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Nov 8, 2017 in Analysis
All three essays unanimously agree that language in the United States is on a steady decline. This is occasioned by an apparent lack of interest in reading among young people. The readings further paint a gloomy picture for the language in future. The authors of these essays blame the declining interest in reading among the youth on the current technological revolution taking place. Technological innovations have radically altered the manner in which people interact and transmit cultural information. Modern mainstream mass-media created the behavioral model for the majority of young people who want to appear fancy with sophisticated communication gadgets. The decline in literary reading also coincides with a lack of historical and political awareness among the younger generations in the United States. Young people have no interest in trying to understand how the society lived and interacted in the past which may entail the inability of people to learn from past mistakes and thus, prevent the society from further development. The USA is among a few countries in the world with a remarkable cosmopolitan population. Although American culture is chiefly founded on European cultures, Americans have profoundly advanced in their own culture and language. However, this deep pride in such development is being threatened by a lack of literary reading culture among youngsters (Gioia, 87-76).
According to the articles, language and culture are inseparable things in the society. Language, as well as culture, distinguishes one community from the other. In general, these essays describe language and culture as two things that entirely depend on each other. The failure of American people to adopt other languages is the main impediment to growth of culture in the United States. Most Americans shy away from the idea of adopting a multilingual approach. Failure to adopt many languages has created a society that has no culture. It has created a xenophobic society where people embrace English as the only language of communication. Such cultural and language policy is not advisable for a society that is diverse and quite cosmopolitan like the American one. Language and culture rely on each other heavily. Promoting one language at the expense of the other is unjust assault on the cultural values.
The ideas reflected in these essays profoundly mirror the situation of language and culture in the United States. The first article Why Literature Matters by Dana Gioia is quite explicit on the issue of literary reading in the United States. The author is frank in pointing out that language and culture in the United States are threatened by an apparent lack of interest in literary reading among youngsters. Dana Gioia does not mince her words when she categorically points out that most young people in the USA do not appreciate their history. The author stresses that in-depth understanding of history and appreciation of culture are crucial aspects on which the American society should be founded. Failure to understand the past means that the society has lost its direction. Dana Gioia believes that one cannot appreciate his roots without understanding culture and history. She asserts that literature and culture are critical in the society. Dana further decries that the American society is faced with an acute shortage of reading skills. There is an increased concern among corporate Americans that the country risks shortage of reading skills if remedial measures are not taken. Urgent measures should be taken to encourage young people to read and appreciate culture.
The second essay If Only We All Spoke Two Languages by Ariel Dorfman criticizes the Americas monolingual policy. According to the author, it is the failure of the American society to adopt a multilingual approach to be blamed for youngsters having poor reading habits. In a diverse society like the American, all languages should be given a similar priority. Failure to do so, as it is portrayed in the article, implies that people’s culture and heritage would diminish. It is a fact that language and culture are mutually exclusive. This means that if one elevates the other, it will elevate both. Promoting English as a sole language of communication in the United States is a massive assault on the rich American culture.
How would one expect Hispano-American minorities’ culture to survive in an environment that glorifies English as the only language of communication? Such a situation breeds xenophobia and alienates minority cultures. Suite for the Ebony and Phonics presents the same opinion. Its author John Rickford notes that inasmuch as access to college education has increased twofold in the United States, the interest in literature has dropped significantly. The younger generations have trouble connecting to their culture. The issues of cultural diversity are equally neglected. In summary, all essays concur on the issue of a lack of interest in literature and culture among younger generations in America. There is a need to promote multilingual approach and promote literature among young people (Rickford, 24-32).
The ideas propagated in some essays are controversial. For instance, in If Only We All Spoke Two Languages by Ariel Dorfman, the idea of adoption of a multilingual approach is extremely controversial. According to the author, most Americans believe that English is the only authentic language that should be spoken on their land. An idea of having two languages in schools sounds ridiculous to most Americans. They may consider it as an attack on their sovereignty. Other essays also may be evaluated as controversial considering the pace at which things are changing. Authors of these essays are yawning for their past instead of embracing the future changes. With the current cultural and technical advance, it is obvious that there will be changes in tastes and preferences among people. All people are constantly changing and not just the young generation alone, as it is suggested in these essays.
Indeed, there is glaring evidence to support the authors’ assertions. The current generation has no interest in culture or in learning about the past. They are just preoccupied with fancy and sophisticated lifestyle. It is also true that lack of interest in literature and culture among the youths is a serious threat to an American social fabric. The value that lies in culture and history gave rise to the American society. Young people currently only know things that are around themselves. This is a threat to the values that build a nation. People need to coexist as a family no matter how diverse they might be in ethnicity (Troutt, 43).
These articles relate to each other in various aspects. In relation to language and culture, all essays are unanimous in their opinion about the fact that the American culture has significantly eroded with regard to younger generation. The articles concur that young people are obsessed with the media and other things that seem sophisticated. To them, things like literature and culture are not fascinating. They are considered to be out of fashion and unrelated to current life.
All in all, language is extremely valuable in the life of each and every individual. Language is the only channel through which human beings express their opinions and ideas. I certainly agree that this aspect should be properly nurtured in young individuals. Every society needs to liberalize use of language in order to promote culture and diversity. People should be encouraged to speak their mother tongues. This means that in a mixed society like that of the United States, people should learn to speak more than one language. No language should be given preference over the other, as this would be tantamount to killing peoples’ diversity (Gioia, 87-76).