Bob Bestler

Growing number, influence of Hispanics in US shows during recent conventions


During last week's Republican Convention, Kentucky State Sen. Ralph Alvarado said a few Spanish phrases during a speech to delegates.

A few days later, Sen. Tim Kaine, who is fluent in the language, also spoke a few Spanish phrases when he was introduced as Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running mate.

It seemed no more than a recognition of the many Hispanic citizens among us, but the whole thing was too much for conservative CNN political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes.

Donald Trump, she said, “spoke in a language all Americans can understand -- and that is English.

“I'm hoping I'm not going to have to start brushing up on my `Dora the Explorer' to understand some of the speeches this week” - a reference to a cartoon about a child who speaks Spanish and English.

I chuckled over the comment because “Dora the Explorer” once was one of my grandson's favorite shows, ranking right up there with “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

In fact, a few years ago, when we told Jacob we were taking him to Mexico, he uttered a few words he'd learned from Dora.

One of them, of course, was “Hola,” which, loosely translated, means “Hello” or “Hi” or “How y'all doing?”

Once we started going to Mexico regularly -- we spent two weeks there last month with both grandsons -- my bride began studying Spanish via CDs, so she and Jacob are more bi than I.

That's never been a problem because most everyone we meet in Mexico speaks English.

English is probably a criterion for working at a resort, of course, but we have also run into many bilingual Mexicans far removed from resorts -- and I must tell you they have always been friendly and gracious and helpful. It's one reason we keep going back.

I actually studied Spanish for two semesters in college, getting decent grades but never really grasping the conversational parts.

One of my regrets today is that I did not keep up my studies -- not just because of our current love for Mexico but also because the path of history is toward a bilingual America, as much as it might bother Ms. Hughes.

The Institute of Cervantes, a non-profit organization created by Spain in 1991 to promote the Spanish language and culture around the world, reported recently that last year the United States surpassed Spain as the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world, after Mexico.

It counted 41 million natural Spanish-speaking people and 11 million who have learned the language.

Those stunning statistics further demonstrate the growing number and influence of Hispanics in our midst and no one should be surprised when signs and phone instructions are given in both English and Spanish - or when a political speaker from either party takes note of that important part of the electorate.

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