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May 30, 2006

Comments

Tommy

Sounds OK - I'm all for cutting down on frivolous lawsuits.

But is it politically correct to allow people to call thier private businesses whatever they want or politically correct to pass a law to tell them what to call it?

FYI - On a completely unrelated note, I am told that New York's highest court is webcasting live the oral argument in the gay marriage cases, tomorrow, 5/31, at 2 pm. at http://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/

GayCowboyBob

Well I think it brings up a point that, like it or not, we live in a unified society that has to have some common ground rules for everyone to co-exist peacefully. If the majority of the people in your society speak English, or the resident firemen and police are English speakers, then it behooves the residents to make sure that signs of fire and safety concerns are also in English.

But that also brings up the point of respecting individuals' cultural traditions. If there is no need for a sign to be in English, meaning that it doesn't relate to fire or safety concerns, is it up to the government to regulate the culture of residents? Conservatives get all uppity about continuing English traditions as if, compared to the rest of the world, 200+ years of a nation of nothing but immigrant amalgamation represents significant cultural history. You'd think we're France or something in how they so heavily regulate their language.

And yes I feel perfectly qualified to speak on the subject as a significant amount of my ancestors were already in North America before there even was a United States of...

Dan

Umm... I'm assuming the street names are still handled by the city. And I'm also assuming that these stores are required to label their address block # somewhere prominently (as most localities require). So what does it matter what their signs say? The EMS argument is total crap, esp when you consider the use of E911 locator services. Besides, if any of these facilities have hazardous substances onsite, they'd be required to register them according to their standardized address - not to mention the standardized signage that most localities already require.

And considering that most stores that only put their signs in a given language are only interested in serving a specific demographic (that presumably understands the language being used), nobody's being put out. If you're really, really that into authentic Ethiopian/Spanish/Vietnamese/etc crap, learn the fucking language.

QC

But is it politically correct to allow people to call thier private businesses whatever they want or politically correct to pass a law to tell them what to call it?

No one is telling them what to all their store. The only thing required is to have a translation into english. If it says 햇빛 시장 in Korean, it would also have to say "Sunshine Market" in English.

(note: I used google to translate "Sunshine Market" into Korean - so no it most likely isn't accurate - but you get the point.)

QC

And considering that most stores that only put their signs in a given language are only interested in serving a specific demographic (that presumably understands the language being used), nobody's being put out. If you're really, really that into authentic Ethiopian/Spanish/Vietnamese/etc crap, learn the fucking language.

Dan - Should we tell those "specific demographics" that if they really want to vote, or get a driver's license, they should learn our fucking language? Our society accomodates them every day. A small sign in English isn't too much to ask.

Tommy

And if they call their business a word that is completely untranslatable into English?

QC

And if they call their business a word that is completely untranslatable into English?

Tommy - in that case you get as close as possible or go for a purely phonetic translation so at least it could sounded out.

Oh, and Dan - I see your self-imposed exile didn't last long.

Dan

QC - Voting is a fundamental civil right, accomodations should be made for it. Getting cheap sriricha sauce isn't.

Aatom

I'm undecided on the language issue. It strikes me that I routinely have a field day with stories from France about their stern, anal retentive and ultimately stupendously trivial attempts to insulate the French language from the natural linguistic ebb and flow that every language experiences as it evolves. In contrast, American English is probably the most fluid and beautiful language on the planet precisely because we are a culture of immigrants, so the idea that we would attempt to now seal the lingual doors against the influence of our south of the border residents, be they legal or not, strikes me as a bit absurd and a tad amnesia-induced.

However, as a writer I love this language too much to just watch it be replaced wholesale with some form of Spanish. I have nothing personally against the language, but I very much prefer the rhythms, influences and subtleties of my native tongue.

So I'm still undecided on this one. But, as a cautious warning I would remind those that jump to a knee-jerk opinion about this issue that the French have been remarkably unsuccessful at attempting to regulate their language. You may as well try to stop a computer virus with Microsoft software.

Robbie

My reading of the article is that emergency services simply want some identifying signifier on the building like "bakery" or "grocery." So crews will know what to expect in the building.

That seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Scott

Cool...I knew that Korean language pack that samsung.com asked me to install for my browser would come in handy someday!

Um, Tommy, how is their business listed in the phone book, for example? I don't know of any phone company in the US that doesn't require an account to be set up with a name in the English language set. Therefore, it doesn't matter if your business is called 大市场, 大きい市場, السوق الكبير, or "Mercado Grande", it would still have to have a name somewhere in a Western character set. What does Sterling Heights, et al do now for business licenses and permits? Put the name of the business in Farsi or Polish?

Tommy

I think your right, Aattom it was a monumentally poor allocation of government resources (not to mention plain devisive) when Quebec required all signs on stores to also have French translations. It seems even worse here, given that since at least German and French immigrants in the 18th century, in the then United States, these untranslated business signs have existed here (and English or something liketh unto thee, hath furvived).

Also, QC, your proposed law now protects the use of Latin letters not English.

Aatom

Yes, but you really haven't lived until you've seen a huge McDonald's sign on Canal Street done entirely in Chinese. It doesn't seem to have rippled through the rest of Manhattan yet, destroying our uniquely American charm. One might argue that it is part of the charm, as a matter of fact.

Aatom

"furvived"! One of the quirky things you'll notice about the early settler culture in this bold political experiment we call the L'Etats Unis is that all of the 's's were 'f's, due to lingering Middle English conventions. The use of the 's' in the English language is no doubt the true beginning of this slippery slope into the tower of Babel.

Aatom

ahh, if only I had been clever enough to write "flippery flope' instead. damn.

Tommy

Robbie the law you descibe would not call for translations of business signs but decriptions in English of the business transactions going on on premises and I would seem to require an approved list of desciptions.

Tommy

Aatom, Middle English? Really? I just thought they all lisped back in the day.

Robbie

For whatever reason, I seem to have skipped right over the fact that the officials seem to be targeting stores with signs written in Arabic and other non-Latin characters.

Now to me, having an English signifyer seems like plain common sense in that case. Even if emergency services have an address, there are plenty of areas where people are looking around at businesses for a numeric address and have great difficulty finding it.

This seems like such a small, common sensical thing, and people are freaking out over the racism of it all. Identity politics and multiculturalism really haven't served us well.

Tommy

Sorry, but this desire for conservatives to tell people what to do with thier private property is kinda weird.

Why not legislate bigger street adress numbers? Or perhaps the local authorities could take enough interest in thier local communites and neiborhoods to know the local businesses.

Robbie

The fact that methods to increase the effectiveness of emergency services even turns into a liberal vs. conservative issue is depressing beyond words.

If people don't want to make their businesses easier to locate, if they are that stubborn about the issue, no bother. They can do as they please.

They also shouldn't be able to sue for delayed response, then. That's only fair. They want the freedom to do as they please, which might result in emergency services not locating their business as quickly as they can, or extinguishing the blaze as rapidly as they might because they're not sure what's in there. Ok then. But they shouldn't be able to bitch about it in the future. (Even though you know they will).

Tommy

Absolutely, concentrate on methods to increase effectiveness of emergency services - like clear address signs if the addresses can't be found - not unsupported claims that just because the name of a store is in funny lines, there must be a DANGER!

GayCowboyBob

Maybe the answer then is to simply require businesses to display a street number prominently on each dwelling. Why even bother getting into the the murky and politically shifting area of requiring businesses to have English/Latin character translations of the business name on the exterior? Does that ensure more appropriate/quicker response by the authorities?

If the desired outcome is to have a uniformed way to identify an address and also notify safety officials of potentially dangerous contents, the street number could be required and a prominently displayed notice about dangerous contents in English. Knowing a business name is no guarantee of knowing about dangerous contents on-site anyway unless it's something like Hamaad's House of Caustic & Flammable Liquids or Ho-Lim's Acid Emporium. Many business that you wouldn't assume to have dangerous contents on-site do and vice-versa. And it's fair to both non-English and English businesses. Problem solved. I'm a problem solver.

Unless this really is about cultural directives. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

QC

Tommy said: Also, QC, your proposed law now protects the use of Latin letters not English.

First - you're splitting hairs.

Second - When did I get elected to the Sterling Heights city council? I didn't propose anything.

Third - I'm a bit ambivilent about the law. I just don't think it's a burdensome requirement. There may be other good arguments against it and for it.

PatrickP

These arguments sound quaint. We went through this in SoCal many moons ago. Guess who won. (Well, until all the children of the immigrants grew up and couldn't tell where the hell they were based on business signs.)

One of my coworkers once got a call from a lady complaining about the name of a sushi restaurant. It's been there for years, but she thought it was new because she had only just noticed it due to her hair stylist changing salons. The name of the restaurant is Fukuya. The perfect person took that call: "Ma'am, there's no "c" in it."

Craig Ranapia

OK, this can work both ways. You don't have to pollute the front of your store with filthy English. Just don't bitch about Eurocentric cultural insensitivity when I'll deal with you in any language you like - as long as it's English, Latin, Classical Greek or bad high school French. (And even that doesn't extent far beyond: please, thank you, where's the toilet, and will you suck my cock?)

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