18 June 2007

Another footnote to the language wars

AN AWKWARD moment in the oath-taking that followed the speeches in this morning's 59th charter day celebration came when Sen. Joker Arroyo asked 10th-ranked Councilor-elect Ma. Elizabeth Lavadia to recite the "panunumpa" after him.

My favorite Bikolano senator had difficulty reading through the oath in Filipino, which how Tagalog is now known. (Although the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) knows better, admitting that "Filipino is simply Tagalog in syntax and grammar, with no grammatical element or lexicon coming from Iloko, Sinebwuano, Ilonggo, and other major Philippine languages.")

As a result, the others that followed -- from 9th-ranked Councilor Nelson Legacion up to Mayor Robredo himself -- simply went through the motions, mostly for photo-ops.

If it were in English, in which the Senate conducts its business, or in Bikol Naga, the regional standard in which Joker spoke flawlessly in addressing the crowd that mostly lined along Elias Angeles Street, the faux pas would not have happened.

The reason is generational: Joker's contemporary senior citizens are not as exposed as today's youth to mass media, especially TV which exerts a tremendous influence in developing and popularizing Filipino.

The generational divide was even evident when the senator, who also guested in the book launching of Liberato "Levy" Aureus's Sabi ni Levy, mentioned Bikol Naga's being the "purest" of the Bikol dialects. It actually made me cringe: the regional standard, yes; but the purest form?

It is certainly a debatable point, and one that the other flavors of the Bikol language he mentioned will not take sitting down. Among the literati who attended the event at the Raul S. Roco Library at city hall were leading Bikolano poet Kristian Cordero and Frankie Peñones, a Ford Foundation international fellow who just arrived in town for a much needed break from his studies at the University of San Jose in California.

Like Joker, we hail from Rinconada (the 4th district of Camarines Sur) and consider Bicol Rinconada our mother tongue. Both the multi-awarded Cordero and Peñones, in fact, have blazed the trail in elevating Rinconada literature to a prominent place in the vibrant literary scene. Yet Joker can only speak about the late Luis Dato who, like him, hails from Baao.

But policy, I strongly believe as I argued here, is another culprit. For instance, if policy and conventions allow, or better still encourage, the use of the vernacular in government forms such as the "panunumpa," consistent with the reality that we are a multilingual nation, that awkward, "wow mali!" moment starring my favorite Bikolano senator would not have happened.

In this light, the KWF's decision, under the leadership of the Bikolano Dr. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco, to finally give long overdue attention to the development, preservation and propagation of some 170 regional languages and dialects in the country is a step in the right direction.

The use of the vernacular in government forms or even laws of local importance -- the resolutions and ordinances that our sanggunians churn out regularly, which are for local consumption anyway -- can be a powerful contribution of government to this effort.

8 comments:

Filipinayzd said...

"..."Filipino is simply Tagalog in syntax and grammar, with no grammatical element or lexicon coming from Iloko, Sinebwuano, Ilonggo, and other major Philippine languages."..."

Sors po?

"Purest" o "purist"? Hehehe

Bikol-Canaman is the purest among Bikol dialects, according to Fr. Franch Lynch, S.J. (according to Danilo Gerona).

Filipinayzd said...

Back-to-back Bicolano KWF commissoner?

Filipinayzd said...

Eureka!

http://www.asianjournal.com/?c=53&a=20983

"He acknowledged that Filipino WAS simply Tagalog in syntax and grammar, with no grammatical element or lexicon coming from Iloko, Sinebwano, Ilonggo and other major Philippine languages."

Aling Filipino kaya ang tinutukoy niya, Filipino v.1987, Filipino v.2001, Filipino v.2006?

Sori, nag-fo-flood na ba ako?

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

2,084 and counting at the Planet Naga! And 2,055 and counting at your i.ph blog!

All I can is: "WOW"!

Meet Naga/Bikol's most popular blogger!

Filipinayzd said...

Most visited na Bikol blog siguro this June. [Biklish?]

Finally, I (re-)penetrated Pinoy Top Blog's Top 50.

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