To the editor:
When I read “Lost in Translation” (The Hurricane’s editorial, April 6) and Nicholas G. Moses’ subsequent letter to the editor (The Hurricane, April 9), I realized that the definition of being American is distorted. Some believe that being American means having one language and one culture. To me, being American means having the freedom of integrating both my Filipino and Western ideals and having the right to be recognized and respected for all aspects of who I am. Moses seems to acknowledge the influence of other cultures in America, but he also says that minorities arrive in America and “still pledge [their] first loyalty to [their] countries of origin,” implying that this is a threat. Many people in this country speak perfect English but desire to speak the languages of their native countries in order to remain close to their roots. Contrary to what Moses believes, I don’t think that is something they do “because they can get away with it.” This desire to integrate their ethnic background with their American identities is their own interpretation of the American Dream. We shouldn’t see other cultures as being mere contributions to American culture; American culture is a collection of these other cultures.
Moses believes that immigrants ought to learn the language of a particular country “rather than make the country accommodate them by learning [the immigrant’s] native tongue.” However, many people in their countries are fluent in at least two or three languages. If anything, with America celebrating its status as a “melting pot” of different cultures, shouldn’t Americans reflect the same proficiency? I’m not suggesting that Americans be required to learn multiple languages, but, learning other languages should not be viewed negatively; it should be viewed as an opportunity to grow and become more global.
Moses believes that if people are going to live in America, they ought to learn English. This notion seems to arise from a belief that English is the native language in this country. But if we go from that, then we should speak the language of the Spanish conquistadors that arrived in this land long before other European settlers. In fact, what follows is that we actually ought to learn and speak the languages of Native Americans.