Monday, April 6, 2009

Ignorant Americans?

I'm working on a bit of the book (it's actually just one tiny little paragraph that's bugging me) and I thought I'd ask your opinion.  

I have the main character, Ava looking at some old books.  Some of the titles are in Spanish and French.  She is a "typical" American teen in a "typical" American high school.  
Do you think she should be able to understand one or both of these languages?  Or neither?  

I personally took four years of Spanish in high school and could have probably worked it out on some level (though I am not fluent by any means) and I know many people took one or the other language at some point (or possibly another language like German or Mandarin), but I think those are the two main ones that are taught in high school today, right?  

If this book is published and just for fun, let's just say it gets published in other languages, would it perpetuate the stereotype that Americans are ignorant of the world's languages? 
I personally feel that I do not know as much as I should to be able to communicate effectively with the world.  

Many Americans have become very comfortable in our position of power.  We often feel that we do not need to learn another language since so many people from other countries are already learning English and can communicate just fine.  Is it right to wait for all of the world come to us?  To English?  

Here's the big question for the book:  Do I make the character a tiny bit educated in another language (but not fluent?); should she be  a prodigy who just "gets it" with language?  Or is it more realistic to make her only language English?  

What do you think?  


CaRoLiNe said...

i say she isn't fluent BUT like you said most american kids have had a little bit of french or spanish (most likely spanish) so for her to be able to break down a phrase and understand it NOT unrealistic or arrogantly american.

i say after as bit o remembering and breaking down the title she should be realistically able to understand it's meaning.

good luck. i'm getting so excited to read it!!! if you need a reader!!!! i'm available.


Lauren said...

Cool. I was thinking the same thing. For now, I made her totally dumb - but I think there are so many sunken Spanish ships that it might make sense..,although it may not be the right side of the world...
Does that comment make sense?

I guess I've been very secretive about what's happening in the book, huh?

Thanks for the comment cuz!