4/09/2006

First post in English

Somehow, English makes things phonier. Like it sounds smarter than it really is. When you read or hear something in the English language, it seems as if it's so profound, so intellectual.

Is it because it's not our first language? It takes more time to process and understand English words, phrases, and sentences than Filipino ones? Therefore the “profound” effect?

And then, there’s the barrier. Even though the English language has been integrated into our everyday lives, there’s still this barrier that prevents us from fully understanding it because of culture.

Like some English metaphors. Because metaphors are so much integrated into everyday life, if you do not live in the same culture, the meaning of those metaphors will escape you.

And therefore, the profound effect. And perhaps, the “phony” effect too? Since you can’t write a piece in English that will really communicate what’s in your soul?

Can’t continue. Train of thought has been derailed.

2 comments:

Anj said...

I beg to disagree. Filipino (or Tagalog, if we would consider other local languages) is not *every* Filipino's first language. In some cases, English may be a Filipino's first language. What if his/her parents raised him to speak English, before teaching him Filipino? What if English is the language of the household? What if his/her parents don't approve of his/her watching Pinoy films and TV shows? In such cases, English *is* the first language, the language one thinks in, the language of his/her daily life. It is sad, yes, that there would be parents who would raise their kids on a language from another country, but it happens, and it's not the kids' fault. It doesn't mean that the kids would grow up looking down on the Filipino languages, but the fact that English is the language he/she was brought up with would affect the ease with which he/she communicates in it. He/she may find it easier, more natural, to speak/write/think in English, not so much because he/she *chooses* it, but because it is already part of who he is, it has been "programmed" into him/her during the critical stages of his/her formation as a person.

I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing--on the part of the individual. (But if we start noticing trends that more and more Filipinos are growing up wth foreign sensibilities, and worse, not bothering to take an interest in our country's native languages, that's disturbing). I say it's not necessarily bad for the individual, because whila language shapes understanding, the individual also has the power to push a language to its limits, find new forms, new ways of expression. (If this weren't true, there wouldn't be any writers.) English itself wasn't always the way we knew it. It once resembled German, during the Beowulf days. Then it took on the Shakespearean intricacies, and grew into the language it is today. But even English today has its own varieties. There's English colored with the Southern accent, English in the hands of writers such as Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Jeanette Winterson--and let's not forget our very own Ruel de Vera, Randy David, Danton Remoto, Jessica Zafra, etc. I'm sure that given the choice, our writers who write in English could write equally well in Filipino. I don't know why they choose to write in English when they have the choice of writing in Filipino, but I think they're all great writers, and it's because they say great things in great ways, not because they use a certain language. Rizal wrote in Spanish. Carlos Bulosan wrote in English. But the causes they advocated were Filipino causes. And whichever language they wrote in, they were able to articulate these causes.

True, each language has its own special nuance, its own sensibility, its own history and cultural context. And things that can be said in one language can't be expressed as eloquently in another, if at all. But I don't think there are any superior or inferior languages, and if there's any discrimination of languages, it's brought about by people, not by a language per se.

etsapwera said...

Hi Anj. Sang-ayon ako dun sa punto mo na may mga Pilipino na hindi Filipino ang unang wika. Sa post kong ito, hindi ko naman sila sinasadyang i-etsapwera. Ito lang ay bunga ng aking pagninilay-nilay sa sarili kong karanasan. Na para sa akin, "phony" ang dating ng Inggles dahil kahit papaano, may hindi pa rin akong naiintindihan na metaphors ng wikang ito, dala nga ng pagiging iba ng kultura ko.

Naisip ko na mas makakaintindi ang isang Pilipino kung Filipino ang gagamitin na wika, dahil mas gamay niya ang wikang ito. Gamay, dahil yung wika ay bahagi nga ng kultura niya. Ito ay maipapakita sa mga salitang Filipino na walang katumbas sa Inggles. (But then, there are English words that are in some way, part of a Filipino's culture that have no Filipino equivalent, such as Internet and blog. ;p)

Sa post na ito, sinubok ko lang isulat yung nararamdaman kong "alienation" sa wikang nagpalaki sa akin (halos).