Wednesday, March 14, 2007

E Pluribus Unum

Where in the world can one see a commercial establishment proclaiming : "Yes ! We speak Spanish, Hindi, Farsi, Greek, Hungarian, Tagalog, Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese " ? In an advertisement for a Toyota dealership in Sunnyvale, California - that's where.

The claim speaks volumes for the diversity which is now sweeping across North America. That employees of a business here should represent polyglot ethnic groups is not by itself an unusual phenomenon, but the fact that their linguistic ability should be used as a unique selling point is an indication of the buying power now represented by these various groups. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the small town of Sunnyvale is an indicator for the rest of the United States, where the Anglo-Saxon presence is forecast to become a minority within one generation.

The Founding Fathers of the United States did indeed acknowledge diversity when they composed the national motto which (translated from the Latin) means "Out of many - one". But their limited notion of diversity was represented on the original design of the Great Seal of the Nation by six symbols - the rose (England), thistle (Scotland), harp (Ireland), fleur-de-lis (France), lion (Holland), and an imperial two-headed eagle (Germany), representing - in their words - "...the Countries from which these States have been peopled..."

They might not be surprised today to see Spanish-speaking people as a significant presence, or even Greeks or Hungarians, but one wonders what their reaction would be to Hindi, Farsi, Tagalog, Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese vying for equal billing ?


Sanjay said...

One can only speculate about what our founding fathers might think. But I think they would have been ok. They were quite diverse with regards to their religious beliefs too (granted they were mostly Judeo Christian).
As for the diversity, I think the buying power of this diverse populace should help nullify some of the nativist rhetoric that often spews from some quarters of this nation.

ishani said...

The reel life parallel would perhaps be Babel or Amorres Perros by the same director!