Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Stinky Fish And Others That Stink

I organize my thoughts in English. I love to read literary pieces in English. I prefer to write this blog in English.

As a puzzled person for having been raised in a diverse linguistic community, I have always believed that English is the superior language. This must be the most reason why, no matter how patriotic I am supposed to be as a Filipino citizen, I choose not to use the Filipino language in many instances.

For the most part, Filipino is not considered as the language of prestige in this country. It is not always the language spoken in the court rooms, medical fields, print labels. It is not also the language written in most of our legal documents. Our constitution, which is the very soul of our government system, is the big proof of this. 

Filipino is not considered as the language of the learned. Many of the affluent families in our social strata prefer to speak to their children in the considered international language. As such, we are raising a generation who are speaking of the foreign tongue and in the process marginalizing our own language in the street and market.

Filipino is also not the language of national consensus. While the declaration is in the law, there are still bitter traces of antagonism among our elder and purist brothers in the region. As such, not so many regional morphological items were successfully integrated in our national language to promote national unity and corporate ownership of it.

I remember back during my junior year in college, I studied on language attitudes for my thesis. Results showed that English is considered as superior language compared to our national language. As I also qualitatively observed through the years, English is also the language more preferred in many formal situations.

But, any language, including our very own Filipino language, is a language equal to any language in the world like English. It has its own phonology, morphology, grammar and syntax to suffice our various purposes to communicate. Would have it fallen short for our needs for us to largely fail in the daily affairs of our living, it should have been extinct and buried forever to oblivion.

Filipino language by "default" is still the spoken language in the most part of our life. Those who have marginalized Filipino by speaking the foreign tongues, by no means, still think and speak the soul of Filipino language whether they like it or not. As such, we have developed and even invented local meanings to foreign vocabularies like "salvage", "back to back", "blow out", "comfort room", "peg" and many others.

I appreciate the developing class of new parents in our social strata that communicates in Filipino to their children, making it their mother tongue. For example, the tenants of my flat who are both Cebuano but consider Filipino as the formal language. When I converse with our learned Muslim brothers, the lingua franca that connects our minds together is nothing less than the Filipino language.

So, unless we do not swallow our pride whole and lift our national language to the pedestal of intellectualism like what other nations did to their respective national languages, we will never stop degrading our own linguistic heritage as we have actually crushed our national identity consciously or unconsciously. 

I don't know how much spartan determination or unselfish time it would take for a change in our attitudes toward our own language, but these I hope to have in myself, too.

Filipinos, this is the time to realize how worse we smell than a stinky fish.

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