Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Anti-President Obama Bandwagon: Expanding the English Language?

As the English language roster reached past the 1,000,000th mark, can the anti-President Obama bandwagon add another three words to our ever expanding near universal lexicon?

By: Ringo Bones

It seems like it was just yesterday that back in June 12, 2009 that the English language officially inducted the 1,000,000th word, and yet three more words are now poised to be added to the ever expanding lexical pool of the worlds near-universally accepted tongue. Surprisingly, we can “reluctantly” thank the kluge side of the American neo-Nazism courtesy of the current anti-President Obama bandwagon. Maybe there’s truth to that “thousand simians typing with luck can create a Shakespeare-like masterpiece” story after all. Due to their frequency of use, the following three words could soon be officially inducted to English language.

1.) Birthers – according to the word’s established used, Birthers are conspiracy theorists who questions the American citizenship of U.S. President Barack Obama. Thanks to their loud and vocal questioning of President Obama’s U.S. citizenship that the word Birthers is now on the fast track to become the newest entry into the English language lexicon. Thanks to the loud and vocal voice of the Birthers – with the emphasis on the loud. That made the town hall discussions on the proposed healthcare bill as loud as a Richard Butler sponsored “Aryan Nation Punk Rock Oi! Scene” circa 1989.

2.) Death Panels – a term created by the former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin which pertains to the theoretical – though I wonder if Sarah Palin sees them as theoretical – panel that decides who lives or dies as the proposed “Obama healthcare plan” takes into effect. The English speaking world now has Sarah Palin to thank yet again. Before she was flung into the limelight of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections, I thought that one has prerequisite to be male before qualifying to be a misogynist. A female misogynist? Sarah Palin broke another “glass ceiling” yet again.

3.) Tea Baggers – a movement of protestors opposed to President Obama’s current tax structures, which according to the Tea Baggers undermines the Protestant Work Ethic that made America a great nation after all these years. Unfortunately, ultra-nationalist Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans have managed to become a caricature of themselves whenever they profess that they are the only – and I mean by professing as the only – ethnic group that can save America.

So there you have it, three new words poised to become the latest entries into the burgeoning roster of the English language. Makes one wonder if a group of Waffen-SS stragglers managed to establish an ideological school in America near the end of World War II and we are now witnessing the fruit of their labors? Or maybe this is just the kluge side of American neo-Nazism trying to reclaim their birthright? May their stupidity enrich the English language?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The English Language’s 1,000,000th Word

Believe it or not, our current English language already has one million words. Is the end of additional words in sight?

By: Vanessa Uy

By June 12, 2009, the number of words in the English language has finally reached one million words. Which is kind of surprising – at least from my perspective. Given that this still living offspring of Latin, the language of top bards and storytellers William Shakespeare and Mark Twain, has been growing at a fever pitch since the Golden Age of Queen Elizabeth I would have reached a million words long ago. Despite tenured linguists and academics official stance on the matter is that a new word is “officially” added to the English language roster every 98 minutes or so. The question now is what is the one-millionth word to be officially enlisted in our official English language roster?

Sadly it wasn’t one of those four-letter expletives uttered by the now infamous ethically embattled former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevic. Which can be a relief if you are a parent of a very verbose teenager. Surprisingly, the one-millionth-word entry in the English language is Web 2.0. Which for all intents and purposes is America's contribution to the already burgeoning roster of the official list of English words.

Web 2.0? I too was surprised. I thought that Web 2.0 was already an “official” entry into the English language roster – make that the Queen’s English – sometime between You Tube’s Lonely Girl 15 became a household name to every Internet savvy citizen or “Nettizen” around the world. Or was it when the number of people who earned more than 1,000 US dollars a month just by surfing on the Internet reached 1 million. Even in the UK – the home bastion of the Queen’s English – has been very enthusiastic over Web 2.0 becoming an official one-millionth-word entry into the roster of the English language, despite of Web 2.0 sounding too American from the vantagepoint of the Francophone world.

Too bad noob – which means a computer gaming novice – didn’t become the English language’s one-millionth word. Which – in the 21st Century – those words will most likely be computer or Internet related. Although from my perspective Web 2.0 is a lot better than sexting – i.e. sending “naughty” electronic messages. Or octomom (another newly recognized english word of American origin) – which has since become a news item since this California mom gave birth to octuplets. Serving as a rather cognitive dissonant contrast to the logic of the state of California’s Proposition 8 in our current Web 2.0 world. Let's just hope that if William Shakespeare or Mark Twain is currently exploring the web - especially on overtly-opinionated English language blogs - they won't have any trouble understanding the 21st Century incarnation of their "Mother Tongue".

America not Francophone: Ungrateful?

Given that it was France who was instrumental in helping America gain her independence from Britain, why isn’t America Francophone or French speaking?

By: Vanessa Uy

“Pouvez-vous me traduire ceci?” I wonder how many Americans would answer “oui” or “non” when asked? Although this mystery of mysteries has been nagging me ever since I became thoroughly versed on American history, especially about the part of the American War of Independence. But why didn’t America chose to be a French speaking or Francophone nation given that it was France who helped her gain independence from the tyrannical rule of Great Britain?

Although I’m still rifling through our public library about the works of Gore Vidal and James A. Michener whether these notable historians offered any explanation on why America didn’t chose French as her national language after gaining independence from England. Given that English is the “Mother Tongue” of America’s former tyrannical overlords, shouldn’t adopting French – as opposed to English – as America’s official language would have shown a semblance of gratefulness to the French? After all without Marquis De Lafayette urging King Louis XVI to help the American colonies gain their independence from England, Americans will probably never know the joys of getting inebriated and having indigestion every Fourth of July.

Maybe it all boils down to intellectual or linguistic incumbency. After all an overwhelming majority of Anglo-Saxons – i.e. White Europeans – who first settled in America to established a colony after fleeing from their original “Mother Land” after being persecuted for their religious beliefs came from merry old England. Which the last time I checked still speak English.

But it can also be argued that why do Malaysians and Indonesians today don’t choose to speak Dütch. After all it wasn’t that long ago – compared to America – that these two former Dutch colonies gained their independence. The same can be argued in Vietnam. I mean most Francophone Vietnamese are over 60 years of age and the younger generation who chose to learn to speak French are as rare as hen’s teeth.

Though it might be over 200 years too late for America to show their gratitude to France by doing a concerted campaign to become Francophone. The US educational system should at least provide more French language course opportunities. It is the least America can do to make France grateful. After fixing the nation’s ailing economy of course.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Nashville’s “English Only” Law: Unconstitutional?

When Nashville, Tennessee voted their “English Only” law for local government transaction, did this decision put non-native English speaking immigrants at a disadvantage?

By: Vanessa Uy

Long known as a country of immigrants, but is it unconstitutional when a city on American soil chooses to pass an ordinance that allows only the use of the English language when it comes to local government transaction? But the city of Nashville, Tennessee home of the largest Kurdish community in the US fleeing persecution from war-torn Iraq has recently legislated and enacted such a law.

Even though there has never been a “strong” legal precedent specifying English as America’s foremost official language. Many linguist and educators cite this specific example of provincialism-leaning xenophobia the reason why most Americans – especially those long-established American citizens of European Anglo-Saxon descent – had very deficient linguistic skills when it comes to languages other than English. Because of this, the various branches of the US military had a very hard time finding translators that could speak the "enemy's language” – i.e. Arabic, Korean, Russian and related Slavic languages, Pashtun and related Hindustani-based languages. This is primarily the reason why former US President George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” had made most US troops became de facto terrorists themselves because of a lack of language skills other than English.

Given that the Bush Presidency has raised provincialism and xenophobia to a very high art form with the Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin being the “example par excellence”. The lack of social conditions that could make America into a largely multi-lingual society has largely arrested the intellectual development of America in the first part of the 21st Century. And given the primary reason why an overwhelming majority of immigrants in America are fleeing persecution from their country of origin because they are discriminated against in the name of patriotism for their use of language not adopted by the majority in those despotic states.

Shouldn’t the US Government fulfill their promise when it comes to immigrants because it is not only part of the US Constitution, but also written on a plaque on the base of the Statue of Liberty? If the Muppets of Sesame Street took time to learn a little Spanish, shouldn’t American troops learn the colloquial language of the “colonized” territory in order not to shoot first then ask questions later?