American Spoken Here
By Harry M. Covert
Changes popular or not seem to be invading all over and the majority of citizens are like lambs to the slaughter. The latest challenge involves spoken language. The official language of Frederick County, the state of Maryland and the rest of the states of union is American.
Of course it is. Why not? Most citizens are monolingual. From the time they come into the world bawling they don’t hear “buenos dias nino” or “guten morgen kind.” It is rather obvious that amid the daily travels around these environs there are no signs extolling “American spoken here.” Nor are there symbols asking about other tongues such as Finnish, Czech, Dutch or Chinese, simplified or traditional.
A recent move has come up from some elected types on the county council to undo the fact that American (nee English) is the official county language.
Aren’t’ there more important things needing discussion? There is no doubt about this; big issues and not solely “get even” politics and similar bird-brain measures that politicians come up when they are navel gazing.
It is easy to be somewhat smart-alecky and even a bit impertinent watching the goings-on. Just can’t help it. Just look around the states with their numerous dialects.
Attempts have been serious in years past to learn how to speak Español and German, all to no avail and frustration. Other family members knocked themselves out becoming fluent in Arabic and Kurdish.
Traveling throughout worldly climes, communications through smiles and handshakes opened many conversations. Usually those of other patois had learned “American” at early ages so acquiring words like “bon,” “amigo,” “si,” “in shallah” aided dealing with other peoples.
So, “good”, “friend” and “if God wills” became easy usable words.
READINGS FROM THE LITERARY SOCIETY
In my days as a youthful and happy days reporter the Elks Club was in my jurisdiction. It was a delightful place. Time came when it was forced to leave downtown. Locals who enjoyed lunches and other fun experiences were devastated. But, wise folks didn’t fall into a funk for long. Establishment of a good and proper “literary society” became popular when the workday was completed. The “readings” were fun and educational. No secrets were leaked of course.
One evening during a “reading” of local history and state affairs a wizened member suggested that “American” should be established as the official language of the nation. Deliberations began amid a seafood buffet of crab claws, soft shell crabs, shrimp cocktails and other morsels fresh out of the Chesapeake Bay.
As ministrations continued it was decided that the biggest issue wasn’t the battle of the Monitor and Merrimac in Hampton Roads, the World’s Greatest Harbor. It was that American should officially be declared the national verbal and written word.
One of the readers, a full-fledged graduate of Mr. Jefferson’s university, recited the historical verbosity of Mr. Patrick Henry along the lines of “give me liberty or give me death.” Another society member interrupted with a suggestion for a bibulation with Virginia Gentleman.
A distinguished member of the bar was nominated to prepare the documents. Within a few days an official organization was created, certified, incorporated as non-profit and a news story appeared. A wire service helped tell the story.
Certainly, English then as now is the predominant tongue world-wide. But, why not just call ours “American?” There are plenty of purists out there who will think this is silly or inane. Not so.
All documents, public and private, are today disseminated in American. In these days and times it is easy to find translations everywhere– on computers, on iPhones, in tiny books.
For folks unfamiliar with American it is easy to communicate even though they may be arrested, hospitalized, getting driver’s licenses, or needing other public credentials. Public institutions have contracts with translators of all types. Even Urdu. Telephones do have facilities for the hearing impaired.
No matter what words are spoken or read or written, there is no lack of ability in official business. No local businesses or churches or schools suffer from the fact “American” English is the official word. The Oxford people need not like this.
There are words truly familiar in almost every language: yes, no and thanks.
Another word is menu. There is no dearth of dining pleasures around the country and every American speaker hereabout converses in numerous pleasant words from many grand cuisines.
I say gracious, bon, danke. You get the point.◄◄◄◄◄