My goal to learn something new every day
As English continues to grow in popularity around the world, it is somewhat understandable that people might feel the language is creeping into their lives a little too much. While reading about ‘language facts’ on the Edudemic site today, I found a snippet of information about a Japanese man who tried to sue the national broadcaster NHK because of the amount of loan words from English being used by the station. Today’s post is all about people who have tried to sue over an issue related to the English language.
I’ll start with the story that turned me on to today’s post. The story is from 2013, and involves Hoji Takahashi, a 71-year-old man (at the time) from the Chebu region of Japan. Mr Takahashi complained that Japan was becoming too Americanised and was not happy with the amount of English loanwords that were being used on TV by NHK. He felt that the broadcaster was irresponsible because it could have used Japanese equivalents, but chose not to. Mr Takahashi had tried to claim that the use of English words caused him emotional distress and requested 1.41 million yen in damages ($14,300 at the time). Mr Takahashi was unsuccessful in his claim after the judge ruled that it was impossible to show that the use of loanwords could cause emotional distress.
Another story from 2013, but this time about the lack of English. The story involves just over 20,000 English language learners in California who weren’t receiving adequate English language instruction. Under US law, schools have to teach English to non-English speaking students at schools. However, the American Civil Liberties Union found that more than 20,000 students were not receiving English language tuition. The ACLU claimed that because of this, many students were being held back or receiving poor grades because they couldn’t understand what was going on in class. The case went to court in July 2014, at which time the Department of Justice gave its backing to the ACLU. The ruling, which was delivered in August 2014, found in favour of the ACLU’s claim and said that the state did have an obligation to provide English language instruction to the English language students.
This story from 2014 revolves around a metal and plastic manufacturer in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The company fired a group of Asian and Hispanic workers because they did not speak English at work. The government found out and decided to sue because forcing people to speak English violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that the 1964 law protects employees from discrimination based on national origin. According to the EEOC, this includes the linguistic characteristics of their national origin. The Green Bay company claimed that the English only rule was necessary, but the EEOC said that many of these ‘rules’ were just superficial and used to cover up discrimination. An attorney for the EEOC said that requiring employees to speak English fluently would amount to discrimination when it was not necessary for employees to be able to speak English for “safe and effective job performance.”
In 2014, a French-speaking couple from Canada tried to sue the national airline over a number of different complaints, including not being served in French. The couples problems started when they ordered a 7-Up, but were given a Sprite by the English-speaking flight attendant. The couple complained to the official languages commissioner that they were spoken to in English, not French, when checking in, and that the announcements at the baggage pick-up area were in English only. The couple were initially successful, and were awarded $12,000 in damages. However, the airline appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, who overturned the lower court’s ruling. The Supreme Court said that an apology from the airline would be enough.
Source: Huffington Post
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