Sunday, June 11, 2006

Native Tongue

Joey Vento is an American whose grandparents immigrated from Sicily during the 1920s. He owns Geno's, one of Philadelphia's most famous sandwich shops. He keeps a sign in the front window that reads, "This Is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING 'SPEAK ENGLISH.'"

His explanation is simple: He speaks English. He doesn't speak Spanish or German or Arabic — so if you try to order in those languages, he won't understand you. You'll have to speak English.

A city councilman asked Vento to remove the sign. Vento declined. He explained that no customer has ever been refused service because of a language barrier. His staff is glad to help non-native speakers place their orders in English.

Nevertheless, a Latino advocacy group has announced that it will send representatives to Geno's to try to order in Spanish. The group's director said that, depending on what happens, the group may pursue legal action against Geno's.

I swear. Some of these stories speak for themselves.


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