Living here in what I thought was the land of linguistic silliness, namely the Canadian province of Quebec, I had to shake my head and chuckle at the reaction to Coca-Cola’s multilingual America the Beautiful Superbowl advertisement. If you haven’t seen it yet, the ad featured the iconic song being sung in several languages that one assumes represent the many languages spoken in homes across the nation. A warm and fuzzy feeling was supposed to lead to people of all linguistic backgrounds running out and buying Coke.
That coca cola commercial just pissed me off, America the beautiful should only be sang in English
— Redneck Renegade (@Redneck_UpNorth) February 3, 2014
The reaction has been described as ugly, evoking calls of speak English or go home. It would appear that the use of languages other than English when singing America the Beautiful rubs many Americans the wrong way, even if many people speak those languages in their homes everyday, and are people who have never lived anywhere but the United States, yet want to maintain the language of their parents.
This commercial is a disgrace to America #speakenglish — Joe Spurrier (@Joe_Spurrier) February 3, 2014
The song heaps praise on the United States. Is the heaping, when done in Spanish or Creole, any less praising?
In officially bilingual Canada there are certainly those who balk at the actual national anthem, O Canada, being sung in both official languages. Some even find it annoying when the anthem is sung in any of several aboriginal languages.
That Coca Cola ad from last night is amazing.
— Вика✨ (@girlnamedLove) February 3, 2014
Would America the Beautiful sung in either of the two Seminole languages, or the Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee Nation have received the same reaction? Would they have been told to speak English or go home? That could be tricky!
It should be interesting when the full 90-second version airs during the Sochi Olympics.