To the editor: “Speak English” stories such as the one recounted by Los Angeles Times reporter Esmeralda Bermudez — whose daughter is being raised speaking Spanish, Armenian and English — always leave me baffled and saddened. The hegemony of English in this country is in no danger.
When the woman who approached Bermudez said, “You’re confusing the poor girl,” she probably didn’t realize she was talking about herself. She couldn’t understand Spanish and felt threatened. And then there are the subtleties: Had the writer been speaking French to her daughter, would the woman have responded differently?
Bermudez’s daughter will thrive. Speaking more than one language is always an advantage and a source of enrichment.
What linguistic treasures are being lost in this country — both by new immigrants bullied into forsaking their mother tongues and longtime citizens who willingly amputated a part of their heritage in the rush to assimilate.
Anne Hormann, Pasadena
To the editor: It was a fun day. The U.S. is not competing in the World Cup this year, so I was wearing my Mexico green jersey. I drove to a restaurant to order some take-out food. As I approached the front door, a man yelled, “Why are you wearing that shirt? This is America.”
I was like Bermudez — temporarily speechless but not wanting to engage. I simply said, “Have a nice day,” and tried to walk away. The man followed and continued to accost me. Finally, I turned to him and said, “The U.S. isn’t playing in the World Cup, and this is my neighborhood, and I have been here for more than 30 years.”
The man walked away.
David Trujillo, Los Angeles
To the editor: I went from kindergarten through 12th grade in what was arguably one of the finest public school systems in the state, where I was required to take many years of Spanish. Perhaps due to a combination of teaching grammatical language skills rather than simple conversation and a lack of practice on my part, my Spanish speaking skills are rather poor.
Some years ago my wife and I were sitting in a restaurant in Zurich, Switzerland, mesmerized by four women at the next table. They were seamlessly weaving their conversation with English, French, German and Italian. To say the least, we two well-educated Americans were quite humbled.
Bermudez and her husband are to be lauded for not only honoring their daughter’s heritage, but for enhancing her intellect.
Jonathan Simons, Woodland Hills