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Sep 10

Benign0’s book

I was surprised to read that one of my favorite bloggers, big mango, wrote a foreword to an e-book by benign0 (who may be familiar to some as one of the most enthusiastic hecklers of the politically-passionate). So I went through the benign0 tract, and while I can’t endorse it uncritically, I do think it is worth a download and further discussion. There are some assumptions that, I think, represent breathtaking leaps in logic, but in general, his observations are thought-provoking (always good), generally shrewd (always a remarkable thing), and the style very readable and far less conducive to high blood pressure than his on-line heckling. I find myself agreeing with some of his observations and arguments more easily than I expected, though there is plenty to quibble with in other respects.

Some of his more interesting points are (as I see them)

1. Do we have a kind of linguistic apartheid, in which the benefits of a national language haven’t materialized, and instead, produced a substandard level of intellectual involvement for the majority, while maintaining the hegemony of an English-fluent minority? And is the Filipino language, in itself, fatally flawed as far as encouraging a modern, dynamic and competitive society is concerned (he asserts, for example, that there is no Filipino word for “efficiency”).

2. Filipinos do not understand democracy, freedom, etc. in substantive but only in the most superficial and self-defeating manner; that the Filipino family is not just the bedrock of society, it is one of the root causes of the country’s moribund state; it might even be asked, is Philippine society by its very nature, unjust? Also, that Filipinos seem congenitally incapable of the hard work (and by extension, unwilling to demonstrate a basic requirement of maturity, delaying self-gratification).

3. Un unhealthy contempt for intellectual effort; unwillingness to innovate; refusal to engage in critical thinking or to confuse partisan sniping for critical thought; pride becomes a substitute for achievement.

So, what I do unhesitatingly do, is recommend Benign0’s book for reading and discussion. It’s interesting that the most provocative works in the past twenty years were produced by one American (James Fallows), and two Filipino expatriates (Benign0 and David C. Martinez).

From the Lionel Giles translation of the Analects of Confucius:

Duke Ai asked, saying: What must I do that my people may be contented? – Confucius replied: Promote the upright and dismiss all evildoers, and the people will be contented. Promote the evil-doers and dismiss the upright, and the people will be discontented.

Chi K’-ang Tzû asked by what means he might cause his people to be respectful and loyal, and encourage them in the path of virtue. The Master replied: Conduct yourself towards them with dignity, and you will earn their respect; be a good son and a kind prince, and you will find them loyal; promote the deserving and instruct those who fall short, and they will be encouraged to follow the path of virtue.

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  1. Carl

    Give benignO and David Martinez credit for thinking out of a box. While I think that we can someday overcome ourselves and get out of the rut, it may not be in the manner or form conventionally envisaged. It could mean having a country composed of a loose coalition of autonomous regions, or even dividing the country into 2 or 3 states, forcing them to become more dynamic and resourceful. Those options are not necessarily bad things. They could even be the best things that could happen. It is said that God never works in straight lines.

  2. mlq3

    carl, i don’t think they’re necessarily thinking out of the box. it’s just that, as expatriates, they can look at things with a certain detachment and impunity. they don’t run the risk of either being lynched for daring to pose questions, nor do they have to live with the consequences of their ideas.

    this is an important caveat to bear in mind but otherwise, their ideas (themselves restatements of ideas as old as the ones they question) do make for healthy debate. after all, even if old, the fact their ideas can be restated and reargued means they haven’t been resolved.

  3. vic

    That could possibly well be. We already have a pretty ready set-up of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Each region could have differents provinces and can have their own Capital Cities. Envision the future Federal Republic of the Philippines and why not if it means getting out of this hole we’re in.

    For BenignO and others, we can only thank them for giving us different perspective and pointing out our diffeciencies. Some may not like it, but we have to admit, we are sick as a nation, and to get out of that sickness and return to health is not painless and hurtless. We have to know wwhere we get wrong and be guided accordingly. And that book, which I completed reading has a lot to say about us and that include BenigO himself. And he is not shy to admit it.

  4. Carl

    mlq3, I don’t think we have yet fallen into the habit of lynching people for, as you would put it, restating ideas that haven’t been resolved.

    As vic points out, it’s always good to see things from another perspective. Concepts and visions don’t have to remain inflexible. And, often, we may not be immediately aware of what is good for us.

  5. walalang

    getrealphilippines.com ! When visiting the site, leave your pride at the door and think critically. It’s time to get real folks!

  6. vic

    I don’t for a moment, believe, that our distance and relative safety espousing opinions and views that are relevant to the issues in the Philippines, affect our position. There are many critiques within the country, who are not just expressing issues that were not resolved and are just as frank as straight forward, but also do it in the open. There are intances that being on the outside looking inside, you can see the pictures much clearer without the fog of prejudices and biases. As Harvard Professor Michael Ignatieffe answered why, he just returned to Canada to run for leadership of the Liberal Party (after winning a seat in last election) that could ultimately make him the PM, he said “somtimes a person can see his country clearly from the outside looking in”. might be well be true to some.

  7. sassy blogger

    I wonder what the Rubenesque self-proclaimed queen of bloggers has to say about benignO…

  8. cvj

    By disallowing the ‘good’ and readily admitting the ‘bad’ aspects of Filipino behavior based on stereotypes, Benign0’s book defines a ‘straw-man Filipino’ which he then proceeds to attack. He then compares this dysfunctional Filipino unfavorably to the achievements of the Chinese, Japanese and Singaporeans. Far from being new, i think his ideas have codified existing Filipino elitist Conventional Wisdom with its innate prejudice against the Filipino masses. These are precisely the shallow imagery (circa Isagani Cruz) that has to be transcended so that our divided people can understand each other.

  9. tbl

    ” get real” published this in their web including mlq’s pic….

    I would rather have a Philippines run like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines run like heaven by the Americans” — Manuel L. Quezon

    missing is the most important part as pointed out in many articles including manolo’s column ..”BECAUSE WE CAN ALWAYS CHANGE IT”.

    i am not sure if this is unintentional omiton or what. however, it chaged the whole meaning of mlq’s statement. is get real relly trying to live up to its “get real” puprose or what?

  10. tbl

    sorry for several typos. not really a good typist. i dictate most of my things .

  11. senorito_ako

    I didn’t know that Lionel Giles did ‘Analects of Confucius’ as well. Akala ko ‘Art of war’ lang.

  12. From Joma Sison

    Press Statement
    8 September 2006

    ARROYO REGIME REFUSES TO HEED EUROPEAN CALLS

    FOR RESUMPTION OF GRP-NDFP PEACE NEGOTIATIONS

    By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

    Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines

    Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

    In the last three months, several European governments, human rights organizations and religious institutions have approached the Negotiating Panel of the National Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and urged the resumption of the formal talks in the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

    On each occasion, the NDFP Negotiating Panel has agreed to the resumption of the formal talks in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and upon the resolution of certain prejudicial questions and the Arroyo regime’s stopping the nationwide extrajudicial killings and abductions of unarmed legal activists.

    The NDFP Negotiating Panel has also reiterated the 10-point proposal of the NDFP for a concise agreement for an immediate just peace, instituting truce while negotiations proceed on social, economic and political reforms in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration.

    The NDFP has further proposed that the Arroyo regime immediately stop its military and police forces and death squads from committing extrajudicial killings and abductions and that the independent nominees of the GRP and NDFP in the Joint Monitory Committee created by the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) work with the representatives of the Norwegian government and the International Red Cross Committee to investigate the extrajudicial killings and abductions.

    But the Arroyo regime has refused to heed the appeals of the aforesaid European governments, international human rights organizations and religious institutions for the resumption of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations because the regime is intent on pursuing its all-out war policy and its costly but futile campaign to destroy the armed revolutionary movement in two years’ time.

    GRP officials have also frankly admitted that the Arroyo regime is pursuing an all-out policy as a matter of political survival in order to rally the fractious rank and file of its military and police forces and to continue receiving military and financial assistance from the US government within the framework of the Bush-directed global war of terror.

    Special operations teams or death squads of the Arroyo regime continue to escalate their attacks against progressive party list groups, trade unionists, peasant leaders, women, youth activists, church people, journalists, lawyers and other people who are legally opposing the Arroyo regime. The special operations teams or death squads are composite military and police units of the Military Intelligence Group under the direction of the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security and the Anti-Terrorism Task Force. ###

  13. Kabagis

    Cut GMA some slack as she is doing all she can to restore confidence in the Philippines both from within and in the international community.

    You are delusionary, Joma.

    You became irrelevant to the Philippines a long time ago.

    Kabagis

  14. Kabagis

    I read parts of benign0’s book.

    There was nothing new in what he wrote nor is there anything refreshing that makes me think he haa really thought outside the box.

    At the end of the day, it is just another pseudo-intellectual giving his 2-cents worth…grandstanding like you and ME – all talk but no action.

  15. peter

    good take, cvj

    mlq3, reading the intro, ninoy came to mind first then teddyman benigno (left a manuscript for a book before passing, my mind flashed back to his columns, and now a manuscript of deep insight) somebodies with something to say,

    mlq3 a respected columnist-host blogger on benign0 an online heckler, methinks, is mlq3’s mentoring of readers on the need for open-mindedness.

  16. hvrds

    Former Premeir Chou En Lai was asked about the effects on the world of the French Revolution which had happened over 150 years then. He answered then that it was still too early to tell.

    In a recent press conference Bush displayed an amazing ignorance between the words goals and strategy. He did not know the difference. Goals are the ends and strategy is the road to the goals. The President of the most powerfull country in the world militarily does not know the difference.

    Adam Smith once wrote that,
    “To prohibit a great people from making all that they can of every part of their own produce or from employing their stock and industry in the way that they judge most advantageous to themselves is a manifest violation of the most sacred rights of mankind.”

    Do the Filipino see themselves as a “people”? Do the aggregate neurons of the natives of the islands see themselves as a people?
    Are we Europeans or Americans or Asians. What are we? Time will answer that question.

  17. pablo

    hvrds,
    “Do the Filipinos see themselves as a “people”?”

    Kaya’t kailangang gisin ang pangkalahatang kamalayan (collective consciousness) sa kung ano’t sino ang tunay na Filipino.

    Let us embark on a journey of rediscovering: On Journeying as a People, as Global Filipinos. http://juan-dela-cruz.blogspot.com/

  18. hvrds

    On credit and the nation state. Why has state owned and operated banking stystem in China, Taiwan, Japan, India proved to be more successfull in their development programs than in the Philippines? All the financial crisis in the past came out of the private sector. PNB, DBP were all wholesale lenders. The Bancom fiasco was a private investment bank. Why give the power of leverged credit to the private banks when almost always the public has had to bail out the private sector. All this talk about building instituions of the state to regulate markets took the West generations as they learned through the repeated market failures in their economic and political evolution. History of their failures was their teacher. Does everyone know and understand the power of the state to monetize credit and the giving to private banks the power to monetize even highly leveraged dollar credits without the attendant benefits to the country but with all the pitfalls when markets fail. The advocacy in the Philippines should be the War on Ignorance.

    “In the case of money, we are dealing with something which is handled in our generation by methods that are extremely different from those in vogue a century or half century ago….we have now reached a stage where something universally needed – namely money, or credit which does duty for money – has become in effect a monopoly…
    “The private issue of new credit should be regarded in the modern world in just the same way in which the private minting of money was regarded in earlier times. The banks should be limited in their lending power to the amount deposited by their clients, while the issue of newer credit should be the function of public authority.
    “This is not in any way to censure the banks or bankers. They have administered the system entrusted to them with singular uprightness and ability and public spirit. But the system has become anomalous, and, as so often happens when anomaly has persisted through a long period of time, the result is to make into the master what ought to be the servant.” Archbishop of Canterbury’s William Temple in 1942
    When the Federal Government of the U.S. took over the direct management of the U.S. economy simply by taking over the banking system through rigid regulations. They in effect took over and monetized the credit system of the U.S. to facilitate trade and industry.

  19. Kabagis

    hvrds,

    > On credit and the nation state.

    What is your point in not so many words?

  20. elinca

    As for Benigno’s assertion about the Filipino language being fatally flawed, I would say it is. Just the other day my son asked me what the Filipino word for ‘pi’. I did not have a reply, because there was none. How do math teachers explain ‘pi’ to a class of kids who don;t have a basic grasp of English? How do they teach Calculus, or expound on Einstein’s law of relativity in Filipino or any of the dialect? We are a nation of lazy thinkers–Is it because we lack the most important tool–the right language ? The bulk of information accessed thru the internet is in English. all of the world’s greatest literature is in English, or translated in English. It is also the lingua franca of the global community. I would say to compete globally we should impose English as the language for all filipinos, and should be taught from kindegarten.

  21. mlq3

    elinca, but “pi” is a greek word. always has been.

  22. Jeg

    There is also no English translation for the question: Pang ilang presidente ng Amerika si G.W. Bush? English also doesnt distinguish between we (including you) “Tayo” and we (excluding you) “Kami”. That doesnt mean Engish is flawed. 😉

  23. iniduro ni emilie

    elinca,

    mathematics is a universal language, but english is not the universal language of mathematics.

    the egyptians did not use english to build pyramids, or japanese their robots. ang karanasan ba ng gravity ng mga nagsasalita ng englis ay iba sa gravity ng mga pinoy?

    lazy thinkers? ouch, and you want everything provided to you in english. reflect on this contradiction–preferably in your mother tongue.

    mlq3, while pi is greek, in mathematics it can take on this meaning: the ratio of circumference to diameter. right you are, there is no need to translate the term “pi”, but certainly the concept can still be elucidated and grasped in any language.

  24. jackryan68

    On the issue of language, I’m not sure if you’re noticing but the way borrowed words in Filipino is being spelled is ridiculous.

    Here are samples I just saw from a local blogger:
    – nagmaygreyt
    – fakulti
    – pagkokoryograf
    – hawsmeyt
    – kompowser

    I’m not really sure if these hew to the current rules in Filipino orthography. What I am sure of is they are not how we spell them when I was still in elementary or high school.

    Why don’t we just retain them in their original English spelling in the process of enriching Filipino, the way “pi” is spelled even if it is borrowed from Greek?

  25. missingpoints

    ^ Yep. IIRC my Filipino classes, those are based on the current rules of orthography according to the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino. I’m with you, though. I’d rather import them wholesale, spelling included. Makes it less awkward.

  26. juan makabayan

    elinca,
    “to compete globally we should impose English as the language for all filipinos,”

    is a fallacy.

    It’s ironic that ‘global’consciousness promotes ‘superficial’ consciosness. I beleive that the best way we can be ‘competetive’ is by being the best of what we can be as Filipinos, and that includes loving and enriching our language (“Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ..”). The true Filipino is the authentic global Filipino; which is different from a ‘globalized’ Filipino — those who have become confused about their true identity in the eyes of the world and tragically even in their own eyes. Pilipino is a language of the heart, that’s why it’s different from, not inferior to, others which are more intellectually precise. The paradigm of ‘globalism/globalization’ promotes a culture that confines the human spirit within an economic-scientific context/paradigm that is dehumanizing. Globalizing the Filipino by way of subsumming our lengua-culture in favor of a ‘globally competetive’ language has the effect of de-Filipinizing the Filipino, consequently, depriving our selves and the world of something better, more precious — the true Filipinos.

    “Let us embark on a journey of rediscovering: On Journeying as a People, as Global Filipinos @ http://juan-dela-cruz.blogspot.com/

  27. Kabagis

    > English also doesnt distinguish between we (including you) “Tayo” and we (excluding you) “Kami”. That doesnt mean Engish is flawed.

    Nor is there any English equivalent for “KITA” (“me to you” and depending on context – e.g. “nakita kita”). Actually, in some ways, Pilipino is an “efficient” language eventhough as benign0 discovered, there is no “LITERAL” Pilipino equivalent for this word.

    My Mum however would always say about work conditions in a Western country – “kailangan mabilis kang magtrabaho”. I always took that to mean “be efficient”…in so many words.

  28. vic

    On credit on the nation state: we have a very simple rule for our chartered banks.

    Can be privately run, but no single person or entity or any family or any group of business can own more than TEN Percentum of its capitalization or shares common and prreferred. It can’t lend or invest more than it’s asset in deposit and long-term investment from the public and required to retain a certain percentage to maintain operational even when hit with a major market failures. That they are subject to greater regulation by government agencies to maintain transparency. That is why no Canadian chartered bank has failed yet at the expense of Public depositors.

  29. john marzan

    where’s benigno?

  30. antonio walanglaban

    language … ah! tolkien loved it and treated it as the glue that held cultures together. From Quenya to Sindarin; from the guttural ‘ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg durbatuluk’ to the melodic ‘noro lim, Asfaloth;’ from the simple syntax of the hobbits to the convoluted grammar of the wizards, tolkien saw in language a means to define one’s roots, cultural values, and ultimately, one’s allegiances. and he was right too.
    English is good. And because it is a living language (just like our many many languages) it is inevitable that it will be adapted to suit our tongues; despite the horrendous spelling. What is not good is English purism – the belief that our english should be as perfect as broadcast english, all the time. We are not – nor should we aspire to be – the guardians of english purity. Hell, even in the UK, English sounds nothing like the english we know. (Interesting note: Sting – that englishman in new york? – pronounces ‘barley’ VAR-LEE. If he were Filipino, people would laugh at him.) What we should be more concerned with is making English work for us; helping us express abstract concepts we have no words for; helping us make ourselves understood by these dumb banyagas who don’t get what we’re trying to say.
    This is what Japan has done and done successfully: coopting english words and working them into their own language. Like saying ‘sarada’ for salad. The reason, I think, the japanes have been able to do this is because they are less pre-occupied with safeguarding the purity of the english language and more intent on preserving their own identity. So, in the finaly analysis, this all boils down to our underpinning desire to impress the foreigner – to be good little imitators of the people from the other side of the ocean-sea.

  31. iniduro ni emilie

    antonio,

    korekada, hai! =)

  32. Arbet

    I think, the current Filipino is either “Kung ano ang bigkas, siya ang baybay” or if there’s no exact translation, write the foreign word as-is.

    Language is a man-made tool; and as any man-made tool, it is flawed, imperfect. It is unfair to say that just because Filipino has no exact translation for efficiency, it is already flawed. And I think whether a language is flawed or not, it doesn’t follow that the country is flawed as well.

    I think what the author should mean is that we Filipinos don’t know what the word “efficiency” means. Which is actually a problem in this country. And I don’t have to be outside of the Philippines to know that!

  33. Arbet

    I mean: the current Filipino ortograghpy is either….

  34. Arbet

    It is really a bad Monday for me and it shows: I mean “ortography”. I apologize for the typing mistakes.

  35. elinca

    Yes, ‘pi’ is greek. But how do you explain the concept of ‘pi’ in Tagalog? There is no tagalog word for ‘ratio’ , and the tagalog word for ‘circumference’ is ‘kabilogan’. English is not the only language of mathematics–Einstein wrote all his theories in German. I’m not trying to denigrate Tagalog (aka Filipino). I think it has poetry and beautiful intricacy of meaning. But when it comes to math and the sciences, English is much more efficient, and these are the realms of expertise that we as a people, think, are sorely lacking

  36. mlq3

    elinca, isn’t math a symbolic language? I was -and am- always terrible at it. i never understood anything until people made drawings to explain the formulas.

  37. cvj

    Is there a term for ‘efficiency’ in Ilocano, Kapampangan, Visayan or Chavacano? If yes, maybe we can use those words instead. As a last resort, let’s borrow from Bahasa Malaysia and/or Bahasa Indonesia.

  38. hvrds

    The language of world in trade, commerce, science and engineering is mathematics – numbers. It was the Arabs that constructed the numbers we use and the Indians. What separates us from dogs is the ability to count as Adam Smith said.. The largest single economy in the world is the European common market. They speak in several languages with French, German, Spanish and Italian the primary languages. The most advanced economy even before the American economy became number one was the German economy. They spoke no English but became the leader in science and engineering way before the Americans did. Einstein was Swiss German. The most predominant form of liberal economic theory today comes from the so called Austrian School of Economics. Francios Quesnay taught Adam Smith the idea of laissez faire. It was the French who heavily influenced the American revolution. Quesnay was heavily infleunced by Confucian thought. Later Jean Baptiste Say conued laying the groundwork for neo-classical economics. All in French.

    What Anglo Saxon model is everyone talking about? Europeans are all related as they are predominatly Germanic or Teutonic. The First and Second World war were predomiantly a European Civl War.

    The man who changed the whole face of national economic polciy was Alexander hamilton who tweaked the ideas of Smith. He then influenced Frederich List who took Hamiltons ideas to Germany. The idea of dirigist economics and national currency systems where governmentr supported industrialization came to be. What did the English language have to do with with economic devleopment? Not very much!!!! For all the ignorant fence sitters enjoy……..

    “Under a vigorous national government, the natural strength and resources of the country, directed to a common interest, would baffle all the combinations of European jealousy to restrain our growth” Alexander Hamilton

    “The rights of neutrality will only be respected when they are defended by an adequate power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privelege of being neutral.”
    Alexander Hamilton
    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/drucker.htm

    “The need for new theories and policies explains the sudden interest in what is being promoted by James Fallows, editor in chief of U S. News and World Report, and others as the “nation development policies” of the nineteenth-century German economist Friedrich R. List. Actually, the policies List preached in 1830s Germany — protection of infant industries so as to develop domestic business — were not List’s and were not German. They are strictly American, growing out of Alexander Hamilton’s 1791 “Report on Manufactures,” which Henry Clay, 25 years later, expanded into what he called the “American System.” List, in the United States as a political refugee from Germany, learned them while serving as Clay’s secretary.

    What makes these old ideas attractive is that Hamilton, Clay, and List did not focus on trade. They were neither free traders nor protectionists. They focused on investment. Asian economies, beginning with Japan after World War II, have been following policies similar to those Hamilton and Clay advocated for the infant United States. The international economic policies likely to emerge over the next generation will be neither free-trade nor protectionist, but focused on investment rather than trade.” From the piece done by Drucker

  39. Arbet

    It is only a matter of POV, whether English is better suited for explaining mathematical and scientific ideas. Besides, those subjects have been taught in English for years, hence the perceived “efficiency” of the language.

    As stated earlier by Antonio, the Japanese excelled at these subjects yet English is not their strongest asset. They have a system of adapting English or foreign terms. They even have a system of writing their language in Latin characters (romaji). Filipino is designed to adapt/assimilate English and foreign terms.

    I think if you cannot explain a concept, it means you have a poor comprehension of that concept, even with language limitations.

  40. hvrds

    The Copernican revoltuion changed Western civilization forever. However he was not the first who therized that the sun was the center of our solar system and that the earth revolved around an axis. Indian mathematicians and astronmers more than a thousand years before Corpernicus had already theorized the reality of our solar system. Copernicus read through texts of later Arab mathematicians who theorized the same thing. That break between dogmatic religious teachings gave way to the reformation and thence elightenment era of Western civilization. All based on the principles of the Christian faith. The dignity and natural rights of every human being. This is where the West charged ahead. They actually institutionalized this after repeated wars amongst themselves.

  41. Kabagis

    > Is there a term for ‘efficiency’ in Ilocano, Kapampangan, Visayan or Chavacano? If yes, maybe we can use those words instead. As a last resort, let’s borrow from Bahasa Malaysia and/or Bahasa Indonesia.

    Just call it EPISYENT. And when you notice a family member, friend, work colleague or some machinery displaying this trait, praise that they are being EPISYENT. We will all get the gist of the meaning if we all use it often enough, in the right context.

  42. baycas

    on Filipino language: i cited the link below at PCIJ blogpost #500…

    benign0 stated in this old grabehdotcom forum: Tagalog is stunting our society’s intellectual advancement.

    please follow the thread and read how Pythagoras countered the assertion above…and a host of other benign0’s claims, for that matter…

  43. antonio walanglaban

    para bang ‘depressed’ ay yung nagkakasal sa magkasintahan; yung ‘protestant’ ay kung saan ka makakabili ng prutas; at yung naghihiwalay sa dalawang bakuran ay tinatawag na ‘defense’. Sorry folks, I couldn’t help it. but I have a point I’m trying to make too. What the heck is wrong with saying words like episyent if it gets the point across? isn’t language supposed to help us communicate? hehe. my friend throws a fit whenever I say stab-le when I mean ‘stable.’ but he’s ok with me saying ere, when I mean air. or supisyente. hindi kaya ang lahat ng ito’y pagtatalo lamang ng esthetika?

  44. elinca

    I asked a friend once, a self-proclaimed linguist, why we don’t translate into Tagalog the great literature of the West. Homer, for instance. Or Shakespeare. (Is there any translations of Shakespeare. I haven’t been back for 24 years). And his answer was it is impossible because there is no Tagalog equivalent of the English verb “to be”. is, was, were, am have only one word in Tagalog “ay”. The phrase “to be” itself is translated “maging.” Hamlet’s soliloquy, “to be or not to be, that is the question willl be translated thus, “ang maging o hindi maging, yan ang katanungan. ” It is also, according to him, why filipinos have no concept of time -is, was, are, were, are not differentiated, and the reason why we as a people are almost never punctual.

  45. antonio walanglaban

    hi elinca. English lit is supposed to be in english. Poetry, especially, loses a lot in the translation. Most especially in transliteration, which is what your friend is obviously referring to. In any case, assuming that it is difficult to render shakespeare in tagalog, are we poorer as a culture because of that? I don’t think so.

    And I disagree with your friend. Tagalog may not have exact one-word equivalents for is, and are, but we do have words and phrases that adequately express concepts of tense. Otherwise, how could we carry on compleat conversations in tagalog? Kwento ko lang ang araw ko sayo: Tumakbo ako kanina, dahil hinabol ako nang asong tumatakbo. Bibili na nga ako ng bola, para kapag nakita ako uli ng aso, ipapahabol ko na lang sa kanya yung bola, at di na ako.

    That makes sense, doesn’t it? I would so love to hear your friend make the connection between the failure of english-tagalog transliteration and punctuality.

  46. mlq3

    sshakespeare’s been translated. the late rolandio tinio translated macbeth, and i believe, julius caesar. i myself saw an elegant prodiuction of 12th night a few months ago.

  47. cvj

    I think the need to speak in terms of ‘things’ is a disadvantage of English compared to Tagalog. For example, “*it* is raining” vs. “umuualan”. Although it is easier to express Math and Science in English, there are areas where the Tagalog world-view is superior and i’m glad we know both.

  48. jackryan68

    Antonio, I have no problem with the spoken Filipino; indeed the message can get across efficiently.

    But look at how they are ridiculously written:

    nagmaygreyt
    fakulti
    pagkokoryograf
    hawsmeyt
    kompowser?

    Frankly, they don’t encourage reading the written/printed word. Why not retain them the way they are spelled? I don’t think Filipino will be diminished if we borrow these words wholesale, including the spelling.

    So that when we borrow the concept of ‘pi’, it will be as is, and not ‘pay’.:)

  49. Kabagis

    It is also, according to him, why filipinos have no concept of time -is, was, are, were, are not differentiated

    NAkaraan, KAhapon, bukas, mamaya, ngayon…

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  1. The Lonely Vampire Chronicles » Blog Archive » Lazy Monday

    […] Today is rather light, just an update on an office document, a rather long post at the serious blog, and a discussion at quezon.ph on whether Filipino is a flawed language (my take: there is no perfect language) and as such is a reflection of the Filipino character. […]

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