Friday, August 01, 2008

Talking Languages

My editor who is very interested about the Filipino culture often asks me questions that make me realize who we really are as a nation. Here's one of our conversations aboard the car on the way to work.

“I guess most Filipinos can speak two languages; English, Tagalog and at least one dialect. I mean most Filipinos I know can. I know I can.”

“How come you guys can do that?”

“And I can understand two other dialects but I can’t speak them as fluently as the other one.”

“You guys are amazing. We Brits are so lazy – we only speak English.” (shaking head)

“Hmmm... Not really that amazing. I just grew up speaking and hearing them so there really was no effort on my part."

"Oh really."

"Oh by the way, I also understand a bit of Spanish.”

"Is it because you said you were colonized by the Spanish before?"

"Yes, 333 years! Dios mio!"

"My God!"

"Exactly!" (laugh) We lost our alphabet. We had our own before the Spanish came. After 300 years it disappeared. (suddenly serious) Spanish words got sort of assimilated into the Tagalog language."

"So how come you speak English?"

"Because after we were freed from the Spanish, the Americans colonized us for about 50 years more or less."

"You guys get colonized all the time!" (laugh)

"I guess we’re the favourite!" (laugh)

"Honestly, I don’t know what’s with us western people. We can’t help ourselves from colonizing lands we land on." (shaking head, eyes roll)

"I guess that’s why the way I use the language is so messed up."

"What do you mean?"

"Well when I was growing up, I learned my ABCs first before learning our own A-Ba-Ka-Da. I also hear Bicolano which is a dialect that my parents speak. Then in grade school I learned that a pretty big percentage of the Tagalog words we speak is actually Spanish. In high school and college we were forced to speak English all the time. After I graduated I worked with people from different parts of the Philippines and I had to learn some dialects to do my work properly. So now even if I wanted to - I can’t speak pure Tagalog. I can’t even write formal letters in Tagalog. That is something I’m not proud of. Shame on me!"

"Well, just look at it this way. The good thing about it all is you can speak English. While some people exert a lot of effort just to learn it, you guys already grew up speaking it. I mean we can’t deny it - in this present time it is an English world." (humble smile)

"I know! You can’t even code websites if you don’t know English. I mean HTML is written in English."

"There. You see."(smile)

"Oh, and HTML is another language I speak.. err I mean understand."

"Oh dear God! Enough already!" (eyes roll, laugh)


Jayred said...

Na-overwhelm na si bossing.

turtlepace said...

lol buti hindi kasali ang sign language..marami din ngayon marunong na mag sign language. :)