4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 14, 2002
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Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
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necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
"LIt was the
right thing to
do and I'm
glad we did it."
- Director of Homeland Security
Tom Ridge on the latest terror
warning issued on Tuesday, as
quoted by The Associated Press.
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Untying my tongue
YAEL KOHEN JE NT SAIS QUQI
So I hear Americans
are finally wising up
and realizing the
importance of learning for-
eign languages. That's
But from where I am sit-
ting right now, at an outdoor
cafe sipping cafe au lait in
the south of France, I say to
myself: Maybe everyone really does speak eng-
Many French see Americans in France as
an opportunity to practice their English. This
conflicts with the idea that we Americans have
- that we are there to practice our French.
So let me start the message by saying don't
come to France to learn French. Come to
France once you have attained a level of French
that you could attain only by living in France.
Doesn't make very much sense, does it? Well
that is the truth that many of us find here.
And from what I hear, this problem is not
particular to France. All over the world Ameri-
cans who study and travel in an attempt to learn
the country's language are faced with the same
The Academie Francaise is a French institu-
tion designed to protect the French language
from those hideous anglicisms in an attempt to
keep their language pure. Well I have news for
the Acadamie Francaise: I'm not sure if the
French even like to speak French.
Let me give you a scenario: Ordering off a
menu in a restaurant. Now, even if one is not
studying the language, ordering off a menu is
not one of the more complex tasks in French
(or any language for that matter) ... but
nonetheless, the waiter insists on moodily tak-
ing the order in English. Of course, determined
to persist, I ask for the salade de chevre chaud.
"Yes, would you like a drink with that?" the
waiter asks me in English as I cower in my seat
as locals leer like I'm one of those ugly Ameri-
"Une carafe d'eau," I insist.
"Thank you," he says because the French
"merci" would obviously be too difficult for me
Maybe he thinks he's helping
From what I hear, I should be taking this
insistence to speak English as a compliment.
After all, only several years earlier I heard
many people recount horror stories of being
snubbed by the French when they were unable
to speak the language.
Well, things have certainly changed.
Now of course, for all students of language,
this problem hinders the learning process. Once
I have finally convinced the waiter (or anyone
for that matter) to speak in French, I am wary
of asking questions if I don't understand in fear
that they will revert back to English.
Once I even ended up with a plate of cow
testicles for a meal because I misunderstood an
arrogant waiter, who was just waiting for me to
Then of course there is the accent: If you
don't get the pronunciation right the first time,
they stubbornly scrunch up their noses, looking
at you as if you were speaking gibberish, with
barely an effort to understand.
And then of course, we start all over again
I would recommend a phonetics class for
anyone studying a foreign language. The
French accent is not so easy and although I
don't speak Arabic or Chinese, I can assure you
those languages have sounds that are not easy
As Americans, we have been lucky enough
to grow up speaking the lingua franca, but at
the same time this notion has hindered us from
And once abroad, I realized that learning
foreign tongues is more than just overcoming
Americans barriers. It's also overcoming obsta-
cles in a distant foreign land once we have
already taken on the challenge.
Eventually, once you have proven yourself,
it is inevitable that your foreign counterparts
will appreciate the effort you have made. (After
all, if they wanted to practice their English that
badly they could always go to the United States
But it is true that the road will be difficult.
In France, if you want to practice your
French, better find a German, they certainly
want to practice French - but if you want to
practice German, you might finally get the
chance to speak to a Frenchman after all.
Yael Kohen is a Daily columnist writing
from Aix-en-Provence, France. She can
be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I like myself mentality
leads overweight people to
'Loser Denial Syndrome'
TO THE DAILY:
I would like to comment on Aubrey
Henretty's column, Food for Thought
Making fun of someone because they
are fat is more (I strongly stress the "more"
part) justifiable than making fun of some-
one because they are, say, ugly or short.
The reason is because people have much
less control over being ugly or short than
their control over their obesity (read: Fit-
ness level). It is a shame that Henretty had
to be a victim of that type of ridicule dur-
ing her childhood. Kids who make fun of
others in that manner likely did not have
proper home training from their parents.
I know of three major types of eating
disorders: Anorexia, bulimia and overeat-
ing. For the case of overeating, I feel this
disorder can be remedied alone, without
professional assistance. It is similar to not
needing to join a gym if you want to get in
shape. It can be done without spending
money in that fashion. I am sure Bally's
Fitness is glad not everyone thinks like me,
otherwise they would be out of business.
For bulimia and anorexia, these disor-
ders probably require professional help.
The "Hollywood ideal" is not entirely to be
blamed for their existence. For one, the
term is ill-defined and secondly, if a
woman was to think obtaining a body like
Jennifer Aniston's would be virtually
impossible, they would be mistaken.
Would the annual cases of anorexia or
bulimia decrease if Hollywood actresses
did not look the way they do? Probably,
but the argument is as strong as saying,
"Guns should be banned because the death
rate from firearms would go down."
Please do not misconstrue me. I am all
for people having high self-esteems, inso-
far as their liking themselves is justified.
But to not take care of yourself resulting in
being 50(+) pounds overweight is simply
having, what I have dubbed, LDS (Loser
Denial Syndrome). That is when people
cross over from the "I like myself" mental-
ity into complacency. Complacency is a
disease. Avoid it at all costs!
American culture can
Olympics always political
TO THE DAILY:
Amer Zahr's column, My National
Anthem or Yours?, (2/11/02) says that "It
was a wonder to me as to how this event,
which had nothiig to do with American
culture and almost everything to do with
invoking Indian culture, could carry such a
political message." What he does not
understand is that here in America, there
are hundreds of cultures mixed into one
"American" culture, including Indian cul-
ture. In America, Indian culture, as well as
Persian Culture, Australian culture, East
Asian culture and any other. culture one can
think of are included in "American" cul-
ture. So, even if this was not a honky-tonk
square dance, it was still a part of "Ameri-
can" culture and thus was worthy of a
National Anthem rendition as well as a
moment of silence.
Second, I believe that Zahr is way off
the mark when he states that "It (what it
means to be an American) should mean not
lobbying to turn the Olympics into a forum
to send a political message by walking our
tattered World Trade Center flag into the
Olympic stadium during opening cere-
monies ... " When so many nations come
together at the Olympics, many of them
with opposing interests, it is unavoidable to
not have political messages sent.
Historically, the Olympics have been a
peaceful forum in which politics play a
major role. The' U.S. boycotting the
Moscow Olympics, the USSR boycotting
the L.A. Olympics, the 1980 victory of the
U.S. hockey team over the USSR and Jesse
Owens' remarkable performance in Nazi
Germany are a few "political messages"
which have been sent over the years, all of
which are less dramatic than the US carry-
ing a symbol of its national sadness and
determination into the Olympic stadium.
To fight or not to fight: The best patriots don't
By CHRIS FARAH
Something amazing is taking place in Israel
I can guess what you must be thinking. It
has something to do with violence. Someone,
from some group, be it Palestinian or Israeli,
committed a new, even more egregious act of
violence. Something worse than what we've
already witnessed for over a year now, since
the most recent Palestinian uprising. Someone
was bombed, someone was shot, someone was
killed. The beat goes on. After all, happens
every day over there, right?
Well, not this time. The amazing thing
happening in Israel right now is that a group of
people - a group of soldiers no less (imagine
They are "conscientious objectors;" a term
we haven't heard much of around here since
the Vietnam War. In a statement released to the
entire world, the reservists declared that they'd
had enough - not enough of fighting to
defend their country. Don't misunderstand.
These men are Israeli patriots - in the truest
sense of the word.
No, they've had enough of what they call
"commands and directives that had nothing
to do with the security of our country and
that had the sole purpose of perpetuating our
control over the Palestinian people." In other
media reports, these soldiers have detailed
commands from superiors that included fir-
ing on civilians and peaceful demonstrators,
as well as orders preventing Palestinian
ambulances from treating the wounded.
received a mixed response from other seg-
ments of the Israeli public would be a massive
understatement. Members of the Israeli gov-
ernment, the military and many average citi-
zens have called their decision - to refuse to
serve in the West Bank or Gaza -undemocra-
tic and unpatriotic.
During times of crisis, as we Americans are
finding out after Sept. 11, when a nation feels
threatened, it becomes extremely difficult and
nearly impossible to voice protest against gov-
ernment policies, even when they're unjust and
immoral. You're either for us or against us.
You're either for your country or against your
country. Any voice of reason or criticism is
termed as an act of treason.
We have all seen over the past year and a
half the result of this kind of mindset. When
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