17 October, 2011

Whoa! Slow Down There, Glenn

On the Glenn Beck Program today, Glenn and his guest by phone were getting all bunched up about a school in Texas which was teaching the Mexican national anthem and pledge.  Not knowing anything more, I'll have to assume the latter is similar to our (the United States') "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of Ameria..."  Initially, I was about as indignant as Glenn and his guest.  From what I've heard, there's been quite enough, thank you, of indoctrination of people into a mindset that America is bad, Americans are aggressors, and such-like.  But then I heard more.

The guest was the father of the girl who was "forced" to recite/sing these.  He related that this was for a Spanish class.  It was then I had more of a reaction like the initial reaction of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" when they first encounter the rabbit ("you got me all worked up over nothing!").  I too was schooled in Spanish, albeit in Cheektowaga, NY, not Texas.  This is very likely very mild, and no cause for concern at all.

When learning a language, while not strictly required, it is often quite helpful to learn some of the cultural aspects as well.  It's just standard practice, best I can tell.  While I never had to do anything like memorize any Spanish-speaking country's anthem, it's a fine way to enlarge vocabulary and learn a part of the culture.  The complaint presented was really weak too.

The caller complained about Spanish being derived from Spain, so why should they learn the Mexican anthem?  Why not the Spanish anthem?  That's so ridiculous that it barely requires explanation.  And this is a subject with which I have a slight amount of expertise.  I was taught there are two major variants of Spanish: the European (or Castillian in English, Castellano in Spanish) and the Latin American (LA).  Just like English, there are variations on that, but likewise I'd say there's American English and British English.  We were made aware of the differences in Spanish (chiefly pronunciation), but we concentrated on the LA variant.  You can imagine why.  As residents of America, we're far more likely to encounter people speaking the LA variant.

I personally don't think Glenn is much predisposed to sensationalism, but I think that applies here.  Sorry, but I think obstinance on the part of this Texas family is why this girl got a 13 for this exercise (presumably percent).  Just because you're asked to memorize and repeat some particular passage doesn't mean you are actually agreeing with such a pledge.  It is merely a memorization exercise, combined with knowing when someone hears the pledge or anthem, one is able to identify it and its significance.  It won't be merely a semirandom collection of words to the listener/student.

If this had been during the course of some other, non-Spanish-language, class, I could understand, and agree with, the outrage.  But really...this is much ado about nothing.  But I would agree with part of the referenced article: I don't agree that the US stole parts from Mexico, and would prefer students not be told that.  In particular, it's called "The Gadsden Purchase," not "The Gadsden Annexation."  I will have to admit history is my poorest subject, so I'm not sure of the circumstances of the Texas annexation.

English is a difficult enough language to interpret correctly when its rules are followed, let alone when the speaker or writer chooses not to follow those rules.

"Jeopardy!" replies and randomcaps really suck!

Please join me on Google+!