Now why in the hell do I have to press one for English?
Published: Monday, February 28, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 10:03
"For English, press one." Not too long ago I called my cell phone's automated payment system only to get that option as the first one presented to me by an automated female voice that sounded a lot like my perfect 10 model ex-wife from the future. It also briefly reminded me of the time I named my GPS's female voice Rachel, as well.
But even though I have called many times to pay my bill over the years, and have also received that same option many times before, for some reason it only bothered me just this last time.
As the great American icon, John Wayne, said before he died, "Now why in the hell do I have to press one for English?" Well Mr. Wayne, wherever you are, I happen to have the same question. So since you cannot, I'll address it.
According to a study done by the Public Reference Bureau in 2006, nearly 50 million people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. Granted, this study is five years outdated, but it still paints a fairly recent depiction of the country's diversity. Also, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2004, about 22.31 million Americans spoke a language other than English, 14.64 of those speaking Spanish.
The fact that we have people speaking foreign languages in this country is not the problem. It becomes an issue when normal, routine things, like making a phone call insists you press one to hear our de facto national language.
Now I can already see it; here in a little bit I'll check my email and there will be messages accusing me of being a bigot and a racist. Yes, I am choosing to forego the political correctness illusion because in my opinion, it has made this country soft. And to be quite honest, I do not much care at this moment, so since most people won't say it then I will: If people want to live in the United States they need to learn English!
I mean really, is it so much to ask? Hypothetically, would I not be expected to learn French if I chose to live in France? I would love to see the reactions of Russian citizens if I demanded that their cell phone companies' automated payment platforms come with a "For Russian, please press one" preamble to it, I really would.
Another thing that is absolutely outrageous is the foreign language speaking families that refuse to teach their children to speak English.
Consequently, those same children go back to school, fall far behind their classmates on test scores (because the tests are written in English), and then ultimately wind up dropping out of high school only to find themselves working the same less than admirable job their parents once held for the rest of their lives. Now thankfully there aren't many of these kinds of families out there, but they still exist. The point is, one can barely even survive here without knowing English.
Going back to the numbers above, if we assume that there were 300 million people in this country in 2004, there were still only about 7 percent speaking a foreign language. And going off of my hunch that the number has not increased substantially since, I'm going to finish off by boldly stating that if you only speak one foreign language and do not have a desire to learn English, do the rest of us a favor and don't move to the United States. That was for you, John Wayne.