Overheard on CNN.com: Please speak English
August 24th, 2011
05:39 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Please speak English

Comment of the day:

"The best thing about people who immigrated here (many years ago) was the eagerness to work hard and learn English. They deserve so much respect." –123whateveru

Respect for cheesesteak guru

Joey Vento, owner of Geno’s, a south Philadelphia cheesesteak shop, died of a heart attack on Tuesday. Besides being the owner of one of the city’s most well-known steak sandwich shops, Vento caught national attention in 2006 for a sign he placed in his restaurant urging customers to speak English.

And it seems Americans are still debating the English-only concept, but in Vento’s case, CNN.com commenters were more united.

567123 said, “So all Americans calling this man racist would go into a small town restaurant in Spain or Germany and expect the owners to understand your order in English? Or would you maybe make an effort and learn a few basics of a foreign language?”

Beezer1 said, “I live in Philly. This guy was a good man. He donated tons of cash to kids groups, most of them minorities . He loved America and Philly and hated to see what is becoming of it. His family were immigrants and assimilated to the country and had success and they came from pure poverty. He wanted to instill to all kids that the only way to get ahead is to do hard work, weather it be a job, art or school. Think about it. Which immigrant will have a better advantage: one who refuses to learn English or one who learns it?”

Daws1 said, “Philadelphia has 1.5 million people in it, and is visited by people the world over. Why didn't he make an effort to learn a foreign language?”

Coyolxauhqui responded, “Maybe he did, Daws. I never knew the guy. Maybe he just wanted people to give it a try and not expect employees at a Philly restaurant to be versed in foreign languages.”

jackhawco said, “Unlike most Americans, Joey had a set of balls and wasn't afraid to speak what he believed.”

disgustedNY said, “You need to learn to speak English to become a citizen of the USA. If you don't like that you can GTFO.”

Wlk47 responded, “Why don't you speak any Native American languages?”

medstudent72 responded, “Wlk47 – If  Native Americans had created a sovereign country complete with a constitution and governing body, then maybe we would be.”

HMA said, “I am Hispanic and I have to say that people that come to this country should learn to speak the language. I came here when I was 15 and I tried very hard to learn the English language quickly. I made sure I made friends with American kids and not just Hispanic kids. Forward 30 years and I speak actually 3 languages fluently: French, English and Spanish. I see many folks that come to this country and they just mingle with their kind and that slows down the learning process. I've known people that are here for years and still cannot speak English which is sad but it is because they do not associate themselves with English speaking folks.”

Beancrock said, “How was this guy racist? Is it really unreasonable to expect people to communicate in the local language?”

sonofgadfly responded, “What made it ‘unreasonable’ was not the expectation itself, but rather the general treatment in this country (and around the world) of people who are different. Perhaps if all people were treated more fairly - as individuals, not as stereotypes - no one would have seen that expectation as anything more than a practical matter.”

PhooBar said, “Rest in peace, Mr. Vento. You were a great American. I make it a point to eat at Gino's, and at Pat's, every time I go to Philly. I never could decide who's was the best.”

Is the U.S. adopting a new foreign policy?

With behind-the-scenes involvement in Libya, the United States may have turned a foreign-policy corner—or at least that’s what CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says. In his column Wednesday, he compared the vastly different military approaches in Iraq and Afghanistan to the current administration’s tactics.

So what did CNN.com readers think about the possibility of a new foreign policy?

James said, “The Obama Doctrine.”

Borrowfromchinapaidbyusa said, “Fareed, who should be the force for peace and liberty in the world if not the US? CNN maybe? And you actually think EU countries are now ‘more likely to be involved in the difficult process of reconstruction.’ With whose money?”

HappyModerate said, “We'll still be a global force for peace and liberty, but I don't think we should have to go it alone. Why shouldn't the other free nations share the burden? We are leaders. It is in our American nature. But being a leader doesn't mean that we have to be a lone wolf. We might be able to achieve a lot more if we work as part of team. And if we can be more effective by sharing the burdens of leadership then it would be stupid not to do it.”

drogo said, “Our foreign policy is changing because we no longer have the influence, money or power to go it alone.”

Andy said, “Obama's strategy is funding wars that others countries will fight. It's more obvious than you might think."

GoodCall said, “The US played a pivotal role in bringing democracy to Libya and help people overthrow a dictator who killed many Americans. Obama did that without losing a single American life. This is what I call a kick ass political and military success.”

Huxley said, “I hope you are right Zakaria. We've handled so many other interventions in an extremely short sighted way, such as Hungary, Cuba, Panama, Iran, and many others (did I mention Iraq and Afghanistan?).

It would be refreshing if the US started planning ahead based on a consideration of the probable outcome of their foreign policy decisions, as opposed to just doing whatever the current President felt like doing on that day."

Brian said, "’The United States is not going to have the kind of defense budget nor the national will to engage in a series of major military operations in countries that are, frankly, not vital to our national interests.’ Translation: We will only invade countries that have oil. Even Zakaria admits this – in his own devious way.”

BBob said, “Great, a new variation on how the US can meddle. How about this: just stay out of other countries' affairs. As a taxpayer, I'd prefer not one cent be spent on war in other countries unless our security is DIRECTLY affected.”

Jttaylort responded, “The money could be spent elsewhere...like Americans getting jobs, infrastructure, Social Security, Medicare, disability for our veterans, etc.”

Chip said, “A new policy would be ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Obama promised to do three years ago and has yet to deliver. So much for Hope and Change!”

Who’s following who?

On Tuesday, Facebook made changes to its privacy settings that are more in line with what Google Plus offers, changes that let users more easily choose who can see posts and photos.

So does the move signal that Facebook is under threat of serious competition?

thommcg said, “Proper, simplified privacy controls, integrated video chat from the start, (still) ad free... looks like Google+ got it right and Facebook is playing catchup now."

msacks responded, “Absolutely true, but Google+ is playing catchup by hundreds of millions of users. The more Facebook adapts to why people want Google+ to stick around, the more people don't shift to Google+ and stay with Facebook. And in the end, years from now, if I have a choice of a social network with 90% of my friends and contacts, or a social network with 25% of my friends and contacts, I'm choosing the one with the most people. In other words, the only way Google+ replaces or coexists with Facebook long term is if it continuously stays ahead of the curve, not just starts there.”

Ackadamius responded, “If you don't think Google is going to put ads on Google+ you obviously don't know how Google makes their money....ads! Advertising revenue makes up 96 percent of Google’s revenues so far in 2011. Google makes products/services to put advertising on them. That's their business model.”

pb1968 said, “If Marc Zuckerburg doesn't think his 750,000,000 subscribers will leave him in a heartbeat in mass exodus for a better user experience on G+, he ought to have a heart to heart talk with "Tom" from MySpace.”

Ackadamius responded, “For one, the comparison isn't even close to accurate. MySpace never even had 15 percent of the users Facebook has and it was never really adopted by the population as a whole. Now Facebook has entire families, friends, organizations, etc involved. If you think it is easy to convince 100 or more people in your social friend-group to leave and go to a new platform, learn it, and have the same experience as Facebook you are delusional.”

telveer said, “I am still moving to G+ – 90 percent done.”

txhermit said, “This is nothing new. I've been using this feature from Facebook for many years and have loved it. If anything, it's Google+ that copied Facebook. The only thing that Facebook is doing is making this feature more prominent for lazy people who never bothered to try it before.”

swannee responded, “Sorry, but as a software developer, if something is difficult to use, it doesn't make the users lazy when they don't use it, it means it's not a well-designed product. Same reason Apple is kicking the snot out of everybody. Make it easy, make it user-friendly. Google+ gets a big vote for me for doing a great job here. FB is great, but G+ has added in a lot of common sense improvements that are great ideas. Tech snobs are soon relegated to the scrap heap when they don't innovate around people.”

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (112 Responses)
  1. s kel

    i would love to speak another language fluently and im tolerant of others trying to learn our language here, but to make no attempt to learn the host countrys language and expet for all of the host country to speak a foreign language is crap.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. canadian in wonderful US of A

    This is a subject that hits close 2 home...im a canadian immigrant who met a mexican american four years ago. Got married and now we have a baby boy and lots of our family refuse 2 learn english and it bothers me, I k that if I moved 2 a country I would have 2 learn the languge that was spoken ther or else I would have problems with communicating and its sad that this country they dont have 2 learn english because we adadpt 2 them. I have a hard time gettin a job because wer on the tex mex border and I dont know spanish. Everywher here requires u 2 be bilingual and it is b/s 2 me. I cant speak 2 my sons great grandma and its sad 2 me that im rude for not knowing spanish when we are in usa. I do believe ther should b laws about speakin the laungauge of the country u live in. O yea the post above in spanish is pretty vulger in spanish kudos! I do know some but only the bad words, cuz at least they make me laugh!

    August 24, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angelou

      You do realize that English is the MOST spoken language but NOT the official language in the U.S. If your argument is that people should speak the language that MOST of the population is speaking then you should learn Spanish, isn't that the MOST spoken language in the Mexican American border town you live in? If you don't learn spanish, by your own account YOU are being rude you the family you chose to marry into.

      August 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AmazonGirl999

    Quit worrying about who's speaking and learning English. You immigrant-haters NEED to study a "furrin" language. Give it a decade or so, and all those outsourced employees in India or somewhere will start moving to America to get bigger homes and drive SUVs. They'll need someone to rake leaves and wash clothes, so all of you clock-punching, mouth-breathing, probably conservative English-only MONKEYS will really need have an edge over the rest of your troop if you're able to understand whatever the Hindi translation is for, "Stop guzzling beer and finish the yard!"

    August 24, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Darwin

    I don't care what language they speak as long as they're here "legally". If they're here "legally" then they have "rights", like the "right" to speak whatever language they want. .....That's "If" they're here legally. If not, they can get the #@$* out. We currently have 12 million + illegals in this country leaching off of tax paying Americans. They get Government health care and benefits that we pay for. I make $12.75 an hour and my wife stays home with our 3 year old son. I applied for health care assistance for my son, but I was denied because I make too much money. We finally qualified for about 5 months of assistance because my wife got sick. When I got the paperwork explaining how the system works I couldn't read it because over half of it was in Spanish. I graduated high school, served in the military, when to college, got a job, got married, and had a child (in that order). I did everything right and I still got scr3wed because I was born a white male in a country that doesn't take care of its own people first. At least I still have "freedom" right? Yeah, thanks for nothing.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angelou

      What degree did you get in college? I just want to make sure I don't go into that field.

      August 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darwin

      LOL! Massage Therapy. Not as much money in it as I was led to believe. Now I work for a security company. Not much money in that field either. All of the good jobs out there require a degree now, but school costs money I don't have. I've tried to get student loans, but I'm not a single mother or a minority. I'm currently in a nursing program paying for individual classes out of my own pocket. I'm getting it done one class at a time. I figure at the rate I'm going I should have my degree by about 2015. LOL!

      August 25, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angelou

      Darvin, you are going to nursing school and no one wants to give you loans? Are you sure you are not confusing loans with grants? I am sure you can get loans, you fill out the FAFSA and then they tell you how much they can give you as loans, as workstudy, and as grants, if that doesn't work you start looking for private loans, you get the money and you finish your school. If you cannot find financial aid you are not looking hard enough, I would start with your financial aid officer. Stop blaming others for what you cannot accomplish.

      August 26, 2011 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Maquark

    not too sure about this one. i'm more on the side where everyone should learn the country's language though. i haven't really experienced the part where i had to try to talk to someone when i had no idea what they were saying lol. hopefully i won't...

    August 24, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Haha

    @Amazon999: So if I visited France or Spain then I should lawyer up when they bring me the wrong meal, or give me the room without the jacuzzi? I know that if I visit anywhere that doesn't speak English then I should have at the very least a translator. I got a 3.7 GPA an college (not fluff courses) and am an independent. Do you know how costly it is catering to every little crybaby that gets a lawyer? I know a bit of Spanish, but there are many people who grew up before a language was required material at school. I know many people foreign and domestic who are allergic to school. Why don't foreigners take the FREE language courses offered by the gracious tax payers, so they can assimilate faster and achieve the American dream?

    August 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angelou

      The only flaw with your argument is that in France the official language is French, in Spain the official language is Spanish, but here in America English is NOT the official language. Me out of courtesy speak english when there are others who don't speak my language present, but, that is MY CHOICE, not because some...one... told me what I could or could not speak.

      August 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Haha

    Typo. "In" college. 🙂

    August 24, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. peeple

    oh my gosh, heaven forbit we lean a foreign language, somebody might laugh at us, no wait...who said "nothing cures ignorance more; than travel?

    August 25, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. moe

    ebonics is the way. it be easy to do learning and am is easier to learn how to be doing that for spanish and the english.

    August 25, 2011 at 3:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kathleen

    I am just plain out tired of immigrants and what they do with our money. My boyfriend and I live in Erie and I just want to run away. Since we moved into this apt. the rest of my block is people with no respect, We cannot leave the door open because they are all outside speaking spanish. It is hard to concentrate and do anything here. They have absolutely no respect for us. At first we tried to welcome them. Now they think they own the street. They scream their language, have parties, and just flat out disrespect us. When we try to go somewhere they just stand in the middle of the street. My boyfriend and I have low income and barely afford anything. This people don't work and they have nice furniture, 2 sometimes 3 cars, computer, nice big tv, and anything else you can think of. Now how can they afford that if they don't work. Hmm, government money. We need a lot of new stuff like a couch and a bunch of little stuff. Hmm we don't have money even though we work in America and have respect for it by speaking English. I'm flat out tired of people taking advantage of this country and the presidents from allowing all this to happen. If you want to live in this country learn English and have RESPECT for the people in it. When they don't respect America why should we give them respect in return. Mind you I have friends of all races so it is not discrimination. My friends respect this country. They SPEAK ENGLISH AND WORK. Even though they have come from different countries they respect America.

    August 25, 2011 at 4:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Angelou

      Kathleen, you should move somewhere else where you feel more comfortable. Have you ever heard of Craigslist, if you are poor you can get stuff from there, cheap. I can't say where your neighbors are getting their stuff but to assume that it was from the government is simply ignorant. Other sources for cheap stuff is ebay, goodwill, angieslist, salvation army, your local church. Stop being so ignorant and racist and make your way in the world, get the things you need, but do it without so much hatred and discrimination. Believe me, if you move to a trailer park, you will hate it there too, its not just Hispanics, its a poor and low education thing.

      August 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darwin

      Angelou – I think you COMPLETELY missed the point of Kathleen’s post. She shouldn't have to move or buy cheap cr@p on Ebay. She's deserves the American dream and government aid because she's a tax paying American. Why should we cater to them anyway? They're called illegals for a reason, they're here illegally. To put it very bluntly, that also makes them criminals. I'm tired of hearing about their "rights" being violated; when in all actuality they don't have any to begin with. It's very easy to ignore the facts and simply label someone as an ignorant racist. She did come off as either one in my opinion, so try to make your point without insulting people. I personally don't hate them either. In fact, if I could leech off of the government and not pay taxes I’d do it too. I don’t blame them at all; I blame our government for allowing it to happen in the first place. Although, I’m kind of getting tired of them climbing in my garbage cans at 5 in the morning scrounging for Social Security information and old TV’s.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angelou

      That's funny, Kathleen nor I ever said the word "illegal" in our posts. You seem to have a lot of anger in you. Do Not take it out on your wife and child, you would be wrong there too.

      August 26, 2011 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
  11. Kathleen?

    None of them who "own the streets" are fluent in ebonics rather than english? Who am you think you is?

    August 25, 2011 at 4:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mohammed Ben (formerly Ben)

    Who am you think you is? What it be like this fo? If you axe me, I might be fo sayin' evaboddy be fa loinin' ebonics. Dem brown folk be takin' welfares moe.

    August 25, 2011 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. Cryp's 'n Bloods

    We be foe hearin' ya bra. Just aint right dat dey not be foaced ta loin ebonics. If ya be axeing me, evaboddy be fa loinin' how ams to do a diffant langage.

    August 25, 2011 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    It's not hard to learn a new language. One has to be extremely lazy to avoid learning a tongue that surrounds him, even with the excuse of proudly and willfully maintaining a precious 'cultural" heritage.
    Many of us have studied a new language in school and failed to maintain it through use. I have.
    Actually, I'd be happy if citizens born in this country would just bother to learn the English language that they approximate every day.
    I once played concerts with a household-word famous violinist who really spoke no language properly. I guess he didn't have to, as he had all of the money and women anybody could want.

    August 25, 2011 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. the prophet

    America only exists with all its modernity especially water systems thanks to Italians and Irish, whom build roads sewer systems, infrastructures and enterprises, showed Colonialists how to run things, Learned from the ancient Rome, Athens, Egyptians. Then the Italians were called Mfiosi, G..pigs, and so on, new generations Americans are unappreciative of this history, shame on you for America.

    August 25, 2011 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
    • bud

      They didn't do it to help America. They did it because it was their JOB. They needed to eat. And it was not designed by minorities as they went along.

      August 25, 2011 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
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