blog postsDefending the language with bullets: If you can read this in English, thank a soldierJul 31, 2008 11:00 pm26563 views "It's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Barack Obama The bumper sticker on the back of a construction worker’s pickup truck caught my eye: "If you can read this, thank a teacher . . . ." This homage to education wasn't what I expected from someone whose bitterness typically manifests itself in vehicle art celebrating guns and religion, but there was more: "If you can read this in English, thank a soldier."Protecting English one beer at a time, or, how do you say 'Bud Light' in Flemish?Jul 28, 2008 12:10 am2978 views The pending sale of Budweiser, “the king of beers,” to the Belgian beer conglomerate InBev, has sparked jokey headlines like the Baltimore Sun’s “This Bud’s pour vous,” not to mention fear among drinkers of le roi des bières that the new owners of Anheuser Busch might actually change the taste of their beloved Bud Light.Obama supports foreign languages and has a foreign-sounding name; but as politicians go, that's not so unusualJul 24, 2008 2:45 am1210 views Conservative bloggers have been attacking Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for advocating French and Spanish and for translating his campaign slogan, “Yes we can,” into Latin. Now Obama’s being attacked for a poster advertising a speech he’ll deliver in Berlin on Thursday, because part of the poster is in German.Driving while Spanish nets trucker $500 fineJul 19, 2008 1:00 am4626 views Manuel Castillo, a California trucker with twenty years experience, was stopped and ticketed by an Alabama state trooper for failure to speak English well enough.Canadian language police prepare for unrest as 200 attend Esperanto Congress in MontrealJul 17, 2008 8:56 pm1184 views The Seventh Pan-American Esperanto Congress is being held this week in Montral, a city where French enjoys strong legal protection and nonfrancophones risk fines if they defy the language law.English no longer the official language of New York's gas stationsJul 11, 2008 11:33 pm964 views The West Ridge Road Hess service station in Rochester, New York, began firing workers last year because they spoke Spanish to one another, and to Spanish-speaking customers, in violation of the companys English-only policy. Station manager Jos Hernandez had been scheduling Spanish-speaking workers on each shift so they could better serve the Spanish-speaking customers who came into the stations convenience store. But he was told in English by higher-ups in the company that customers were welcome to buy in English, but Spanish was out, as were Hernandez and six of his co-workers.A million English words, or only 600,000? Either way, it's a language packed with more words than you'll ever needJul 8, 2008 9:30 pm2052 views Paul Payack, professional word-counter and the founder of Global Language Monitor and yourdictionary.com, claims that someone coins an English word every 98 minutes, which seems pretty fast until we consider that during the word-coining frenzy of the 1590s, when the pace of life was slower, about 10,000 new words popped up every year. If Shakespeare and his contemporaries never slept, that comes to a neologism every 52 minutes. With more than 326 million native speakers of English today, and only 2 million in 1600, today's neologism-per-person rate is only a fraction of what it was 400 years ago. Given our perception that the pace of life has increased dramatically since the Renaissance, this suggests that while there are in fact more words in English now than there used to be, we have a lot less time to coin them (neologism, a word, coined in France in the 1730s and borrowed by English in the 1770s, meaning ‘a new word’; Renaissance, a mid-19th century word meaning the European revival of arts and letters of the 14th - 16th centuries). Louisiana school district may require English-only valedictory addresses -- why not call them bye-bye speeches instead, to avoid all foreign-language entanglements?Jul 1, 2008 10:15 pm2054 views After co-valedictorians Hue and Cindy Vo flavored their recent Ellender High School graduation talks with a pinch of Vietnamese, the president of the Terrebonne Parish School Board, who wants English-only school ceremonies, proposed banning foreign languages in future graduation speeches. The two cousins used Vietnamese in their speeches to honor their immigrant parents, whose English isn’t fluent, and to thank them for the sacrifices they made to raise their children in the U.S. Cindy dedicated a sentence about “being your own person” to her mother, then translated it for the audience. Hue spoke a bit longer in Vietnamese and didn’t translate her words.