Bad Language

iSolamente Inglés!
—Uncle Jerry’s pal Victor

Peace and joy, Camper. It’s time once again for Your Uncle Jerry’s Lessons in Language Learning.

Why do we need other languages, anyway? When your Uncle Jerry was just a wee camper growing up in the north woods of North America, he knew a few people who spoke Yupik or Athabascan or German or Chinese or Swahili. He knew where his dad, Grandpa Jerry, had stashed an old letter from a friend in Puerto Rico—a letter all in Spanish.

For a while, Uncle Jerry felt that perhaps he should learn another language, too. But why bother? It is clear from everything you hear in school and town that the world is learning English. In fact, other languages are actually dying out; no one is speaking them anymore. Look it up, Scooter. You’ll like this: there are about 7000 languages right now, but half of them are declining rapidly.

And good riddance. Who can keep up with 7000 languages? Besides, if people in so-called other countries want to buy M&Ms, or KFC, or GE products, well, they’re going to have to learn the English alphabet, anyway.

Plus, you wonder what they have to hide—speakers of other languages. Why not just come out and say what's on their minds, instead of disguising it with foreign sounds and hidden meanings? If it weren’t for Chinese and Russian, we wouldn’t have had the Cold War. And what about Arabic? Did you realize the Arabs write backwards? Your Uncle Jerry’s congressman thinks this should have been our first clue that they were up to no good. Frankly, we don’t want young campers getting into Arabic; they’ll just learn to see the world from right to left. We don’t need to help the terrorists, do we?

Still. This is a little embarrassing, but lately, Your Uncle Jerry and the Missus have started learning another language. In spite of all the good and patriotic reasons to keep ourselves irretrievably ignorant, Your Uncle and Mrs. Jerry did find one good reason to study Spanish. It’s the kids—no entienden español.

Joy and peace.

In chapter eighteen Molly and the Geezer are working hard not to speak each other’s language.