Monday, September 5, 2011

Speak and write in English well and with PRIDE and encourage others to do the same

The language of power -- English -- shapes the opinion of the influential. The "language of the streets" -- Tagalog -- shapes the opinion of the powerless. In a sense, the Media is a power broker in the same mold as any other institution in the Philippines. It's got a tiny elite pool of people who write for the premium channels browsed by the powerful before they head off to their breakfast meetings to debate the fate of the nation. At the bottom of the pyramid are those who write the more "palatable" dumbed-down content -- the stuff read by ordinary folk huddled in sweltering buses stuck in Manila's traffic.

In a sense, the English-proficient elite monopolise a vital resource -- command over a language that opens doors. Tagalog and other indigenous means of communication are but the breadcrumbs thrown to the birds. The reason "monopoly" is a dirty word is because it is synonymous with abuse. When a small elite control -- or monopolise -- a vital resource, the obvious solution is to dismantle that monopoly.

The good news is, monopolies over premium languages are easy to dismantle. There is nothing that stops us from making these monopolised languages universally accessible to the broader community thereby diluting the power of those who traditionally wield it for their elite purposes -- nothing, that is, other than an obsolete notion of what is "nationalistic".

We fancy ourselves a people who aspire to an egalitarian society -- one where resources are equally accessible to all. Command of the English language -- a language that opens doors for its speakers -- is at the moment not universally within reach. The solution is obvious. Focus funding on material and classroom time delivered in English and equip Filipinos to compete.
“It is important that a jobseeker has command of the English language,” [Grace Colet -- General Manager, JobStreet] said.

Employers were alarmed by the increasing popularity of the “jejemon” culture in the country, a social phenomenon where liberties are taken with basic grammar and spelling to the point of incoherence, she said.

“This new trend which started with text messages and social media sites is seen to encourage erroneous use of language, which can have dire implications on one’s job prospects.”

See full reference to the article from which the above snippet was quoted here.

Speak and write in English well and with PRIDE and encourage others to do the same.


  1. I don't see any problem with using Tagalog personally, but I do acknowledge the fact that I'm more "advantaged" when using English. After all, not everyone here in "Da Pinas" is born a Manileno/Tagalog, right?

  2. If a language is used somewhere else other than its own place of origin, it's very useful.

    What irks me is how we forgot the Spanish language thanks to American influence and how they got rid of the Spanish system that was in place before they influenced the Philippines. Spanish is used in many countries, and it's a shame it wasn't taught as much as it used to in schools.


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