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Firth McEachern - Diversity Shock, Part 36 of 37

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  • DILA-owner@yahoogroups.com
    In the last article, we studied the reason why local dialects/languages are unable to impact the speech patterns of ManileƱos very much, and in turn, why the
    Message 1 of 32 , May 3, 2011
      In the last article, we studied the reason why local dialects/languages are unable to impact the speech patterns of ManileƱos very much, and in turn, why the national language---at least in the context of the National Capital Region---has not been able to incorporate many Philippine languages other than Tagalog. This is despite more than 20 years after the last Constitution enjoined that Filipino "shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and existing languages" (Article XIV, Section 6).

      Perhaps, however, the enrichment of Filipino does not happen in the NCR. Perhaps our hope for the enrichment of Filipino lies in the regions. Since people are learning Tagalog-Filipino in school and speaking the vernacular outside, maybe some mixture will eventually develop that resembles the enriched Filipino language that the Constitution expected?

      That's what Ponciano Bennagen of the Constitutional Commission had in mind, when he spoke in front of all the Commissioners in September 1986: "If I go to Mindanao, as in fact I did in early April, a language that you would call Filipino would rely on Tagalog and partly on Cebuano and English. A language that one would speak in the North would partake of other languages and these have to be codified in a planned manner to accelerate and facilitate the growth of this emerging language," he told the Plenary.

      Commissioner Bennagen was right in some ways. It is indeed true that Tagalog is influencing the regional languages. Diglossia is reported in many languages, with Tagalog words like `di ba', `talaga', and `ayos' commonly thrown into local speech. If the influence is strong enough, it could lead to a full creolization of the vernaculars. To some this may be called "enrichment," to others it is encroachment, bastardization, dilution, and deterioration of Philippine languages.

      Regardless of your opinion on "halo-halo" speech habits, the creolized varieties in each region, no matter how "enriched" with Tagalog they are, would still not be transferable to other regions. Mix Pampangan with Tagalog and you would obtain something completely different from mixing Tausug with Tagalog. There wouldn't be just one language developing (creolizing), but many! Bennagen realized that such Tagalog-Vernacular fusions would not be compatible, and thus urged for them to be "codified in a planned manner" in order to properly incorporate them in an emerging, diverse Filipino.

      Despite the need for deliberate planning, The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) created in 1991 by constitutional mandate is not actively designing a mixed language. The Commissioners decided that they would not establish "quotas of assimilation from different languages" into Filipino (as discussed in the Plenary Session of Sept 1st, 1986), so the KWF is just standardizing and promoting the national lingua franca (barely distinguishable from the Manila variety of Tagalog, which includes some English and Spanish loan words) as it spreads around the country. Resolution 92-1 of the KWF indeed defines the national language as "the language spoken in Metro Manila and other business centers of the country." No mention of deliberate attempts to further enrich Filipino with other Philippine languages, so it looks likely that the KWF will continue to promote the national language in its present form regardless of how under-representative it actually is.

      At this point (and even back in 1986), a hands-off evolution of Filipino is skewed to entrench the Tagalog elements of the national language and eliminate local languages, due to the impracticalities of region-to-region communication, economic imbalances, and low representation of local languages in media and education. The fact that the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) was not instructed to design an enriched language is therefore tantamount to intending it not to exist, given the unlikelihood of it happening naturally.

      Thus we arrive at the most profound and subtle paradox of the 1987 Constitution. It demands Filipino to be developed and enriched. "The government ought to be able to accelerate or speed up the development of that language," Commissioner Bennagen stated---hence the creation of the KWF. But the Commissioners also agreed upon his added caveat: "respecting its own logic of development." Therefore, the KWF is somehow supposed to enrich Filipino with other Philippine languages without being given the mandate to deliberately enrich it (for that would be disrespecting its own logic). They have no choice but to watch Filipino's spread across the country, enshackled to the largely unenriched Tagalog lingua franca of Manila.

      I sympathize with the KWF's impossible position. They have two unpalatable options. One, either they have to carry on propagating the currently stunted Filipino as an official language of communication and education, and falsely advertise it as the enriched product we've all been waiting for. Or two, admit that very little has been done to incorporate other Philippine languages (lexically or syntactically) into Filipino, the language as taught in schools and shown on TV is nearly identical to what it was in 1986, the Constitutional vision of Filipino has not been fulfilled, and nor is it likely ever to be.

      Firth McEachern - Diversity Shock, Part 36
    • dphilfinc
      ... Since the development and propagation of such a Frankenstein language has not met success throughout human history, Filipino would certainly remain a pipe
      Message 32 of 32 , May 6, 2011
        --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, Firth wrote:
        > I would only tolerate the premise of a national language---regardless of its nature or how it came to be---were it accompanied with balanced and sincere language planning that ensured the continuing, complementary flourishing of other native languages.

        Since the development and propagation of such a Frankenstein language has not met success throughout human history, Filipino would certainly remain a pipe dream orchestrated by Tagalog supremacists for the benefit of our naive countrymen. Firth is to be roundly commended for his honest research and impartial treatment of language politics in our country, this ought to come out as a printed volume.

        I found the portion on the 1986 ConCom particularly impressive in its detail. The proponents got into a number of confrontations with me and I had always considered Villacorta to be in cahoots with Salazar et al. Everything was planned beforehand and in the end they had completely outwitted and fooled Davide. An added bonus for them was that the Aquino constitution would turn out to be intrinsically unamendable.

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