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Chinese-only sign reignites language debate in Richmond, B.C.


DonLever

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The problem I see is by allowing this we are allowing groups to build parallel societies rather than integrating into Canadian society, if you want to live in Canada you should at least LEARN THE LANGUAGE, things like this just gives less incentive to do that. If I move to Germany does it not make sense that I should learn German rather than expect others to learn English? Two official languages in this country, if the box of cornflakes I buy has to have half the box in French then why shouldn't this add have the message in either English or French as well as Chinese?

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I don't buy into the moosepoop about "not being able to understand what the ad is about" its frigging toothpaste and mouth wash.

The problem is more deeply ingrained in how our society operates at a fundamental level.

I'm of the opinion that Canada is far too accommodating to multiculturalism. Don't misinterpret that as me being against diversity, in fact quite the opposite. My wife is a landed immigrant who took the time and effort to adapt to the "Canadian" culture, but still embraces her heritage among her friends.

The issue at hand, is that by being over accommodating, Canada has itself lost it's own identity to the point now that "what it means to be Canadian" means many different things to many different people.

Therefore, among the ethnic groups represented in Canada, there is little incentive for foreign nationals who were not born or raised here to adapt to the "Canadian" way of life, or to learn to speak either of the official languages in a capacity suited for daily communication.

This advertising illustrates my point, and reinforces the belief that it's okay to take advantage of the amazing living conditions in this country and benefit from it's social infrastructure without having to contribute in any meaningful way to the population as a whole.

It's fine to speak and communicate in native languages personally in our homes and with our friends and family. I do believe however that to truly embrace multiculturalism, one must be tolerant publicly of all who may come across you. I don't care if it's the Richmond Night Market, or Scott Rd and 96th avenue. Communicate in a common language that all can understand, not doing so borders on bigotry and promotes seclusion, exclusivity and preferential treatment.

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I don't buy into the moosepoop about "not being able to understand what the ad is about" its frigging toothpaste and mouth wash.

The problem is more deeply ingrained in how our society operates at a fundamental level.

I'm of the opinion that Canada is far too accommodating to multiculturalism. Don't misinterpret that as me being against diversity, in fact quite the opposite. My wife is a landed immigrant who took the time and effort to adapt to the "Canadian" culture, but still embraces her heritage among her friends.

The issue at hand, is that by being over accommodating, Canada has itself lost it's own identity to the point now that "what it means to be Canadian" means many different things to many different people.

Therefore, among the ethnic groups represented in Canada, there is little incentive for foreign nationals who were not born or raised here to adapt to the "Canadian" way of life, or to learn to speak either of the official languages in a capacity suited for daily communication.

This advertising illustrates my point, and reinforces the belief that it's okay to take advantage of the amazing living conditions in this country and benefit from it's social infrastructure without having to contribute in any meaningful way to the population as a whole.

It's fine to speak and communicate in native languages personally in our homes and with our friends and family. I do believe however that to truly embrace multiculturalism, one must be tolerant publicly of all who may come across you. I don't care if it's the Richmond Night Market, or Scott Rd and 96th avenue. Communicate in a common language that all can understand, not doing so borders on bigotry and promotes seclusion, exclusivity and preferential treatment.

I disagree.

I think Canada does a great job of accommodating others. I've lived in Vancouver, Toronto, and now London (UK), and have spent time in NYC, Chicago, California, Texas, Paris, Dublin, and Amsterdam.

Canada and the US do a pretty great job of welcoming and integrating immigrants, at least in the major cities. London does a good job too, but it doesn't seem quite as prevalent as in say, Toronto.

Paris and Amsterdam are wonderful cities, but you walk around and you're a white dude amongst white dudes. I loved both places, but couldn't live in either one for long because of the lack of multiculturalism you see in Vancouver, SF, NYC, or Toronto.

That said, there are plenty of pressures on immigrants to learn the language. Heck, I felt like a douche speaking english in Amsterdam where most people speak english well, or fumbling along in french in Paris. Those same pressures exist here. Don't think so? Try going to Quebec City and using only english.

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I disagree.

I think Canada does a great job of accommodating others. I've lived in Vancouver, Toronto, and now London (UK), and have spent time in NYC, Chicago, California, Texas, Paris, Dublin, and Amsterdam.

Canada and the US do a pretty great job of welcoming and integrating immigrants, at least in the major cities. London does a good job too, but it doesn't seem quite as prevalent as in say, Toronto.

Paris and Amsterdam are wonderful cities, but you walk around and you're a white dude amongst white dudes. I loved both places, but couldn't live in either one for long because of the lack of multiculturalism you see in Vancouver, SF, NYC, or Toronto.

That said, there are plenty of pressures on immigrants to learn the language. Heck, I felt like a douche speaking english in Amsterdam where most people speak english well, or fumbling along in french in Paris. Those same pressures exist here. Don't think so? Try going to Quebec City and using only english.

The problem is that in big cities you have a critical mass of immigrants. They live in ghetto and don't feel the pressure to integrate in the rest of the society. Just visit the 93 suburbs around Paris and you'll see what I mean.

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Examples please? Many in these neighbourhoods over time become successful in business etc..

What are some examples of the collateral harm? Their children become bilingual and teach their parents some new things as they get older. I understand your point of view, but its very difficult to relate when its someone looking from the outside in. Fortunately I the have opportunity to enter both sides..

I'll says this I usually respect your opinions here because they're insightful and different, but for this particular issue I respectively disagree. You may had the opportunity to listen to opinions of some South asian people, but I have lived and interacted with such people whom we are debating my whole life. The argument that its harmful to them is clearly not there. Potentially harmful to the Canadian population as whole sure.. We have no right to intrude in the way they choice to live. Its not like they are amish people who are fully segregated from the population.. Many overtime do in fact learn english enough to communicate at least, like my parents for example.. Came here knowing not a lick of english and now have raised two children going to University and own several properties around the island. This just one example of many..

I don't know how else to explain it to you - you're taking an idealist view of the situation that is not ideal. What advantage that a monolingual Punjabi / Cantonese / Italian / Romanian etc. language-speaking area in an English country wouldn't be equally or better served by a bilingual approach?

I haven't just spoken to anyone - I'd consider them to be leaders in the community as well as my personal experience working with youth and families in Newton who have struggled due to the language barrier. The argument, once again, is simple - if there was less of an opportunity to live day-to-day without ever speaking a word of English simple survival would pressure them to learn the language. I can hardly blame people for not - it's very difficult - but in the end of personal benefit. Those language skills would open up access to the entire lower mainland instead of limiting to a pocket.

Further, I have seen adults and their children suffer from a lot of different situations - abuse, gang recruitment, poor grades, elder abuse, etc - that they are less willing and able to get out of due to language. If you spend your life avoiding English-speaking areas and services it is a very scary and isolating situation if you find yourself needing help. (Yes are are services in other languages and obviously these things happen to people who speak English as well - but I'd say not having an official language further marginalizes.)

As someone said earlier - the vast majority of people will eventually learn the language and if not, their kids certainly will - but there are those who fall through the cracks and I'd say some of that would be avoidable with stronger language skills. I know it's probably inevitable anyways but I still think the concept makes sense - especially when I used to simply enjoy mono-linguistic non-English speaking areas simply for the novelty factor.

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I disagree.

I think Canada does a great job of accommodating others. I've lived in Vancouver, Toronto, and now London (UK), and have spent time in NYC, Chicago, California, Texas, Paris, Dublin, and Amsterdam.

Canada and the US do a pretty great job of welcoming and integrating immigrants, at least in the major cities. London does a good job too, but it doesn't seem quite as prevalent as in say, Toronto.

Paris and Amsterdam are wonderful cities, but you walk around and you're a white dude amongst white dudes. I loved both places, but couldn't live in either one for long because of the lack of multiculturalism you see in Vancouver, SF, NYC, or Toronto.

That said, there are plenty of pressures on immigrants to learn the language. Heck, I felt like a douche speaking english in Amsterdam where most people speak english well, or fumbling along in french in Paris. Those same pressures exist here. Don't think so? Try going to Quebec City and using only english.

I think you completely missed the point I was making.

I never called in to question Canada's ability to accommodate multiculturalism, in fact what I said is I feel Canada has been too accommodating, meaning our vision of multiculturalism has tunnel visioned us politically into not striking the right balance between acceptance and enforcing our own cultural identity as Canadians.

What I said was in reference to the foreign nationals not born or raised here, ie the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents etc. The system has been figured out to the point of manipulation. One only has to learn so much in order to be accepted, and once they're in, there is a whole community that speaks their native language, sells products in packaging that they can easily understand, etc.

It's human nature to want to take the easiest path to comfort, we are hard wired to avoid difficult situations.

With that said, there is a massive difference in context when we're speaking about the pressures of speaking a regions native language between doing so as a Tourist or as a Citizen.

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Culture, of which advertising and language is part of, is a reflection of the population living in that region. P&G's ad, along with other Chinese only ads in Richmond only reflects the population's makeup and its purchasing power. This is all pretty natural and organic. It's not like you have a Chinese only ad in say Prince Albert, SK where there are no Chinese people.

Culture should not be imposed by the government with language laws and such.

Though I do think it is the responsibility of advertisers to be more sensitive to a broader market, especially a conglomerate like P&G.

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Culture, of which advertising and language is part of, is a reflection of the population living in that region. P&G's ad, along with other Chinese only ads in Richmond only reflects the population's makeup and its purchasing power. This is all pretty natural and organic. It's not like you have a Chinese only ad in say Prince Albert, SK where there are no Chinese people.

Culture should not be imposed by the government with language laws and such.

Though I do think it is the responsibility of advertisers to be more sensitive to a broader market, especially a conglomerate like P&G.

The point of contention however, is that Richmond is "predominantly" populated by Asian cultures, but not entirely. More to that, many people commute through Richmond enroute to their various jobs/actions/functions so the region is not solely Asian influenced.

It's not just about being sensitive to a broader market. Advertisers have a higher obligation to be respectful of multiculturalism, which means accessibility to all cultures, not just specific ethnic groups.

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The point of contention however, is that Richmond is "predominantly" populated by Asian cultures, but not entirely. More to that, many people commute through Richmond enroute to their various jobs/actions/functions so the region is not solely Asian influenced.

It's not just about being sensitive to a broader market. Advertisers have a higher obligation to be respectful of multiculturalism, which means accessibility to all cultures, not just specific ethnic groups.

Of course, of course. But there are still lots of English only signs in Richmond, I assume, right?

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I think it´s kind of disrespect of the immigrants too... if you´re moving to a country that speaks english so learn English. it doesn´t mean you can´t speak your language with your family because you can, also you can have your own culture and costumes... BUT. other people may not speak your language and if you want live on an "english speaker" country so learn the language to be properly understood. what´s the problem with that? English is much easier to learn than Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, Korean, Japanese and Portuguese. so what about respect the coutry where you´re living now and learn the language? also means the parents are lazy. because they refuse to teach the language to the kids and so things will go on this way. kids grown up and have more kids and just like their parents they refuse to teach english to their onw kids "because we already speak a language, why we need learn another language?" my nephew has almost 3 years and speak many words in English (including "Vancouver Canucks") and even sing some songs in English. why? because he sees me and his mom speaking english many times so since he´s curious he want to learn and we teach him. :) it´s funny see him singing in English. :)

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Of course, of course. But there are still lots of English only signs in Richmond, I assume, right?

Yes, however that's not the point of this issue.

English only signs do not discriminate, as English is one of the official languages of Canada, therefore it's expected for signage to be in all English.

What this illustrates, is a significant unwillingness for immigrants to adopt the official standard of a country that they have chosen to reside in. It's pretty ignorant for people to expect a foreign country to cater to their preferences counter to the national standard.

Case in point, if English only speaking people chose to live in the heart of China, and then expect it to be okay that English only signage be accepted, you'd imagine that would ruffle some feathers. But it's okay because China is not a democratic society right?

This whole topic is really about a level of inherent disrespect (subconscious as it may be) harbored by certain communities as a whole, and to a certain degree defiance in thinking that they have the right to enforce their sovereignty in an already sovereign nation. The issue is not that their heritage, customs, beliefs et al are not being recognized, they are and quite well I might add.

The ethnic signage is a relatively small issue in and of itself, but it does open a much larger can of worms when you look at the impact of integration into society and balancing and respecting cultures as they co-exist within the English speaking world.

Bottom line is, and this is just my opinion, but if you *choose* to reside in an officially English speaking country, you should make every effort to fully integrate into that society on a level that everyone can appreciate, not segregating into communities promoting exclusivity and a certain degree hostility toward "outsiders".

How often do you see Indian or Sikh foreign nationals dealing with Chinese, or Korean or Japanese foreign nationals on a daily basis? You really don't see it that often, typically they stick to "their" communities yet expect the treatment afforded by a multicultural society.

Multiculturalism is a two way street, when you make it a one way street it causes division which is counter to the very core of what it stands for.

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Yes, however that's not the point of this issue.

English only signs do not discriminate, as English is one of the official languages of Canada, therefore it's expected for signage to be in all English.

What this illustrates, is a significant unwillingness for immigrants to adopt the official standard of a country that they have chosen to reside in. It's pretty ignorant for people to expect a foreign country to cater to their preferences counter to the national standard.

Case in point, if English only speaking people chose to live in the heart of China, and then expect it to be okay that English only signage be accepted, you'd imagine that would ruffle some feathers. But it's okay because China is not a democratic society right?

This whole topic is really about a level of inherent disrespect (subconscious as it may be) harbored by certain communities as a whole, and to a certain degree defiance in thinking that they have the right to enforce their sovereignty in an already sovereign nation. The issue is not that their heritage, customs, beliefs et al are not being recognized, they are and quite well I might add.

The ethnic signage is a relatively small issue in and of itself, but it does open a much larger can of worms when you look at the impact of integration into society and balancing and respecting cultures as they co-exist within the English speaking world.

Bottom line is, and this is just my opinion, but if you *choose* to reside in an officially English speaking country, you should make every effort to fully integrate into that society on a level that everyone can appreciate, not segregating into communities promoting exclusivity and a certain degree hostility toward "outsiders".

How often do you see Indian or Sikh foreign nationals dealing with Chinese, or Korean or Japanese foreign nationals on a daily basis? You really don't see it that often, typically they stick to "their" communities yet expect the treatment afforded by a multicultural society.

Multiculturalism is a two way street, when you make it a one way street it causes division which is counter to the very core of what it stands for.

Easy to say, harder to do. Living in S. Korea, I naturally gravitated to people who speak your language.

This whole sign issue is absolutely ridiculous. Like I said, if this company wants to completely ignore half the population in its advertising, so be it.

Everyone goes on and on about how great Canada is, how multicultural it is and such a wide variety of foods, cultures, etc and then gets all pissy when those very people and cultures we boast about don't do what we want. Ridiculous.

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I just feel it is wrong to turn this business and ads language issue into a cultural integration issue.

Business signs catering to a minority group is not an indication of that minority group refusing or unable to adapt to the pre-existing culture. Rather, it is just an indication of that group's economic influence. Companies kissing asses, essentially.

We can say that P&G is insensitive to a broader market/culture, but that is in no way an indication of the minority group's attitude towards the broader, pre-existing culture.

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The point of contention however, is that Richmond is "predominantly" populated by Asian cultures, but not entirely. More to that, many people commute through Richmond enroute to their various jobs/actions/functions so the region is not solely Asian influenced.

It's not just about being sensitive to a broader market. Advertisers have a higher obligation to be respectful of multiculturalism, which means accessibility to all cultures, not just specific ethnic groups.

I disagree with the last part. I understand the argument that this ad could be a symbol of a larger problem of immigrants not learning English, but I don't see the ad itself as a problem. They are just responding to the marketplace. One of the fundamentals of advertising is target marketing. With this ad, they are specifically targeting asian consumers. Every single company does it. I don't think that advertisers have an obligation to be accessible to all cultures. People from different cultures buy different products. If you don't buy Crest white strips because you can't read the ad, so what? The company is the one that loses profit in the end.

If you want to tackle the problem of immigrants not learning English, why not actually focus on the issue rather than a bus stop ad that is merely a reflection of the issue. For example, making ESL classes more accessible or increasing immigration standards. Besides the vast majority of immigrants I know do make an effort to learn at least basic English. The ones that don't end up having a very difficult time in life because they can't function. It's their loss, not anyone else's.

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Easy to say, harder to do. Living in S. Korea, I naturally gravitated to people who speak your language.

This whole sign issue is absolutely ridiculous. Like I said, if this company wants to completely ignore half the population in its advertising, so be it.

Everyone goes on and on about how great Canada is, how multicultural it is and such a wide variety of foods, cultures, etc and then gets all pissy when those very people and cultures we boast about don't do what we want. Ridiculous.

I agree that the signage issue is ridiculous, because it is. But what I'm getting at is the uglier side of the coin, and the extensive impact on the society as it is. I grew up in Surrey, mostly in the Newton area and still to this day, nearly 30 years later there are STILL people who cannot speak English in any appreciable manner, and consciously choose not to.

For this signage issue to become a non-issue, you have to correct the problem at its source, and that comes down to the Federal Government not being strict enough in their enforcement of immigration standards.

It's like saying the rules are just there for the sake of it, and they're more like guidelines. I'm all for people expressing their cultures personally, but publicly things have to adhere to the national standard, and in my opinion if that's too hard to follow then don't live here.

I understand that no one that first moves to an English speaking country understands or can speak the language adequately right off the hop. I have no problem with people coming here and genuinely trying to learn, my issue is with those that come here, abuse their privileges and have no intent at all to ever learn, and somehow expect that the rest of the population is going to cater to their laziness.

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I agree that the signage issue is ridiculous, because it is. But what I'm getting at is the uglier side of the coin, and the extensive impact on the society as it is. I grew up in Surrey, mostly in the Newton area and still to this day, nearly 30 years later there are STILL people who cannot speak English in any appreciable manner, and consciously choose not to.

For this signage issue to become a non-issue, you have to correct the problem at its source, and that comes down to the Federal Government not being strict enough in their enforcement of immigration standards.

It's like saying the rules are just there for the sake of it, and they're more like guidelines. I'm all for people expressing their cultures personally, but publicly things have to adhere to the national standard, and in my opinion if that's too hard to follow then don't live here.

I understand that no one that first moves to an English speaking country understands or can speak the language adequately right off the hop. I have no problem with people coming here and genuinely trying to learn, my issue is with those that come here, abuse their privileges and have no intent at all to ever learn, and somehow expect that the rest of the population is going to cater to their laziness.

How are we catering to them? How are they abusing their privilege?

If you choose to live in a country and not learn the language, that's your problem and will be harder for you. You can bumble through and ask for help, but I don't see how that impacts you or any other 'native' Canadian.

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How are we catering to them? How are they abusing their privilege?

If you choose to live in a country and not learn the language, that's your problem and will be harder for you. You can bumble through and ask for help, but I don't see how that impacts you or any other 'native' Canadian.

Exactly, my view is "who cares". Government services are all in English and French. "Native" Canadians are under no obligation to communicate with anyone in Chinese or whatever language. I also can't recall meting any minority in North America that expected me to communicate with them in their own language or any language other than English. There's no obligation to read this ad or buy their products. If someone chooses not to learn English, they are the ones that lose in the end.

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Seeing as some ppl are making this a bit of a race/ culture thing... Let me squash this a little.. I'm have Scandinavian, grew up in a household that carried on the customs, language, culture etc. But if I was going to the deli and couldn't read the signs it is telling me I'm not welcome..there is nothing wrong with another language on the sign. But I live in Canada so I had better see some English maybe French :P Even Chinatown and little Italy do both. Geeze, how's this for a thought, maybe these folks might learn how to speak English if they had to. Just like my Grandfather, and father. And to all those thinkin I'm hating on browns or Asians ... I have a multicultural family, with both browns and Asians oh and South Americans..and all of them have said the reason they learned the language so fast was being immersed. Lol damn I just realized thanksgiving at my place is like a UN conference :P / end rant

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