Thursday, January 26, 2012

Arizona Candidate Ordered to Prove English Proficiency

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Who speaks perfect English?

More importantly, who is be the arbiter of new Americans who may be required to speak, read and write English? The conversation will surely play out in the coming months as the City of Boise is expected to introduce new rules for taxi cab drivers, including the provision that they understand English.

A touchstone debate on the subject has erupted in the small Arizona border town of San Luis. That's where Alejandrina Cabrera has declared her candidacy for City Council. Cabrera, a United State citizen who spent much of her childhood in Mexco but graduated from an Arizona high school speaks Spanish in her daily interactions with neighbors and friends. But she reminds everyone that she helps her two children with their schoolwork in English.

But the city's mayor, Juan Carlos Escamilla, has filed a legal challenge of Cabrera's English ability. Like many states, Arizona requires politicians at all levels to speak, read and write English.

Cabrera's dilemma is considered in this morning's New York Times, which reported that a judge has ordered a linguist, hired by the city, to evaluate Cabrera. But the "expert," it turned out, was a professor of Australian descent, who, according to Carbrea, was pretty difficult to understand as well.

For example, when the linguist, William Eggington, asked Cabrera about "summer," she thought he was saying "summa," a nickname for the local community of Somerton, prompting her to be utterly confused.

Cabrera's fight to be understood and respected continues in court hearings this week.

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