Time to take a quick break from the political fires of 2016. A much-needed moment of levity.
I spent a week in Kansas City this summer grading English AP Exams. In the course of 7 straight days of re-reading variations on the same essay–a debate on the merits of multilingualism–I gained some valuable and unexpected insights into the English language, courtesy of the graduating seniors of 2016. I compiled some of these greatest hits on post-it notes, and with a nod to David Shields and the many other great “found word” language collagists, I offer them up here in the (hopefully) aptly titled: “Aloha, Senor!: Musings on Metaphysical Multilingualism”
“Aloha, senor!” Would you know what I said if you didn’t look it up? The history of language goes back decades, to when ancient Romans and Aztecs ruled the U.S. America used to be known as a melting pot, but it has become more of a salad bowl—mixed together, but never melding. The U.S. Census asks “Does this person speak a language at home?” English is like the McDonald’s of languages. If you speak as much German as a British cup of tea, chances are the German will take his business elsewhere. Life becomes greater when you say “see ya later” to monolingualism! More intelligence is always good, especially in schools. When making a decision like this, you have to think of everything. Politics and commerce are at an all-time must-have. Foreign tongues are among us, not just outside of us. Spanish speakers can learn to speak Italian, Argentinian, and other Spanish-like languages. Multilingualism is so helpful it’s almost like cheating—specifically at the game called “life.” Being only homolingual is a disadvantage. The world is comprised of endless series of foreign affairs, and whatnot. Our military has first contact with foreigners, so it would be pretty bad if you didn’t know how to say “we come in peace.” In these infantile years of global outreach. At age 60, there is no way a person would want to be braindead.