…And "Mack the Knife" Oughta Only Be Sung in the Original Kraut

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The national anthem should be sung in English–not Spanish–President Bush declared Friday, amid growing restlessness over whether to grant legal status to immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

"One of the important things here is that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed.

A Spanish language version of the national anthem was released Friday by a British music producer, Adam Kidron, who said he wanted to honor America's immigrants….

"I think people who want to be citizens of this country ought to learn English," Bush said.

Don't sweat it, Dubya, immigrants–even the Mexican ones who freak people's shit so much–overwhelmingly do learn English. And basically at the same generational rate as European immigrants did.

Whole thing here.

Some thoughts on mandating English for furriners here and here.

Mack the Knife stuff here.

NEXT: Failing to Want to Quit

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  1. Do we have to use the original lyrics, too?

    http://www.bcpl.net/~etowner/anacreon.html

  2. Where do national souls go when they die?

  3. To Hell, David. To a well-deserved time in Hell, amidst the other engines of suffering.

  4. “One of the important things here is that we not lose our national soul,” the president exclaimed.

    Beware of the Soul Hunter.

  5. If we sold our national soul to the devil, do you think maybe we could get enough money to pay off the goddamned national debt?

  6. Grant,

    I was thinking hell. It’s pretty funny that for all the evils things a nation can do, something as innocuous as singing the national anthem in a different language is the tipping point. I would have been sure it’d be something like abandoning our principles, supporting dictatorships, torturing people, or fighting unjust wars. (None of this stuff is Bush-Exclusive.)

    Jennifer,

    Probably not, you know what they say about buying the cow when you get the milk for free?

  7. If a scantily-clad Shakira sings it, I will insist she use flawless body English.

  8. If hispanics are learning English no faster than previous immigrants- doe that mean that bi-lingual education is a big waste of time?

  9. Someone ought to start a website devoted to collecting the grammar and spelling errors of “English-only” advocates. I remember a coworker who was violently opposed to any government documents being published in Spanish, but nevertheless used “irregardless” repeatedly.

  10. this quote was from some minuteman on msn.

    “When people are talking about becoming a part of this country, they should assimilate to the norm that’s already here,” Taplin said. “What we’re talking about here is a sovereign nation with our ideals and our national identity, and that [anthem] is one of the icons of our nation’s identity. I believe it should be in English as it was penned.”

    i wonder, as an icon of christian identity, how long it took this man to read the bible in the original hebrew/greek/aramaic/whatever it was written in.

    i also note that his quote was not spoken in cherokee.

  11. of course bilingual education is a waste. That has been overwhelmingly and dramatically demonstrated since the end of bilingual in Californicate. Even the liberals who opposed ending bilingual have admitted the truth.

    I have two friends, one German one Mexican, neither who spoke a dime’s worth of English until school at age 5. Neither have a discernible accent today and both are successful by every measure we hold dear.

    Anecdotal evidence, to be sure, but instant immersion seems to have done the trick.

    The illusion that Latinos don’t learn English has more to do with a constant supply of new immigrants than anything else. There ain’t no more Dutch, Italian, or German immigrants so you don’t notice them speaking their native languages.

  12. I’m not sure a “national identity,” being abstract, can have an icon, since abstractions can’t possess concrete things. At least that was the usage rule I learned years ago. The person downstater quoted should learn his own language properly before criticizing others who don’t speak it.

  13. Hey Karen, I hate that word irregardless too, but I think it’s a real English word now.

    BTW, I’ve been to the DMV, finding a test in English is like finding your language at the Tower of Babel. I don’t think we need an amendment but I don’t think it has helped much of anything to selectively provide government documents in a few foreign languages (one is not likely to find a DMV booklet in Dutch, which is discriminatory, is it not?).

  14. I live in Maxifornia. I speak Spanglish. Da whole ting is loco. Jose can you sea…

  15. Bilingual education should be the norm in American education, but for a different reason. I regard it an embarrassment how many Americans proudly speak only one language, and barely that one.

  16. I confess. I don’t actually speak English, I just use Google to translate y’all’s postings to my language and then my postings to English.

    Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

  17. Shecky, I’m with ya. Most Europeans speak several languages, for crying out loud. We ought to at least be able to keep up with the frogs. The whole idea of an “official” language is just like most other “official” things – a complete waste of time. It’s obviously in an immigrant’s best interest to learn to English, but if he or she can get by without it, why should I care?

  18. Most Europeans speak several languages, for crying out loud.

    And looks what good it has done them.

    Despite their multi-lingual sophistication, the Euros managed to cook up some of the most hateful political ideologies of all time, went on to sponsor the two bloodiest mutual slaughters of all time, and are now sporting the some of the laggier economies in the First and Second Worlds.

    If that’s what being bilingual gets you, I’ll stick with English, thanks.

  19. If that’s what being bilingual gets you, I’ll stick with English, thanks.

    So Europe’s problems are caused by its people knowing more than one language? Wow! Ignorance really IS bliss!

  20. Like most Americans, I’m incredibly wary of foreigners and their strange languages and customs. Just look at the fucking Irish, for instance. Fuckin’ booze-bag mutts. I hate ’em. I … shit, it’s 3 p.m. already? Sorry, gotta hit the bars.

  21. TWC: Unfortuneately, you’re probably right about “irregardless.” It’s a lost cause, like “hopefully” being used to mean “I hope.” There are also all those atrocities committed by management consultants like “incentivize,” “proactive,” “interface” used to refer to anything but part of a computer program, and, the worst, “impactful,” (that one makes my dental fillings vibrate and one day will cause me to turn into a 10-foot tall violent green monster who goes around smashing Powerpoint projectors.)

  22. Jamie, at bar time you can sing this, right after The Parting Glass and Amhr?n na bhFiann.

    An Bhratach Gheal-R?altach

    ? abair an l?ir dhuit, le f?inne an lae,
    An bhratach bh? ‘n-airde le titim na ho?che?
    Tr?d an chath bh? na riabha ‘s na r?alta geal-ghl?,
    Ag luascadh go huasal, ‘s ag mini? ar gcro?;
    Is ar n-imeacht don l?, n?or gh?ill s? go deo,
    Ach a caorthinte ag pl?ascadh sna sp?artha le gleo!
    ? abair ‘ bhfuil an bhratach gheal-r?altach go s?or
    Os cionn t?r na gcr?ga is talamh na saor?

    Ar an tr? thall, go doil?ir ‘lar ceonna na dtonn,
    T? slua bord Shaesan go gruma ‘na lu?;
    Cad ? siud ar an ard thuas, ag luascadh anonn
    Is ? cheilt is ? thaispe?int, ‘r?ir athr? na gaoithe?
    ‘Nois t? solas na gr?in’ ag lonnradh air go tr?an!
    ‘Nois is l?ir dhom a sc?ile sa toinn – f?ach ? f?in!
    ‘S? an bhratach gheal-r?altach, go raibh s? go s?or
    Os cionn t?r na gcr?ga is talamh na saor!

    Is cad d’?irigh don drong a thug mionna go teann,
    Go bhf?gfadh gan t?r sinn gan ?ras ‘na sheasamh,
    Is go dtabharfaid?s l?an leo, is leatrom is lann?
    ?! Do scrios a gcuid fola rian gr?nna a gcosa:
    N?l cara n? c?il ag feallt?ir na tr?ill,
    San uaigneas, san uaigh, n?l a bhfoscadh le f?il!
    ‘S t? an bhratach gheal-r?altach go buacach go s?or
    Os cionn t?r na gcr?ga is talamh na saor!

    Gurab amhlaidh go br?ch, nuair sheasfaidh na laoich,
    Idir shlua na namhad is ?ras a gcloinne;
    ‘S go raibh alt? is gl?ir d’Athair Bua is Sith,
    Thug d?iche uaidh f?in d?inn, go deireadh na cruinne!
    Beidh rath ar an Neart, mar t? linn-ne an Ceart,
    Is t? d?chas ?r gcro? ar Dhia na bhFeart!
    ‘S beidh an bhratach gheal-r?altach go buach go s?or
    Os cionn t?r na gcr?ga is talamh na saor!

    (Courtesy of
    http://www.daltai.com/padraig/USA.htm )

    I see nothing wrong with versions of the Banner in foreign tongues, especially if used as a tool to teach prospective citizens the meaning of our national symbols. What’s got the restrictionist-to-nativist crowds’ undies in a bunch is that the fellow who produced the espa?ol versions in question, a Brit, is using them as avenues for protest, not assimilation.

    I’m a libertarian, though. I don’t think we need an official language anymore than we need an official currency!

    Kevin

  23. Oh, and one more thing. My greatest regret is that I never learned Spanish and French fluently. (I understand quite a bit of Spanish but not anywhere near enough, and my vocabulary is limited and my accent, at best, regretable.) Consequently I enrolled my sons in Spanish lessons starting at age 2. THEY WILL BE FLUENT, DAMN IT.

    There. It’s all out of my system now. Enjoy the weekend.

  24. Karen, you forgot impact as a verb. Makes me want to impact the user’s face with a 2X4 (and scream and pull my hair out).

    Using terms like proactive and caregiver should carry the death penalty.

    I’d like my kids to become fluent in Spanish as well but, alas, no classes available. Learning Spanish is a smart move if you live anywhere in the SW. I’ve lost all mine, except of course, the bad words.

  25. TWC: I had a professor in college explain that only teeth and missiles could properly “impact” anything. Any use of “impact” as a verb lost the author a letter grade. I still love than man.

    What I really, really, really hate is when something “negatively impacts” or “postively impact.” Nothing hurts, harms, injures, damages, benefits, helps, improves, or increases anymore. Everyone who uses those abominations before Shakespeare should have a missile negatively impact their teeth.

  26. I used to work at a pizza parlor where the owner, a 40-something guy born in the United States, once complained to me while we made pies that “these F-ing Mexicans come to this country and don’t learn F-ing English.”

    Oddly, his father, after four decades in the United States, spoke almost no English. “That’s different. He worked hard his whole life . . . “

  27. I also note that his quote was not spoken in Cherokee.

    Well, as Archie Bunker allegedly said, if them Injuns don’t like it here, let ’em go back where they came from…

  28. Karen, I agree that businesspeople generally demonstrate low competencies in English. How can we incent them to adopt best practices?

    “One of the important things here is that we not lose our national soul,” the president exclaimed.

    That reminds me. What is David Soul doing these days? I’ve lost track of him.

  29. Duh! I thought he was refering to Thomas Sowell.

  30. Well, as Archie Bunker allegedly said, if them Injuns don’t like it here, let ’em go back where they came from…

    Which was Asia and possibly Polynesia. Aint’t no such thing as a Native American. We’re all immigrants or descended from immigrants, just some people’s forebears got here sooner than others.

  31. “Karen, you forgot impact as a verb. Makes me want to impact the user’s face with a 2X4 (and scream and pull my hair out).”

    I have a corollary pet peeve — people who complain about the use of “impact” as a verb. The OED shows the earliest use of the word impact as a verb predates the earliest use of it as a noun — 1601 versus 1781. (And to be nitpicky, the first documented use of impact as an adjective is even earlier, 1583, but the commentary indicates that this is probably an adaptation of an undiscovered earlier use of the verb form.) The original usage of a word a priori cannot be “incorrect”.

  32. SR, and language is fluid and malleable. It does change over time. My favorite example is the shift in the meaning of the word charitable, which originally had nothing to do with giving money to charity (which of course, means that the original usage of a word can, indeed, become incorrect over time).

    However, despite that gimme, anyone who uses the word impact as a verb actually deserves a shotgun blast to the back of the head because it sounds idiotic and is generally used in a jargony sort of way by corporate drones and mid-level mangement teams, all desperately trying to impress everyone with their collective business acumen and motivational speaking ability, who go on to use the word in the same way that people say fuck because they’re too lazy to come up with a real word.

    I’m no purist neither, but some stuff just needs to be purged. However, since we have a relatively free market in language, we’re going to be stuck with some things I don’t like. Like irregardless, caregiver, proactive, & impact for starters.

    But that’s okay, you can use impact as a verb any old time you want. I ain’t grading your papers, just cringing.

  33. Besides, I’m mostly just kidding around.

  34. “Where do national souls go when they die?”

    David,
    Souls don’t die.
    Where the fuck did you go to Sunday school?

  35. Pardon a serious comment, but the Pew H|spanic Center says that 55% of MexicanAmericans consider themselves Mexicans first. If Reason was a serious magazine, they might consider what that means.

  36. TLB,
    Go ahead and slither back under your rock.

  37. I are an English major, and “impact” as a verb doesn’t bother me.

    “Impactful” is what bothers me.

  38. …And “Mack the Knife” Oughta Only Be Sung in the Original Kraut

    It probably oughta be. The original Kraut is a lot more colorful then the most commonly known English translation.

  39. Oops — as Karen already mentioned.

  40. TLB, I found your statistic at the Pew Hispanic site:

    When asked which terms they would use first to describe themselves, a little more than half (54%) indicate that they primarily identify themselves in terms of their or their parents’ country of origin; about one in four (24%) chooses “Latino” or “Hispanic” and about one in five (21%) chooses “American”.

    When we were kids my friend El Jeronimo de Crow was frequently asked if he was Mexican. His response was invariable the same:

    No, I’m Orangian (Oh-Range-Ian)

    This pronouncement often confused people until he explained that he was born at St Joseph Hospital in Orange, Ca .

  41. Hey, Pig Mannix, thanks for the link. I never new that song pre-dated Bobby Darin until you and The Man In Black mentioned it today.

  42. Oddly, his father, after four decades in the United States, spoke almost no English. “That’s different. He worked hard his whole life . . . ”

    Comment by: trotsky at April 28, 2006 05:55 PM

    That’s a funny story, trotsky!

    Was pizza parlor owner’s father Italian? It would be ironic if the son of an Italian immigrant complained about poor Catholics with Mediterranean complexions and a Romance language.

  43. Always with the stories Moriarity……

    Old friend of mine lives in Kingman, at some point in early in our friendship his ethnicity came up.

    Al: What? You thought I was a Mexican? Does this accent sound Mexican to you? I ain’t no fucking Mexican. I’m Puerto Rican! This is a Puerto Rican accent Miguel!

    Thus illustrating another point Pew made in the study, that there is discrimination within the hispanic community by hispanics against other hispanics.

    Yes, I do have a life, but I’m supposed to be working on this project I really don’t want to do, so instead, I’m fooling around on H&R. I think I’m going upstairs now and watch a movie with the kids. Thanks for your time.

  44. Thus illustrating another point Pew made in the study, that there is discrimination within the hispanic community by hispanics against other hispanics.

    Why should Hispanics be any different from anyone else?

  45. Well in my country we have Official Bilinigualism thanks to The Devil…oops I mean Trudeau and we all know how well *that* worked!

    Well the National Anthem was originally in French and is actually a song of Franc-Catholic Triumphalism!

  46. Most Europeans speak several languages, for crying out loud.
    And almost invariably, one of those languages is English.

    (one is not likely to find a DMV booklet in Dutch, which is discriminatory.)
    The only Fair ‘n’ Egalitarian thing to do is print all gov’t publications in Dongxiang, Quechua, Marathi and every other language in the world.

    “hopefully” being used to mean “I hope.”
    According to the Official Dictionary Usage Panel (American Heritage), that usage is far more acceptable than using “she” as a gender neutral pronoun (the latter misusage is common among Reason’s writers, but since it denotes Political Correctness most HnR people let it pass – akin to accepting “racism” as referring to groups of people who wear differing headgear, etc.).

    There are also all those atrocities committed by management consultants like “incentivize,” “proactive,” “interface” … “impactful”
    And yet, those uses are considered perfectly grammatical, though “interface” as a verb somewhat less so.

    “interface” used to refer to anything but part of a computer program
    Pull out a dictionary and find out how silly that sounds.

    So – why have a bunch of extra lingos when most people, even professional writers, can’t even speak English properly?

  47. I can think of lots of good reasons to learn languages spoken by trading partners, allies, and even enemies. Especiallly languages spoken by enemies. Know your enemy, and all that.

  48. I can think of lots of good reasons to learn languages spoken by trading partners, allies, and even enemies. Especiallly languages spoken by enemies. Know your enemy, and all that.

    Speak for yourself. Even my high-school German has been forgotten through disuse.

    Most Americans only speak English, because up to this point, English is all they’ve needed. Exactly why anyone thinks it’s a Wonderful Thing to be a multi-lingual country, I’m sure I don’t know. Obviously, time and resources spent learning additional languages are time and resources not spent learning something else. The fact that we don’t have to learn a hodge-podge of languages like Europeans do is an efficiancy, not a weakness.

  49. The only acceptable language is Newspeak.

    Silly rabbits.

    “When we are talking about war, we are really talking about peace.”

    Points to the individual who can knows the politician who said this.

  50. As someone who failed to learn Spanish in junior high school, failed to learn German in high school, failed to learn French in college and failed to learn Italian living in Italy, I am sympathetic to both those who move to the U.S. and struggle with English and those in the U.S. who struggle with the idea of foreign languages being spoken here. But so what?

    As I have argued before, I think English should be the “official” language of the U.S. only in the limited sense that the government should, with very few exceptions, conduct official business only in English. Beyond that, it is not the business of government to encourage or discourage people to speak or sing whatever they want in whatever language they choose.

  51. D.A. Ridgely,
    After the government has told me how to sing, I don’t feel like singing any more.

  52. Al, “If hispanics are learning English no faster than previous immigrants- doe that mean that bi-lingual education is a big waste of time?”

    Bilingual education isn’t mean to teach kids English faster. It’s meant to allow them to learn history, science, and other subjects while they’re working on their English.

    Is it better for a kid to lag his peers in his English skills but keep up at grade level in his three or four other subjects, or to come up to speed quickly in English, but fall behind in his three or four other subjects during the year or two it takes for him to master English in his immersion program? Or, rather, under what circumstances is option A or option B preferable?

  53. Is it better for a kid to lag his peers in his English skills but keep up at grade level in his three or four other subjects, or to come up to speed quickly in English, but fall behind in his three or four other subjects during the year or two it takes for him to master English in his immersion program?

    The latter. Of course, we might want to ask “better for whom?” but the answer would usually be the same if we meant the child and almost always if we meant the school system faced with teaching the general curricula in multiple languages.

    Which reminds me of the conversation my wife had when she enrolled our adopted daughter in school several years ago.

    “We have adopted a seven-year-old from Russia and want to enroll her at her local elementary school,” my wife said.

    “Does she speak Spanish?” the administrator asked.

    “No. As I just said, she’s from Russia.”

    “Oh. So she doesn’t speak Spanish, then?”

    Perhaps the administrator thought Castro was still sending exchange students to Russia?

  54. Joe, the problem with your examples is that they are incorrect assumptions. The statistics from every think tank on every angle of the political spectrum and the real world abolition of bilingual in Californicate public schools have irrefutably demonstrated that bilingual is a huge bust.

  55. and language is fluid and malleable. It does change over time.

    You know, something odd occurred to me the other day that. “Argue” and “debate” are synonyms, right? But through common usage, “arguable” and “debatable” have almost become antonyms. Used WRT assertions, one stresses “defensible” while the other stresses “doubtful.”

    Example:

    “Arguably, Hit and Run is the best blog ever.”

    “Well, until they fix the posting problems, that’s debatable.”

  56. Wait a minute. I just realized that “argue” really means to make a case for a position and “debate” means to attack a position. Never mind, it’s late.

  57. USAGE NOTE: The use of impact as a verb meaning ?to have an effect? often has a big impact on readers. Eighty-four percent of the Usage Panel disapproves of the construction to impact on, as in the phrase social pathologies, common to the inner city, that impact heavily on such a community; fully 95 percent disapproves of the use of impact as a transitive verb in the sentence Companies have used disposable techniques that have a potential for impacting our health. ?It is unclear why this usage provokes such a strong response, but it cannot be because of novelty. Impact has been used as a verb since 1601, when it meant ?to fix or pack in,? and its modern, figurative use dates from 1935. It may be that its frequent appearance in the jargon-riddled remarks of politicians, military officials, and financial analysts continues to make people suspicious. Nevertheless, the verbal use of impact has become so common in the working language of corporations and institutions that many speakers have begun to regard it as standard. It seems likely, then, that the verb will eventually become as unobjectionable as contact is now, since it will no longer betray any particular pretentiousness on the part of those who use it. See Usage Note at contact.

  58. Die Moritat von Mackie Messer:

    Und der Haifisch, der hat Zaehne,
    und die traegt er im Gesicht,
    und MacHeat, der hat ein Messer,
    doch das Messer sieht man nicht.

    Ach, es sind des Haifischs Flossen
    rot, wenn dieser Blut vergiesst.
    Mackie Messer traegt’nen Handschuh
    drauf man keine Untat liest.

    An ‘nem schoenen blauen Sonntag
    liegt ein toter Mann am Strand
    und ein Mensch geht um die Ecke
    den man Mackie Messer nennt.

    An der Themse grauem Wasser
    Fallen ploetzlich Leute um!
    Es ist weder Pest noch Cholera
    Doch es heisst: Macheath geht um.

    Und Schmul Meier bleibt verschwunden
    und so mancher reiche Mann
    und sein Geld hat Mackie Messer
    dem man nichts beweisen kann.

    Jenny Towler ward gefunden
    mit ‘nem Messer in der Brust
    und am Kai geht Mackie Messer
    der von allem nichts gewusst.

    Und das grosse Feuer in Soho
    sieben Kinder und ein Greis –
    in der Menge Mackie Messer, den
    man nicht fragt und der nichts weiss

    Wo ist Alfons Glite, der Fuhrherr?
    Kommt das je ans Sonnenlicht?
    Wer es immer wissen koennte –
    Mackie Messer weiss es nicht.

    Und die minderjaehrige Witwe
    deren Namen jeder weiss,
    wachte auf und war geschaendet –
    Mackie, welches war dein Preis?
    Wachte auf und war geschaendet –
    Mackie, welches war dein Preis?

  59. “Mack the Knife” in German is dark and depressing as hell.

    Naturally, I love it.

  60. “Impact” has become popular because of people who can’t remember whether they want to “effect” or “affect” something, and whether the result of that act is an “effect” or an “affect”.

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