List of contemporary ethnic groups - Wikipedia

Together, these remarks contradict our two central story lines about foreign-language instruction in American public schools. Like the Polish teacher who feared "snooping authorities," most historical accounts attribute the paucity of school language classes to Anglo intimidation and coercion. Especially during World War I, scholars claim, a rabid "100 percent Americanism" purged German and other foreign languages from the nation's classrooms." This interpretation slights America's diverse ethnic groups, which were active agents-or at least willing accomplices-in the constriction of these courses. Denouncing Germans' "Teuton tongue," non-German immigrants periodically joined hands with old-stock patriotic societies to prohibit

The following is a list of contemporary ethnic groups

There has been constant debate over the classification of ethnic groups

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7 Anthony M. Turano, "The Speech of Little Italy," American Mercury, 26 (July 1932), 356-59; Marc Shell, "Hyphens: Between Deitsch and American," in Multilingual America: Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages ofAmerican Literature, ed. Werner Sollors (New York, 1998),261; "The Convention of the Yiddish Culture Society," typescript, 1930, folder 7, box 1, Yiddish Culture Society Papers (Center for Jewish History, New York, N.Y.); Einar Haugen, TheNorwegianLanguageinAmerica:A StudyinBilingualBehavior(Philadelphia, 1953),57.

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10 This essay defines "ethnicization" as "the unification of fragmented immigrant groups around shared cultural symbols such as language or religion," following Mary Patrice Erdmans,Opposite Poles: Immigrantsand Ethnicsin Polish Chicago, 1976-1990 (University Park, Pa., 1998),4. Historians have paid relatively little attention to the role of ethnic languages in the "invention of ethnicity": see, for example, Kathleen Neils Conzen et al., "The Invention of Ethnicity: A Perspective from the U.S.A.," journal ofAmericanEthnic History, 12 (Fall 1992), 3-42; Werner Sollors, ed., The Invention ofEthnicity (New York, 1989); and Werner Sollors, BeyondEthnicity: Consentand Descent in American Culture(New York, 1986). A recent and important exception is Sollors, ed., MultilingualAmerica.


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As the Polish example illustrates, meanwhile, these same languages were frequently foreign-not native-to the very foreigners who were urged to study them. Italian newcomers spoke Sicilian or Neapolitan, not the florid Italian of school textbooks; Germans used "Germerican," a combination of English and German; most Jews conversed in Yiddish, reserving Hebrew for religious services; and Norwegian immigrants developed a dialect that was so "polluted"-in the words of one critic-that recent arrivals from Norway could not comprehend it." This evidence undermines the second popular narrative about foreign-language instruction in America, which emphasizes immigrants' willful abandonment of allegedly ancestral languages." Whereas the theory of patriotic coercion imagines a unitary "Anglo" power that blotted out foreign-language communities, the theory of immigrant voluntarism presumes that these communities were themselves linguistically united. They were not. Instead, ethnic leaders promoted a single language while ethnic citizens clung to a wide variety of local and regional ones.?

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In 1914, the German American journalist J. N. Lenker published a scathing critique of foreign-language instruction in American schools. In Europe, he noted, primary school pupils typically learned one-or even two-foreign tongues. But most American school systems restricted such study to high schools, denying children their "best chance" to "recover the treasure they lost": their own ethnic languages. The problem was "not something new," Lenker emphasized; indeed, it had "a long and instructive history." As a child in Pennsylvania's "Dutch" country, for example, Lenker himself was blocked from studying German. Since then, more and more school systems had dropped foreign languages from their elementary grades. Across the years, however, the culprit remained the same: a chronic, malicious nativism. For too many AngloAmericans, Lenker lamented, foreign-language instruction seemed "clannish, narrow, and un-American." But they were the real "un-Americans," he argued, because they rejected the nation's magnificent multilingual tradition. "Conservation of our natural resources is in the air; it is American," Lenker wrote. "Why not the conservation of our cultural resources?"14

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Like subsequent chroniclers, Lenker presumed that America's rich mosaic of ethnic groups shared his desire for more school-based language instruction. Yet many of these immigrantssupported the same language restrictions he despised. Smaller ethnic groups often backed these measures as a way to block German, America's most commonly spoken non-English language until the 1950s. Even where schools permitted foreign-language instruction, moreover, ethnics' reluctance to request it-or to register for it-suggested much more ambivalence than Lenker allowed. Only at the end of his pamphlet did he suggest that immigrant apathy-not just nativist antipathy-

Ethnicity - U.S and Canada Culture Region

12 This essay uses the term "assimilation" to denote "processes that result in greater homogeneity within a society," following Harold J. Abramson, ''Assimilation and Pluralism," inHarvard Encyclopedia ofAmerican Ethnic Groups, ed. Stephan Thcrnstrom (Cambridge, Mass., 1980), 150. Most historians focus upon assimilation by different ethnic groups into a larger American whole rather than assimilation inside these groups themselves. This literature blinds us to the sharp tensions that surrounded assimilation to new forms ofethnic as well as to "American" identity. For examples, see John Bodnar, The Transplanted:A History ofImmigrants in Urban America (Bloomington, 1985); Gerstle, "Liberty, Coercion, and the Making ofAmericans."