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You’re in American Now!

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2023

Dave!I really don't want to be on the internet today.

I got a pretty good night's sleep. Woke up to answer my emails then feed my cats. Then climbed on social media until I had a video chat scheduled. Almost immediately I saw racist comments on a video that was not in English complaining about how the content creator should be "speaking English if she wants an audience"... and I was done.

The woman in the video actually speaks English very well. But she is more comfortable in her native language, so 3/4 of her videos are in Spanish. And it's not like YouTube doesn't have the ability to automatically display translated subtitles into whatever language you want, so what does it even matter? I guess reading subtitles is just too much for people.

Especially those who think that everybody everywhere should be speaking English all the time.

Which reminded me of when I was on one of the first cruises with my mom. One of the waiters at our table had a nametage saying he was from the Phillipines. I had a very, very rudimentary grasp of some phrases in Tagalog and, as he was clearing my dinner plate, I said "Maraming salamat," or "Thank you very much."

The waiter froze.

My first thought was that I mangled it so badly that I had accidentally said something deeply offensive. So I immediately apologized and said I didn't know much Tagalog.

That's when he told me "You said it very well. I am just not used to hearing Filipino* above deck." At which point he told me that employees are only allowed to speak English in front of passengers because otherwise they get complaints that the workers are "talking about them" and "being rude."

And, it's like... I get it. Despite the fact that the USA doesn't have a "national language" there are numerous examples of foreign language speakers being told "Speak American... you're in American now!" **

But no, actually I don't really get it at all. ***

Americans travel abroad expecting everybody to speak English and not bothering to learn even a few niceties in the language of the country they're visiting, but of course that's perfectly okay. — But anyway... if the workers aren't talking to you, why the fuck shouldn't they be able to talk to each other in whatever language is comfortable to them?

Because Americans might conjure up some imagined slight?

Yeah, that's 1000% on-brand for us.

Something which was reaffirmed on a video I watched this morning.

*Tagalog being the root language of standardized Filipino.

**Yes, I just quoted a line from the Bette Midler & Lily Tomlin comedy Big Business.

***One of my dream scnearios has always been somebody telling me to "Speak American" when I'm speaking some other language so I can say "Fuck off, asshole! Is that American enough for you?

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  1. Brandon says:

    Haha, I have to confess that if I am ever talking in romanian with my wife in public we are 100 percent talking bad about someone.

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