Two Menances to the Keystone State

by Cosma Shalizi on July 25, 2006

Two of my more public-spirited fellow citizens have recently identified looming threats to our own Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  1. Our beloved junior senator, Rick Santorum (via Pharyngula):
    Most scientists unfortunately, those that certainly are advocating for this [embryonic stem cell research], and many others feel very little moral compulsion. It’s a utilitarian, materialistic view of doing whatever they can do to pursue their desired goals.

    I, for one, will be happier voting on Mr. Santorum’s re-election in November, knowing that my ballot will play a part in the age-old struggle between utilitarian materialism and deontological idealism, as well as the sagas of human-canine relations and Old Corruption.

  2. Our beloved linguistics professor, Mark Liberman:
    More than a third of all Pennsylvanians are native speakers of a language other than English — and many of them have not even tried to learn English since immigrating, or at least prefer to carry out their daily lives in another language, living together in neighborhoods where their native language dominates. Some people worry that the majority status of English is critically endangered. 25 years ago, a major political figure warned that these “aliens … will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion”, and so far, his prediction seems to be right on the money.

    And let’s not forget what they’ve done to our cooking!

{ 29 comments }

1

Davis X. Machina 07.25.06 at 12:40 pm

More than a third of all Pennsylvanians are native speakers of a language other than English

Surely that’s too high by a factor of about three? Pennsylvania as allophone as Texas or New Mexico?

2

Richard Bellamy 07.25.06 at 12:43 pm

Davis,

Always make sure to check the date stamp on blog posts.

Shockingly, a cite to a Penn linguist, and it’s not Bill Labov — the man who single-handedly made me forget whether I used to say hoagie, gyro, sub, or grinder.

3

Barry Freed 07.25.06 at 12:49 pm

It’s called a fucking hero, m’kay?

4

Sporty 07.25.06 at 12:50 pm

Is he including the Pennsylvania Dutch in those stats? I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to know they are so un-American, seeing how many of them have descended from Revolutionary War soldiers and the farmers who kept the Revolutionary Army alive at Valley Forge!

Ja, stimmt!

5

will u. 07.25.06 at 1:15 pm

Oh, you mean Italian sandwiches?

6

bi 07.25.06 at 1:16 pm

Can someone enlighten me on which “customs” of Pennsylvania are so important, such that practising these customs is a grave matter of national security?

7

Uncle Kvetch 07.25.06 at 1:17 pm

I, for one, will be happier voting on Mr. Santorum’s re-election in November, knowing that my ballot will play a part in the age-old struggle between utilitarian materialism and deontological idealism

Don’t look now, but Kantian nihilism is coming up on the outside…

8

SamChevre 07.25.06 at 1:28 pm

The really funny part is that some of the descendants of those “aliens” who didn’t adopt English still haven’t. There are still plenty of speakers of Pennsylvania Dutch (and Schweizerdeutsch, and Plattdeutsch–although those aren’t as common in PA).

9

Seth Edenbaum 07.25.06 at 1:39 pm

In re: utilitarian materialism and deontological idealism.

The third option of corse, is to prefer the rule of law itself.

10

Hogan 07.25.06 at 1:42 pm

I was gonna say, Liberman could have written that in 1850. And it wasn’t Pennsylvania that seceded eleven years later.

Can someone enlighten me on which “customs” of Pennsylvania are so important, such that practising these customs is a grave matter of national security?

Ordering “a Whiz wit'” so that third-generation Italian Americans cin unnerstan yiz.

11

Shelby 07.25.06 at 1:44 pm

Can someone enlighten me on which “customs” of Pennsylvania are so important, such that practising these customs is a grave matter of national security?

Presumably the relevant custom is that of re-electing senators whenever they run.

On a related note, if Pennsylvania insists on sending someone of Santorum’s political views to D.C., could they at least pick one who’s not such a jerk?

12

marcel 07.25.06 at 1:49 pm

Can someone enlighten me on which “customs” of Pennsylvania are so important, such that practising these customs is a grave matter of national security

My wife grew up in Philly, and my in-laws are all still there, so although not native, I’ve spent a lot of time there in the last 25 years.

My money’s on “Man on Dog Sex”.

13

Uncle Kvetch 07.25.06 at 2:59 pm

which “customs” of Pennsylvania are so important, such that practising these customs is a grave matter of national security

If I can’t put mustard on my soft pretzel, the terrorists have won.

14

Bill Gardner 07.25.06 at 3:13 pm

You people are aware, are you not, that Santorum is from Pittsburgh, not Philadelphia? So it is doubtlessly the custom of serving french fries on top of your salad.

15

marcel 07.25.06 at 3:45 pm

Mr. Gardner (14): doubtlessly?

16

cosma 07.25.06 at 3:49 pm

seth: “The third option of course, is to prefer the rule of law itself.”

Actually, I suspect I would be happy to agree to that, though it would depend somewhat on the content of “the rule of law”.

17

Bill Gardner 07.25.06 at 4:03 pm

Marcel @14:

I apologize. I meant to write zweifellose.

18

Seth Edenbaum 07.25.06 at 6:17 pm

I was referring only to the complex structure called Democracy, as opposed to the simple one known as The Panel of Experts.

deontologial idealism

19

Jamie 07.25.06 at 6:20 pm

I can’t tell how many of the commenters realize that Liberman is having a little fun at the expense of the ‘English First’ crowd. Click the link to get in on the joke.

20

Cala 07.25.06 at 7:15 pm

It’s French fries in the sandwich, and the coleslaw in the sandwich. That’s the Pittsburgh thing.

As to the linguist, nihil novi sub sole, eh?

21

David Sucher 07.25.06 at 8:12 pm

Sidelight: Santorum’s opponent Bob Casey will not accept campaign donation from writer Dan Savage.

22

cosma 07.25.06 at 10:44 pm

Cala: Coleslaw in the sandwich is great, but fries in the sandwich I’m still getting used to, and I don’t think I’ll ever come around to fries in the salad.

Seth: Maybe I’ll regret asking this, but: why can’t someone be a convinced democrat, and no friend to rule by a panel of experts, and a utilitarian materialist, or for that matter a deontological idealist? I don’t see how these issues have anything to do with one another.

23

jet 07.25.06 at 10:51 pm

As best I can tell, 1910 was the high point for percentage foreign born in the US. 1850 was around 9%, 1910 was around 14% and now we’re at around 12%. What probably has everyone flustered is that when these people were kids, the percentage was less than 5%.

Me, I feel sorry for immigrants. What they don’t realize is the US is the borg. Their great-grandkids might be able to hold onto their culture. But after that, its McDonalds, apple pie, and the 4th of July. Not that there is anything wrong with applie pie, but if there was only one way to make apple pie and it only had one flavor, well it would get pretty god damned boring after a while.

Is there a recipe for Mexican apple pie?

24

bad Jim 07.26.06 at 5:49 am

Santorum, at least, hasn’t gone as far as Cornryn:

It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle.

He failed to add that it’s turtles all the way down.

25

Ted 07.26.06 at 7:01 am

Now I see the problem: a typo, carried over from the original – “25” should be “250” – or is that an intentional typo and I’m too dumb to realize it?

Also, the textbook I use to teach Intro to American Government (Fiorina and Peterson, _New American Democracy_) has that Franklin quote in it in the chapter about diversity and immigration.

26

Seth Edenbaum 07.26.06 at 10:47 am

What’s the point of modeling an image of the world that will never succeed in representing it: why would someone choose to define himself as either a prosecutor or a defender rather than as a lawyer? (What’s the point of arguing for original intent when by the act of arguing you describe a process that contradicts your premise?)

If you are opposed to deontological idealism as such, then you should be opposed to Evo Morales. If not, then you should use more complex terms.

The relationships between systems: prosecutor/defender, rationality/conditioned response, (Morales-Santorum/Shalizi?), are more philosohically interesting than any system on its own.

27

pdf23ds 07.26.06 at 11:16 am

“the US is the borg”

And it’s somehow unique or unusual in this regard? I think not.

28

Matt Kuzma 07.26.06 at 11:48 am

If you read the entirety of the Mark Liberman article, you’ll find that the quoted text is itself a quote from Benjamin Franklin. The conclusion of the post is:

A number of earlier Language Log posts have focused on America’s varied linguistic landscape during its first couple of hundred years. This was never a linguistic garden of Eden — whatever you think prelapsarian social norms should be like — but viewed in the light of history, the current anxiety over linguistic identity seems exaggerated. By most measures, English in America seems to be stronger than it’s ever been.

29

teep 07.26.06 at 8:53 pm

I am actually one of the people represented by Senator Santorum. During his tenure in DC, I have called his office on more than one occasion to render stirring variations on the theme of please do not make us look like fools and bigots in front of the rest of the country. Senator Santorum has not yet managed to achieve this single thing that I would like of my elected officials. I will not be voting for him come November.

On Pennsylvanians and the automatic re-election of people already in office — you might do well to ask State Senator Robert Jubelierer about that. (Jubelierer is my state senator like Rick Santorum is my in-Washington senator and Bud Schuster [former chair of the House Transportation Committee] used to be my in-Washington representative.

The political landscape where I live is pretty discouraging. *sigh*

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