Sunday, January 4, 2009
Czeslaw Milosz, a Lithuanian poet and Nobel winner in 1980 for literature, said, "Language is the only homeland." It's an apt observation, mostly. The language we count and curse in is the language of the heart. Two of Barack Obama's cabinet appointees delivered parts of their acceptance speeches in Spanish. Hilda Solis, a California member of the HofR, will be Labor Secretary. Bill Richardson, New Mexico governor, was gonna be Commerce Secretary. The Spanish messages were innocuous enough, but that's the sort of thing that runs a lot of anglophone Americans nuts, taking it as a declaration of membership in a club where they speak Spanish, an annoyance like 'Press one for English' when you dial a governmental office. Richardson today withdrew from his appointment after it came out that a grand jury was looking into his possible involvement in financial hankypanky about state contracts. He didn't say adios, just goodbye, all in English.