can understand what is being said. Take for instance a Russian lady I know, shes married to an English guy and he talks to their kids in English but she speaks to them in Russian.
    Though she constantly speaks to them in Russian they always tend to reply back in English, they understand what shes saying very easily and as they get older they'll be able if they want, to become confident speakers.
    My little brother is exactly like the type of kid you described, hes really reluctant to speak in Croatian,infact he hates it. Though he can still understand what is being said and replies back in English(he can barely put a sentence of croatian together!). As long as theres still someone around speaking to him in Croatian as he grows up, understanding will be a quality he wont be able to lose;)
  46. biankita Member

    Glitz, it's pretty much the same here in the Philippines.

    I have many relatives coming home from other countries (most of them from the United States). Most of my cousins who are born and raised in the country can understand the Filipino language but most of them are reluctant to speak it, especially when we try to engage them in conversations. Most of my aunts and uncles mention that it's because they're embarrassed to make a mistake considering their other cousins based in the Philippines happen to be very fluent.

    When it comes to language change, in the Philippines, English education is given more importance than the native language. Unfortunately for me, I have very poor Filipino language skills. I can speak it conversationally (since I am born and raised here), but quite frankly, I have great difficulty reading and writing with it. It's kinda sad.
  47. Glitz Member

    UK/Croatia - English, Hrvatski

    Really, WOW! I never knew schooling was like that in the Philippines it seems strange to think a native of the country wouldn't be able to speak the language to its full ablility. But I guess English is more international, so they choose to put it first.
  48. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    English is VERY important in India. There are families in Delhi that only speak English. I stayed with a Panjabi Sikh family, who used Panjabi with me, Hindi with each other, and English with their children. It was very odd. The kids also used English with each other. They all expressed a preference for English and a distaste in Hindi. Especially reading and writing.

    I remember now my father discouraging me from learning how to read and write Hindi. He thought it would be too hard! (little did they know I'd wind up wanting to make a career out of it!)
  49. biankita Member

    Ahahaha... it's me. I got private school education where the medium of instruction was English. Public school education doesn't have the same quality of language in English. Though most would understand and will be able to speak it.

    But people here are Filipinizing some English words until they become acceptable "Taglish" words. Some of them are ok -- I end up using them myself, but some borderline to the annoying. I'm not sure if other countries do this too.
  50. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    I think this wanders out into deep, murky waters. What is it to be integrated into the German society? I surely couldn't speak of the Finnish culture for immigrants to be 'integrated into'. I think it's illusory to speak in terms of a uniform "us" - and this is independent of the fact that 'we' may share a language (though I know very few truly monolingual countries).

    So not only do I not believe the choice is necessary (the choice of abandoning or not one of your languages), I think it's a very much of pity if people really feel it's "wiser" or "more enriching" to speak only one language. Obviously, it's not that "survival of a language" should be a goal in itself, but to the extent that a language is someone's language(s), in a way it's also part of who that person is (or at least that's how I feel about it, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one). So to lose that merely because of a belief that this or that language is what means "all the future" and the opportunities... well, it just seems a very sad form of life... There are things other than prospective careers.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page