Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Tagalog for the Philippines

I found a site where Bienvinido Lumbera has been honored. He makes the following statement:

Language, says LUMBERA, is the key to national identity. Until Filipino becomes the true lingua-franca of the Philippines, he believes, the gap between the well-educated classes and the vast majority of Filipinos cannot be bridged. "As long as we continue to use English," he says,"our scholars and academics will be dependent on other thinkers," and Filipino literature will be judged by Western standards and not, as it should be, by the standards of the indigenous tradition itself.

I have to disagree with his sentiments because of globalization. If the Philippines existed alone and independent of market forces of the world, then fine, you can try to make Filipino the lingua franca. HOwever, I know of many Ilokanos and Cebuanos and many others who will fight you tooth and nail over Filipino as a lingua-franca. It is paramount to English as the official language of the United states. The move is myopic.

First off, I used to believe that there was Filipino/Tagalog and the other spoken words in the PHilippines were dialects. I have come to realize that the "dialects" are actually languages. There is enough difference between words and structure such that Iluko is a different language than Tagalog.

I would have to propose that the key to national identity is to celebrate the multi-lingual and multi-cultural aspect of Filipinos. To try and create a lingua franca is to kill 40-60 languages. In other parts of the world, scholars are trying to resurrect and rediscover dead languages. Forcing the creation of a lingua-franca for the Philippines is to kill Iluko, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, etc. I would then point out that the Philippines needs to become a country of polyglots like the countries of Europe. If the Philippines can do this, they will understand the Filipino character in a deeper and more meaningful way.

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