May 06, 2006

Cartoon roundup, "Nuestro Himno" edition

Every once in a while a linguistic issue dominates the national discourse: think of the "Ebonics" dispute of 1996, or the debate over California's initiative to curtail bilingual education in 1998. For the last week or two the "Nuestro Himno" controversy has provided such a moment, as a Spanish translation of the national anthem has become a flashpoint in the political conflict over immigration and the role of English in an increasingly multicultural nation. All of this public wrangling has afforded a great learning opportunity for university courses on language and culture — see, for instance, this QuickTime movie that Dennis Baron prepared for his classes at the University of Illinois, with clips of "Nuestro Himno" coverage from CNN, Fox, NBC, CBS, and even "The Colbert Report" in all its resplendent truthiness.

Political cartoonists have supplied another ready source of material, as many of them have seized on the anthem controversy to explore issues relating to linguistic and cultural assimilation, bilingualism, and anxieties over whether English is losing its hegemonic grip. Below are ten recent language-related cartoons, covering a broad political spectrum. (The views expressed are solely those of the cartoonists and do not necessarily reflect the sparkling exchange of ideas at Language Log Plaza.)

Glenn McCoy, 4/27/06:

Chan Lowe, 4/29/06:

Dana Summers, 5/1/06:

Dan Wasserman, 5/1/06:

Tony Auth, 5/2/06:

Wayne Stayskal, 5/2/06:

Lalo Alcaraz, 5/3/06:

Chip Bok, 5/3/06:

Dana Summers, 5/3/06:

Matt Davies, 5/3/06:

Posted by Benjamin Zimmer at May 6, 2006 01:17 AM