DEAR ABBY: Your English-only-or-bust advice to "Annoyed in New Mexico" was yet another offense against those of us who do not fit the mold set for us by middle America. Why should it be considered such an offense for two people to use the language of their choice to each other? If these two couples are so close, the annoyed pair should understand the importance of the Spanish language for their friends. How the couple speak to each other is their own business, and their use of Spanish may go back to reasons that "Annoyed" does not try, or care, to understand.
There are many people here in New Mexico (and elsewhere) whose parents were severely punished for the use of their primary language, Spanish. As a result, the next generation was taught English only. Those of us who learned Spanish later consider it of the utmost importance to remember our heritage and to practice our language. Apparently, the New Mexico Legislature agrees with us: It is the only bilingual lawmaking body in the United States.
Perhaps "Annoyed" should learn a little more about the background of her friends. She may learn something that will make her a little more tolerant. Oh, and you, too, Abby. Sign me ... HABLO ESPANOL EN NUEVO MEXICO (I SPEAK SPANISH IN NEW MEXICO)
DEAR HABLO: You will notice that after your signature, I added the English translation. That's because there are many very nice people who, for one reason or another, do not understand Spanish, but who might want to understand your signature.
I agree it's important for people to preserve their cultural heritage; however, speaking a foreign language in the presence of those who do not understand it excludes them from the conversation, which is considered inexcusably rude in any language.