A huge news story today, whether it be on the world wide web, in the newspaper or on television, deals with immigration. Immigration reform is a topic that many Americans feel passionately about because a major portion of America's population is now Hispanic. Some believe that people, regardless of their citizenship, should be given basic human rights such as the ability to have a family and emergency health care; others, meanwhile, believe that illegal immigration is out of check and that documented citizens are victimised when their taxes pay to fund programs that serve illegal immigrants. Also, since Latino Americans chiefly speak Spanish and America does not have an official language, many folks believe that soon more Americans will speak Spanish than English, the traditional language of the US. This creates a problem of cohesion amongst American citizens.
Though immigration reform has been discussed in Congress for years, the first substantial effort towards regulation has just recently occurred in Arizona, where the regulator of the state signed a bill that allows police officers to demand official certification of citizenship from any person whom the officers deem shady. Some have lauded the efforts of the Arizona government to crack down on illegal immigration, while others believe that this new bill gives law enforcement too much power and violates civil rights. Regardless of your opinion on immigration, America is without a doubt undergoing a major cultural shift.
I have been reading the daily paper and following major events ever since I was young, so I've been aware of the immigration reform argument for a long time. I remember being just eight years old when I first realized that America's Hispanic population was flourishing. I grew up in a small village on the East Coast with a three hour drive between myself and the nearest big city. Needless to say, I was not on the front lines of the changing face of America. In fact, I was not even in my hometown when I realized that there was a big population of Spanish speaking people in the United States. I was on a trip to Florida and I recall seeing a metal sign on the side of the road. The metal sign said "Rest Stop Ahead" in English on the first line, and it said the same phrase in Spanish on the second line. I am a pretty observant individual so this encounter caught my eye and forced me to pay attention to other metal signage while in Florida.
Soon I started seeing metal business signs scripted in Spanish, too! I don't just mean the metal business sign for McDonald's or some other major corporation trying to assert a politically correct image. I saw custom business signs written in Spanish! These custom metal signs always included an English translation of whatever was being advertised, commonly some kind of promotion for a small business. For some reason, the fact that small businesses were advertising in Spanish on metal signs really made me recognize for the first time that America is a melting pot of different cultures.
The way that people speak in any given country is a reflection of that country's culture and traditions. Since we, as Americans reside in a free country where we can say what we want, most of the time, without fear of persecution, businesses must be able to reach their target demographic in the language of that demographic. As I realized on my trip, a large segment of the Florida population is Spanish speaking. Therefore, the corporations marketed in Spanish using metal signs. Custom metal signs reflect cultural shifts and will keep on doing so forever.
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