Tuesday, June 13, 2006

No Habla Inglese? No Reado My Blogo

Beginning today and until further notice, if you cannot speak English you are not permitted to read my blog.

This is an English-only blog, for English-only readers.

The rest of you must scram -- and make it pronto!

The sina qua non of success in this country is knowing how to read and speak English.

English is the linqua franca of the world. If you live in this country, you better embrace English. And if you don't want to?

How about this: You can leave! Go back where you came from. Capice?

In this patriotic stance, I am inspired by Joe Vento, owner and proprietor of Geno's Steaks in South Philly, about 4 blocks from where I live.

Joe took a stand. He posted a sign in his window that says: "This is AMERICA. WHEN ORDERING, 'SPEAK ENGLISH.' "

I guess he was tired of those Frenchies coming and ordering a boef-stek avec fromage or those little Mexicans you see around the Italian Market these days. They are popping up everywhere. They are even taking over empty storefronts and opening groceries.

You know what's next: They are going to get married, start having children and settle down.

There goes the neighborhood.

Since Joe announced his ban, he's gotten worldwide publicity, lots of network interviews. He's been blogged to death.

This is all good and it got me thinking. Why can't I share in the limelight, or maybe get a little corner of it?

Why can't I have my 15 minutes of fame, even if it's as an ignoramus?

Vento told The Inquirer last month that: "If you can't tell me what you want, I can't serve you."

This applies not only to foreign-born people, but folks from elsewhere in America.

Let's face it, if you are from Cleveland or Minnesota or Tennessee or Mississippi you don't speak real English. It's ersatz, like a Esperanto or Yiddish or something.

We Philadelphians can barely understand you.

An example: I've heard people at restaurants in Philly ask the waitress for WHA-ter.

For the record, it's WOOD-er.

If you can't tell her what you want, how can she serve you?

Ditto for leg and egg.

In English, it is LAIG and AIG. Not LEHG or EHG.

If you go into a restaurant, you don't say:
Do YOU have any EHGS?

You say:
Do YOUZ have any AIGS?

Here are some other words often mispronounced by outsiders:

kEL-er. As in: I went to Best Buy's and bought a color TV.
bu-TEE-ful. As in: My, what a beautiful dress.
wid. As in, I'd like that cheesteak with cheese.
ANT-knee. As in: I often pray to St. Anthony for guidance.

So practice after me:

"ANT-knee, I want a cheesteak wid and my bu-TEE-ful wife would like a fried AIG sam-ITCH. I'll take a Pepsi. She's want an ARNGE soda. How mudge do I owe youz? Ten BUGS? Dat's a lot. I kin get it for cheaper from the Mexikins down the street. "

Practice and you'll do okay at Geno's. If you are refused service, not to worry.

There's a little Mexikin place called La Lupe across the street.


Blogger Terry said...

Kind of like when youy say....cheet yet?? no jhew....

Did you eat yet??? No did you??

Let's hope a point is made and understood.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

Kind of like when you say....
"dcheet yet???? no, jhew....

Did you eat yet, no did you??

Some understand it and some don't. You don't have to understand it.... you just have to speak English...

2:09 PM  
Anonymous yt said...

Great post, it's HAR-ible that these people can't speak English.

2:18 PM  
Blogger normajean said...

As always, you hit the nail on the head. My first question with all of this controversy is what effect this will have on the city's bid for the Olympics? If we are trying to portray ourselves as an INTERNATIONAL city, what in the world will the USOC and IOC think of this? Although the owner of Geno's claimed that he was not targeting tourists, just the thought that some of our stores would not be welcoming to visitors could hurt our chances. For others to think that he represents the city at large would be the worst part of it all.

2:28 PM  
Blogger normajean said...

As always, you hit the nail on the head. My first thought with all of this controversy is if this would have an effect on the city's bid for the Olympics. If we are trying to portray ourselves as an INTERNATIONAL city, what will the USOC and IOC think of all this? I certainly hope that they don't see one man's misguided stand as a reflection of the entire city.

2:31 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

Bravo! Oops. That ain't English, so I can't use it. Sorry.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Gustav von Olney said...

Mr. Ferrick;

You cannot even write English, "In this patriotic stance, I an inspired by Joe Vento...", let alone comment on it.

You and the "This is America...We speak many languages here" crowd need to wake up to the fact that day-to-day life in the real world does not mesh with the bluriness of the Politcally Correct. That is the real issue here, Vento's issues are outside the pale of Post Modernism and that sets off redlights for you, the Inqy, and CNN.

In the actuality of the four blocks around Geno's that you and I both share as home we have real issues of people who cannot communicate (to all of our detriment). The ivory tower at Broad and Callowhill must cloud your eyes as you drive-through our neighborhood because some people witness these realities and the aforementioned do not.

As you do not reply to e-mails (coward?), I am unsure if you will step up to the challenge here. Please do not hide behind your column, but come forth and respond to the lowly comrades of Philly.

Most sincerely,

Gustav von Olney (relocated to So. Philly)

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

Ich wundere mich, wie gut du mich verstehen kannst, wenn ich auf Deutsch spreche. Wirst du gereizt, um mich zu bitten, auf Englisch zu sprechen?

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do Americans planning to take a trip to Italy, France, China, or Japan first study the language? Simply because they want to be able to order some food, find out where the tourist attractions are and be able to get a cab and count change. Likewise, when people come to America, they should do the same, especially if they plan to live here for any extended amount of time.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Solomon Grundy said...

If yeh right fer d' Philerdefia Inkwire 'n' yeh wanna beec'm famous whirlwide, yeh can't steel idears from Genoz. No, yehz gotta write a book aboutcher dog.

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked in the personnel department of a company the held separate new employee orientations for english and non english speaking workers. The non english speakers were told 'If you are three minutes late in a 30 day period you will be docked one days pay.' The english speaking workers were not told that.

6:26 AM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...

If you were in Paris and you were in an establishment that wanted you to communicate in French, how would you feel?

If you are trying to make a valid attempt to speak French, I hope they would be helpful.

But I wouldn't assume they should speak any conceivable language. The universal translator hasn't been invented yet.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

If this sign is the worst thing about this city the USOC and the IOC have to worry about, then we're a shoo-in for the Olympics.

Personally, I'd be much more concerned about them getting shot at while they're here.

And as has become customary in the blogging world, let's take one sign in one business and extrapolate it to the most ludicrous extremes we can imagine.

A business owner requires people to order in English; therefore, he must be telling them to go back where they came from.

Right. Reading between the lines are you?

We could always go to the other extreme as well.

Let's say the sign is offensive and discriminatory. Therefore, we should abolish all ESL classes from schools and every child should be able to take their standardized tests in their native tongue. We should have a bank of interpreters at every public hearing and in every courtroom. Menus at all restaurants should be printed in at least 5 languages.

In reality, is there ANY restaurant in the city that does not require English when ordering? The only restaurants I know of that have their menus printed in more than one language are upscale eateries who think it makes them look cool.

The only difference between Joe Vento and any other establishment in this city is that he put a sign in the window. The barriers are exactly the same.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's wrong with the sign? If you wanted everybody to read your blog, publish it in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian, etc. By writing your blog in English, you are implicitly stating to your readers to know English, aren't you? I support Joe Vento and his sign. He's the only person with enough guts to state the obvious.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the sign. The fortunate thing for me is that I have always loved Geno's. What is Pat's going to do now? Let the free market decide, but I hope they come up with something as equally amusing.

Wouldn't you love to see our wonderful mayor take a stance on illegal immigrants; round them up and ship them out. I'll pay for the flight.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Max Harrick Shenk said...

You know what? I love the sign, too. Really. I mean, not that I'm xenophobic or anything... I speak English and, more importantly, know how to order a cheesesteak in South Philly.

I like the sign because it's more like a big red flag: it tells me that Geno's is probably not the kind of place I want to spend either my time or my money. Because face it, eventually they'll find something wrong with ME, too.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Bob K said...

You are trying to be tongue in cheek with this blog, but in reality are you pretty much exercising the "No English, No read" policy. Your blogs are posted only in English, your articles appear only in English, your newspaper published only in English. If you can't speak English, then truly you can't read your blogs, your articles, or your newspaper.

4:43 PM  
Blogger The Rev said...

Joe Vento is not only being racist, his product has been substandard for a while.

Joe, instead of worrying about what language is spoken at your store, try actually putting some meat on your cheesesteaks. The last three I got there could be considered vegetarian products, they were so small on the meat.

If you put all of your effort into making a better cheesesteak instead of being a talk show host, we would all be better off.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey fella! Yeah, you! I'm a Mexican Japanese American. I don't speak Spanish and I don't speak Japanese, heck I can barely speak English. Why is it that white folks always walk up to me and ask me to translate something written in Spanish, or ask to me convey a message to a Mexican, or a check out person at the store will ask me to explain something to someone in line that doesn't speak English? I just look at them and say: Why do you assume I speak Spanish? They always respond: You don't speak Spanish! So I speak the language of the country in live in and white folks still insist I should speak Spanish -- you can't win!

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The truly weird thing about this is that if someone doesn't speak English...they can't read the sign.

That means the sign isn't really aimed at them, right?

Then who is the intended audience, if it isn't non-English-speakers?

Um, let's see...would it be the thousands of blue-collar listeners of right-wing talk radio?

Hey, I think we're on to something...

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All each of you have done is provided Joe a ton of free publicity. Without realizing that he does not give a damn about the neighborhood. Today, tomorrow, or five years from now. I live two (2) blocks from Genos. And work 50 steps away at night. If you were outside of Genos on a Saturday morning at 4:00 am and see what transpires. From drugs, fights, urinating on peoples cars and property. The two (2) or three (3)
police cruisers sitiing ouside while the officers are inside Genos eating their free cheesteaks.
Hey, Joe, how about some porta-potties and trash cans. And perhaps you could PAY some of these fine officers to provide security when off-duty?
Five (5) years from now you will go to Genos and guess what? The servers will be latino and asian. That is when I will go back to Genos. And this Philly icon, jumps in his humvee. Drives through the neighborhood with a smile on his face. Passing Genos trash on every doorstep. Thank the good lord the man is selling cheesesteaks and not a vision for the future of this city/country.

4:58 AM  
Anonymous CENTRIST said...

Donna! You are dead on! WTG!

3:07 PM  

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