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'This is America': Alhambrans react to Monterey Park's 'modern Latin' sign ordinance

Monterey Park City Council delayed Wednesday a decision regarding the proposal to require businesses to post at least one sign in a "modern Latin" alphabet. The preliminary approval of the ordinance on July 24 sparked controversy in the city and San Gabriel Valley, and the council will vote again on Oct. 2.

We asked Alhambra readers and residents how they felt about cities requiring their businesses to post signs in a "modern Latin" alphabet, or in a language that English speakers can read. Of the 55 respondents to our online poll, 46 said they felt businesses should post signs in English or a Latin alphabet while seven disagreed. Listen to and read the responses we received.

[View the story “Do you think businesses should be required to display signs in a “modern Latin alphabet”?” on Storify]

NOTE: Comments in our online poll are anonymous.

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5 thoughts on “'This is America': Alhambrans react to Monterey Park's 'modern Latin' sign ordinance”

  1. This is about freedom of choice for business owners. If they don’t want English signs, they shouldn’t be forced to pay to make one, especially if they already know their customer base is predominantly Chinese. It’s ridiculous to mandate English signs (let’s face it, they said “modern Latin” alphabet to sidestep the potentially sticky issue of requiring one particular language), and the emergency services justification doesn’t cut it. If the pro-English signs folks are really concerned about public safety, then they should at least find out how many instances in the past x-month period where first respondents are NOT able to provide timely service due to lack of English signs. If it is significant, and if the business owners are made aware of the fact and understand the consequences, they themselves will make the decision. Why is the government always trying to tell people it knows how to live their lives better than they do?

    1. @William,

      Some interesting points that these businesses have freedom of choice. However, these stores are doing business with the public. The public should have the accessibility and right to discern what is offered to them, especially if stores are soliciting their services publicly. Also, it’s not just Chinese signs; what if store signs were written in just about any language (Farsi, Hindu, etc.) except English? Whose right prevails? The busineses owner or the consumer? You challenge the issue of public safety, but what about the legal issues. Uncommon names and unfamiliarity with the type of business only invites confusion and forms the basis for potential legal problems down the road.

      We are a democracy, but being proud of a diverse multi-ethnic society doesn’t preclude the fact that a multi-cultural one can still bring problems. Allowing any sign in any language for the sake of freedom is one thing, but lowering our standards and creating confusion for the sake of this only creates division within our society. In my opinion, because we are a diverse population, it’s even more imperative that we keep standards to reduce the social, economic, and political stressors and their impact caused by our differences. That’s what keeps our neighborhoods intact, gives us a better sense of place (who hasn’t heard someone say “This isn’t (choose your country)!”, and prevents a free-for-all that instigates resentment among residents.

  2. @ Shannon,

    That doesn’t preclude the fact that the majority of Americans write and speak English. That’s why having it “official” was never a major issue in the first place. I will agree with Denise Change, as a nation, English is the common language we all share as a majority.

  3. Except it’s not. The United States has no official language.

  4. This is America. I understand America is all about freedom, but English is the national language here.