Monday, January 11, 2010

Bumper Sticker Fail

The bumper sticker reads: "Welcome to America / Now Speak English".

The license plate reads "THREDZ".

Do I need to say more?

Maybe I do. My grandfather came to the US in 1912. For many years he spoke only Yiddish and very broken English. Despite this, he managed to start a business and raise a family.

There's no requirement that immigrants to the US speak English fluently. The vast majority of them will learn English because it is in their economic self-interest. And their children will almost certainly speak English - probably better than the owner of this car, who can't seem to spell "threads".

[Yes, I know, it's the name of his business. There you can find other logically and/or grammatically suspect utterances, such as "Experts in embroidery, screen-printing and sourcing products with creative distinction are just a few of the things that set Thredz Unlimited apart from others."]


Joshua said...

Related to this, many immigrant groups have historically kept the languages of their homelands for multiple generations. In many cases this has extended beyond even the first generation immigrants. See

Anonymous said...

What is considered English is not static. Consider the words that are added to the dictionary (and their associated spellings) that are added yearly.

And then consider the number of variant spellings in old and middle English.

"THREDZ" may one day be in the dictionary.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

In Kitchener, where I usually live, there are places (such as Fiedler's Delicatessen) where German is still routinely spoken - mostly by post-WW II immigrants.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Agree completely, Anonymous. English is a moving target. I'm not a prescriptivist - I just thought the juxtaposition of license plate and bumper sticker was funny.

Filipe Calvario (from Brazil) said...

I surely relate to that! I'm not an immigrant (I live in Brazil), but as English predominates in the Internet, and many of the best sites are in English (like the Wikipedia in English: far better than the others), sometimes I sort of feel insecure with understanding/commenting.
Actually, that's why I add "(from Brazil)" to my identity here: if one sees a mistake of mine, he/she may take into account that English is not my native language.

Bradbury said...

Care for another "bumper sticker fail"?

Roger Scott said...

Perhaps "threads" was already taken.

Vladimir said...

Joshua, I am sure most people attempt to pass down their native languages to their children, but at that point it becomes their second language.

Although I spoke Spanish first, 13 years of public schooling has made my English 100 times stronger than my Spanish.


Anonymous said...

whatever re-turd....yur funny and sad which is what makes you so funny.....and clearly with plenty of free time on your hands .....bumper sticker fail.....wicked clev-ahh........that's boston for ya....and thanks for noticin.