How do you feel when you see another language on a food item you buy?

United States
March 27, 2007 11:00am CST
How do you feel when you see another language on a food item you buy? If we put another language on a food item, what does that mean? In the USA, we are a melting pot of different cultures, but we cannot put 20 different languages on a can of peas. How do you decide which languages to put on a can of peas? Or should be just have one language on these food items and expect everyone to learn our language?
5 people like this
12 responses
@applsofgld (2506)
• United States
27 Mar 07
This is the USA, when you go to other countries they don't bend over backwards to accomidate us American speaking people. We would have to know or learn their language. I think and this is my input, if a product is going to be offered for sale in the United States it should be in English, I believe that English should still be our native language and I think those from Mexico, India, France or wherever, should learn the English language if they are going to live here. I can get on a soapbox about this. My country is being taken over and all my fellow American's rights are being taken away and given to Mexicans and anyone else who wants to come live here illegally. If they want to live here and be an American citizen, then they should do it LEGALLY.
• United States
27 Mar 07
Ahhh...you understand.
3 people like this
• United States
27 Mar 07
There are plenty of american citizens that do not speak english, or enough english to shop for groceries. My mother is an american citizen and she speaks spanish and english, as do her parents, who are also american citizens. They were born in america and raised in homes where spanish was spoken. Spanish is their native toungue because that is what their parents spoke to them at home, they learned english from teachers and schools. I also do not see what rights illegal immigrants take away. It isn't as though illegal immigrants come to america and then revoke constitutionally guaranteed rights. Our government does that for us. This thread wasn't even about illegal immigration until you got it mixed up with the concept of multilingualism!
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Mar 07
Whatever....
• Canada
27 Mar 07
Well, to me as a Canadian, I always see the english and french, but there are also lots of other languages written on our food, depending on what the product is, and where it is from. I don't mind at all to see other languages on the packaging, and I encourage it so that people can have more exposure to other cultures and things. We buy a lot of greek and asian foods in our house, and they have greek and chinese and japanese, etc. writing on them. It's really cool. Especially to me to see the japanese writing, since I'm learning that language, and seeing it in places other than a text book can be nice lol...
• United States
29 Mar 07
If food is manufactured in Japan or Italy or Algeria for that matter, I have no problem seeing their language on the label. If it is manufactured in the USA, I should not have to sort throught various languages to find the calories and fat in my language.
@cutepenguin (6457)
• Canada
27 Mar 07
I, too, live in Canada. I find it strange to pick up food that has packaging and labels in only one language. Most of the time, there is French, English, and Chinese on the package.
3 people like this
• United States
27 Mar 07
When you have more than one language on a can of peas, it sure does take a lot of time to find the English. I live in the USA and this country was founded on the English language.
2 people like this
@prestocaro (1254)
• United States
27 Mar 07
I live in texas and I'd say half of the food I buy that (that has a label) has both spanish and english on it. It will just say, for instance, "PEAS" in large type and then "guisante" in smaller type right underneath it. The back has a label that is simply printed smaller for both languages. Most the shampoos I buy have two or three languages on them as well. I don't think we should "expect people to learn our language" because, at least here in texas, we have a strong cultural heritage from spain and mexico. The fact that it's the language you and I speak is arbitrary because there are many others who do not. I don't think it's that hard to print both -- then you can learn some spanish while spanish-speakers learn english. I try not to look at it as a matter of spanish-speakers being assimilated into American culture, but as both cultures being blended together. I dislike the idea of one sort of "winning out" against the other. There are plenty of places all over the world where people use two or three languages in their every day lives, and they think nothing of it.
• United States
27 Mar 07
Our country was founded on English. If I go to another country, I am expected to speak their language. There are whole towns in Florida that speak nothing but Spanish. If your car breaks down there, too bad...nobody is speaking YOUR language. There are many language spoken in the USA. So far, food manufactured in the USA is in English and Spanish...officially...now, where is the French, where is the Arabic....where is the Koran. How on earth do you put one extra language on a can of peas and it be fair to all the other people who speak other languages. I do not think we should have ten languages on a can of peas in print that the people who have lived all their lives here cannot read it.
2 people like this
• United States
27 Mar 07
What do you mean, "founded on"? The land for much of the southern part of the US was either stolen or purchased from spanish/mexican or french rule. Many northern states have strong french connections as well, as they were settled by the french and their descendants. Most of our founding fathers spoke a few languages (at least), one among them being latin, which helps you to understand the root of spanish and french. Besides, manufacturers just want to make as much money as possible, so they are going to try to increase their appeal. part of this includes making bilingual labels so more people buy their products. There are 13 million people in thus country that speak spanish and speak (at best) only poor english (as per the 2000 census).
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Mar 07
Some people may know various languages but when you go to a court of law, what language is being spoken? When you go to a hospital, what language is being spoken? Our constitution is in English. If people want to see everything in another language, they can go to another country where it is required. Before you know it these institutions will be required to have translators so nobody is offended. If you don't understand this, so be it.
2 people like this
@owlwings (40037)
• Cambridge, England
28 Mar 07
I believe that one of the conditions of becoming an American citizen is that one can demonstrate a basic knowledge of English. If food is packaged to be sold in one country, then it is logical that the labelling should be in the language or languages of that country. Food and many other items are often sold internationally. Sometimes the producer will label each item according to its destination, other times they will produce a label in several languages (which is, of course, slightly cheaper for them to do). Different countries have different laws about how ingredients should be detailed, so each country needs its own version of the list of ingredients.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Mar 07
I agree. If an item is coming from another country and they have regulations which permit the item to be in several languages, no problem. I buy international foods all the time and they are in the language of that country, such as Italy. I expect that. However, if an item is produced or manufactured here, it should be in the English language. I should not have to root though languages to find mine.
@Anniedup (3652)
• Richards Bay, South Africa
28 Mar 07
This is a difficult one. But is English not America's official language? If so then I suppose English should be learned by any immigrant. In my country we have 9 Official languages, although food packages that are mainly imported, are in English only. I love pasta and I have come across a few which are in Italian, although you can't go wrong with cooking pasta, my husband love to try out the recipes, on the packages. What is quite amusing is when you get through to any corporate business some greet you in all 9, and thank heavens others, give you a choice in the beginning to press a certain number to be addressed in your home language.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Mar 07
Annie, they never put it on paper that it is the official language but it is and everyone knows it. Our court hearings are in English, when you go for a job interview unless otherwise stated, you can be sure they expect you to speak English. I have no problem with imported food in other languages. I buy Middle Eastern foods all the time and believe me, there isn't a lick of English on it. Some countries speak many languages. In my husband's country most of the people speak French and Arabic. That is the way is it due to the French Colonization. All countries are different. But in the USA, we speak English. I will go out of my way to help someone who is trying to learn English. I was at the pharmacy awhile back and there are some Russian people who live in our town. The pharmacist was having a hard time understanding the Russian man. The Russian man yelled at the pharmacist, "You need to learn Russian!!!" Nasty man. This is so typical here. People who do not understand this, need to experience it. Then they can tell me if they still want five languages on their can of peas.
1 person likes this
@grayangel (274)
• United States
27 Mar 07
You also got to take in account that that shipment of peas may of gone some were else too. Does everyone speak English in Germany or China?
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Mar 07
I am talking about items produced in the USA. Most of our food products are produced in the USA. Those produced in other countries, come as they are.
1 person likes this
@jcgbrains (139)
• United States
28 Mar 07
What is our language. English is the language traditionally spoken by the fast majority of Americans and is thought of as our language. The thing is that the United States does not have an official language, Congress forgot to make it official I guess. This is one of the reasons you see the use of multiple languages on certain labels and documents, but there is another. Today companies are international, takes shoes, a pair of shoes has on it the correct size for it, based on three or four different systems. Further some clothing items have care information in three languages, Normally English, French, and Spanish. Some, but not all, of the things you see with mulitple languages on them are sold in multiple countries, with different languages, without any change in labeling. A person should not be, and I am not, offended by this practice. Business in business and they do it for the money.
1 person likes this
@fizzytom (759)
• Maribor, Slovenia
28 Mar 07
I think it depends on the item and whether it was intended originally for export. Here in the UK there are now lots of Polish immigrants and many of the supermarkets have a section for imported Polish goods - the most popular ones that Poles miss most I guess. The instructions, etc are always in Polish but that is to be expected because the goods were originally intended to be sold in Poland. If the item is, say, something made in the Czech Republic but also being supplied to Poland, Germany and Sweden, I would expect it to have the information in all those languages. It is quite simple - the language of the US is English and the item should be labelled in English. Only imported goods that are not to be sold as a store brand NATIVE to the country it is coming to need alternative languages. It reminded me, though, that quite often when I buy shampoo, I see the same information on the back in ten languages. Surely we all know how to use this!
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Mar 07
I always find it funny when Americans are offended because things are in other languages along with english. I am fine with it. I think it's wonderful that "non" Americans and other cultures are sharing our items and enjoying them. I have no issues with seeing other languages. I would hope that if I were in other countries I would have that option to see information provided in the language I know best. As far as deciding what languages to use for packaging I would assume it is based upon market studies. If certain ethnic groups use an item, that item would be presented so it's appealing to that group.
• United States
29 Mar 07
Read some of my above posts. You might understand.
• United States
29 Mar 07
Read some of my above posts. You might understand.
• Davanagere, India
28 Mar 07
It's true that we have to respect our language, but we have also think about other people who didn't know our languages.
• United States
29 Mar 07
If they are here..and they are going to live here and get a job here......they need to learn the language. If I go to France, and I get a job, guess what language they will expect me to speak and write? Go ahead, give it a guess...
• Pakistan
28 Mar 07
well i really get mad if this thing happened because it is impossible to understand