Friday, January 30, 2009

English you can understand

Many cities in the United States have become truly international. Just look around when you’re shopping and you’ll see what I mean.

Walking through a mall or grocery store you’ll hear all kinds of languages. Some people like it, some don’t. But, that’s America. We should be honored folks from overseas want to be in the good old USA.

Nashville, TN residents last week rejected legislation to make English the only language for doing business with government.

The proposal read: No person shall have a right to government services in any other language.
Opponents said the measure was “negative and invites discrimination.”

In a newspaper editorial the Tennessean said the legislation would “exclude and marginalize those residents and visitors to Nashville simply because English is not their native tongue.”

The rejection of this move is fine with me. But this issue cranked my mind about use of language by some of America’s biggest corporations.

Recently our company was having a technical problem with phone/internet service. After several days and several telephone calls, we simply gave up and tried our own solution. Part of the problem was a language barrier.

I believe I speak fairly good English even if I am from Arkansas.

And, the people on the other end apparently understood English but they sure couldn’t speak my kind.

The conversations would go something like this:
Them: This is XXXXcvSS, what can I xxdldksvvwww for you?
Me: I am having trouble with ...
Them: LDKWLWKW number?
Me: Can you repeat that?
Them: LDKWLWKW number?
Me: I’m sorry, I can’t understand you, and can you repeat it slowly.
Them: L, D, K, W, L, W, K, W number?
Me: I guess you mean our account number.
Them: Yes.
(Whoopee, we were making progress.)
Me: That number is XXXXXXXXXX.
Them: That XXXXOOWW00.
Me: No. I can’t understand you. I guess I’ll have to call someone else.

Guess what, reaching another “customer service” representative didn’t do any good.
I finally asked these people where they were. It seems like all of them were in different locations — out of the U.S.

One, I remember, was in the Far East. Since I was calling during the day, it meant it was night there. Maybe they were all sleepy.


Here’s my point: If you sell me your product and promise to service it, please let me talk to someone who can understand and speak English.

And, one other thing, you’re taking American jobs overseas. I don’t like that.

1 comment:

  1. There has to be some sort of regulations on means of communication. If not, imagine the language barriers we'd face! I absolutely agree! I have encountered the same type of problem when my internet modem was acting up. I just could not understand the lady. If the United States asks for English as a primary language, so be it. Diversity is wonderful, but we have to be able to understand the diverse groups that venture to the U.S. It's that simple.