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Spanish on packaging


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75 replies to this topic

#1 of 76 OFFLINE   Michael Varacin

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Posted March 11 2008 - 08:39 AM

Is anyone else starting to get annoyed with almost everything in stores now being labeled in Spanish as well as English? I know we don't have a "declared" national language here in the US, but it's getting irritating. I'm finding it more and more difficult to read packaging while in a store, since all the writing jumbles together, and my eyes don't know where to go to start / stop reading lines. Or when looking for large items at Home Depot, and you have to move the box around 3 times to find the side in English. Am I alone or is there enough people who feel like to me fight back?

#2 of 76 OFFLINE   Jacinto

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Posted March 11 2008 - 08:55 AM

I'm a native Spanish-speaker and it bugs me to see Spanish and English on the same label or package. There's enough crap that HAS to be on packaging due to legislation that I already find strictly English labels hard enough to decipher. Adding most of that same information in a different language only exacerbates that problem. I was shopping for a new phone yesterday and I, like you, had to turn the box three times to find the English information. I find it worse, however, on products that put the Spanish directly under the English line of type, creating this incredibly jumbled multi-lingual mess. As I read those, I feel my brain switching back and forth between languages depending on what piece of information I happen to glance at.
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#3 of 76 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted March 11 2008 - 09:01 AM

European products are much "worse" in that regard. Instructions manuals feature like 5 or 6 different languages.

I think it's awesome. There is something about diversity and multiculturalism that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

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#4 of 76 OFFLINE   drobbins

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Posted March 11 2008 - 09:17 AM

I thought that Spanish is supposed to pass English as the number one language spoken in the USA, especially in cities. I think it is a sign of the times and will continue. What I hate is the copyright warnings at the beginning of a movie. You can't skip them and now they are in 2, 3 & 4 different languages. Why can't they just show the one language that the movie is being played in?

#5 of 76 OFFLINE   BrianB

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Posted March 11 2008 - 10:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drobbins
You can't skip them and now they are in 2, 3 & 4 different languages. Why can't they just show the one language that the movie is being played in?

What would be the purpose of displaying the FBI copyright warning in German on front of my Run Lola Run BD that I just bought from Borders?
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#6 of 76 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted March 11 2008 - 10:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Holadem
I think it's awesome. There is something about diversity and multiculturalism that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
What Holadem said. I love seeing different languages on labels, just as I love walking down the street and hearing them spoken (an everyday occurrence around these parts).

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#7 of 76 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted March 11 2008 - 11:48 AM

I seem to see a lot of packaging in Spanish. And not just for DVDs.

On a serious note I agree with Holadem and Michael.
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#8 of 76 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted March 11 2008 - 11:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drobbins
I thought that Spanish is supposed to pass English as the number one language spoken in the USA, especially in cities.
Got any source for that? This is the first time I'd heard that.
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#9 of 76 OFFLINE   drobbins

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Posted March 11 2008 - 02:29 PM

Quote:
Got any source for that? This is the first time I'd heard that.
No I don't. Posted Image It was something I remember reading a while back.
I did find this interesting 2006 census chart on language other than english spoken at home. It shows that just under 20% of households in the USA speak something other than english at the house. Calafornia has the higest % at 42.5%. With those high numbers and with products being manufactured in many different countries, I think we will continue to see multi-language boxes and instructions.

#10 of 76 OFFLINE   Greg*go

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Posted March 11 2008 - 03:28 PM

Interesting link drobbins, however, I think we need more info. We need to see the historical statistics in order to see any trends.

Wikipedia has a nice little article about the percentages of different languages. These figures are backed by the 2000 Census.

English as a native language is currently at 82%, Spanish is at 11%. However, it also states "96% of the population of the U.S. speaks English well."

Given that last figure, I don't think Spanish will be taking over English as the dominant language in my lifetime. The additional languages don't bother me on the phone, or on labeling. What does bother me is when I buy a product and it doesn't include English instructions!
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#11 of 76 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted March 11 2008 - 03:51 PM

Quote:
I love seeing different languages on labels, just as I love walking down the street and hearing them spoken (an everyday occurrence around these parts).

In 1,000 years, do you think we will see everyone speaking one language, one of three-to-five major languages, or even more languages than exist today? Do you think the benefits of everyone speaking the same language (which seem self-evident) outweigh the historical romanticism of multiple languages? Or are there actually practical, real advantages to a world with multiple languages?

While I understand the cultural significance of language diversity, my practical side sees us in a natural, inevitable, and desirable gravitation to a unified language (whatever that may be).

#12 of 76 OFFLINE   Greg_S_H

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Posted March 11 2008 - 05:38 PM

Michael, I picked up a Mario game the other day and saw the Spanish on the back and wondered if the store had accidentally gotten an import version. The way I see it, if Canadians can complain about having to have French on their DVDs (to the point where many here import from the US when a title has both on the packaging), we can do the same about Spanish.

#13 of 76 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted March 11 2008 - 06:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_S_H
The way I see it, if Canadians can complain about having to have French on their DVDs (to the point where many here import from the US when a title has both on the packaging), we can do the same about Spanish.
People can (and do) complain about whatever they want. I was giving a personal perspective, nothing more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Perry
In 1,000 years, do you think we will see everyone speaking one language, one of three-to-five major languages, or even more languages than exist today? Do you think the benefits of everyone speaking the same language (which seem self-evident) outweigh the historical romanticism of multiple languages? Or are there actually practical, real advantages to a world with multiple languages?
I'm not so arrogant as to think that I can predict what will be the case in a thousand years. For now, and for the foreseeable future, multiple languages are a fact, not "historical romanticism".

As for the "practical, real advantages", I will say this: I never learned so much about my own habits and patterns of thinking as when I was forced to try to recreate them in a foreign language. I never learned so much about the essence of communication as when I was forced to convey critical information in a language not my own (e.g., when I needed medical treatment and the only available doctor spoke no English). I didn't begin to understand the ways in which language influences thought until I was forced to break down complex sentence structures in a language that didn't come "naturally" to me; from that point of view, the three years I spent studying Latin was anything but a waste of time.

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#14 of 76 OFFLINE   Greg_S_H

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Posted March 11 2008 - 06:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
People can (and do) complain about whatever they want. I was giving a personal perspective, nothing more.

Sorry, should have been more specific. I was talking to the thread starter.

#15 of 76 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted March 11 2008 - 06:08 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_S_H
Sorry, should have been more specific. I was talking to the thread starter.
Appreciate the clarification.

BTW, one of my personal projects in the next 10 years is to learn Spanish. Posted Image

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#16 of 76 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted March 12 2008 - 01:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
I never learned so much about the essence of communication as when I was forced to convey critical information in a language not my own (e.g., when I needed medical treatment and the only available doctor spoke no English).
Did you take a bullet from nowhere on a tourist bus in the Moroccan country side? Posted Image. There is a good story there that we need to hear.

I found myself having to explain to a pharmacist in Tokyo that the bizarre cough and nasty flu I had, had resisted a battery of over the counter US meds and I need suggestions. Didn't work too well.

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#17 of 76 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted March 12 2008 - 02:03 AM

Quote:
As for the "practical, real advantages", I will say this: I never learned so much about my own habits and patterns of thinking as when I was forced to try to recreate them in a foreign language. I never learned so much about the essence of communication as when I was forced to convey critical information in a language not my own (e.g., when I needed medical treatment and the only available doctor spoke no English). I didn't begin to understand the ways in which language influences thought until I was forced to break down complex sentence structures in a language that didn't come "naturally" to me; from that point of view, the three years I spent studying Latin was anything but a waste of time.

As a fellow former Latin student, I'll agree with you that Latin is helpful in understanding English (and other languages) but I'd say your medical treatment experience proves my point. Most people in that situation would prefer to be able to easily communicate with a doctor vs. going through an academic exercise. (I can't quite tell if you agree with this or are saying that in hindsight you view it as a positive experience.)

#18 of 76 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted March 12 2008 - 03:46 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Holadem
Did you take a bullet from nowhere on a tourist bus in the Moroccan country side? Posted Image. There is a good story there that we need to hear.

I found myself having to explain to a pharmacist in Tokyo that the bizarre cough and nasty flu I had, had resisted a battery of over the counter US meds and I need suggestions. Didn't work too well.
Nothing so exotic as a bullet. More like your pharmacist story. I was traveling in the countryside of southern Germany and had a cold that was developing into something more. The local doctor was elderly and spoke no English. He treated me on a Sunday afternoon in an office attached to his home. He'd been gardening and came into the office still wearing his lederhosen. I spoke decent classroom German, but the vocabulary you learn in the classroom doesn't include anything useful for describing medical symptoms. But we managed. He was a good doctor.

And Brian, to answer your question, yes, I view it as a positive experience, from an educational point of view. What I learned is that language is anything but an "academic exercise". It's as essential to our existence as breathing, and we take it for granted in much the same way -- until it suddenly stops working for us.

To me, the academic exercise would be imagining that one can replace the reality of multiple languages with some common tongue. I believe it's been tried, and as far as I know, Esperanto was not a success. Posted Image

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#19 of 76 OFFLINE   Michael Varacin

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Posted March 12 2008 - 06:51 AM

I'm all for cultural diversity. I enjoy learning about and talking to those with different backgrounds. However, I am unhappy that it is no longer becoming an option. In my mind, the big question is how many people that are here leagally only speak spanish? My thoughts are most people legally entitled to be here speak english. So why are we labeling products to aid a population who should not be here anyway?

I was at the hardware store last night looking for a box of screws to mount some speakers. I was trying to find the quantity of screws in the box. It was a pain because the label was all jumbled up with english which ran right into spanish with no seperation between the wording.

#20 of 76 OFFLINE   Michael Warner

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Posted March 12 2008 - 07:18 AM

Having grown up in and around Canada (Detroit/Windsor/London, Ont.) I'm used to bilingual packaging. That said I much prefer English/Spanish over English/French. The convolutions that they'll put the French language through just to avoid using Anglicized versions of new words is almost painful to behold. Spanish speakers seem to hold no such grudge and will usually just slip in an extra vowel or two.
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