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Firth McEachern - Diversity Shock, Part 14

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  • dphilfinc
    The illusion of English. It is often perceived that English is dominating the Philippines language scene, and threatens to replace the native languages. It is
    Message 1 of 23 , Nov 4, 2010
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      The illusion of English. It is often perceived that English is dominating the Philippines' language scene, and threatens to replace the native languages. It is true that English is found in many spheres of Filipino life, especially in business, media, and high levels of government. Indeed, this column has been mostly in English and so is this newspaper. But nevertheless, I think people tend to exaggerate English's prevalence.

      In written terms, yes, English is everywhere. The most prestigious newspapers are in English. Many street signs, banners, and placards are in English. Most product information, food labels, and health warnings are in English. Most university classes are conducted in English. And the most formal settings are usually in English, such as court, provincial board, and congressional sessions.

      If you dig a little deeper, however, the penetration of English is rather weak. Filipinos are some of the biggest TV watchers in the world (200 min/day, on average), and the two most-watched channels---GMA 7 and ABS-CBN 3---are mostly in Tagalog. There are many more ads in Tagalog than 30 years ago, and most of the English ads are actually Taglish. While they play a lot of English songs on FM radio here in San Fernando, the host speaks Tagalog about 95% of the time (I once timed it for an entire day). Furthermore, the majority of Filipinos can't afford, don't understand, or don't like the large English broadsheets, so many end up buying the Tagalog-based tabloids like Bulgar and Tiktik. The Asia Research Organization found that only 14% of Filipinos read English broadsheets, and this number is falling. This compares to 38% of the population who read the Tagalog tabloids. Similarly, only 4 out of the 39 magazines printed in Metro Manila are English.

      In the commercial sector, although most staff greet new customers in English, that's pretty much where it ends. After the first "Hello, good morning sir," you would get many a startled look if you proceeded to ask a question in English. In cinemas, department stores, and restaurants, English is nothing more than the token "Hello" or "Goodbye" at the end of the encounter. The same thing applies to many public events like shows and competitions. The MC will throw in a few English phrases here and there but most of his explanations are in Tagalog or the local language.

      As for schooling, I have sat in many public classrooms, and even in subjects that are supposed to be taught in English (under the current system which is being phased out), teachers actually speak more Tagalog than English. And in the informal setting of hallways, teachers will often not address their students in English or in the local language, but Tagalog instead. This contrasts to the first half of the 20th century (before 1942) and the 1950s, when all schooling was conducted in English except for the Tagalog subject. This is one of the reasons why elderly Filipinos often have a high command of English.

      I don't necessarily consider the changing patterns of English vs. Tagalog a bad thing. I'm not an English imperialist and I certainly don't think English is the key to all of Philippine's economic problems. But I just want to point out that most people are exposed to a lot more Tagalog than English or even their mother tongue. When you add up the daily number of hours dedicated to school, television, FM radio, and other sources, the average urban middle-class student in Northern Luzon is exposed to Tagalog about 50% of waking hours, 40% English, and a mere 10% of their local language! Of course this fluctuates significantly depending on the city, the language pattern of the home, and the social habits of the individual, but this estimate should make us wonder how on Earth youth could master their mother tongue if they spend so little time listening to it?! It also surprises me, when I bring up the issue of local language loss, people often say, "Yes, it's a shame families are switching to English." No, they are not! Don't you see the thousands of Ilocano mothers switching to Tagalog? I think to myself. What gives you the idea that English is replacing Ilocano when youth are speaking Tagalog to each other and many can barely speak English?

      The sad truth of the matter is that the national language may be accomplishing what no colonial language has achieved: the slow eradication of the native Philippine tongues. They can coexist, but unfortunately little political action has been taken to ensure such a future. Ironic that, after centuries of colonial imposition, this independent nation is now the reaper of its own cultural loss.
    • bankaw_itomon
      english is not the dominating medium in the philippines anymore. it is also going the way of the first national language of all the nations which was spanish.
      Message 2 of 23 , Nov 4, 2010
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        english is not the dominating medium in the philippines anymore. it is also going the way of the first national language of all the nations which was spanish.

        the actual count of fluent english speakers is now less than 30,000. wikipedia's ranking is not accurate when it was pegged to 5th.

        it is inevitable that english will disappear because that was the intent. tagalog is the national language of all the inhabitants of the philippines.

        government fiat created the demand for tagalog renamed "Filipino" and this cultural shift not only in our institutions but more importantly the media is death by a thousand cuts.

        our non-tagalog languages for all the efforts in trying to stave off the potential extinction will go the way all minority languages went,
        and that is, the dominant language of one ethnic group over others will eventually relegate our native languages to irrelevancy.

        spanish was the first victim. english is next. tomorrow it will be our ancestor's languages. cultural influence is a very powerful tool.

        --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, "dphilfinc" <bcyp@...> wrote:
        >
        > The illusion of English. It is often perceived that English is dominating the Philippines' language scene, and threatens to replace the native languages. It is true that English is found in many spheres of Filipino life, especially in business, media, and high levels of government. Indeed, this column has been mostly in English and so is this newspaper. But nevertheless, I think people tend to exaggerate English's prevalence.
        >
        > In written terms, yes, English is everywhere. The most prestigious newspapers are in English. Many street signs, banners, and placards are in English. Most product information, food labels, and health warnings are in English. Most university classes are conducted in English. And the most formal settings are usually in English, such as court, provincial board, and congressional sessions.
        >
        > If you dig a little deeper, however, the penetration of English is rather weak. Filipinos are some of the biggest TV watchers in the world (200 min/day, on average), and the two most-watched channels---GMA 7 and ABS-CBN 3---are mostly in Tagalog. There are many more ads in Tagalog than 30 years ago, and most of the English ads are actually Taglish. While they play a lot of English songs on FM radio here in San Fernando, the host speaks Tagalog about 95% of the time (I once timed it for an entire day). Furthermore, the majority of Filipinos can't afford, don't understand, or don't like the large English broadsheets, so many end up buying the Tagalog-based tabloids like Bulgar and Tiktik. The Asia Research Organization found that only 14% of Filipinos read English broadsheets, and this number is falling. This compares to 38% of the population who read the Tagalog tabloids. Similarly, only 4 out of the 39 magazines printed in Metro Manila are English.
        >
        > In the commercial sector, although most staff greet new customers in English, that's pretty much where it ends. After the first "Hello, good morning sir," you would get many a startled look if you proceeded to ask a question in English. In cinemas, department stores, and restaurants, English is nothing more than the token "Hello" or "Goodbye" at the end of the encounter. The same thing applies to many public events like shows and competitions. The MC will throw in a few English phrases here and there but most of his explanations are in Tagalog or the local language.
        >
        > As for schooling, I have sat in many public classrooms, and even in subjects that are supposed to be taught in English (under the current system which is being phased out), teachers actually speak more Tagalog than English. And in the informal setting of hallways, teachers will often not address their students in English or in the local language, but Tagalog instead. This contrasts to the first half of the 20th century (before 1942) and the 1950s, when all schooling was conducted in English except for the Tagalog subject. This is one of the reasons why elderly Filipinos often have a high command of English.
        >
        > I don't necessarily consider the changing patterns of English vs. Tagalog a bad thing. I'm not an English imperialist and I certainly don't think English is the key to all of Philippine's economic problems. But I just want to point out that most people are exposed to a lot more Tagalog than English or even their mother tongue. When you add up the daily number of hours dedicated to school, television, FM radio, and other sources, the average urban middle-class student in Northern Luzon is exposed to Tagalog about 50% of waking hours, 40% English, and a mere 10% of their local language! Of course this fluctuates significantly depending on the city, the language pattern of the home, and the social habits of the individual, but this estimate should make us wonder how on Earth youth could master their mother tongue if they spend so little time listening to it?! It also surprises me, when I bring up the issue of local language loss, people often say, "Yes, it's a shame families are switching to English." No, they are not! Don't you see the thousands of Ilocano mothers switching to Tagalog? I think to myself. What gives you the idea that English is replacing Ilocano when youth are speaking Tagalog to each other and many can barely speak English?
        >
        > The sad truth of the matter is that the national language may be accomplishing what no colonial language has achieved: the slow eradication of the native Philippine tongues. They can coexist, but unfortunately little political action has been taken to ensure such a future. Ironic that, after centuries of colonial imposition, this independent nation is now the reaper of its own cultural loss.
        >
      • dphilfinc
        (15th of 18 by Firth.) How did Tagalog become the basis of the national language? I went home and looked the history up. Just out of curiosity. During the
        Message 3 of 23 , Nov 6, 2010
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          (15th of 18 by Firth.)

          How did Tagalog become the basis of the national language?

          I went home and looked the history up. Just out of curiosity.

          During the Spanish time government bureaucracy was conducted mostly in Spanish. However, given the persistently low level of knowledge of Spanish among the commoners (partly due to the lack of universal education until very late in the Spanish era), many of the Spanish authorities—especially the religious sector—learned Philippine languages. Around their main settlement, Manila, this was Tagalog. But in other parts of the archipelago, they learned the other languages too, which is why families of Spanish descent, like the Ortegas of La Union, can speak Ilokano today.

          Towards the end of the Spanish era, and again after the Americans left, Filipino leaders were anxious to create a strong national identity, and looked to create symbols of nationality in almost everything—which is why the Philippines now has a national flower, fish, hero, tree, and even a language. But what are the origins of this national language?

          The first time Tagalog was elevated to the status of a national language—or was attempted to be so—was in 1897. The Revolutionary Constitution of 1897 was drafted in defiance of the Spanish, and although this constitution was never enacted, it listed Tagalog as the national language. Interestingly, all the revolutionary leaders who drafted this constitution were native Tagalog speakers. People from other ethnolinguistic groups—like Warays, Ilokanos, Pangasinenses, etc—were not represented in the assembly.

          The Malolos Constitution of 1898 was more equitable in making the use of all Philippine languages optional, alongside Spanish for "public authorities and judicial affairs." No Philippine language, like Tagalog, was considered to be any more important than any other. Unfortunately, the Americans arrived shortly thereafter and only recognized English and Spanish. In 1935, the idea of an indigenous national language reemerged. The Constitution of the First Republic instructed the National Assembly to adopt a common national language based on one of the existing ones. The Constitution did not specify which one, but President Quezon had Tagalog in mind.

          It was not until the Japanese Occupation that the Constitution specifically mentioned Tagalog, and demanded that steps toward the "development and propagation of Tagalog as the national language" be taken. Before the Japanese, Tagalog was only taught in the fourth year of high school, but the Japanese incorporated it into all grade levels. Future constitutions inherited this Tagalog bias (and English), largely to the exclusion of all other languages of the Philippines. The Constitutions of 1946, 1959, 1973, and 1987 made minor changes, such as changing the name from Tagalog to Pilipino to Filipino. But even though the name was changed to make it seem as if the national language were somehow representative of all people, the fact of the matter has not changed: Filipino is merely a politically motivated name for a variation of Tagalog. Nobody can deny that they share the same grammatical rules and vastly similar vocabularies.
          So, the next time someone tells me, "Oh, but Tagalog-based Filipino is our National Language", I'll remind them that it was the Japanese that first made this a reality. And why would it have been in their interest to make it so? Because a population is much easier to influence and control if they all speak the same language.

          Furthermore, it helped dissociate the Philippines from the United States, who were Japan's bitter enemies at the time.

          Many governments in history have sung praises of "unity," but this is often just a euphemism for "Let's all think and talk the way we do in the seat of power (Manila)." Those countries that continue to shy away from preserving their linguistic diversity are still stuck in the World War mentality of "one country, one language." Diversity was seen as inconvenient at best, and a recipe for mutiny at worst. Nations felt it necessary to present unified fronts. As countries today are not as vulnerable to invasion and outright war as last century, they have begun to look inward and notice that:
          a) Diversity is valuable;
          b) Trying to make everyone the same makes people less happy, not more;
          c) We don't all have to think the same way or speak the same language in order to be a strong, proud country. We can preserve the national language alongside the local languages. Some countries even have multiple national languages.

          Unfortunately, with its lack of government support for non-Tagalog languages and dialects, the Philippines is still stuck in World War II paranoia, when symbolism and uniformity was considered necessary for nation building. It may give lip service to diversity, but the government has yet to truly embrace it.
        • bankaw_itomon
          We can preserve the national language alongside the local languages. Some countries even have multiple national languages. Benjie, What national language is
          Message 4 of 23 , Nov 6, 2010
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            "We can preserve the national language alongside
            the local languages. Some countries even have multiple national languages."

            Benjie,

            What national language is it that we needed to preserve alongside the local languages? I am not in favor of tagalog or any of its engineered "variants" to continue to be dominant. I would rather have our independent country than be oppressed. I cannot relate to any tagalog variant as a national language just to assuage my Filipino sensibility by default. I am Visaya Filipino. That comes first.

            Tagalog, however, like any Filipino language should be preserved and revitalized not to us but to the Tagalog regions, as with the case of the non-austronesian based Filipino language of Spanish to all the Philippine christian nations, rather than to the non-christian ones. They can opt out of it if they want. The historical relevance of Spanish to us should never be underestimated. Spanish is also part of our past and without it we will become another fabricated identity like the tagalist. Cultural loss is forever.

            The other important one is Chavacano de Zamboanga which is also getting inundated with the same problem but this time its Cebuano. Unchecked cultural influence that can change an ethnic groups identity is not a good thing. We should do something about this also.

            If we need a national language to maintain this fabricated union then I would rather go back to the original Spanish of the first Filipinos that finally encompassed others in the end.

            Some say its impractical to insist on the revival of Spanish because they claim its too late. I disagree because just like with our non-Tagalog languages culture vis-a-vis language is not difficult to reintroduced and popularized. It is never too late. A more recent example of that truism is Hebrew. So its not impossible.

            Spanish and Our non-Tagalog languages are already in the 1987 Cory Constitution, which was an amended version of the 1973 Marcos Constitution, ironically. We must resist the temptation to go along with anti-Spanish cligues that have long dominated the discourse to our loss.

            If we must fight then we must fight for all. Otherwise it makes no sense to believe that we can continue becoming Filipinos when we are no longer defacto one. Its no acceptable to be fake because of renaming.

            That being said I am trying hard to believe that if we fight for our rights the Vanishing Filipino will not die out. Visayan advocacy is the same fight as the Spanish language revival. I have no issue with bringing back the old status quo of English especially Spanish which should have remained at the forefront in our institutions alongside non-Tagalog languages anyway.

            Any compromise with the national language issue is not a victory for us but total defeat. Tactical evasion to win a little is the same as losing the war. A foothold should always be viewed as temporary gain because the goal is nationwide. Always.

            btw. Do I have your permission to copy paste your DILA post at another forum? It is instructional and hopefully it will open wide the door among some who really listens.

            Bangkaw

            --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, "dphilfinc" <bcyp@...> wrote:
            >
            > (15th of 18 by Firth.)
            >
            > How did Tagalog become the basis of the national language?
            >
            > I went home and looked the history up. Just out of curiosity.
            >
            > During the Spanish time government bureaucracy was conducted mostly in Spanish. However, given the persistently low level of knowledge of Spanish among the commoners (partly due to the lack of universal education until very late in the Spanish era), many of the Spanish authorities—especially the religious sector—learned Philippine languages. Around their main settlement, Manila, this was Tagalog. But in other parts of the archipelago, they learned the other languages too, which is why families of Spanish descent, like the Ortegas of La Union, can speak Ilokano today.
            >
            > Towards the end of the Spanish era, and again after the Americans left, Filipino leaders were anxious to create a strong national identity, and looked to create symbols of nationality in almost everything—which is why the Philippines now has a national flower, fish, hero, tree, and even a language. But what are the origins of this national language?
            >
            > The first time Tagalog was elevated to the status of a national language—or was attempted to be so—was in 1897. The Revolutionary Constitution of 1897 was drafted in defiance of the Spanish, and although this constitution was never enacted, it listed Tagalog as the national language. Interestingly, all the revolutionary leaders who drafted this constitution were native Tagalog speakers. People from other ethnolinguistic groups—like Warays, Ilokanos, Pangasinenses, etc—were not represented in the assembly.
            >
            > The Malolos Constitution of 1898 was more equitable in making the use of all Philippine languages optional, alongside Spanish for "public authorities and judicial affairs." No Philippine language, like Tagalog, was considered to be any more important than any other. Unfortunately, the Americans arrived shortly thereafter and only recognized English and Spanish. In 1935, the idea of an indigenous national language reemerged. The Constitution of the First Republic instructed the National Assembly to adopt a common national language based on one of the existing ones. The Constitution did not specify which one, but President Quezon had Tagalog in mind.
            >
            > It was not until the Japanese Occupation that the Constitution specifically mentioned Tagalog, and demanded that steps toward the "development and propagation of Tagalog as the national language" be taken. Before the Japanese, Tagalog was only taught in the fourth year of high school, but the Japanese incorporated it into all grade levels. Future constitutions inherited this Tagalog bias (and English), largely to the exclusion of all other languages of the Philippines. The Constitutions of 1946, 1959, 1973, and 1987 made minor changes, such as changing the name from Tagalog to Pilipino to Filipino. But even though the name was changed to make it seem as if the national language were somehow representative of all people, the fact of the matter has not changed: Filipino is merely a politically motivated name for a variation of Tagalog. Nobody can deny that they share the same grammatical rules and vastly similar vocabularies.
            > So, the next time someone tells me, "Oh, but Tagalog-based Filipino is our National Language", I'll remind them that it was the Japanese that first made this a reality. And why would it have been in their interest to make it so? Because a population is much easier to influence and control if they all speak the same language.
            >
            > Furthermore, it helped dissociate the Philippines from the United States, who were Japan's bitter enemies at the time.
            >
            > Many governments in history have sung praises of "unity," but this is often just a euphemism for "Let's all think and talk the way we do in the seat of power (Manila)." Those countries that continue to shy away from preserving their linguistic diversity are still stuck in the World War mentality of "one country, one language." Diversity was seen as inconvenient at best, and a recipe for mutiny at worst. Nations felt it necessary to present unified fronts. As countries today are not as vulnerable to invasion and outright war as last century, they have begun to look inward and notice that:
            > a) Diversity is valuable;
            > b) Trying to make everyone the same makes people less happy, not more;
            > c) We don't all have to think the same way or speak the same language in order to be a strong, proud country. We can preserve the national language alongside the local languages. Some countries even have multiple national languages.
            >
            > Unfortunately, with its lack of government support for non-Tagalog languages and dialects, the Philippines is still stuck in World War II paranoia, when symbolism and uniformity was considered necessary for nation building. It may give lip service to diversity, but the government has yet to truly embrace it.
            >
          • dphilfinc
            ... The Diversity Shock series of Firth is under publication by the Baguio edition of SunStar as far as I know. Manny posted the first six installments until
            Message 5 of 23 , Nov 6, 2010
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              --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, <josepepe> wrote:
              > Do I have your permission to copy paste your DILA post at another forum? It is instructional


              The Diversity Shock series of Firth is under publication by the Baguio edition of SunStar as far as I know. Manny posted the first six installments until he asked me to follow through on the next twelve. Firth is actively subscribed to DILA and has not discouraged anyone from sharing his work yet. I am eager to see this compiled in booklet form just like FILIPINO IS NOT OUR LANGUAGE. I do not know how much of a future is left for Chavacano de Zamboanga. Of the last two Chavacanos I have spoken to at length, only one still used it with his family. The other one used Tagalog with hers.

              Benjie
            • bankaw_itomon
              oh i see. i thought you authored it until i reread the post and saw firth s byline. well it seems like it is okay to post this part of the series at another
              Message 6 of 23 , Nov 6, 2010
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                oh i see. i thought you authored it until i reread the post and saw firth's byline. well it seems like it is okay to post this part of the series at another forum. so i will do it in a day or two unless this is copyrighted which i hope is not because i dont want to break any rules.

                like i wrote it is not impossible to preserve and revitalize a language on the verge of being overwhelmed. we just have to keep at it on many fronts. i know chavacano de zamboanga is in trouble. however its not exactly that dire because the local governments encourage its propagation despite the prevalence of tagalog media. i agree with you that the only way is to ban tagalog to have a fighting chance. the cebuano migrants will eventually speak chavacano because they will have no choice without tagalog as an intermediary between the native and them, the migrants. as it is tagalog is more the killer of chavacano than cebuano.

                btw what national language were you referring earlier? was it tagalog?
                its okay to address me as Bankaw. it will be a legal name soon as i have already been using it and in the process of changing my name to accomodate it as my second one after jose. there are just too many joses already and i like my visayan alternate.

                bangkaw



                --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, "dphilfinc" <bcyp@...> wrote:
                >
                > --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, <josepepe> wrote:
                > > Do I have your permission to copy paste your DILA post at another forum? It is instructional
                >
                >
                > The Diversity Shock series of Firth is under publication by the Baguio edition of SunStar as far as I know. Manny posted the first six installments until he asked me to follow through on the next twelve. Firth is actively subscribed to DILA and has not discouraged anyone from sharing his work yet. I am eager to see this compiled in booklet form just like FILIPINO IS NOT OUR LANGUAGE. I do not know how much of a future is left for Chavacano de Zamboanga. Of the last two Chavacanos I have spoken to at length, only one still used it with his family. The other one used Tagalog with hers.
                >
                > Benjie
                >
              • dphilfinc
                ... Like most of us in DILA, Firth suffers no confusion about the nature of the Filipino national language. It is Tagalog disguised. I have no idea if Hilario
                Message 7 of 23 , Nov 6, 2010
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                  --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, "bankaw" wrote:
                  > what national language were you referring earlier? was it tagalog?


                  Like most of us in DILA, Firth suffers no confusion about the nature of the Filipino national language. It is Tagalog disguised. I have no idea if Hilario Davide still has this confusion inasmuch as he was certainly fooled in 1986.

                  The current occupant of Palacio Malacanan must think that we Visayans are absolute fools. He is bestowing the highest civilian honor to a comedian who laughingly insulted us "Dugay ka na sa Manila tonto pa gihapon" in 2004.

                  Benjie

                  ----------

                  http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=627779
                  Dolphy to receive award from Palace

                  President Aquino will confer the Grand Collar (Maringal na Kuwintas) of the Order of the Golden Heart on comedian Rodolfo Quizon, popularly known as Dolphy, in recognition of his achievements in show business and philanthropy.

                  Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that while Quizon would not be given the National Artist Award as some sectors were suggesting, he would be accorded the highest rank for private citizens.

                  "The last one to receive this was Helen Keller on May 20, 1955. So it's very interesting that the predecessor of Manong Dolphy on this award was Keller," Valte said over radio station dzRB.

                  The National Artist Award is conferred on a Filipino recognized for his significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts.

                  Quizon actively campaigned for Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., Mr. Aquino's closest rival in the May 2010 elections.

                  The award will be conferred on Quizon on Monday in simple rites at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of Malacañang tomorrow at 2 p.m.

                  One of Quizon's philanthropic projects is the Dolphy Aid Para sa Pinoy Foundation that gives scholarships to deserving children of overseas Filipino workers.

                  The Order of the Golden Heart was established in 1954 by the late President Ramon Magsaysay to recognize those who had rendered distinguished services or material aid to improve the condition of the masses.
                • dphilfinc
                  (16th of 18 by Firth.) Why are languages worth preserving? Languages contain a treasure trove of information. Ancient texts are written in myriad tongues, but
                  Message 8 of 23 , Nov 6, 2010
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                    (16th of 18 by Firth.)


                    Why are languages worth preserving?

                    Languages contain a treasure trove of information. Ancient texts are written in myriad tongues, but if a language becomes truly lost, those texts can become inaccessible to historians, just as Etruscan writings are today or Egyptian hieroglyphics before their decipherment. How can the details of an ancient battle, a political union, a high-profile love affair, or a famine be known if their documentation is in a language we no longer understand? Language is the key to the doorway of history, giving indispensable access to primary sources.

                    Anthropologists need language, meanwhile, to study both past and present societies. The idiosyncracies of vocabulary and expressions; the differences in verbal and written communication; formal and informal usages; the ritualistic employment of language; the different registers of youth, elders, women, and men--- such language traits reveal wide-ranging characteristics about a society. Characteristics of marriage, the path to adulthood, social hierarchy, perceptions of life and death, relationships between various groups, attitudes on success, and the role of the environment in a society can all be illuminated by the language they use.

                    Linguists study language to better understand language itself. Why do we speak the way we do today? How do we arrange our words and our sentences? In how many ways can we change a root word to make a new meaning, using suffixes and prefixes? What is the size of our vocabulary? How many languages have influenced our own? Have we borrowed grammatical structures from other languages, or just vocabulary? Which languages of the Philippines are most closely related? Which are furthest apart? Have our languages remained relatively unchanged over the last few hundred years or are they changing rapidly? If so, how and why? What is the future fate of our languages? These are all some of the questions linguists ask, and can help us answer. That is, if our languages survive long enough to offer such an opportunity.

                    Ecologists often work with linguists to learn new things about the environment. People are products of the environment they grow up in, and develop extensive vocabularies for plants, animals, and natural phenomena within their habitat. While English is a rich language, it can't beat the richness of Tibetan in mountain terminology, or Bedouin Arabic in desert terminology, or Inuktitut for winter terminology. Since languages develop over hundreds of years, they are an accumulation of many generations of acquired knowledge. Observations such as the mating habits of animals, hunting or foraging strategies, sleep patterns, competition with other species, and physiological changes that plants undergo is all information that our ancestors became keenly aware of and incorporated into their vocabularies. By studying native languages in their environmental contexts, ecologists can therefore learn of biological complexities otherwise unknown to modern science. Indigenous knowledge of local ecology may even offer direct benefits to human health, such as antidotes for snake bites, herbal drinks to combat cancer, nuts and root crops that are less fatty, serums that may be used for anaesthesia, etc.

                    Finally, archaeologists and human evolutionary biologists study languages to unravel the migration patterns of people. It is largely through a study of the similarities and differences of different Pacific languages that researchers were able to determine when and how humans moved across Oceania. Most of the languages of Oceania descend from an ancestral language in Taiwan, whose speakers migrated south into the Philippines about 6000 years ago (Blust 1999). Over time, their language diversified as they spread to the Malay Archipelago, Madagascar, and across the entire Pacific ocean, including Fiji, New Zealand, Vanuatu, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Easter Island, and many other island groups. Being one of the first stops in these migrations, the native Philippine languages (which number between 120-171 and include Aklanon, Maranao, Asi, Itawit, Tausug, Tagalog, Rombolon, and any other "dialect" you can think of), are some of the oldest Austronesian languages: older than this country, older than the countries that colonized us, and older than the Bible. As the "grandfathers" of most Austronesian languages, don't you think we have a particular responsibility in preserving them?

                    From a scholar's perspective—whether she be a linguist, anthropologist, historian, biologist, geographer, or political scientist—the death of any language is a disaster, as it removes yet one more data point, one more object of academic inquiry, one more piece in the puzzle to understand language evolution and society as a whole. There is still so much research to be done on Philippine languages --- any person involved in the field will asseverate that we have barely scratched the surface. There remains a tremendous amount of information locked up in them. If we let them die, that information will be much harder to uncover, if not impossible.
                  • bankaw_itomon
                    haha okay. i thought something s amiss. no tagalog national language to be accomodated in the national context other than to the nation of the tagalogs. thats
                    Message 9 of 23 , Nov 6, 2010
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                      haha okay. i thought something's amiss. no tagalog national language to be accomodated in the national context other than to the nation of the tagalogs. thats their national language. we have ours.

                      el bancao

                      --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, "dphilfinc" <bcyp@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, "bankaw" wrote:
                      > > what national language were you referring earlier? was it tagalog?
                      >
                      >
                      > Like most of us in DILA, Firth suffers no confusion about the nature of the Filipino national language. It is Tagalog disguised. I have no idea if Hilario Davide still has this confusion inasmuch as he was certainly fooled in 1986.
                      >
                      > The current occupant of Palacio Malacanan must think that we Visayans are absolute fools. He is bestowing the highest civilian honor to a comedian who laughingly insulted us "Dugay ka na sa Manila tonto pa gihapon" in 2004.
                      >
                      > Benjie
                      >
                      > ----------
                      >
                      > http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=627779
                      > Dolphy to receive award from Palace
                      >
                      > President Aquino will confer the Grand Collar (Maringal na Kuwintas) of the Order of the Golden Heart on comedian Rodolfo Quizon, popularly known as Dolphy, in recognition of his achievements in show business and philanthropy.
                      >
                      > Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that while Quizon would not be given the National Artist Award as some sectors were suggesting, he would be accorded the highest rank for private citizens.
                      >
                      > "The last one to receive this was Helen Keller on May 20, 1955. So it's very interesting that the predecessor of Manong Dolphy on this award was Keller," Valte said over radio station dzRB.
                      >
                      > The National Artist Award is conferred on a Filipino recognized for his significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts.
                      >
                      > Quizon actively campaigned for Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., Mr. Aquino's closest rival in the May 2010 elections.
                      >
                      > The award will be conferred on Quizon on Monday in simple rites at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of Malacañang tomorrow at 2 p.m.
                      >
                      > One of Quizon's philanthropic projects is the Dolphy Aid Para sa Pinoy Foundation that gives scholarships to deserving children of overseas Filipino workers.
                      >
                      > The Order of the Golden Heart was established in 1954 by the late President Ramon Magsaysay to recognize those who had rendered distinguished services or material aid to improve the condition of the masses.
                      >
                    • dphilfinc
                      (17th of 18 by Firth.) The Philippines has around 120-171 native languages (such as Ilokano, Itbayaten, Bukidnon, and many more) and 10 foreign language
                      Message 10 of 23 , Nov 9, 2010
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                        (17th of 18 by Firth.)

                        The Philippines has around 120-171 native languages (such as Ilokano, Itbayaten, Bukidnon, and many more) and 10 foreign language communities (such as Chinese, Korean, Arabic, etc). But some say that it would be better if we all spoke one language, as everyone would understand each other. I disagree. Misunderstanding is primarily a mindset, not a language barrier. I remember when my family lived in Egypt we had a German neighbour who didn't speak a word of English, yet somehow she and my mother carried on a remarkable relationship. They were always warm and embracing of each other, would make baked goods together, go on walks, and through a creative use of body language, intonation, and facial expressions, managed to chat about anything from the health of their children to upcoming travel plans.

                        We don't all need to speak the same language to relate to one another. The Swiss people have four main language groups, all of which are official: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Yet they are all proud to be Swiss. Not only that, Switzerland is one of the most peaceful countries in the world, and prides itself on having remained neutral in multiple European wars. Even if you don't believe my claim that language differences can be easily overcome, there is no harm in holding on to your mother tongue in addition to learning whatever language you think is useful for greater communication.

                        Others say that it would be great if we all spoke one language for the sake of peace and unity. But peace and unity depend more on key social and economic conditions, such as equality of all people under law, fair access to resources, freedom and professionalism of the press, religious tolerance, education quality, economic opportunity, environmental stewardship, land rights, immigration factors, and others -- not necessarily on how few or how many languages a country has. The top 20 most linguistically diverse African countries, for example, contain countries in both the top most peaceful African countries (eg. Mozambique, Zambia, Cameroon, Tanzania) and the least peaceful countries (Chad, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Congo) according to the Global Peace Index. That is to say, linguistic homogeneity is not a prerequisite for peace, because for every unstable diverse country, you can find examples of countries that are both peaceful and diverse.

                        Similarly, countries with only a few languages can be unstable too. Of the 6 least diverse countries in Africa (based on Greenberg's Diversity Index), 4 are in the bottom 20% least peaceful countries, and one of them---Rwanda---was the setting for one of the worst genocides in the 20th century. It is clear that, if not a cause of inter-ethnic conflict, low diversity is no guarantee for peace. It is erroneous to think, therefore, that we would automatically be a more stable country if we had fewer languages. Instead, a country's ability to effectively manage its linguistic diversity is a more important ingredient for peace, and those countries that have embraced their multiculturalism, respected the rights of minorities, and tried not to dominate one ethnic group over another tend to be much more harmonious.

                        There are many countries that are both more linguistically diverse than the Philippines and more peaceful. Of the 23 countries that rank higher than the Philippines on Greenberg's Diversity Index (GDI), 21 of them are also more peaceful. This fact can't all be blamed on our economic woes, because many of the 21 countries with higher GPIs and GDIs are in fact poorer than the Philippines. One reason countries like South Africa, India, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea are more peaceful, despite being more diverse, might be because they have much more inclusive ethnolinguistic policies, such as recognizing regional languages and using vernaculars in education. The stability of Mozambique and Cameroon, meanwhile, might be attributed to the fact that they made foreign colonial languages the only official ones, thereby not favouring any indigenous group over another. These examples contrast with the Philippines, which does not treat its regional languages officially (even though the Constitution affords them some official status), does not include local languages in education, and has implicitly benefited one language group over all others in the promotion of Tagalog-based Filipino as the sole national language.

                        Of all the countries for which Global Peace Index (GPI) has been evaluated, the Philippines ranks in the bottom 20%. Many factors go into calculating a country's Global Peace Index, including levels of internal conflict, political instability, level of respect for human rights, violent crime, size of jailed population, etc., but suffice it to say that the Philippines is not a safe place. The propagation of the national language and successive presidents peddling nationalistic rhetoric have not improved the situation.
                      • dphilfinc
                        (Firth states below that Diversity Shock has more installments. -Benjie) As we ve discussed, linguistic homogeneity is not a prerequisite for harmony. But is
                        Message 11 of 23 , Nov 11, 2010
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                          (Firth states below that Diversity Shock has more installments. -Benjie)

                          As we've discussed, linguistic homogeneity is not a prerequisite for harmony. But is the opposite -- linguistic diversity -- outrightly good? In a previous article, I explored this question from an academic perspective. Languages contain a wealth of information that anthropologists use to study societies, biologists to study human evolution, historians to study history, and linguists to study language. Languages are rich scientific resources. But there are other advantages to sustaining linguistic diversity within a country.

                          This week I'll explore some of the other benefits of having many languages. Francois Grin divides the benefits of multilingualism into four main categories: 1) private market value; 2) private non-market value; 3) social market value, and; 4) social non-market value. These terms are a bit clunky, but to put it more simply: "private" refers to those qualities of multilingualism that mainly benefit the individual; "social" benefits are those for society as a whole; and "market" refers to those benefits that are economically, politically, or otherwise traditionally and concretely advantageous. "Non-market" benefits are those that benefit you in subtle ways, the kinds of things that you might appreciate but which might not be directly marketable for jobs or other people.

                          For now, let's discuss number one and two, the private values of multilingualism. That is, what are the rewards you, as an individual, may obtain from being able to speak more languages?

                          If you know many languages, you are likely to have access to a wider choice of jobs, because you will be able to apply yourself in a variety of contexts. I guarantee that, given all else equal, a city government in Ilocos will hire someone who speaks Ilokano, English, and Tagalog over someone who only speaks English and Tagalog, because he will be comfortable in interacting with practically anyone, no matter who enters the office and no matter what language is used. With a wider choice of jobs, you are likely to find a job that suits your interests best, and hence find work more fulfilling. With a wider choice of jobs you are also likely to find one that satisfies you financially. A Swiss study by Grin & Sfreddo (1997) found a correlation between the number of languages people knew and their salaries. When comparing thousands of people with different linguistic abilities and job positions, every additional language known results in an average increase of 4-20% in net earnings. If you speak more languages, it indicates to companies that you are adaptable, smart, eager to learn, and culturally aware, which is why multilingual people tend to get the juicier jobs.

                          Multilingual people also have access to lower prices and better access to information. This fact didn't seem obvious to me when I first read it, but it makes sense. When I go into the market and speak the local language, vendors treat me like a local, and give me local prices. The same thing for services too. A few weeks ago my foreign friends went to a launderette, where they were told they had to pay 50% extra if they wanted their clothes ready by the next day. To see if they were being ripped off, I went in the same day with my laundry. I asked them in Iloko, "Mabalin nga agsubliak tuno bigat?" They said yes, I could pick up the laundry tomorrow, and made no mention of a 50% surcharge! While you may disagree with the practice of charging different customers different amounts, it's a universal trait. In Mexico, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Egypt, and every other country I've been to, shopping is easier in the local language. There's an immediate familiarity and rapport established between shopper and buyer, usually deflating the need or desire for hostile bargaining. There's also the element of respect. By attempting to speak in the other person's language, you are showing that person respect. You are not forcing the person to operate on a level that behooves you, but instead are willing to swallow your pride and interact on their terms. I think one of the reasons people from Manila and foreigners rarely learn local vernaculars, despite years of living in the regions, is that they don't like the feeling of sounding stupid or not being able to communicate properly. It's difficult to start learning a language from scratch, so outsiders just stick to what they're most comfortable with – English or Tagalog. The fact that these two languages are so widely understood makes it especially easy to avoid learning the local language, but what people don't often realize are the smiles, the helpful tips, the discounts, and the stronger friendships that they miss out on.

                          I was going to try to fit all the benefits of knowing more languages in this one article, but alas, there are more to tell. Till next week. And in the meantime, hold onto your languages!
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