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A Different Kind Of Sign Language

Signs show that the Hispanic demographic in the USA is rising.

A major headline these days, whether it be on the computer, in the newspaper or on the tele, centers around immigration reform. Immigration is a subject that many Americans feel passionately about because a major portion of America's population is now Hispanic. Some people debate that people, regardless of their passport country, should be allowed elementary individual rights such as the capability to have a house and emergency health care; others, meanwhile, believe that illegal immigration is out of control and that documented citizens are victimized when their tax dollars pay to fund programs that treat undocumented people. Whats more, since Latino Americans primarily speak Spanish and America does not have an appointed 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.

The controversy in Arizona.

Though immigration reform has been discussed in Congress for years, the first substantial effort towards regulation has just recently occurred in Arizona, where the Governor of the state signed a bill that allows police officers to demand official certification of citizenship from any person whom the officers deem suspect. 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.

Road signs lead the way.

I have been reading the daily paper and following major events ever since I was young, so I've known about the immigration reform debate for a long time. I recall being just eight years old when I first realized that America's Hispanic population was flourishing. I was raised in a little city on the East Coast with a 3 hour drive between myself and the nearest major 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 made the realization that there was a gigantic population of Spanish speaking people in the United States. I was on a trip to Florida and I remember 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 very observant individual so this encounter caught my eye and forced me to pay attention to other metal signage while on my trip to Florida.

Custom metal signs raise the eyebrows.

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 uphold 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, usually some kind of promotion for a small business. For some reason, the fact that small businesses were advertising in Spanish on metal signs truly made me recognize for the first time that America is a melting pot of different cultures.

Custom metal signs are a cultural barometer.

A nation's language is a reflection of its culture. Since we, as Americans live in a free country where we can say what we want, most of the time, without fear of repurcussions, corporations must be able to reach their target audience in the language of that demographic. As I realized on my trip, a large segment of the Florida population is Spanish speaking. Therefore, the businesses advertised in Spanish using metal signage. Custom metal signs reflect cultural shifts and will keep on doing so forever.

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