How many of our references to other languages and cultures also impose a burden on people who are part of those traditions (or who aren’t but we, in our ignorance, lump them in anyway)? We can, in our minds, have the highest regard for the traditions of others and debase them simultaneously. It’s not necessarily either/or.
One bit in this NPR Code Switch piece stood out for me:
Putcha says that deciding which languages get made fun of is one way society establishes which people and cultures are the norm and which are not. (Can you imagine Target selling tote bags and water bottles with a play on the word “hello”? Who’s going to shell out big bucks for a HELLO-M-G yoga mat?)
There are entire websites that show pictures of strange English usage on signs and products. It’s presented as humor. The assumption appears to be that the people who made these “mistakes” were stupid or ignorant. Hmm…