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Je 06:06 ptm 8/30/01 -0400, Mike KARAPCIK skribis

>         I'm actually curious about figures for Florida. English and Spanish
>dominate the landscape here, and there are neighborhoods for dozens of other
>languages. However, from what I understand, French is the fastest growing
>language in Florida, mainly from Canadian tourism. French and Portuguese
>signage is becoming more common(*). Given the retirement population we have
>here (nearly a third of the population, though it fluctuates between summer
>and winter), I'm curious as to how much of the French-speaking population
>here is permanent rather than short-term or long-term tourism.
>
>(*) Portuguese signage is mostly seen in Orlando, though I've seen it in St.
>Augustine, and a Brazilian friend of mine mentioned it in Miami. Apparently
>Florida is becoming a popular tourist spot in Brazil.

The situation in California is obviously different, and, again, for obvious
reasons. Though Spanish remains a growing language here, that doesn't seem
to be happening as fast as other languages are growing. That sort of kicked
me in the face three or four years when I went to the San Francisco airport
to pick someone up and noticed that a lot of signs were now not only in
English and Spanish, but also in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. More
recently, in 1998 on a trip to Yosemite with my son and youngest daughter,
during a hike up the trail to Vernal Falls the most commonly heard language
on the trail was ... Chinese (*). And according to maps designed from the
latest census (which showed that almost 40% of households in California do
_not_ use English), in my area the second most common language after
English is _Lao_ -- something that the principal of the grade school my son
used to go to told me years ago.

My friend Ionel, who runs the book service at the Esperanto League for
North America office, back when he was getting his green card, went down to
the federal office that takes care of such matters in San Jose one day.
There were so many people there that he had to take a number and wait until
someone called it. Minor problem -- the vast majority of those waiting were
Vietnamese, and so was whoever was in charge of calling out the numbers; so
the numbers all got called in Vietnamese, which Ionel, who is Romanian,
doesn't speak. I seem to remember that he completely missed his number that
day and had to go back another day. You may suppose that he was less than
happy.

The question of whether western North America should have been colonized by
Europeans or Asians is an interesting one (actually, it's not a question;
Asians got here first, quite some time back, only we call them by a
different name now). In recent historical times, if the Mings hadn't
cancelled the exploration / commercial program begun by Qeng Ho, it's
likely that the Spanish would have arrived here in California in the late
1700s to find the place a thriving Chinese colony; and, of course, the
current global linguistic pattern would have been quite different. On the
other hand, the way it looks now European dominance of Western North
America may, in a century or so, turn out to have been a rather ephemeral
historical fluke. With, one may suspect, equally important implications for
the global linguistic pattern of the times.

---

(*) Signs along the trail, warning about the bears, are in several
languages -- Japanese is one, but I don't remember if Chinese is or not.
However, the English signs are more complete, and actually inform you that
there is no real danger, something that the signs in other languages seem
to overlook -- I saw one Japanese couple, after reading the sign in
Japanese, turn around and hurry back toward the parking lot.



-- Don HARLOW
http://www.webcom.com/~donh/don/don.html

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