Back to Index


     American TV pains me because of the low level of English of most of the programs, in addition to their stupidity. It is a joy to listen to Spanish TV because the language is clear, beautiful and grammatical. In Indo-America, simple peasants speak good Spanish, because they learned it from Spanish priests trained in speech. In countries of mass immigration like Argentina and Chile, the worst Spanish is spoken.
     This is the problem which has hit the United States. The San Francisco Chronicle (11/27) has a long front-page report entitled "Instructors' Accents Make Lessons Hard, Students Say". Immigrant University of California Professors (some of whom I know!) speak with exotic foreign accents, and many assistants are even more incomprehensible. Belated attempts are being made to remedy the situation. "Leave your language alone!" was the title of one book by a professor of linguistics who fought standard English in the name of democracy. Following its usual trendy behavior, Stanford abolished the Speech Department about the same time as the Geography Department. In our universities, geography, a basic, solid subject has been downplayed in favor of trendy cultural anthropology, cultivated by individuals seeking that elusive simple life. Frequently they specialize in one village, to which they retreat year after year. Like many specialists, they have no grasp of world problems.
     Linguists are a related breed, some of whom specialize in pidgin languages. To really understand world problems well, one needs to know several major languages. I once attended an anthropology conference in Mexico (!) in which the participants were asked to state what languages they knew. Practically all the Americans confined their answer to "English."
     Linguists have pushed pidgin languages around the globe. Some promoted talki-talki as the national language (!) of Surinam, which would have condemned this undeveloped people to their isolated backward life. In the United States attempts to promote black English (ebonics) as a language were quickly discredited because it would have the same effect on our blacks, but we still have at Stanford and elsewhere faculty members engaged in that campaign.
     Now the battlefield has switched to Hawaii, where Governor Ben Cayetano sensibly points out that without a good command of standard English, the people will be at a great disadvantage. The pidgin gang have formed an organization called Da Pidgin Coup. They are like the chicano literature gang who have distorted English literature programs. They say pidgin is despised because it is associated with the lowest class. The truth is just the opposite: America has a cult of people who rise from nothing, and a knowledge of English is necessary for that.
     Our Tonga couple live in Hayward. where there are Hawaiians speaking pidgin. The Tonganese, who speak good English, cannot understand them, nor can ordinary Americans. The Tonganese tell me that the English in their islands came from New Zealand, and that they have no pidgin.
     Da pidgin Coup and their ilk are doing great harm to the very people who need help. They themselves need not worry; they have their university jobs. For the present...

Ronald Hilton - 11/28/99