Monday, June 05, 2006


No More Geno's Philly Cheesesteaks For Me.

English Only?

Editorial | Here's the latest word from Geno's

The customer is always right? Not at Geno's Steaks in South Philadelphia.

Belly up to its counter and order a cheesesteak in a language other than English, and you'll walk away hungry. Fromage-avec? Fugheddaboudit.

It seems that Joseph Vento, Geno's owner, feels strongly that everyone in this country ought to speak English - even if they're tourists from faraway climes looking for that fabled Philly cheesesteak fix.

Vento insists his customers order in English. No pointing at the menu items. Speak English, a sign at Vento's popular, curbside counter reads.

This comes from a man whose Italian-born grandparents spoke limited English. Talk about irony thicker than Cheez Whiz.

In the heated debate over immigration, many native-born Americans who are proud of their immigrant ancestors' struggle to become citizens - and, yes, their willingness to learn English - ask this question: Why can't this new wave play by the rules? Well, for one thing, in decades long ago, the rules of the game were different.

As historians note, the nation welcomed just about any European immigrant up until the early 20th century. No excusing those who arrive illegally today, but newcomers back then faced fewer legal hurdles.

Were the nation to "go back to the 19th century, and play by those rules," as Vento suggests, citizenship would be within easier reach for many of those whom some Americans are now so eager to deport.

As for that language barrier, no matter how halting a recent immigrant's command, the usual progression is that their children will be able someday to order a Geno's steak-with in fluent English.

That is, if boneheaded policies don't drive Geno's out of business first.

couldn't disagree with you more...
I applaude Geno's owner and hope more business owners follow suit. This is America and our language is ENGLISH!! Enough of catering to the liberal Democrats who are selling out our Country and OUR HERITAGE!! NO MORE street signs in Any other language...just ENGLISH!!
Yeah! Our heritage is under attack! We need to change "El Paso" to "the paso", "Los Angeles" to "the Angels", etc.

While we are at it we need to change the names of Waukegan Illinois and change Seminole county in Florida to "cracker" county or something more suitable.

Crap..."new york" is named after a foreign city.....maybe we should change that too.

Oh shit...most of our English words are derived from Latin and other romance languages! We must purge them all! All we will be left with is "pure" English words, created right here in the old U.S. of A!

ok, anonymous....i think you get my point. If not, I shall be happy to taunt you a second time.
Like Geno said, if you can't speak english you can't read the sign anyway!
Somadude is kind of an idiot, isn't he?
anonymous i warned you! Now I shall taunt you a second time!

Geno and your kind are xenophobes. You probably don't know what that means.

I suggest you look it up you ignorant twit....
Man anonymous you really have gotten it right! I agree! No more selling out our HERITAGE OF ENGLISH. Like this for example:

The U.S. has long been the destination of many immigrants. From the mid 19th century on, the nation had large numbers of residents who spoke little or no English, and throughout the country state laws, constitutions, and legislative proceedings appeared in the languages of politically important immigrant groups. There have been bilingual schools and local newspapers in such languages as German, Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Greek, Polish, Swedish, Romanian, Czech, Japanese, Yiddish, Welsh, Cantonese, Bulgarian, etc., despite opposing English-only laws that, for example, illegalized church services, telephone conversations, and even conversations in the street or on railway platforms in any language other than English, until the first of these laws was ruled unconstitutional in 1923 (Meyer v. Nebraska). Currently, Asian languages account for the majority of languages spoken in immigrant communities: Korean, various Chinese languages, Hindi, Telugu, Vietnamese, and Tagalog. Typically, immigrant languages tend to be lost through assimilation within a few generations, though there are a couple groups such as the Cajuns (French), Pennsylvania Dutch (German), and the original settlers of the Southwest (Spanish) who have maintained their languages for centuries.

According to the 2000 census [5], the main immigrant/ex-colonial languages by number of speakers older than 5 are:

1. Spanish - 28 million
2. Chinese languages - 2.0 million + (mostly Cantonese speakers, with a growing group of Mandarin speakers)
3. French - 1.6 million
4. German - 1.4 million (High German) + German dialects like Hutterite German, Texas German, Pennsylvania Dutch, Plautdietsch + Yiddish
5. Tagalog - 1.2 million
6. Vietnamese - 1.01 million
7. Italian - 1.01 million
8. Korean - 890 thousand
9. Russian - 710 thousand
10. Polish - 670 thousand
11. Arabic - 610 thousand
12. Portuguese - 560 thousand
13. Japanese - 480 thousand
14. French Creole - 450 thousand
15. Greek - 370 thousand
16. Hindi - 320 thousand
17. Persian - 310 thousand
18. Urdu - 260 thousand
19. Gujarati - 240 thousand
20. Armenian - 200 thousand

These damn hippy liberal communists and their spanish invasion are going to overrun us and force us god fearing 'Mericans to have to learn a second language.

History shows how multiculturalism has destroyed our "Heritage."
I say if Geno wants to be retarded and turn away 50 million customers. Along with anyone who visits from a foreign country, let him.

The free market will take care of idiots like him.

Hugs and Kisses,
and furthermore....

I burst my pimples at you, and call your taunting a silly thing, you tiny-brained wiper of other people's bottoms!

I wave my private parts at your ugly aunties, you cheesy lot of second-hand electric donkey-bottom biters!

I unclog my nose at you. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Now remain gone, illegitimate-faced bugger! And if you think you got a nasty taunting this time, you ain't heard nothing yet, son of a window-dresser!
Oh and by the way tard boy anonymous:

It's our COUNTRY'S Language. Not "It's our countries language."

If you're going to bitch about English usage, I suggest you get an education in its proper use.
Major Periods of Borrowing

Loanwords are words adopted by the speakers of one language from a different language (the source language). A loanword can also be called a borrowing. The abstract noun borrowing refers to the process of speakers adopting words from a source language into their native language. "Loan" and "borrowing" are of course metaphors, because there is no literal lending process. There is no transfer from one language to another, and no "returning" words to the source language. The words simply come to be used by a speech community that speaks a different language from the one these words originated in.

Borrowing is a consequence of cultural contact between two language communities. Borrowing of words can go in both directions between the two languages in contact, but often there is an asymmetry, such that more words go from one side to the other. In this case the source language community has some advantage of power, prestige and/or wealth that makes the objects and ideas it brings desirable and useful to the borrowing language community. For example, the Germanic tribes in the first few centuries A.D. adopted numerous loanwords from Latin as they adopted new products via trade with the Romans. Few Germanic words, on the other hand, passed into Latin.

The actual process of borrowing is complex and involves many usage events (i.e. instances of use of the new word). Generally, some speakers of the borrowing language know the source language too, or at least enough of it to utilize the relevant word. They (often consciously) adopt the new word when speaking the borrowing language, because it most exactly fits the idea they are trying to express. If they are bilingual in the source language, which is often the case, they might pronounce the words the same or similar to the way they are pronounced in the source language. For example, English speakers adopted the word garage from French, at first with a pronunciation nearer to the French pronunciation than is now usually found. Presumably the very first speakers who used the word in English knew at least some French and heard the word used by French speakers, in a French-speaking context.

Those who first use the new word might use it at first only with speakers of the source language who know the word, but at some point they come to use the word with those to whom the word was not previously known. To these speakers the word may sound 'foreign'. At this stage, when most speakers do not know the word and if they hear it think it is from another language, the word can be called a foreign word. There are many foreign words and phrases used in English such as bon vivant (French), mutatis mutandis (Latin), and Fahrvergnuegen (German).

However, in time more speakers can become familiar with a new foreign word or expression. The community of users of this word can grow to the point where even people who know little or nothing of the source language understand, and even use, the novel word themselves. The new word becomes conventionalized: part of the conventional ways of speaking in the borrowing language. At this point we call it a borrowing or loanword.

(It should be noted that not all foreign words do become loanwords; if they fall out of use before they become widespread, they do not reach the loanword stage.)

Conventionalization is a gradual process in which a word progressively permeates a larger and larger speech community, becoming part of ever more people's linguistic repetoire. As part of its becoming more familiar to more people, a newly borrowed word gradually adopts sound and other characteristics of the borrowing language as speakers who do not know the source language accommodate it to their own linguistic systems. In time, people in the borrowing community do not perceive the word as a loanword at all. Generally, the longer a borrowed word has been in the language, and the more frequently it is used, the more it resembles the native words of the language.

English has gone through many periods in which large numbers of words from a particular language were borrowed. These periods coincide with times of major cultural contact between English speakers and those speaking other languages. The waves of borrowing during periods of especially strong cultural contacts are not sharply delimited, and can overlap. For example, the Norse influence on English began already in the 8th century A.D. and continued strongly well after the Norman Conquest brought a large influx of Norman French to the language.

It is part of the cultural history of English speakers that they have always adopted loanwords from the languages of whatever cultures they have come in contact with. There have been few periods when borrowing became unfashionable, and there has never been a national academy in Britain, the U.S., or other English-speaking countries to attempt to restrict new loanwords, as there has been in many continental European countries.

The following list is a small sampling of the loanwords that came into English in different periods and from different languages.

I. Germanic period

The forms given in this section are the Old English ones. The original Latin source word is given in parentheses where significantly different. Some Latin words were themselves originally borrowed from Greek. It can be deduced that these borrowings date from the time before the Angles and Saxons left the continent for England, because of very similar forms found in the other old Germanic languages (Old High German, Old Saxon, etc.). The source words are generally attested in Latin texts, in the large body of Latin writings that were preserved through the ages.
ancor 'anchor'
butere 'butter' (L < Gr. butyros)
cealc 'chalk'
ceas 'cheese' (caseum)
cetel 'kettle'
cycene 'kitchen'
cirice 'church' (ecclesia < Gr. ecclesia)
disc 'dish' (discus)
mil 'mile' (milia [passuum] 'a thousand paces')
piper 'pepper'
pund 'pound' (pondo 'a weight')
sacc 'sack' (saccus)
sicol 'sickle'
straet 'street' ([via] strata 'straight way' or stone-paved road)
weall 'wall' (vallum)
win 'wine' (vinum < Gr. oinos)

II. Old English Period (600-1100)

apostol 'apostle' (apostolus < Gr. apostolos)
casere 'caesar, emperor'
ceaster 'city' (castra 'camp')
cest 'chest' (cista 'box')
circul 'circle'
cometa 'comet' (cometa < Greek)
maegester 'master' (magister)
martir 'martyr'
paper 'paper' (papyrus, from Gr.)
tigle 'tile' (tegula)

brocc 'badger'
cumb 'combe, valley'

(few ordinary words, but thousands of place and river names: London, Carlisle,
Devon, Dover, Cornwall, Thames, Avon...)

III. Middle English Period (1100-1500)

Most of these first appeared in the written language in Middle English; but many were no doubt borrowed earlier, during the period of the Danelaw (9th-10th centuries).

* anger, blight, by-law, cake, call, clumsy, doze, egg, fellow, gear, get, give, hale, hit, husband, kick, kill, kilt, kindle, law, low, lump, rag, raise, root, scathe, scorch, score, scowl, scrape, scrub, seat, skill, skin, skirt, sky, sly, take, they, them, their, thrall, thrust, ugly, want, window, wing
* Place name suffixes: -by, -thorpe, -gate


* Law and government—attorney, bailiff, chancellor, chattel, country, court, crime, defendent, evidence, government, jail, judge, jury, larceny, noble, parliament, plaintiff, plea, prison, revenue, state, tax, verdict
* Church—abbot, chaplain, chapter, clergy, friar, prayer, preach, priest, religion, sacrament, saint, sermon
* Nobility—baron, baroness; count, countess; duke, duchess; marquis, marquess; prince, princess; viscount, viscountess; noble, royal (contrast native words: king, queen, earl, lord, lady, knight, kingly, queenly)
* Military—army, artillery, battle, captain, company, corporal, defense,enemy,marine, navy, sergeant, soldier, volunteer
* Cooking—beef, boil, broil, butcher, dine, fry, mutton, pork, poultry, roast, salmon, stew, veal
* Culture and luxury goods—art, bracelet, claret, clarinet, dance, diamond, fashion, fur, jewel, oboe, painting, pendant, satin, ruby, sculpture
* Other—adventure, change, charge, chart, courage, devout, dignity, enamor, feign, fruit, letter, literature, magic, male, female, mirror, pilgrimage, proud, question, regard, special

Also Middle English French loans: a huge number of words in age, -ance/-ence, -ant/-ent, -ity, -ment, -tion, con-, de-, and pre- .

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether a given word came from French or whether it was taken straight from Latin. Words for which this difficulty occurs are those in which there were no special sound and/or spelling changes of the sort that distinguished French from Latin

IV. Early Modern English Period (1500-1650)

The effects of the renaissance begin to be seriously felt in England. We see the beginnings of a huge influx of Latin and Greek words, many of them learned words imported by scholars well versed in those languages. But many are borrowings from other languages, as words from European high culture begin to make their presence felt and the first words come in from the earliest period of colonial expansion.


* agile, abdomen, anatomy, area, capsule, compensate, dexterity, discus, disc/disk, excavate, expensive, fictitious, gradual, habitual, insane, janitor, meditate, notorious, orbit, peninsula, physician, superintendent, ultimate, vindicate

Greek (many of these via Latin)

* anonymous, atmosphere, autograph, catastrophe, climax, comedy, critic, data, ectasy, history, ostracize, parasite, pneumonia, skeleton, tonic, tragedy
* Greek bound morphemes: -ism, -ize


* via Spanish—alcove, algebra, zenith, algorithm, almanac, azimuth, alchemy, admiral
* via other Romance languages—amber, cipher, orange, saffron, sugar, zero, coffee

V. Modern English (1650-present)

Period of major colonial expansion, industrial/technological revolution, and American immigration.

Words from European languages

French continues to be the largest single source of new words outside of very specialized vocabulary domains (scientific/technical vocabulary, still dominated by classical borrowings).

* High culture—ballet, bouillabaise, cabernet, cachet, chaise longue, champagne, chic, cognac, corsage, faux pas, nom de plume, quiche, rouge, roulet, sachet, salon, saloon, sang froid, savoir faire
* War and Military—bastion, brigade, battalion, cavalry, grenade, infantry, pallisade, rebuff, bayonet
* Other—bigot, chassis, clique, denim, garage, grotesque, jean(s), niche, shock
* French Canadian—chowder
* Louisiana French (Cajun)—jambalaya


* armada, adobe, alligator, alpaca, armadillo, barricade, bravado, cannibal, canyon, coyote, desperado, embargo, enchilada, guitar, marijuana, mesa, mosquito, mustang, ranch, taco, tornado, tortilla, vigilante


* alto, arsenal, balcony, broccoli, cameo, casino, cupola, duo, fresco, fugue, gazette (via French), ghetto, gondola, grotto, macaroni, madrigal, motto, piano, opera, pantaloons, prima donna, regatta, sequin, soprano, opera, stanza, stucco, studio, tempo, torso, umbrella, viola, violin
* from Italian American immigrants—cappuccino, espresso, linguini, mafioso, pasta, pizza, ravioli, spaghetti, spumante, zabaglione, zucchini

Dutch, Flemish

* Shipping, naval terms—avast, boom, bow, bowsprit, buoy, commodore, cruise, dock, freight, keel, keelhaul, leak, pump, reef, scoop, scour, skipper, sloop, smuggle, splice, tackle, yawl, yacht
* Cloth industry—bale, cambric, duck (fabric), fuller's earth, mart, nap (of cloth), selvage, spool, stripe
* Art—easel, etching, landscape, sketch
* War—beleaguer, holster, freebooter, furlough, onslaught
* Food and drink—booze, brandy(wine), coleslaw, cookie, cranberry, crullers, gin, hops, stockfish, waffle
* Other—bugger (orig. French), crap, curl, dollar, scum, split (orig. nautical term), uproar


* bum, dunk, feldspar, quartz, hex, lager, knackwurst, liverwurst, loafer, noodle, poodle, dachshund, pretzel, pinochle, pumpernickel, sauerkraut, schnitzel, zwieback, (beer)stein, lederhosen, dirndl
* 20th century German loanwords—blitzkrieg, zeppelin, strafe, U-boat, delicatessen, hamburger, frankfurter, wiener, hausfrau, kindergarten, Oktoberfest, schuss, wunderkind, bundt (cake), spritz (cookies), (apple) strudel

Yiddish (most are 20th century borrowings)

* bagel, Chanukkah (Hanukkah), chutzpah, dreidel, kibbitzer, kosher, lox, pastrami (orig. from Romanian), schlep, spiel, schlepp, schlemiel, schlimazel, gefilte fish, goy, klutz, knish, matzoh, oy vey, schmuck, schnook,


* fjord, maelstrom, ombudsman, ski, slalom, smorgasbord


* apparatchik, borscht, czar/tsar, glasnost, icon, perestroika, vodka

Words from other parts of the world


* avatar, karma, mahatma, swastika, yoga


* bandanna, bangle, bungalow, chintz, cot, cummerbund, dungaree, juggernaut, jungle, loot, maharaja, nabob, pajamas, punch (the drink), shampoo, thug, kedgeree, jamboree


* curry, mango, teak, pariah

Persian (Farsi)

* check, checkmate, chess


* bedouin, emir, jakir, gazelle, giraffe, harem, hashish, lute, minaret, mosque, myrrh, salaam, sirocco, sultan, vizier, bazaar, caravan

African languages

* banana (via Portuguese), banjo, boogie-woogie, chigger, goober, gorilla, gumbo, jazz, jitterbug, jitters, juke(box), voodoo, yam, zebra, zombie

American Indian languages

* avocado, cacao, cannibal, canoe, chipmunk, chocolate, chili, hammock, hominy, hurricane, maize, moccasin, moose, papoose, pecan, possum, potato, skunk, squaw, succotash, squash, tamale (via Spanish), teepee, terrapin, tobacco, toboggan, tomahawk, tomato, wigwam, woodchuck
* (plus thousands of place names, including Ottawa, Toronto, Saskatchewan and the names of more than half the
states of the U.S., including Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois)


* chop suey, chow mein, dim sum, ketchup, tea, ginseng, kowtow, litchee


* geisha, hara kiri, judo, jujitsu, kamikaze, karaoke, kimono, samurai, soy, sumo, sushi, tsunami

Pacific Islands

* bamboo, gingham, rattan, taboo, tattoo, ukulele, boondocks


* boomerang, budgerigar, didgeridoo, kangaroo (and many more in Australian English)

I'm with you real Americans! We need to purge all these words from our official language!!

the sad thing is, that f@ck-tards like anonymous that becry having to learn another language because its not "the coutries [sic] language" are the same f@ck-tards who, if they ever did go abroad (that means not here) demand that the people in the country they visit speak English.

English HAS no official language. This is legal fact.

The languages that began here: Algonquin, Washo--which is where the place name Tahoe comes from, Salish, and the thousands of others which are either now extinct or that are close to becoming that way because English, French, Portuguese and Spanish speakers killed them.

I wish I could travel back in time and bar anonymous's ancestors and keep them from immigrating to the states.

People like that make me ashamed to be an " 'Merican." And they don't even understand why.
I was in Russia recently. I didn't see any idiot signs posted saying "order in Russian" signs there. It takes a special American to be that dumb.

Gene Venable
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