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All right, you old fogies, who remembers Jack Armstrong, All American Boy?
Who remembers the radio serials as our only form of free entertainment?
Now, I haven’t heard the name of Jack Armstrong for at least 70 years. The reason I’m bringing up this as a topic is because while getting physical therapy for a shoulder problem in nearby Warbasse Houses, A patient brought up the name Jack Armstrong to the therapist’s assistant, Diana, who has been in the country for only two years, having lived in Russia all her life. Needless to say, 18−year−old Diana was not familiar with the name, nor was another elderly Russian patient, nor did the therapist who wasn’t American−born, either. Of five people in the office, 60 percent never heard of Jack Armstrong. Of course the percentage will be much, much greater in any census. This really amounts to a generation, as well as a culture gap.
It explains somewhat why English doesn’t have a chance to survive in this and coming generations. Our public schools dispense flyers in 11 languages, some of which I have never, ever heard spoken. Let’s break this down into two groups...new Americans and our younger generations. Of course, as time goes by, new stuff, new programs, new innovations ring out the old. Jack Armstrong was only broadcast from 1933 to 1951, which made him no longer a boy, but a fully developed man in his early twenties. However, Wheaties the Breakfast of Champions made a fortune on Jack Armstrong.
Our Chinese−Americans make it their business to have their children learn Chinese, sending their children all the way to Chinatown for them to learn, and many Russian−Americans shop or do business chiefly with other Russians, keeping their language intact. The same applies to many other cultures. While is is nothing wrong with preserving your native language −− every new group into the country has done it −− there should be a concentrated effort to not only preserve our English language but teach it to all, to be used by all.
With so many languages being spoken, you’ll find that medical offices often are jammed with foreign languages. The last time I went for an MRI, I sat down next to a black American knowing that I could converse in English. Everyone should use President Barack Obama as a perfect example of how knowledge and proper use of our language can elevate anyone to the highest heights.
I do not fault any group for wanting to teach their children their native tongue. Listen, the more languages acquired, the better for the individual. Being multilingual is a gift and it appears that foreigners know this. In Europe, it isn’t unusual for Europeans to know English or the language of their neighboring countries. The Slavic countries interchange their languages. But, their main language is still predominant. That’s more than I could say for English!
Screech at you next week!
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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