Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not speaking the language

Census worker knocks on a door. Person answers. Census worker speaks. Woman in home speaks. They don't understand each other. What languages do they speak?

Census worker - English; homeowner - Spanish. Right? That wouldn't be surprising.

What is surprising is that, in this case, it was the other way around.
Sylvia Turner told us she was shocked. The census worker she talked to was very nice and courteous, but could not hardly put two or three english [sic] words together. "I tried, I stood there, I tried to be very patient and he could not speak one work clearly."

She said she was surprised because she thought every census worker was tested for fluency in at least english [sic]. She didn't want to get the worker in trouble, but somehow, the system broke down.

Her question was "are they speaking to these individuals or are they just taking applications."

When we cruised around this north side neighborhood we happened to run into a census worker. And wouldn't you know had to be the same guy, because after talking to him for ten minutes, neither one of us knew what the other was trying to say. We didn't want to embarrass him so we aren't identifying him, but we did ask the census bureau if workers are tested and screened to communicate with the public. [ellipsis in original]
(from WOAI-TV)

Your tax dollars at work.

Of course, in all fairness, I guess we should ask the human resources people for the media if news story writers are tested in proper English capitalization.


Sabra said...

I am very tempted to speak to any and all Census workers only in German (I'd go for Russian; but I don't know enough). Because surely it can't be a matter of them catering only to ONE foreign language, right?

(Then again, I've also been threatening all year long to demand that my daughter's school translate everything into German for me; after all, it's our ancestral language.)

Albatross said...

You go, Fräulein.

Oops! Sorry. Forgot for a sec that you got hitched.