Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Argument against "English Only" in the U.S.

If you haven't been living under a rock, and if you have friends who are Asian American, Korean American, or Korean (or just anyone paying attention to pop culture) then you have undoubtedly seen this video by Korean impresario PSY:

His song "Gangnam Style" is an international sensation--and you know it's really hit the mainstream when you can watch him on NBC's weekday morning program, "The Today Show":

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What is so striking to me about his performance is that he's singing this song in Korean (there is the phrase in English "Hey, sexy lady," but every other lyric is Korean) and he's getting the crowd pumped up and THEY'RE SINGING BACK TO HIM IN KOREAN.  Granted, a lot of the people, especially crowded around the stage, look like they could be, themselves, Korean or Korean American.  But you also see non-Asians in the crowd dancing, and singing.

Which is pretty incredible--I mean, the U.S. is a pretty parochial place when it comes to being accepting or even tolerant of people speaking different languages.  The fact that PSY is singing in Korean and getting folks to sing along with him, in Korean, makes me so happy!  Granted, it's NYC, it's a global pop phenomenon, and that dance move he does (the horse dance) is sweeping flash mobs everywhere.  But still.  I'm a glass half full kind of gal, and I'd like to think that this marks a small turn in our language consciousness towards a more polyglot acceptance that being American does not mean that you only speak English or even predominantly speak English.

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