english as a universal language
allow me to use the power of this humble blog to amplify the sage words - as posted to the SEM list - of eminent ethnomusicologist jeff todd titon (whose worlds of music i used as a textbook - and playfully sampled - in the first intro to music of the world course i ever did teach) ::
English as a national language
Recently there has been some serious talk in Congress about declaring English the national language of the United States. And there has been some quite predictable opposition to this movement from folklorists and anthropologists. No doubt the ethnomusicologists on this list, many of them anyway, share those oppositional sentiments but they are keeping their own counsel. Not I.
As a citizen of the USA, I have a modest proposal. And I think my proposal has a good chance of passing Congress and obtaining a signature from the President. Certainly it would have a better chance than those opposed to English as a national language. It is this: declare English the official language of the planet. And why stop there? Surely the Plutonians, and the inhabants of Ursa Minor, if there be any, are culturally deprived without the English language, so easy to learn (why, even a baby can learn it), so mellifluous on the tongue (the French are said to be able to fall in love just listening to the sound of English), so subtle, so expressive, particularly in the hands of our political leaders. And all this time people had been wondering if music was a universal language. No, I say, wonder no more: declare English the official language of the universe.
Want to stop the southern border crossings? No more Spanish! Without their language the plucky migrants will droop and return. Hey, hey, what's that sound? It will be "a great sucking sound" from south of the border, in the immortal (English) words of that great Texas politician whose name is on the tip of my tongue.
And stop translating at the UN; what good does it do anyway? Our leaders don't want to hear what the others have to say. Render them speechless, I say. Why just the other day a UN group asked the US to shut down Gitmo. Said it violated international law. Imagine that! And they probably issued their declaration in several languages. What a waste! No, English is all anyone needs. Do we torture "detainees" (the word itself is an eloquent example of the power of the English language) with Arab hip-hop? Certainly not; Eminem is sufficient. Turn up the volume!
Best to all,