New York is, once more, an immigrant town. Not only do the public schools now give instruction in seven languages (eight if you count Mandarin and Cantonese separately), but programs to serve eight additional language groups with instruction primarily in English are now in place. Teachers try to communicate with parents who speak at least a dozen more tongues: an English-as-a-second-language specialist recently asked me if I knew anyone who could translate notes to parents into Tigritia, the language of northern Ethiopia. In Brooklyn one can now take the test to operate an automobile
in Russian, and in lower Manhattan my Citibank automatic teller will “speak” to me in Spanish or Chinese. And our law enforcement officials, long wise in the ways of Italian and Jewish gangsters, must now try to make sense of the doings of that small minority of Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Colombian, Jamaican, Russian, Israeli, and Nigerian entrepreneurs who choose that time-honored route to the “American Dream.”
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