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The San Juan Star
Some More Examples Of The Impact Of The Eternal Language Debate
September 7, 2002
The question of English-Only in the federal court is being debated again in Puerto Rico.
Regarding English as the official language of the federal court the solution is to teach every Puerto Rican grade school student how to be fluent in English.
Another debate going on is the question as to whether there is a need for costly tourist road signs in three different languages?
If Puerto Rico depends on world trade and wants to relate as a unique culture with other countries, it makes sense to learn English. It should be in every economic and social plan for the future of Puerto Rico that our Puerto Rican youth become fluent in English.
If Puerto Rico was truly bilingual, there would be no English language or translations problems in today's federal court.
Recently Sila Calderón signed a law to spend millions of dollars to change Spanish-Only road signs to three languages: Spanish, English and French.
When I meet French-speaking tourists, they are always fluent in English. English is taught in early schooling in France and French-speaking Canada.
Calderón wants to add French to the road signs to subliminally decrease the importance of English in her "Nation" of Puerto Rico.
She wants her people to identify more with Philip of Spain rather than George Washington and the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Adding French is her effort to confuse the need for a second language fluent English in Puerto Rico.
Road signs in Puerto Rico need only be in English and Spanish. In fact, I would have no concern if they remained only in Spanish. English-speaking tourists can read a visitors guide in order to have no problem with the current signs being only in Spanish. A tourist needs to remember the translations for only a few key words to understand these signs now in Spanish.
When I was once a tourist to Puerto Rico, I enjoyed learning a little more Spanish in order to be able to understand the road signs. I enjoyed the challenge of translating each sign.
Is it really worth the expense to tear down the old signs and replace them with costly new ones?
Will federal funds be wasted on another typical Calderón "boondoggle"? Should our funds be more wisely spent on the real needs of the Puerto Rican people?
Changing road signs will not encourage tourists to come to Puerto Rico. To stop ruining our historic sites with concrete and asphalt will make Puerto Rico more appealing to tourists. Also, it is time to protect our scenic routes throughout the island from far too many advertising billboards in locations blocking scenic views.
Another way to encourage tourists is have more reasonably priced hotel accommodations. Hotels have become far too expensive for many middle-class tourists that are not super rich. It is becoming cheaper to stay on cruise ships or to visit other countries in the Caribbean.
Puerto Rico is pricing itself out of a sizable portion of the tourist market.
Instead of French as the third language, why not Japanese, German or any other language? Like the French, most Germans, Japanese and tourists from other countries are fluent in English.
The problem of not speaking English is created by the Popular Democratic Party refusing to allow the students of Puerto Rico to learn to be fluent in English. Calderón and her party members fear that English and knowledge about American democracy would undermine their power over an uneducated political base of people dependent upon government handouts and anti-American word games by political officials.