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Metallixs Girl
14th June 2006, 03:58 PM
PHILADELPHIA - Bistec con queso? Not at Geno’s Steaks.

An English-only ordering policy has thrust one of Philadelphia’s best-known cheesesteak joints into the national immigration debate.

Situated in a South Philadelphia immigrant neighborhood, Geno’s — which together with its chief rival, Pat’s King of Steaks, forms the epicenter of an area described as “ground zero for cheesesteaks” — has posted small signs telling customers, “This Is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING ‘SPEAK ENGLISH.”’

“They don’t know how lucky they are. All we’re asking them to do is learn the English language,” said Geno’s owner Joseph Vento, 66. “We’re out to help these people, but they’ve got to help themselves, too.”

Vento, whose grandparents struggled to learn English after immigrating from Sicily in the 1920s, said he posted the sign about six months ago amid concerns over immigration reform and the increasing number of customers who could not order in English when they wanted Philly’s gooey, greasy specialty — fried steak, sliced or chopped, in a long roll, with cheese and fried onions.

Of course, it’s not as if native Philadelphians speak the King’s English either. A Philadelphian might order a cheesesteak by saying something like, “Yo, gimme a cheesesteak wit, will youse?” (“Wit,” or “with,” means with fried onions.) To which the counterman might reply: “Youse want fries widdat?”

Mexicans settle in Philly
The traditionally Italian community near Geno’s has become more diverse over the decades. Immigrants from Asia and Latin America have moved in, joining longtime residents and young professionals seeking reasonably priced rowhouses. In the past 10 years, an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Mexican immigrants — many of them here illegally, community leaders say — have settled in South Philly.

Vento said his staff is glad to help non-native speakers order in English and has never turned someone away because of a language barrier.

But the policy has “really upset a lot of a people,” said Brad Baldia of Day Without An Immigrant, a coalition of immigrant groups. “For some people, I think we’re just going to say, ‘Le gusta Pat’s.”’

Juntos, a Hispanic neighborhood organization, said it plans to send people to Geno’s to try to order in Spanish and may pursue court action, depending on what happens.

“His grandparents encountered the same racism and the same xenophobia,” said Peter Bloom, the group’s director. “Why would he begin that process over again?”

Customers seem unfazed
Vento said he has gotten plenty of criticism and threats. One person told him they hoped one his many neon signs flames out and burns the place down, he said. But he said he plans to hold his ground.

Customers placing orders on a recent morning seemed unfazed.

Angelica Marquez, 22 and originally from Puerto Rico, ordered in well-spoken English, but said some of her relatives struggle with the language. “They always come and just say ‘cheesesteak,”’ Marquez said, adding that the policy “bothers her some” but not enough to keep her away.

When a non-English speaking customer showed up at the window a short time later, a clerk patiently coached him through the process. Eventually, both said “cheesesteak.”

Vento, a short, fiery man with a ninth-grade education, arms covered in tattoos and a large diamond ring in his ear, also sells “freedom fries” to protest France’s opposition to the Iraq war. He rails against Mumia Abu-Jamal, the black man who was convicted of killing police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981 and has become a cause celebre among some death penalty opponents. Memorials to Faulkner are posted at his shop.

Not the real Philly attitude
Those who market the city, often using images of Geno’s and other famous steak shops, are watching with concern.

“I certainly wouldn’t want a national audience to think it represented all of the wonderful cheesesteak makers in the whole city,” said Meryl Levitz, president and chief executive of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. “This isn’t representative of the Philadelphia attitude.”

Competitors are seizing on the controversy.

Tony Luke’s issued a statement saying it welcomes all customers “whether or not they speak a ‘wit’ of English.”

And a manager at Pat’s, Kathy Smith, said of Geno’s English-only policy: “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life. I’d rather listen to the Spanish than the foul language of the college students.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13208549/

I have to say I agree with him, private businesses are allowed to do that. It's his place, and it's probably hard to deal with extra languages, him being so busy and all.

mr_pikachu
14th June 2006, 04:06 PM
Hey, I see no problem with it. Private business owners are allowed to refuse service to any customer for any reason, and to be honest, the leeway we give to people who don't know English has gone a little too far. It's good to see someone taking a stand.

On the other hand, the fact that it's happening in Philly is funny. After all, they practically speak a different language, themselves. :cheesy:


Moral of the story:

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Philly, talk as the Philadelphians do.

Magmar
14th June 2006, 04:38 PM
He could be a little nicer about it. I hate when people associate "America" with "English". It should be "United States", seeing as how over a dozen American countries have Spanish as the national language. -_-

Metallixs Girl
14th June 2006, 04:43 PM
He could be a little nicer about it. I hate when people associate "America" with "English". It should be "United States", seeing as how over a dozen American countries have Spanish as the national language. -_-


Actually, America is what we call our country. You mean "North" or "South American" countries. Some people say stuff like that and it's kind of twisted wording on their part. Not accusing you of that, but it's sort of irritating. America = what the US is known as /= North/South America = Continent. :)

Alucard
14th June 2006, 05:03 PM
The whole world should speak English.

Metallixs Girl
14th June 2006, 05:09 PM
The whole world should speak English.


That would make everything a lot easier but I can't really agree. I just think the Majority - note I did not say Official - spoken language of any country should be respected out in public when someone asks like with that sign.

Crazy
14th June 2006, 05:40 PM
What's the problem? They are in North America, so logic should tell them to learn the English language. How can anyone be offended by asking people to learn the native language?

Metallixs Girl
14th June 2006, 05:45 PM
What's the problem? They are in North America, so logic should tell them to learn the English language. How can anyone be offended by asking people to learn the native language?


On the other side of the coin, they are in America. Mexico is also in North America, so English is the American language, but Spanish is a North American Language, in Mexico...^_^

Crazy
14th June 2006, 06:28 PM
True, I have no idea how I forgot that. Lol

Heald
14th June 2006, 06:48 PM
Darn goobacks with their future speak! Dey turk der jerbs!

*ahem*

The whole 'in America you should speak English' and then the response 'Well Mexico is in Central America so therefore Spanish ought to be an American language too lolz' thing is retarded, you're just going by names. If the USA was called Jingleland your argument is null and void so shut your traps.

It seems a little ridiculous to expect restaurants and other services to speak Spanish when none of you seem to want the Mexicans there in the first place.

Personally, what I hate is idiots like Welsh, Cornish and Irish people trying to revive a dead language because it was part of their culture. This is a complete waste of public money that could be better spent on health or education. No one in Ireland actually speaks Irish as a first-language, less than two hundred people in the world speak Cornish and Welsh has only begun being learnt again since Wales got its own assembly. It's bullcrap. Your country gets some independence and the first thing they do is revive a language where every other word has about three consecutive y's in it and it only serves to piss non-Welsh speakers off.

But yeah, if you're going to have the nerve to immigrate to a country and leech off them, you could at least learn the language.

Asilynne
14th June 2006, 07:04 PM
But yeah, if you're going to have the nerve to immigrate to a country and leech off them, you could at least learn the language.

lol thats what my dad always says, in almost the exact wording too XD
I like people that at least try, if they have a heavy accent at least theyre trying. But when they refuse to learn and come here illegally so they can make the big US bucks and be rich in Mexico, thats kinda not fair.
I have a half serious idea of what to do about this but some people will think Im a bad person LOL

Heald
14th June 2006, 07:22 PM
I must admit there is nothing cooler than a Mexican speaking English with a heavy Mexican accent. And this is coming from someone who raced an ambulance down a dual carriageway earlier this evening.

Dark Dragonite
14th June 2006, 08:37 PM
I dislike illegal immigration as much as anyone, but I'd rather pay someone $3/hr to mow my 1.3acre lawn, than pay someone else $15/hr

.hacker
14th June 2006, 08:47 PM
My opinion:

If you want to live/work in the U.S., speak English. If you want to work/live in Mexico, speak Spanish. That's fair to everyone.

Magmar
14th June 2006, 08:58 PM
Technically, Central America is also part of the North American continent. You know, that little part where six of the seven countries speaks Spanish as their national language... not to mention all those islands in the Caribbean that are part of the North American continent where Spanish is the national language... and a few of them have French, kind of like Canada who also has English. We're all Americans whether big-headed people like it or not, regardless of the language.

But I totally agree that this is the United States, please speak at least SOME English o.O;

Silver Ledian
14th June 2006, 10:46 PM
Irish is spoken as a first language in some parts of Ireland, but it's in small communities in the west of the country, more than 200 like lol. It's a listed language of the EU and one of the two national languages of the country I think. I like the fact languages are experiencing revivals atm. As for the topic at hand, I think if you go to another country you should do your best to learn the language but I'm sure there's a lot of situations which people are in that prevents them from being able to learn the language of wherever they are. But if they are in another country and plan to permanently live there then yeah, I think they should make the effort to learn the language. Although I hear about 10% of residents in the US speak Spanish as their first language, which is like between 20-30 million people, so I can also understand the need to adapt.

mr_pikachu
15th June 2006, 01:17 AM
I have a half serious idea of what to do about this but some people will think Im a bad person LOL

The term "meat pies" comes to mind...

Anyway, this is why there are supposed to be tests to immigrate. If you can't understand the culture in which you live, you'll be very out of place in your new home. And if you can't communicate with people at all, it might be a little hard to find food.

RedStarWarrior
15th June 2006, 05:58 AM
The guy hasn't actually refused service to anyone. The people that work there have helped teach people how to order in English, instead of turning them away. I don't see what the big deal is. Sure it isn't our official language, but it is the national language and the language of the majority. I would understand there being a problem in a state that has adopted legislation for multiple official languages, but Pennsylvania isn't one of them.

Leon-IH
15th June 2006, 09:25 AM
The underlying rule here appears to be 'if your in a country where the majority language is english, use english ffs'

Chikoo
16th June 2006, 03:55 AM
if i had a small business i'd want to make money, not play politics with the clientele. but that's just me. :)

phaedrus
16th June 2006, 12:15 PM
it's a bitch of a policy, but it's a private business's decision. they have that choice.

Dark Dragonite
16th June 2006, 01:30 PM
it's a bitch of a policy, but it's a private business's decision. they have that choice.


Noone felt that way when Boy Scouts of America wanted to exclude gays...let's get something straight(no pun intended) I have gay/lesbian friends, I have no problems with them, BUT, BSOA is also a private organization, don't they also have the right to be exclusive?

Heald
16th June 2006, 01:46 PM
That's different - BSOA is considered a national institution and therefore it should be more inclusive.

Asilynne
16th June 2006, 01:48 PM
The term "meat pies" comes to mind...

Anyway, this is why there are supposed to be tests to immigrate. If you can't understand the culture in which you live, you'll be very out of place in your new home. And if you can't communicate with people at all, it might be a little hard to find food.


NoNoNo lol It doesnt involve killing anyone LOL
Ok my idea was, why doesnt America just absorb Mexico? I mean, theyre all jumping the border to come here anyway, so we should just make them a part of the US, and they can all be US citizens and still live where they grew up! It should make everyone happy! lol
If only things were that easy ^-^()

Jeff
16th June 2006, 01:51 PM
If you are visiting another country you should at least have someone with you that knows the language, and if you plan on living there, learn the language yourself.

It's not xenophobic to want people to learn English, it's the main language here and when people learn it, they are much better off. When my great-grandmother came here from Sicily, she had to learn English, and it offends me to think that people think they can just come to this country and get around without it. If one cheesteak place can convince people to learn English by making them order in it, then I say that's a good thing.

Magmar
16th June 2006, 02:17 PM
ahh my great grandma came here from Sicily, too!
...have we had this discussion before?

Blademaster
16th June 2006, 04:01 PM
Mine was Sicilian, too! Freaky... maybe we're all related?

(Please God, no...) :lol:

And cheers to that cheesesteak place - I'm probably the most lenient guy at TPM, but I see nothing wrong with what they're doing. You don't even have to learn the language - just walk in and say "One cheesesteak, please." You could take a cue card with you and make it easier - make a whole bunch of flash cards like that! Learn the language and absorb the culture all at once. :laugh:

Magmar
17th June 2006, 09:58 AM
Let's just assume that we all are and have a special secret club that meets in the woods at 2 a.m.