I’m writing this post in two versions (click to view Filipino version) to emphasize the essence of love for language to help the nation progress. Don’t worry, this will not be a lengthy lecture, but rather a reflection of how natives view their primary language and how they often take for granted their rich culture in favor of westernism.
We take our native language for granted. We’re all guilty of it. A friend of mine says that this is because when we use our primary language, we are more concerned with the delivery of the message rather than the syntax (grammar, transitioning). I agree completely. When we Filipinos speak or write in Filipino, we hardly ever analyze if we are using the proper words often relying on context. Heck, our language has so far evolved to include gay lingo, which is oftentimes considered a dialect of its own. It is not only Filipinos who are guilty of this crime. Westerners often speak with wrong grammars but they really don’t care about it because they are after communication, and if the message gets across then it is already considered a success.
This crime against language is not exclusive to certain groups of people but is often considered by many as a common occurrence. But why is it that when we try to learn a different language, we are very conscious of the technicalities. We are embarrassed when we use a word in a wrong context and we apologize for errors. How many of us have truly delved deep into understanding our languages, caring enough to use it properly, and with pride, like we do for “international” languages such as English.
I came to a realization today as I was editing our university’s official website. For the entire month, we will be translating some portions to Filipino in commemoration of our Buwan ng Wika and Buwan ng Nasyonalismo (Language and Nationalism Month). It took me a while (and a lot of effort) to translate several announcements when it took me only a few minutes to do it in English, and when I finally did, I was so proud of myself. But after some editing, I learned that I used some words wrong, and this brought me back to my reflection of how good we truly understand our language. How many of us remember the Filipino translation of nouns, pronouns, subjects, predicates, simple and complex sentences, etc.? (Sentence structure is different for Filipino). Sadly, my answer is barely. I barely remember what I learned when I was in the first grade, let alone in high school. I learned the language but I did not cherish it. Not in the way that it should be cherished and I fear that future generations are going farther down the line with the advent of texting and the internet.
So much so that when they watch television, they will see that some Filipinos who broke through the US market hardly ever speak Filipino anymore, and answer in slang English even if the questions are phrased in Filipino. So much so that when said artists do speak in Filipino, they don’t pronounce the words properly, as if they are foreigners having difficulty with the language. I shall not name names but these are the people that abhor the most — the type of people who forsake their roots because they have had a taste of something more. And this is the precise reason that I salute Filipinos who take pride of their origins despite being overseas for the longest time — Black Eyed Peas Apl.d.ap, UFC’s Brandon Vera and Mark Munoz, stage actresses Monique Wilson and Tony winner Ms. Leah Salonga. I believe their success stems from their pride in their roots, in their language, in their people.
We have to love our language. Whether it be English, Filipino, Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian, African, or some rare language that only 10 people speak. We must be proud of our heritage because it is what makes us great people of one nation. If we do not speak our language, if we do not write books in our native words, our language will die, and so will our nations because nations are fueled by its citizen’s sense of pride in its culture, in its diversity and its history. And more than anything, language defines a nation’s identity.