Friday, December 29, 2006

English Only for Fast Food

Yes that is a Burger King sign in Arabic. It is weird to see so many American fast food places here and with signs in Arabic. This is doubly weird considering that almost none of the staff in these places speaks Arabic. They all speak English and that is how everything is ordered. If a local who does not speak English comes in they invariably have to find the one member of the staff who can speak the language.
This to me is proof more than anything else that English is indeed the lingua franca of the modern world. The fact that it is the international language of air traffic, business, and now fast food is the triumverate of proof to me. When a person has to use English in their own country to communicate it is another form of proof that it has become so. Many languages have been at this point in the past and they have all been supplanted by another but we are in the Golden Age of English language usage.
Greek was at this point for about 1000 years and then was followed by Latin for another 100 years. Once Rome fell many languages flirted with this status and French made a good run in the 19th century but the fact that WWII was won by the English speaking Allied Powers is what really caused it to take root.
Sure, there are more people who speak Mandarin and I think Arabic is in the mix but they are not truly international languages. They have geographical or religious influence only.
So, have a whopper and fries with a Coke but you better be ready to order in English because if you don't you get nada. The only place I can think of where this language rule does not apply is in San Ysidro, California. There you have to use Spanish but that is another story altogether.


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