Posted on October 25, 2017
No Way, Jose
We don’t need no stinking accent marks
If you’ve watched much Major League Baseball this season, you probably noticed something slightly different about the players’ uniforms. Many of the Hispanic players have had accent marks added to the names on the backs of their jerseys, as a collective exercise in celebration of their Latin American heritage. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, is there?
Well, yes, there is, insofar as the names on athletes’ jerseys are not meant to be an instrument for the players’ individual expression. Their purpose is to help the spectators identify the players. We, in this country, don’t use accent marks, so the players’ names don’t have any for as long as they’re here. Not that there’s any harm done by the accent marks by themselves, and we certainly wouldn’t expect an equipment manager to deny such a request from a star player. The question is where, and if, it’s going to end.
A less understandable and more annoying example can be found at San Jose State University, which prints its name on its football uniforms with an accent mark in “Jose.” These are Americans, running an American university, named after an American city, and consciously taking a measure to de-Americanize it. And yes, this is exactly their intention. This is a college in the Bay Area, after all.
Naturally, ESPN has gotten on board, adding accent marks to the names of Latin American baseball and soccer players on its crawl. This is not on ESPN Deportes, which specifically caters to a Spanish-speaking audience, but on the four English language ESPN channels.
Accent marks exist in languages, like Spanish, that have rules about which syllable in a word is normally emphasized. When there are exceptions to those rules, an accent mark is used to identify the syllable that receives the emphasis. In our country, we speak a language that has no such rules. Therefore, we have no exceptions to any such rules. Therefore, we don’t need no stinking accent marks.
In hindsight, we set ourselves up for this sort of linguistic corruption when we accepted the tilde, which in Spanish is never a character by itself, but is added to the letter “N” to create a whole separate letter. We have no such letter, so why do we ever see it in our media? We have already learned through our familiarity with it that a name spelled “P-E-N-A” is pronounced “PAY-nya.” We don’t need to expand our alphabet in order to accommodate it. It’s true that the English language borrows from lots of other languages, but it only keeps those parts it finds useful. Accent marks and tildes are not useful to the English language.
Yet the assumption seems to be that the United States must adopt any element of any other culture as its own, and to do otherwise is “nativist”, “xenophobic”, or somehow else bigoted. This is American exceptionalism, liberal style, according to which only America is not entitled to its own interests, as all other nations are. Any other country may exploit its natural resources, except America. Any other country may enforce its borders and immigration laws, except America. Any other country is entitled to its own language, except America.
As you might expect, the NFL is in the vanguard of the movement to put foreign characters on its uniforms. German-born Moritz Boehringer, who was cut by the Minnesota Vikings just before the start of the season, had an umlaut over the “O” on his jersey during the preseason. Veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon, born in Haiti, wears a jersey with that French bit of phlegm hanging off the letter “C,” known as a cedilla. Can Chinese characters be far behind?
It might be tempting to give up and adopt all these non-English characters in our language, but that’s when liberals will spring their trap. In an instant, the accusation will shift from “jingoism” to “cultural appropriation.” How dare you write with accent marks? Don’t you know that you’re stealing the collective intellectual property of another people? This could even be seen as mockery if it is done incorrectly, as in mistakenly putting a tilde in “habanero.”
For a culture to change the fundamentals of its written language is no small hassle. It would normally only be compelled to do so by a conquering force, which liberalism must now believe itself to have become. Thankfully, we don’t need to pour cauldrons of boiling oil on them to make them back away. All we need to do is say no to them, for once.
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