Idiocy Breaks Out in Louisiana

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According to reports by the Associated Press and Fox News, at Ellender High School in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, co-valedictorians and cousins Cindy and Hue Vo each briefly addressed their immigrant parents, who are not fluent in English, in Vietnamese during their valedictory speeches. Why is this in the news? Because school board member Ricky Pitre objects. For reasons that are not reported, he thinks that there is something wrong with speaking a little bit of another language and proposes to institute a rule that graduation speeches be entirely in English.

English-only advocates like to claim that immigrants refuse to learn English. Here are two kids of immigrant parents who have learned English well enough to be valedictorians and this jackass wants to rain on their parade? For shame! Why is it that school boards attract idiots like shit attracts flies?

Xin anh hãy nhận những lời chúc mừng của tôi Cindy Vo và Hue Vo!

(I hope I've go this right. Regrettably, my Vietnamese is no doubt much poorer than their English.)


  1. D. B. Propert said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

    One wonders if the level of outrage would have been the same if the foreign language used had been Latin or Greek.

    Now that they have a group looking into use of foreign languages in commencement exercises and also looking into prayer, I would suggest that they only allow prayer in foreign langauges, preferably only classical dead tongues (e.g. Aramaic, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Classical Arabic, Ancient Persian, etc.).

  2. Bunny Mellon said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

    i completely agree with you, Bill.

    The USA is very lucky to have people living there who speak Vietnamese. Anyone who would stop these kids from speaking whatever language they like whenever they like has a bit of a problem. My guess is that Ricky Pitre only speaks English, and he is frightened of not fitting in when other languages are spoken. He should make an effort to learn another language, then he would feel better about himself and stop bugging other people.

  3. Melissa K Fox said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

    Oh, what a good idea. I'm sure everyone in town will be glad never to hear another aphorism in Latin ever again, either.

    What a jerk.

  4. David Margolies said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 2:42 pm

    So I suppose they do not sing 'Gaudeamus igitur'.

    And what is with this 'e pluribus unum' s**t on my coins?

  5. Bobbie said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 2:47 pm

    In May 2008, Ricky Pitre and his cohorts voted to eliminate a 20-day summer program to provide enrichment to children who had just failed first grade. The program was continued in spite of his nay vote. According to an article at, 80% of last year's graduates of the program earned passing grades in second grade. Sounds like the other citizens of the school district are much more sensible than ol' Ricky!

  6. Philip said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 3:16 pm

    Of course Ricky Pitre is an idiot, but he's also a politician who knows what the hot-button issues are.

    Today's LA Times has a story about a John McCain town hall meeting in Pipersville, PA. An member of the audience asked him, "Why, as an American, do I have to push a button to speak English or hear English?"

    "And then you go into Lowe's," she continued, "and it says 'entrada.' And every utility bill you get has got a foreign language on it."

  7. Chris said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 3:23 pm

    "I don't like them addressing in a foreign language. They should be in English."
    Someone who puts together sentences like these probably shouldn't be dictating how the English language is used in public schools.

  8. Laura Brown said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

    Just how does Mr Pitre intend to enforce this idiotic rule? Will offenders be somehow un-graduated?

  9. TLB said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 3:34 pm

    I'm absolutely positive that Bunny Mellon has thought about this as hard as she can and has pin-pointed the only reason someone would be concerned with, if not relatively minor things like the above, then with things like this.

  10. Marc Naimark said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 3:40 pm

    Gonna go out on a limb and guess that the guy's name if of French origin, in which case, it means "clown".

  11. James A. Crippen said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

    Given that he lives in Terrebonne Parish, also known as Paroisse Terrebonne, I wonder what the 10.66% Cajun French speaking population think of his English-only movement.

    The census data indicates that there are more American Indians (5.29%) in Paroisse Terrebonne than there are Asians (0.81%), so I wonder how Mr. Pitre would feel about the next year’s valedictorian addressing people in Mobilian Jargon or Koasati.

  12. James said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

    TLB, WTF???
    How did what Bunny Mellon said imply that nobody could have non-trivial objections to something else, happening at USC?

    I don't get it.
    Unless you were just trying to score some kind of political point; in that case, I get it.

  13. JBL said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

    I think Crippen's on the right track. Next year's valedictorians need to give more speeches in languages that are actually native to this continent, like Koasati. Or Cherokee. Or Choctaw. Or Klingon.

  14. Sili said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 4:16 pm

    I see I've been beaten to it (kinda), but presumably noöne will graduate summa cum laude or magna ditto at these future jingoïstic ceremonies.

  15. jd said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 5:03 pm

    Ricky Pitre would probably have been cool with it had these two kids been speaking in tongues.

  16. Christian Campbell said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

    These are the lowest quality comments I've ever seen left on Language Log. "Har har, guy's an idiot, let's make fun of his name."

    Let's rather keep our heads and contribute commentary that will make the case for someone who's prepared to hear why his xenophobia should be reconsidered.

  17. Bunny Mellon said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 5:32 pm

    @BLT, TLB, or whatever
    This 'make English the official language' kind of crap, is quite important in a way. Even though it's an 'issue' that's only meant to appeal to very, very stupid people it's a bit embarrassing for the rest of the United States, I mean Bush and Co. aren't even out of the door yet. And, by the way, I'm not a 'she'.

  18. Hot Tramp said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 5:34 pm

    I think most of us are so flummoxed at this xenophobic stupidity to comment on it coherently, Christian. I mean, asking a Presidential candidate about telephone menus in other languages? Forbidding bright, hard-working teens from speaking a snippet or two of Vietnamese at a school function? It boggles the mind, and a boggled mind has trouble formulating a rational, persuasive response.

    Frankly, I think the onus of explanation is on the anti-literate, anti-immigrant people who fear those who speak differently from them.

  19. jd said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

    ". . . a boggled mind has trouble formulating a rational, persuasive response."

    To some forms of idiocy, there really is no high-minded, rational response — or any such response lends legitimacy to the idiocy. This set of comments is just fine, Christian.

  20. Bill Poser said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

    "Just how does Mr Pitre intend to enforce this idiotic rule? Will offenders be somehow un-graduated?"

    I'm not sure, but if the diplomas are given out after the speeches, which I think is typical, they could withhold the diplomas of non-compliant speakers. I think I've heard of that being done in other cases. Or as soon as a foreign word is detected, storm troopers could tackle the speaker.

    With regard to the use of Latin phrases like summa cum lauda, my high school did not have such honors, and my impression is that it isn't typical in US highschools, only colleges.

  21. Andy J said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

    I didn't realise that the first amendment had a footnote to it saying that speech had to be in English before it could be considered free. Learn something new everyday!

  22. dr pepper said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 6:35 pm

    Reminds me of an article on NPR a few years back about vietnamese assimilation in american schools. One of the issues was the desire to have an "american" name because "Tran", "Minh" and "Van" sounded funny to their classmates. I wanted to scream back at them that "Tran", "Minh" and "Van" became american as soon as anyone with those names arrived.

  23. Meesher said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 6:38 pm

    The first thing that struck me when I read this was that there would be near-universally accepted, "legitimate" American languages, like Cajun French, that would necessarily be affected by any English-only rules in that part of Louisiana. Thanks to James Crippen for the numbers.

  24. Lee said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

    Unfortunately, it seems that xenophonic idiots like the one at the McCain town hall and Ricky Pitre are not alone. A friend of mine reconfigured her company's voice mail system so that after an initial greeting in English, those who wished to continue in Spanish could press a button to do so. Nearly half the incoming calls hung up during the brief Spanish interlude. This cut their overal call volume by a significant amount.

  25. Don Campbell said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 7:06 pm

    @dr pepper:
    Reminds me of an article on NPR a few years back about vietnamese assimilation in american schools. One of the issues was the desire to have an "american" name because "Tran", "Minh" and "Van" sounded funny to their classmates. I wanted to scream back at them that "Tran", "Minh" and "Van" became american as soon as anyone with those names arrived.

    I completely agree, that "Tran", "Minh" and "Van" should not and do not sound funny.

    However, there can be, IMHO, valid reasons for individual Asian students (Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.) to make a personal switch to a Western name (as Aussies refer to it) when they immigrate to Australia (US etc.).

    Based on my friends immigrating from SE Asia, most of those who have chosen a Western name have done so because their given name is quite difficult to pronounce correctly for English speakers. So the choice is made for the convenience of not having strangers consistently mangle the pronunciation of their given name.

    You can argue that the rest of Australians need better education in pronunciation of Asian languages, and you're probably right. But for each of these immigrants it is a personal choice, and my policy is to call people whatever they ask me to call them.

  26. Bill Poser said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

    I didn't realise that the first amendment had a footnote to it saying that speech had to be in English before it could be considered free. Learn something new everyday!

    Andy J,

    I think that the problem here is that school officials do have some authority to regulate speech at official functions – it isn't the same as if the students were speaking purely on their own behalf in an open forum. Personally, I think that they should have very wide lattitude, but the legal situation is complicated.

  27. Therese said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

    Cajun and Creole were both already affected by Louisiana's previous rule (from the 20s-60s, wasn't it?) that English be our only language. My parents and grandparents still feel ashamed when speaking it in public; my grandmother used to admonish me that French was our "home language" when I'd use it, and would rant if she would hear it spoken by others in public (even if they weren't speaking to her). Mr Pitre strikes me as one who was likely also raised under this ruling and foolishly thinks that it was a good thing.

  28. FRD said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 8:37 pm

    Well, as someone who lives in New Orleans, I just had to post a comment on this one. I called a friend of mine who is from Houma and it turns out that she was at this very event; her little brother was graduating. She tells me that these two girls are smart, outgoing, and funny. They gave their entire address in English, told the audience that they would like to say something to their parents, said it in Vietnamese, and then all of the graduating students in the audience started laughing.
    The impression my friend got was that they were laughing because “Vietnamese sounds funny if you’re not used to hearing it.” My understanding of the state of the educational system in much of the deep south is this: after desegregation, private schools opened up everywhere to cater to the white parents who did not want their children going to school with non-white students and that tradition has persisted to the present. For example, my friend said that she, ostensibly, only knew two black people before she turned 18 and moved to New Orleans.
    In response to D.B Propert’s comment, if it had been French and not Vietnamese, this would have never become an issue. In fact, French is taught to many/most elementary school students in the State and there are movements to promote the preservation of French in Louisiana ( I could go on and on.
    The point is that Mr. Pitre’s comments are fueled by a biased, prejudiced and (whether he is aware of it or not) racist view on what is ‘normal’ and what is 'not normal’ which is fueled by the de facto segregation that is still alive and well in pockets of The South.
    In the end, the way I see it is, yeah, Pitre's an idiot but he's a product of his environment – what do you expect?

  29. Bertilo Wennergren said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 11:35 pm

    "In the end, the way I see it is, yeah, Pitre's an idiot but he's a product of his environment – what do you expect?"

    I expect human beings that possess a brain to be able and willing to actually use it. Being a product of your environment is not an excuse for refusing to use your brain. Anyone that is able to connect two brain cells can understand why Pitre's actions are abysmally stupid, no matter what their environments are. Pitre should be able to understand that himself – i.e. if he has more than one brain cell. Somehow I doubt it.

  30. k said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 11:57 pm

    OK. Being the product of a white-bread American and her Chinese husband, perhaps I have a different perspective on this whole issue. Don't believe I'm xenophobic, but I have a hard time understanding why Spanish speakers are receiving all these accommodations in signage, phone menus, etc., but my dad never did when he arrived. Why? Why wasn't it important to give him signs in his own language? … in fact, I still can't find a sign in Chinese within about 100 miles of our home.

    So yeah, I sort of object to accommodations for non-English speakers in current society because if you're a non-Spanish speaker, there is no accommodation whatsoever for you. And that's why I have some understanding about why some folks just can't wrap their brains around Spanish phone menus. They look around and don't see an appreciable increase in Mexican or Central American-appearing people … there can even be more Asian faces around .. yet the recorded phone messages and Lowe's signs are in Spanish. It doesn't make much sense.

    Like it or not, this kind of illogic can lead to silly statements by people who should know better.

    I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying.

  31. Bill Poser said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 11:58 pm


    Thanks for the info. I don't know about this particular place, but I recall there having been a very nasty reaction on the part of many Louisiana whites to the Vietnamese refugees when they arrived on the coast: graffiti written on their homes, fishing boats burned, beatings and killings,etc.

  32. dr pepper said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 2:39 am

    @K, i don't know where you're from, but when i lived in Orange County, the streets were awash in chinese signs, as well as vietnamese and korean ones. And most of the official services had multiple languages, not just english and spanish.

  33. M. Oxley said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 2:49 am

    While I would love it if we had all signage in every language spoken in the US, I imagine that's a practical impossibility. If you look at the 2000 census data, there are 28 million Spanish speakers in the US compared with only 2 million Chinese speakers. It makes sense to gear signage to the largest number of people, so it follows that there would be more signage in Spanish than Chinese. However, the bus signs in Seattle have Chinese translations, my voter registration card says I can request a Chinese version, and I think my utility bills had Chinese translations as well. It all depends on what region of the United States you're in.

  34. Andy J said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 2:52 am

    @ Bill Poser, Re the first amendment.
    Thanks for that. I am British and temporarily forgot that, stereotypically, Americans don't get irony. I had hoped my last sentence would have signalled the tongue-in-cheek nature of my post, which when treated as such, was not worthy of your serious and considered reply.

  35. Bunny Mellon said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 3:56 am

    pepper said, 'when i lived in Orange County, the streets were awash…'

    SF, too.

  36. Sili said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 4:39 am

    Way to ruin a joke by not knowing much of the US school system. My apologies.

    Oooh – shibby preview feature!

  37. Kate said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 8:03 am

    What in God's name is this man doing anywhere near any kind of educational facility? I have never been so tempted to leave an obscene comment on Language Log!

  38. FRD said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 8:04 am

    I suspect that this thread is essentially done but I feel compelled to post this one little bit.
    Bertilo, rightfully, criticized the last sentence in my post. I didn't mean to imply that all people from Houma are Pitres. In fact, my friend from Houma said she teared up when they addressed their parents. So there – a Houma-born brain in use! And I'm sure there are many other people from Houma who think Pitre's an idiot. That being said, Pitre, I imagine, also has some supporters on this issue. More than he would if he were in, say, San Francisco or Amherst (which was the point behind my post). I guess I just don't know what to say about a person like this beyond the comments that have already been made so I made a flippant little comment at the end to wrap it up.

    "I expect human beings that possess a brain to be able and willing to actually use it."

    You're an optimist. I agree with the "able" but to expect that people are willing to use their brains . . . good for you! I gave up on that a while ago.

    Oh, and Bill – I don't know about Houma, in particular, either (I'm not originally from Louisiana). I'll ask my friend and post her response if it looks like you/anyone else is still reading this thread.

  39. Bill Poser said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

    I suspect that there are a couple of factors at play here. One is xenophobia or racism or whatever exactly it is. The other is that many school board members and school administrators are control freaks. Any deviation from what they consider normal bothers them and they react by trying to assert still greater control.

  40. Melissa S said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

    I am working on a Public Education Campaign on Long Island entitled, "The Truth About Immigrants," which endeavors to break down the myth and rhetoric surrounding immigrants and immigration. One of our goals is to get the 60% (according to a Bloomberg/NYT poll) in favor of opportunities for citizenship to speak out, as in this thread, but more importantly, to strongly urge their Senators and Congressman, Democrats and Republicans alike, to pass comprehensive legislation for immigration reform. They have failed in the past and enabled part of the public to hijack the debate. While you've got your pen and paper out write CNN and your local news when they feature the Minutemen or FAIR, or call the undocumented "illegal."

  41. chris h. said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 1:37 pm

    I find it very disturbing that there is a member of a school board that would be so foolish as to think that someone who was fluent in more than one language and could address an audience in two languages or more should not be praised rather than chastised. For many students in this country, who are raised in households where only English is spoken, it is a struggle to learn a required foreign language in school. Those who live in bi-lingual homes are able to communicate with many more people. What a gift! And students in this country who master a second or third, etc. languge are certainly very talented and well rounded because they know not only the language of a people but something of their culture as well. When are we going to look at the gifts that others bring to this nation and stop criticizing them for wanting to be a part of this country which is, by the way, a big conglomeration of languages and cultures from all over the world. On a personal note, I feel cheated that my grandfather who came from Norway as a teenager, learned English well before he married and never taught his children his native tongue.
    What a beautiful tribute to the hard work of those Vietnamese parents who nurtured such good students that were valedictorians at graduation. And congratulations to those students that they acknowledged their parents contribution in their accomplishments. SHAME, SHAME , MR PITRE !!!

  42. Bob said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

    Melissa S:

    You object to "call[ing] the undocumented 'illegal.'" I suppose that's a valid position: people are neither legal nor illegal, they are people. But do you object to saying that a person has "immigrated into the United States illegally" or that he or she is "in the United States illegally"? Seems to me those are valid locutions, at least to folks who believe that there is a distinction between legal immigration (i.e., done according to the laws established for that purpose) and illegal immigration. Melissa, do accept that distinction?

  43. Kym said,

    July 4, 2008 @ 12:34 am

    This is 100% xenophobia. Specifically, they are afraid that people who speak a language they don't understand are doing it in order to make fun of them or take advantage of them, to get away with something they couldn't in English. This has been the primary reason I've come across in the South, anyway.

  44. Stephen Jones said,

    July 4, 2008 @ 1:33 am

    —–"I am British and temporarily forgot that, stereotypically, Americans don't get irony."——-

    They do, but as with steaks, only when well done.

  45. Laurence D said,

    July 4, 2008 @ 4:18 am

    I recently graduated from my high school (in Ohio) as the valedictorian and I gave part of my speech in Romanian. No one objected to this, and no one on the school board made an ass of himself like Pitre. I guess this says something about the IQs of the local school board members and the linguistic tolerance of the local population, yet I wonder if I would have gotten a different reaction if I'd used Vietnamese or Iraqi Arabic.

    Anyway, way to go Cindy and Hue Vo! From one valedictorian to two others, don't ever let any twit like Pitre give you some "English-only" nonsense.

  46. Bea said,

    July 4, 2008 @ 1:51 pm

    Unfortunately this doesn't surprise me, I live in U.S (and am Brazilian)and speak in Portuguese with my mom. We've come across some people who told us, in a rather rude tone, to "learn English," even though they had no idea whether we knew English or not. We both know how to speak it, but prefer speaking in Portuguese with each other. Of course we speak in English when we are talking to Americans…

    I used to work at a café and had to train some people, because they spoke Spanish better than English, and I can speak in Spanish, I trained them in Spanish, the result was that some of the customers didn't like when I said a word or two in Spanish and the manager banned other languages there. We couldn't even say "bye" in other languages…

  47. Ollock said,

    July 4, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

    @dr pepper, Don: Seconded on Asian immigrants choosing English names. I've found that it's common even for Chinese people who have never left China (but have an interest in going abroad) to choose English names. This occasionally leads to some laughs when someone inexpert in the language
    chooses an inappropriate name. Of course, reciprocally, I understand it's also fairly common for foreigners living in China to unofficially go by Chinese names.

    I don't know much about Vietnam or other places, but I will note that the practice is not nearly as common for Japanese speakers — likely because of the pronunciation thing (Japanese isn't likely to be as badly mangled by English speakers as Chinese is — particularly when reading romanizations without prior knowledge of pronunciation). I've seen Koreans with English names, but not as commonly as Chinese (and I have no idea on pronunciation in Korean, so I can't really tell if that's a factor).


    Oxley is right — there are indeed more Spanish speakers around than Chinese speakers. Looking around at faces might not help you discern this for a few reasons:

    1) There are many Spanish speakers that don't look stereotypically "Latino". Many of them will look very european (particularly those from Spain and Argentina, but many other places as well), and even those with a few features might blend in pretty well if they are wearing very American-styled clothing.

    2) Quite a few language communities might have "Asian" features such as epicanthic folds. And of course, many people with those features may be monolingual English speakers, just as many people with stereotypically Hispanic features might be English speakers.

    3) Perceptual bias: Unless you are carefully counting and recording these features according to strict criteria, you're likely to misremember the results such that they fit your preconceptions.

  48. Antoine Cassar said,

    July 5, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

    Ricky Pitre's reaction is truly disgraceful. How common is his attitude in the U.S. ? It wouldn't have been unheard of in England around fifteen years ago, but thankfully times have changed.

    I suggest Pitre be tied to a chair and forced to listen to a dose of multilingual poetry. That will have him wriggling!

  49. Aaron Davies said,

    July 6, 2008 @ 9:57 pm

    I find the intolerance of tolerance advocates to be, as usual, staggering.

  50. John Tran said,

    July 7, 2008 @ 3:02 am

    My thinking is that you're in America and Americans speak English. Let's not go crazy and promote linguistic diversity in the interest of masquerading your supposedly "open-minded" liberal ideals.

    Two supporting reasons why Ricky Pitre's objection is somewhat valid:

    (1) What about the other languages? Why are we limiting ourselves to Vietnamese? What about Spanish (oh wait this already happening)? What about French, German, Greek? Surely there is a Finnish student somewhere in the Louisiana school system?

    (2) What's next? Let's celebrate diversity with ethnic apparels? I triple-dare any of you who commented above to go to a job interview in your tribal "colorful" clothes. For me, I'll stick to my boring suit and tie. Oh, btw, don't forget to jive with your future boss and show off your ebonic skills during the job interview….

    I bet if there is a valedictorian who has the fortitude to call out Al Gore on his global warming scam, y'all be trashing the kid, too.

    Funny how the most liberal-minded folks who espouses cultural diversity happens to be the most uptight about social and structural norms, and needless to say anal retentive about law-and-order.

  51. Laurence D said,

    July 7, 2008 @ 8:56 am

    "(1) What about the other languages? Why are we limiting ourselves to Vietnamese? What about Spanish (oh wait this already happening)? What about French, German, Greek? Surely there is a Finnish student somewhere in the Louisiana school system?"

    I don't think any of us who have made comments objecting to Pitre's statements are "limiting ourselves to Vietnamese." Spanish and French have both been brought up, and those of us who object to Pitre's comments would object no matter what language had been used in the valedictorians' speech.

  52. Ollock said,

    July 7, 2008 @ 1:37 pm

    I'm not quite sure if Mr. Tran is being serious. Take a look:

    "My thinking is that you're in America and Americans speak English. Let's not go crazy and promote linguistic diversity in the interest of masquerading your supposedly "open-minded" liberal ideals."

    The idea that "Americans speak English" is an obvious oversimplification, and I'm not sure how a regular reader of this blog would subscribe to that illusion. Also the rather silly-looking attack using all the proper buzzwords is a standard satirical technique.

    "What about the other languages? Why are we limiting ourselves to Vietnamese?"

    Vietnamese is hardly an obvious language for us to be "limiting" ourselves. Most discussions on this occur with Spanish — which Mr. Tran actually points out himself ["What about Spanish (oh wait this already happening)?"]. Also, he mentions French, when the original article frequently pokes at the hypocrisy that many of the objectors here are descendants of French speakers in an area where many people do speak a variety of French — among many other languages. Why would a serious argument undermine itself this way?

    It's only when I get to (2) that I start to think he _might_ be serious, since it involves a pretty big distraction from the issue by introducing a social context that has nothing to do with valedictory speeches. And the bit about "global warming" is very specuous — I've never seen any opinion on climate change expressed on Language Log, I presume because it's considered beyond the scope of the blog. Then again, why would a serious poster throw in such obvious non-sequiturs?

    And of course, the conclusion attacking supposed "liberal hypocrisy" — that's supposed to be funny, right?

    I dunno.


    (Sorry to violate the Comments policy — but I couldn't resist it.)

  53. Draven said,

    July 15, 2008 @ 7:29 am

    People like John Tran make we wonder why some Vietnamese in the USA have to be conservative *peep*'s and against diversity and such? Try as they might, they will never be accepted by their beloved Republican party, which doesn't like any skin colour other than white. Self-loathing at its best.

    Thank you Bill for such a post. Oh and the "anh" in your Vietnamese sentence should be "các bạn".

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