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BEACHCOMBER: Do you speak your parent's language?

  • By David Barron

By Dave Barron

As I go out into the community I get some funny reactions about our local area.
There are many stereotypes out there about our community.
For example, Monterey Park and west San Gabriel Valley is an “Asian Community and therefore they are not interested in my products or services.”

 Then I get the response that “Asians only deal with Asians.”
“They only trust Asian Doctors, real estate brokers, grocers, jewelers, etc,”
All nonsense, of course. But you can say the same thing about any immigrant community or ethnic group and get away with it.
I too think that some ethnic groups feel more comfortable dealing with people who look like them and speak their language.That is particulalry true of recent immigrants who don’t speak, write or read English very well.

That’s why in the past there were "Litle Italys", Polish neighborhoods and Irish communities. I remember when Boyle Heights was predominatly made up of Jews and all the shops were operated by Jews. Nearby in Lincoln Heights, the community was predoinately Italian. East L.A. was and continues to be mostly Hispanic with the majority Mexican Americans.

But what about Monterey Park (60% Asian - 28% - Hispanic); Alhambra (50% - 50%); Rosemead, (50% - 50%) an on and on..
Does this mean that to reach Monterey Park residents you have to advertise only in Chinese language newspapers? Or, in East L.A. you have to advertise only in Spanish language publications.

Of Course NOT: The color of money is green. As immigrant populations mature, things begin to change.
Take Monterey Park, for example. The second and third generation groups can hardly speak their parents native tongue. They speak Spanglish and Chinglish!Previous census studies have confirmed that in general, among second generation children maybe one in five can speak Chinese, particularly Mandarin.

It may be different in Monterey Park, because people who live in illegal residential motels and boarding houses appear to speak mostly Chinese.
I am not a scholar and gather my information mainly by observation and discussions with friends.

However, Spanish is my first language and I am fluent in it, although I have a limited vocabulary and seldom speak it.

I am sometimes confused when I enter a store in East L.A. and they speak to me in Spanish. Fortunately I have no problem responding.
However, my children would have some difficulty and their children would be in an impossible situation. 

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