Wednesday, July 1, 2009

En Inglés or In Spanish? Targeting Bilingual Hispanics

Ad creatives and marketers vying for the Latino buck are dogged by a recurrent question: what language should they use to make their pitch? When it comes to second-generation Hispanics, says author David Morse, English may be the answer read more

More on this issue: U.S. Hispanics Flock to Web (Ad News)


  1. This is an article that brings up an issue that is valid not only culturally and politically, but also philosophically and even environmentally: What do we lose when we give up diversity for uniformity? And the answer is, plenty.
    As a bi-cultural individual by choice rather than by birth (having lived for over 3 decades in South America), I have been able to stand back from the issue and look at it with certain objectivity and with a cultural-philosophical slant. And the fact is that the vast majority of Americans, with their immigrant roots, come from cross-cultural backgrounds that globalization - which began as a tool of largely forced cultural integration in the United States long before it became a fashionable economic phenomenon - has blurred into near oblivion.
    Born of Alsatian parents who had immigrated to the farmlands of Ohio, my grandfather still spoke German as a child but forgot or repressed it totally as an adult because those around him told him not to speak it in Anglo company because he would sound "ignorant". German was not a popular language in the prime years of his life between the first and second World Wars. But when I was stationed in Germany with the US Army in the early seventies, I couldn't help wondering how much richer my own culture would have been if my mother's family had kept its German cultural heritage alive, not as a means of isolation from American society but as a way of adding diversity to the cultural mix and sharing the best of one world with the other.
    This is an admirable facet of the most culturally progressive segments of the Hispanic community in the United States today (a good example of which is, perhaps, Judge Sotomayor): Their desire to be active, useful, ever-developing members of North American society, be without feeling that they must foresake and renounce their rich ethnic heritage in order to be an integral part of the diverse American mix.

  2. Dan, it's great that you mention the German influence in the US, something not normally remembered in the debates on bilingualism today -- by your grandfather's time, German was the second un-official language of large parts of the US, pretty much as Spanish is today. The German-language publishing industry (newspapers and books) was huge in the midwest. As you said, it all backlashed with WWI, when Germany became the enemy of the US.



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