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Developing the Filipino Language

with 5 comments

The Constitution says:

“The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed
and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages.”

How? How should the development of Filipino be implemented? What can be the form of a Filipino language that is acceptable to many? What morphological and syntactic features can be “ambag” to the current Filipino language? How would Cebuano, Bikolano, Ilokano, and Waray linguists and linguists from other regions change the current Filipino to make it more acceptable to them?


Written by Resty Cena

Setyembre 21, 2011 Sa 11:36 hapon

Ipinaskil sa Filipino

5 Tugon

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  1. Joe Lalas replied to the question on the MLE-Philippines Yahoo forum, thus:

    Sir Resty.

    Kumusta na kayo. Well, your question is an excellent one for all of us to think about. But unfortunately, the “train has left the station.” I think different language groups are pursuing an admirable path of developing their own languages. It is unfortunate to think that we’re back to square one — the issue of the what is the “national language” and how we can develop that language. If it’s Filipino, then, let us work on it. However, that may no longer be the consensus.

    Just an observation from a very concerned citizen.

    Resty Cena

    Setyembre 24, 2011 at 5:25 umaga

    • In reply to Joe Lalas, I wrote:


      I get the same feeling. But linguistic segregation appears to be even more an uncertain proposition, if not outright problematic, isn’t it? Won’t the train passengers at the end of the line find chaos rather than nirvana? Bill Davies ask (here) if it is possible to have a national identity without a common native language. His point is that we as a people historically have never been bound by a common language. A good observation. But, he admits: “And yet, there must be a common ground and an ability to communicate with one another” (italics mine). Consider the laughable situation where a Bulacan construction manager is ordering 10,000 bags of cement from a Cebu distributor, and because they don’t speak the other person’s language they need to have interpreters to complete the transaction. Tough luck for the Cebuano dealer, but the construction manager would probably turn to a distributor in Batangas instead, even though the Batangueno would likely ask him, “Naorder ka na ba?”, which at least is more amusing than disruptive of communication. You likely will not want to be brought to court in a region, where you need an interpreter to explain that you drove into a one-way street because the street signs are in a language you don’t read. That will surely ruin your day. Ok, I may have overstated the point, and I may have written about this point before in this forum; excuse the insistence. But, as a nation, the ability to communicate with one another, to me, trumps everything else.

      Picture yourself 50 years from now (assuming that that longevity pill arrives soon enough), when the regions are completely linguistically segregated. What benefits will that bring you in your day-to-day life? Nothing. Disadvantages? Nothing, as long as you don’t interact with your fellow Pinoys in another region. Advantages to the regions? The poorer regions will be even more disadvantaged — their kids not knowing the language of employment. And benefits to the nation? What nation?

      It is all too easy to wave the flag of linguistic and cultural diversity, but these same flag wavers would rather have foreign words emblazoned on the flag rather than words in one of our own languages, if that is not the flag wavers own language. So we are told that Tagalog won in 1937 by one vote; and this after the representative from the Waray region cast his vote for Tagalog. The expressed reason was the relative abundance of available materials expressing our sentiments and history written in Tagalog . But I wonder if there was a thinking there somewhere, “If not my language, certainly not another Visayan language.” Of course I am speculating wildly here, but this is so very Pinoy, isn’t it? The choice of a neighboring baranggay’s language will instantly devalue your language in the region and accelerate its demise. So the sentiment by many appears to be: “If not my language, then let it be English.”

      This is not to say that there are no advantages to English being a widely used language in our country, as it is now, and perhaps given renewed efforts towards greater proficiency. You may not have noticed it but but more and more of the world is starting to chat in English; but of course the advantages of knowing English well goes beyond the ability to text-text your American-born relatives. And in case you have not noticed it either, China, Singapore, Hongkong, and Malaysia are catching up on English. We have lost, or are quickly losing, what little edge we had in English proficiency over our neighbors (see “Malaysia tops RP in English Proficiency”.

      Let’s sort out our priorities. Or, better still, let’s ask The People. Why haven’t we been asking them; it is their problem and the problem of their children and grandchildren. A simple plebiscite question would be “Aling wika ang gusto mong maging wika sa pagtuturo AT wika ng pamahalaan?” Easier said than done? Of course. That is a nation-defining moment, but that should solve the problem once and for all (at least within the next generation or two). And once we have a consensus, then let’s all share in carrying that bahay-kubo across the river.

      But let’s do it quickly. The last train is about ready to roll.

      Resty Cena

      Resty Cena

      Setyembre 24, 2011 at 5:26 umaga

      • (Lino Gerona replied via MLE-Philippines forum)

        It is time to consider what Gibo Teodoro told Sionil F. Jose:

        “I believe that the effort to disregard the rich cultural
        diversity of our country led to a lot of damage. The single language, single
        ideology line of nation-building has not been a positive development for our
        country. It has bred bigotry and division. I believe that we must accept that
        we are diverse. We are an archipelago, for heaven’s sake. We must encourage
        that diversity and teach each other what we are, so that a culture of tolerance
        and respect evolves. Even the contributions of our colonizers such as languages,
        both Spanish and English, must be appreciated and their use enhanced.
        The world itself because of increasing interconnections is getting increasingly
        culturally aware. We should be the same in our own country.”

        The Jacobinist approach our nation builders took and many politicians and
        policy makers still adhere to have no place in the 21st Century. The one country,
        one nation, one language line led to the break-up of Pakistan and birth of Banglasdesh,
        a 25-year civil war in Sri Lanka, and near break-up of Belgium and Spain (averted
        when Belgium turned federal along linguistic communifies lines and Spain made
        the regional languages official languages in the regions spoken along with broad
        regional autonmy).

        A national language is not necessary for national unity. South Africa has no national
        language but instead has eleven official languages, English, Afrikaans, and nine
        indigenous African languages. The United KIngdom has no national language. They
        have made Welsh an official language in Wales. While India does have a national
        language, Hindi, each State has one or more languages indinous to the State as official
        languages. Belgium now has no national language. It used to be French. Canada has
        no national language. It has two official languages. Sweitzerland never had a national
        language and the minority Romansh is protected.

        Resty Cena

        Setyembre 26, 2011 at 10:03 hapon

  2. (restycena replied to geronalino via MLE-Philippines)

    It’s nice to see our political leaders get involved in language
    issues. But Between the lines, I see that Mr Teodoro is making the
    assumption that aspiring to have one common language to communicate
    among ourselvse necessarily entails losing all other languages. I’m
    surprised, too, that he failed to stress the importance and the need
    for a single language of communication. I’d like to ask Mr. Teodoro
    what he means by “diverse” cultures. If by culture we mean — and I
    subscribe to this definition — how basically our collective self deals
    with the outside world — that is, how we relate with our relatives,
    neighbors, and strangers, the older people, and the authorities, how
    we suffer through our failures and celebrate our successes, weave
    stories to deal with the unknown, the work ethic that we bring to the
    workplace, and so forth (excepting some practices in the south that
    may be expressions of a different religious belief), then I would say
    that we Filipinos belong to one culture, and that is the Pinoy
    culture. There are minor differences, to be sure, but not to any
    degree that can be used as a basis for differentiation at the culture
    level, any more than the differences between North and South Tagalog
    speech can be the basis for classifying them as different languages.

    I am beginning to think that this idea that different cultures
    separate us and the misconception of absolute inseparability of
    language and culture have done us a lot of harm; the self-prophetic
    “diverse cultures” divides us. Tagalog can and should be taught to
    non-native speakers as a way to develop functional communicative
    skills in the language. It doesn’t have be used as a vehicle for
    anything else. Let culture and citizenship and such be taught in the
    child’s native language.

    Lino Gerona wrote: “A national language is not necessary for national
    unity.“ This is true, but this misstates what should be the real gain
    of a language spoken and understood by everyone. I think that Bill
    Davies observation
    ( that
    “[h]istorically, Filipino national identity has never really been
    based on a single common language”, is true, but note that the keyword
    “identity.” How did the early Filipinos traded their surplus rice with
    people across the lake with surplus fish? We seem so hung-up on this
    vague, imaginary cultural fences and this prolonged and
    counter-productive obsession to drive colonialists away long after
    they are gone, when what we are really doing is masochistically
    nurture the hurts of the past, and savor the delicious prospects of
    “what might have been,” and “if only.”

    And if I may ask Mr. Lino Gerona: how are those conflicts in West and
    East Pakistan and Belgium and others exactly relevant to our
    linguistic situation?

    Resty Cena

    Setyembre 26, 2011 at 10:05 hapon

    • There should have never been the need to create a language of ‘national’ unification. The languages that we have are enough. In fact, we can use exoglosses as a means for mutual understanding. English is always there that we have already embraced as one of our native languages. Mr. Cena, the promises of a one country, one language vision has long been debunked by numerous country and this idea has only shown potentials of insinuating strife instead of solidarity. We may shrug off the whole issue of languages at the mere cultural level, but it would be very disastrous if twenty or fifty years from now when these so called identities of non-Tagalogs have sought the need to reclaim what was taken from them, and we might soon consider terrorists not of a religious angle but also of ethnolinguistic. We may have our own ETA in the representation of Visayans, Pampanggeño or Iloko, and that would be the last thing we would want to see.

      Because of the central government’s desire to push Tagalog as the national language across domains, academic performance among students in other regions has plummeted throughout decades. If only the working and learning language that they have is the same as the one they speak at home, with friends, and the community, we might see great improvements as how past studies have already proven.

      The concept of a national language has also pushed non-Tagalogs to a point of forgetting their historical and ethnic roots. Manila-centered media even denigrates non-Tagalogs most especially Visayans as culturally-inferior, uneducated, house helpers, and threats to the state (anti-nationalists) because of their lack of command in Tagalog (Filipino) which they do not need in their respective regions anyway. This ethnic discrimination has only brought the country stronger interregional abhorrence. And from my point of view, no matter how ridiculous you might see it, non-Tagalog intellectuals are gaining an impetus to seek for the legitimacy as to whether they really have a shared cultural and historical past with the people of Katagalugan (case-in-point: Clarifications to Luzon-centered mainstream history; Visayan revolutionary victory; self-determination prior to Treaty of Paris and American-Malolos Republic intervention).


      Pebrero 9, 2012 at 3:16 hapon

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