I grew up reading comic books wanting to be a superhero. Comics taught me that those who speak the truth are heroes, all the rest are liars.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Syttende Mai, Norwegian for Cinco De Mayo.

While the U.S. Senate debates making English the national official language, Minnesota lawmakers are celebrating Syttende Mai, Norwegian Independence Day, by wearing red, white and blue buttons with American and Norwegian flags. Wonder if today they’ll recite the pledge to allegiance in Norwegian.

In any case, the Senate better make it quick, as according to the Census Bureau more Americans are speaking Spanish. About half of all the states have passed language laws in the last decade. But mostly, they are symbolic rather than substance. Usually the laws simply designate English as the official language, without prohibiting the use of any other language. In other cases, so many exceptions are included — from election ballots to health and safety needs — that English is the legal language in name only.

Meanwhile, the language and culture of Latin America have flooded the nation through the force of sheer numbers. Around the globe, more people speak Mandarin Chinese — 885 million — than any other language. Spanish is second, the first language of 332 million. About 322 million worldwide speak English as a first language. And I'm sorry Minneosta but Norwegian wasn't in the top 100 languages. Just a little ironic, don’t ya think?

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