Language Wars (updated)

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The other day I attended the second session of taping for GMA7’s “Isang tanong, isang sagot” senatorial forum, which will be broadcast this Sunday and the next (I represented the Philippine Daily Inquirer for the second session, the first session had Conrado de Quiros). It was interesting watching the different candidates react to the questions and their interaction (or lack of it) with one another. As the first shift was leaving, I ran into de Quiros and in our brief chat he expressed concern over what people are going to do if and when the massive cheating in the coming elections takes place, and people start to find out about it. Something worth thinking about.

During the taping, the scuttlebutt among media colleagues was that Senator Joker Arroyo didn’t show up, because he was in an emergency meeting because of upcoming survey results (the results came out a day or so later, for SWS and most recently, for Pulse Asia: Joker’s concern seems to hinge on the need for a candidate to be safely in the top 8, otherwise it’s a mad scramble to protect votes during the counting). From what I gathered, Joker’s survey results were such, that he was very much concerned over the possibility of being junked. It wasn’t clear to me, though, who would be doing the junking, although afterwards reading the views of colleagues such as , perhaps the danger is this: a loose cannon (from a Palace point of view) like Joker could be junked, to accommodate the election of a more malleable candidate like Gringo Honasan. As it is, the various camps are already in the thick of speculating -and accusing- each other of preparing to junk candidates.

One thing concerns me, as the campaign enters its final stages, and the Palace tries to frame the election favorably to itself. The decision by the Left to endorse a mixed list of senatorial candidates is, I think, a strategic mistake. So is Senator Lacson’s decision to endorse non-members of his slate, but his decision is less of a mistake than the Left’s: they are still oppositionists. The Left’s endorsement of a mixed bag of candidates blurs the line between the administration and the opposition -it makes it politics as normal, when there are issues that are abnormal and which thus require a more rigid line between those siding with the President, and against her. When you start blurring the issues, what your group stands for gets blurred in the minds of voters, too. You’re just another political player in a disreputable exercise. That may account more for Bayan Muna’s drop in the surveys, for example, than it’s merely not hogging the headlines.

In the punditocracy, My column for today is Misplaced emphasis on English. (For those who read the language, see the reaction of Sulat Kapangpangan to my column).

Eo210 Pleading-1
See the Pleading that will be filed before the Supreme Court tomorrow. Philippine Commentary pens a rebuttal.

Speech Randy David-1
Randy David’s views.

Conrado De Quiros-1
The views of Conrado de Quiros.

Licuanan Speech-1
The views of Patricia Licuanan. See also the views of Juan Miguel Luz, formerly of the Department of Education, in ‘English First’ policy will hurt learning.

My views on the English-Filipino debate were put forward in a column I wrote in November last year, Practical Languages. I believe a distinction has to be made between the need to provide a solid, basic, education to the public, and the requirements of advanced learning in various academic disciplines (see also the chef at chez panda, for her thoughts on whether a food blog can help teach English).

As for other columnists: Federico Pascual writes about the candidacy of Fr. Panlilio for governor of Pampanga; Billy Esposo on the candidacy of Manny Pacquiao; Bel Cunanan on the candidacy of Speaker de Venecia. Regarding the political bounty offered by our glorious Secretary of Justice, the Inquirer editorial gives him a good thwack. Now Gonzalez has recanted -but it has to be asked, is he getting senile?

In the blogosphere, my entry in Inquirer Current yesterday was The Wily Filipino.

Uploaded my talk on diplomacy at San Sebastian College in 2005, to ourmedia: there’s part 1 and part 2. At long last.

127 comments

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    • UPn student on April 26, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Another theme is “regression to the mean”.

    • Blackshama on April 26, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Let me see? ….. The reason why Pinoys have to take IELTS or TOEFL in order to study or work in an English speaking country is that we learn to first think in our first language not English. This is one reason why we Asians see the world differently from that of Europeans.

    As a practicing scientist let me inform readers about science communication and thinking. First of all one big reason why people find science or math difficult is that they were not trained to think scientifically. Scientific thinking can be learned in any language. No language really puts a disadvantage on learning science unless you learn it in a language which you can’t think with. Science education metrics bear these out. In the US the major reason why the science community fears it will lose its edge is because fewer undergrads are majoring in science, thereby leaving them without recourse but to take in Asian post-docs (who still have to take TOEFL). Republicans are not the cause! If Asians leave Americans in the dust, it’s because they are enrolling in science courses.

    I agree that if one would like to go into a science career one has to master English. But not all citizens would want to become scientists. The level of English competency should match their career needs. Service workers should at least master to a level equivalent to IELTS band of 5-6. Academics at 8.0. Those who feel English is not for them at least should have studied basic English. Now since a lot of people believe English will make them more competitive, many would try to attain a band 6-7, like many nurses do.

    Also for science teaching in Filipino, scientific terms in English with Filipino counterparts may be used. Velocity = bilis, acceleration = arangkada. Latin and Greek terms should remain as is to preserve their exact meaning. While some of the Latin terms have counterparts in Spanish, our linguists should be able to offer advice if we would adopt the Spanish terms. During a period of transition it may be permissible to use the English words per se. In Pakistan I was told by Pakistani Post-docs, they used this.

    I don’t see any “murder” of my national language if I open my college lectures on evolution (which I have done) with

    “Ang teorya ng ebolusyon sa pamamagitan ng natural selection ay unang pinasimula nina Charles Darwin at Alfred Russel Wallace. Ang dalawang naturalista ay naglakbay sa malaking bahagi ng daigdig upang mangolekta ng mga specimens sa pag-aaral ng natural history. Sa kanilang pananaliksik nakita nina Darwin at Wallace na may pagkakaiba o variation ang bawat species sa kalikasan. Ano ba ang pinagmulan ng pagkakaibang ito? Ang pamamaraan na kanilang ginawang hypotesis ay ang natural selection.

    Ang dapat pagtakhan ay si Darwin at Wallace ay sariling at independienteng dumating sa konklusyon na ito nga marahil ang pamamaraan kung paano nagyari ang ebolusyon. Nang sumulat lamang si Wallace noong 1858 kay Darwin ng nalaman ni Darwin na pareho ang kanilang konklusyon. At dahil si Wallace ay nananliksik sa Indonesia at si Darwin naman sa Galapagos, ito ay malaking suporta sa kanilang teorya.”

    • DJB on April 26, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    UPn Student,
    Okay, what other things aside from English should we ditch because they aren’t indigenous and so that we will become one nation as you claim? Christianity? Democracy? Physics? Internal Combustion? Starbucks? (You can give the answer in Tagalog if you are ashamed of the fact that you are better at English than any other language.)

    • cvj on April 27, 2007 at 12:22 am

    Blackshama, physics would certainly sound more relevant if Newton’s Second Law of motion was explained as lakas = arangkada x bigat.

    • UPn student on April 27, 2007 at 12:38 am

    DJB… A hidden theme to the debate seems to be nationalism. Paano tayo magiging isang bansa kung malaking importansiya ang ibinibigay natin sa Ingles?

    Another theme is “regression to the mean”.

    In my opinion, the logic behind the first(nationalism-theme) is questionable. The country seems to agree, at least back in 1987, evidenced by English (not French or Mandarin) having special mention in the 1987 Constitution.
    So if the Philippines regresses to the mean because the country can not afford the expense of a quality-component of being a world-citizen, then call a spade a spade. My sentiment, however, is that the benefit to the country as a whole, and to citizens individually, exceeds the peso-expense of having a population that has a working-facilty of English. The question, to me, is less “should we or should we not (teach English)” and more “how best to accomplish the objective”.

    • UPn student on April 27, 2007 at 12:46 am

    Now, if someone were to say that by eliminating English, the country can fire 200 principals and 800 teachers and the budget-money will then be used to hire 140 doctors and 800 nurses, then I’ll say “Go Do!”

    • Shaman of Malilipot on April 27, 2007 at 1:04 am

    I know, MB, and nobody is selling the Filipino short. My point is if, as you’ve said, “we can learn faster and better if we start with our own language”, why not do it? Sure, we still can learn if we don’t, but why do it the hard way?

    • cvj on April 27, 2007 at 1:10 am

    Upn Student, on your question “how best to accomplish the objective [of teaching English]”, i believe the answer is to teach it as a foreign language side by side with Mandarin which will increase in importance in the future.

    Sometime this century, Mandarin will become more important than English. If we put in place a modular foreign language instruction program, future generations of Filipino ‘world-citizens’ will thank us.

    • Shaman of Malilipot on April 27, 2007 at 1:13 am

    janie, once the demand for textbooks in Pilipino is there, believe me, the publishers will make sure they are out in the market at the soonest possible time. There are serious profits to be made and these textbook publishers are smart businessmen. I just happen to know.

    • cvj on April 27, 2007 at 1:30 am

    I see (belatedly) that manuelbuencamino has previously already made the comment about the need to teach Mandarin.

    Jumper (at 6:06 pm), a local here in Singapore told us that Singlish was the result of their government’s mandate for them to switch to English without putting in place a program to teach English properly. People who have been speaking Mandarin, Cantonese or Hokkien all their lives just switched to using English words one-for-one. Their kids picked up on these speech habits and over time Singlish became the norm.

    That’s the reason why in my preceding comment, i suggested that the best way to teach English is to approach it like any other foreign language.

    • Shaman of Malilipot on April 27, 2007 at 1:34 am

    “Exactly my point DJB. These people are for the implementation of the local dialect as medium of instruction when they have hardly even produced instructional materials to this effect.” – The Cat

    Why would anybody produce those instructional materials when there is no demand for them yet? That would be pretty much like putting the cart before the horse.

    As I have said, these textbook publishers are smart businessmen.

    • UPn student on April 27, 2007 at 2:32 am

    A reason to eliminate English from the curriculum, and the reason is to reduce the OFW phenomenon. I know of an ystakei on the ellentordessilas site who recounts that she was so distressed by her lack of sufficient fluency in English during her months in USA/West Coast (she was being put-down/she felt less-capable/people kep asking her to repeat what she said/she felt discrimination because of her lack of fluency in English. She also said that she could not develop the English fluency fast enough) that she left the US.

    cvj and ManuelB… “yes” to Mandarin. cvj… “yes” to teaching English as a foreign language, but we should all accept that if you offer 50 students three choices — Mandarin, English, “huwag na lang” — more than 15 will choose door-number-three.

  1. Why would anybody produce those instructional materials when there is no demand for them yet? That would be pretty much like putting the cart before the horse.

    When you teach, you prepare some sort of lesson plan in the elementary and high school level; a course syllabus for the college level and a course module for the graduate level. In preparation for these guides for learning and teaching, you come up with bibliographies and references.

    The teacher/professor/instructors prepare these materials before the subjects are taught. This can not be likened to putting the cart before the horse. It is more of building the bridge before crossing.

    In fact the lesson plan prepared by the teacher is already an outline form of the instructional materials.

    The books are not mass produced by the publishers until the requisition from the government agency is received and guaranteed for payment.

    Even in business formation, the business plan or feasibility study comes first.

    • janie on April 27, 2007 at 11:38 am

    FROM THE CA T :

    When you teach, you prepare some sort of lesson plan in the elementary and high school level; a course syllabus for the college level and a course module for the graduate level. In preparation for these guides for learning and teaching, you come up with bibliographies and references.

    The teacher/professor/instructors prepare these materials before the subjects are taught. This can not be likened to putting the cart before the horse. It is more of building the bridge before crossing.

    In fact the lesson plan prepared by the teacher is already an outline form of the instructional materials.

    The books are not mass produced by the publishers until the requisition from the government agency is received and guaranteed for payment.

    Even in business formation, the business plan or feasibility study comes first.

    __________________________________________________________

    and preparing such materials isn’t easy, particularly for this issue.

    it will take a long time. believe me too. i happen to know.
    🙂

    • jason on April 27, 2007 at 11:55 am

    test

    • hvrds on April 27, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    http://www.multilingual-matters.net/cilp/003/cilp0030005.htm

    http://www.sil.org/asia/ldc/plenary_papers/andrew_gonzales.pdf

    Lifted from the column of Isagani Cruz, Philippine Star April 12, 2007 on the papers written by the late Bro. Andrew Gonzalez, former Secretary of Education. Why teaching in the local dialect or national language is critical.

    “The last phase of language development is the phase of cultivation which has many aspects. Usually the national language is cultivated as a language of imaginative literature, the mass media, a medium of instruction in the basic educational system, as the language of governance, and as a language of academic discourse.”

    “The last phase can be considered as a process of modernisation (through its use to thematise current realities) and as a process of intellectualisation (as a medium of oral and written academic discourse).

    “The intellectualisation phase consists not only of lexical expansion (through modern terminologies for the disciplines) but likewise of stylistic differentiation (using syntactic devices for different types of prose discourse). Intellectualisation is examined as process and product and according to its inner (psychological) and outer (sociological) dimensions.”

    “Some theoretical insights from the Philippine experience are discussed; the intellectualisation of Filipino is unprecedented because it is an ongoing process that can be documented in detail through the corpus being generated and should enrich the scholarly literature on this topic”

    “For the (Filipino) language to be cultivated intellectually, it must be used and not just studied. If school policy makers choose not to use the national language in certain academic domains, the language will not be cultivated for higher cognitive activities in that field of specialization. It is, of course, easier to reach a stage of critical thinking in one’s native language or mother tongue and it takes special tutoring and practice to cultivate a second language for purposes of higher order thinking. In the Philippines, because of the lack of financial resources, the national language has not been sufficiently developed as a language of intellectual discourse. English competence, once attained, becomes a highly effective tool of intellectual discourse and learning of the worlds knowledge. However, the number of those in the system who reach such an advanced stage in a second language such as English is bound to be small and elitist.”

    “The advice based on investigations and experience of literary experts is that the best way to teach a second language is by enabling the students to master the first language to the point of critical thinking; these skills can then be transferred to the second language. In spite of this evidence, Philippine decision makers and parents continue to insist on English as early as possible, even though that hinders children’s ability to think critically in the mother tongue or at least in the national language which is structurally similar to the mother tongue. This partially explains the problems of language and quality in Philippine education today.”

    “In brief, language planning presumes rationality on the part of the language planners in drafting action plan, but these action plans likewise presume rationality on the part of the political decision-makers and would-be beneficiaries (parents and their children) of these rational policies. Unfortunately, in a world not quite fully rational, rational means to realize plans do not always obtain and results are often mixed, which they are in the Philippines”

    • inidoro ni emilie on April 27, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    why is there a need to translate everything in pilipino. the nature of bilingualism does not necessarily require that! one can still read the science and math problem in english, and the explanation and elaboration can be done in mother tongue for conceptual reinforcement. what is wrong with that?!?

    • DJB on April 27, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    It is becoming apparent that the biggest boosters of supposedly nationalistic ideas in education are those who are already fluent in English and are well-educated. Whereas, the poor, the uneducated probably wish the opposite.

    Why do you think this might be?

    • janie on April 27, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    probably because they know how its like to be on the other side of the fence.

    • inidoro ni emilie on April 27, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    there goes the errors in translation.

    multiplication: pagpaparami?
    subtraction: pagpababawas?

    in the everyday languge context, yes! but in the language of mathematics: not necessarily!

    example 1.
    consider: what is 1/2 of 12?
    answer: 6.
    equation: 1/2 x 12.
    operation used: multiplication
    question: dumami ba yung twelve?

    example 2.
    consider: 1 – -3 = 1 + 3
    answer: 4
    operation used: subtraction, which turned into addition
    question: nabawasan nga ba ang 1?

    my point: math has its own language. the natural language is often used only to help build our understanding of the concepts made intricate by the mathematical language. often it is the natural language that impedes the understanding of the language of math. but we can’t help the use of it because that’s how our learning processes are governed.

    but certainly there are natural languages that make for better support in concept building.

    consider example 1. often the danger among filipino math teachers is to use the word “times”, as in 1/2 times 12, when in fact, it should be read one half of 12. in plain filipino: ano ang kalahati nang 12? inthe language of math, 1/2 x 12 is the semoitic representation, not the semantic reading of the problem. that’s how complicated the language of math is to begin with. and this has to be explained in english? “of”? that that preposition come natural to us?

    as to djb’s exercise: “Three and three fourths divided by six point two equals?”

    am sure what you have in mind in the natural language translation. what you’re missing out is that it can be translated pure and simple in the semiotic language of math as: 3 3/4 6.2 = ?

    • inidoro ni emilie on April 27, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    oops,

    that should read: 3 3/4 –insert division symbol here– 6.2 = ?

    • Jeg on April 27, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    My playmates and I used ‘filipinized’ math terms when we were kids.

    Multiply = taymis (5 taymis 5)
    Divide = dibay-dibay (10 dibay-dibay 2)

    😀

    • mlq3 on April 27, 2007 at 5:23 pm
      Author

    djb: i’m not convinced of the probability you state. from anecdotal evidence only, of course. a survey on language preferences would be nice, we all might be surprised at the results.

  2. and preparing such materials isn’t easy, particularly for this issue.

    it will take a long time. believe me too. i happen to know.

    I have gone over the petition again and have come across the statement regarding the implementation of the provision of the law using vernacular and Filipino as medium of instruction which enjoined the DepEd to develop instructional materials from the year 1991 to 1998 so that by year 2000 all subjects are taught in Filipino.

    I have no way to check if this is already implemented 100 per cent? Or another ningas-cogon?

    If this is so, is there any recent follow-up study that there was a significant improvement in the comprehension levels of the pupils taught? I read that there was one in 1998 but that was almost 1o years ago.

    On the “ahem” side.

    I noticed that two of the petitioners are pupils aged 3 and seven from Claret.

    My brother is a graduate of Claret. He was one of the topnotchers when he took the exam in the PSHS and became an NST scholar in UP. He believed that it was the quality of education that he received from Claret which made him better prepared for his secondary and college education.

    And that was when medium of instruction was in English.

    So do these children with ages 3 and seven realize already the impact of language in their education?

    Btw, when we were growing up, the languages used were Tagalog and English for the young ones and the Bicol dialect for the adults.

    • DJB on April 27, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    MLQ3,

    The poor, the uneducated “probably” wish they were fluent in English, because it would seem to me they already feel fluent in their native tongue and don’t need further education in it. Thus even Americans and Englishmen are often puzzled at why they have to study English. Until they realize that facility, fluency and expertise in English opens the doors to professional careers, businesses, promotions, wealth.

    I think the poor and uneducated are “probably” aware of the fact that their betters, like Conrado de Quiros, Randy David, Patricia Licuanan, and indeed all the substantial people of society in govt, business, academe, etc. are all English speaking in their default condition and that when they deign to speak in the vernacular it is merely to impress the poor and uneducated with their noble and generous humility.

    I am guilty of that as much as anybody else.

    But I am also convinced that any initially poor person won’t be that for long if he can at least read and write good English.

    And so I shall do everything to help our countrymen get a leg up on the world by promoting the use of the tools that will accomplish their upliftment: Mathematics, Science and the Lingua Anglica of the 21st Century.

    That is not to say that Mandarin and Japanese and French are not also worthwhile studying. Or indeed Filipino. They are!

    But we are inextricably a part of the Anglosphere of this Earth. There is no shame in that. Conversely, it is a cruel and misguided notion that the feel-good nationalism these Petitioners urge will do anything but win them National Artists Awards and congratulations from their peers. In its effects, their Petition to the Court, if granted, would be indistinguishable from the language apartheid policies of the Spanish Taliban which effectively cut the Islands off from the rest of humanity for 300 years, and is therefore despicable and hateful to me.

    If I am glad and proud to be part of that Anglosphere, it is because the gift of English is what awakened the Sleepers of the Centuries in this archipelago, to the history of the world, to the wonders of science, to the knowledge and notion that they too could one day be as great as their Masters. Or even greater!

    • cvj on April 27, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    …as great as their Masters. Or even greater! – DJB

    Who is ‘they’ and who is their ‘Masters’?

    • DJB on April 27, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    C at–“They” the indios were subjects of the Spanish King and Communicants of his Cross for centuries, but never was the hope of becoming the equal of Spaniards planted in their hearts by being taught the Spanish language of their “Masters.”

    Then they were subjugated by America, who became the Colonial Masters of the Filipinos. But our grandfathers had almost immediate benefit of reading those stirring words proclaiming certain truths to be self-evident, such as that all men are created equal, and have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Then the Filipinos came to self-rule and now supposedly the best among them want to shut the gates through which they themselves came to their exulted states.

    They are the Masters now, unwilling to share the keys that will unlock the chains, using arguments that even Jose Rizal exposed and debunked so long ago, both in fiction and in the example of his own life, with respect to Spanish: first as Crisostomo Ibarra wanting a Spanish language institute. And as himself, the true and practical exponent of “what really matters is what really works.”

    • UPn student on April 27, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    There also is a marketing sleight-of-hand that seems to be going on. The public school system finally acknowledging that they have done poorly at teaching science, math, Filipino, and English. The boss (the Executive Department) says for them to listen to their customers and do better.
    Instead, they say “can’t do better… can only do less. Can’t do better. English is not my job” –remove English. And the customer who wants English should pay for it themselves.

    • UPn student on April 27, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    If the petitioners win, will it force the private schools who provide English emphasis to change their curriculum and “regress to the mean”?

    • cvj on April 27, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    DJB, remember that the author who created Crisostomo Ibarra was also the one who said “Ang taong hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay daig pa ang mabaho at malansang isda.”

    For the longest time, I never really understood what he was trying to say until, at some point, i came across an article explaining that Rizal was actually alluding to what happens to a ‘fish out of water’.

    By saying that, “what really matters is what really works“, you send the message that you favor English for instrumental reasons. That proposition (i.e. teaching in English is ‘what works’), in itself questionable, disregards the fact that language is also an expression of one’s identity.

    We may use English because of economic necessity, but we still love, hate, and say and do a lot of other things in Pilipino. In the future, for similar economic reasons, many of us may have to switch to Mandarin as a second language. That’s fine, as long as we still are able to maintain our Filipino identity courtesy of our Mother tongue.

    • UPn student on April 27, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    And if the petitioners lose, will there be a strike?

    • DJB on April 27, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    UPn Student

    Petitioners cannot win. Their prayer will be declared uncouth and cacademic. Their arguments of unconstitutionality are baseless, for it was not this comment thread that first noticed how it was in English itself that they had written the Constitution, and so gave us two official languages to choose from. Having left it up to Congress how to “initiate and sustain” the use of the National Language, the present Supreme Court will surely bail at that point and invoke separation of powers in this case, even though two recent Chief Justices have been guilty of gross violations of the same principle: Davide, for single handedly aborting the only valid impeachment trial we are likely to see in our lifetimes, and overthrowing a duly elected President at the head of a hooting throng of English speaking elitists, and Puno for making a patently political speech against the Executive and Legislative POLICY to go to war on terrorism, a direct violation of Rule 5.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

    • DJB on April 27, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    CVJ,
    I was waiting for that…but I hope you sit down first before reading this…There is no proof Rizal EVER said that. Turns out that vignette is fabrication of nationalists too!

    • UPn student on April 27, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Dang… that Constitution does get in the way of a few things that deQuiros wants, doesn’t it?

    • DJB on April 27, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    CVJ,
    I must challenge your idea that “national identity” is maintained courtesy of a “Mother Tongue.” Take England and America, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, and even India, are these countries not separate identities even if they have a common language?

    As for “Filipino identity”, it’s quite odd that the “Mother Tongue” which you say defines the Filipino identity PRECEEDED the existence of the First Filipino (who never wrote down anything in it of any lasting significance, not even his laundry lists). It’s an Indo-Malayan language, yet Filipinos can hardly be lumped in with Indonesians and Malaysians in anything but skin color and racial type. That language you call our Mother Tongue was alien to the human beings that came to be “Filipinos” at some point in history.

    National identity is just a convenient categorization in a globalized world of human beings, just as being Ilokano, Cebuano, Tagalog can hardly define what it means to be “Filipino.”

    • mlq3 on April 27, 2007 at 9:47 pm
      Author

    I’ve deliberately set aside the case of Indonesia, because it’s closer to where we were with the Spanish than where we ended up with the Americans. But reading up on the debates and changing policies in India and Malaysia may be useful:

    In the case of Malaysia,

    http://www.mofa.gov.my/kln/statemen.nsf/8b025386799b52e8c8256ab800122dda/5809ffd8d7717550482568e10037208e?OpenDocument

    and

    http://www.languageinindia.com/nov2004/abdulla1.html

    In the case of India:

    http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~jason2/papers/natlang.htm

    http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/540/handouts/indiapol/

    Of course it’s noteworthy that in the USA, the debate on specifying a national language by law erupts and re-erupts from time to time, and it was debated even at the time of the birth of the US, when one proposal was to adopt German.

    Again, I don’t think anyone advocates discarding English. The question is, how will English be taught and learned best of all? If some experts don’t approach it from that perspective, still, that’s the perspective adopted by many people involved in the debate (such as myself). Also, how will Filipino best be propagated as a living, and intellectual, language and not merely a lingua franca? And, more recently: how to preserve local languages and the heritage that they represent.

    The menu of options for governments is here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_policy

    • DJB on April 27, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Right on Malaysia! Now if only they would abolish apostasy from Islam as a capital crime…

    • DJB on April 27, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Most of the species that have ever lived on earth are extinct. Most of the languages of one of those species, homo sapiens, are dead. Even the greatest ones, like Latin.

    So why should local languages be preserved as if such a thing were even possible or natural? I think, like biological species and their genes, the very special memes called languages experience evolution and extinction based on survival of the fittest and natural selection. Once the number of brains one language meme controls falls below a certain critical number, it’s a goner and trying to save it for the sake of heritage is work of utter futility.

    The Roman Numeral System is cute and survives as decoration, but no one would seriously want to preserve it as the basis of computation. The Arabs invented something far better. Likewise, most dialects are doomed. So what? We have already accepted the demise of the primacy of being Ilokano or Cebuano or Tagalog right? I thought the idea of having a national language was to unite the Filipinos. Why should we seek to divide them by maintaining the linguistic walls that once made them headhunting enemies and territorial rivals?

    And we have got to believe that this evolution of man won’t end at the nation-state. We have got to pray that nationalism itself will disappear and give way to a common humanity that will concentrate on the important stuff for variety:::like cuisine and the infinite varieties of the opposite (or okay, the preferred) sex.

  3. DBJ,
    It was not me who asked Who are “THEY”. It was CVJ. hmm it rhymed.

  4. I thought the idea of having a national language was to unite the Filipinos. Why should we seek to divide them by maintaining the linguistic walls that once made them headhunting enemies and territorial rivals?

    I agree and maybe the grandpa of MLQ3( ang Ama ng Pambansang Wika) would also agree wherever he is.

    • inidoro ni emilie on April 27, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    “If the petitioners win, will it force the private schools who provide English emphasis to change their curriculum and “regress to the mean”?”

    possibly so, if private schools are not granted independence of language choice. but why isn’t anybody pushing for bilingualism? why does mathematics and science teaching have to be a dichotomy between pilipino (to the exclusion of other regional languages) and english, when a bilingual approach cannot be that less effective? and oh please, by bilingualism i do not mean the coñotic taglish gibberish. use the english textbooks–which students hardly read anyway–and explain the concepts further in the mother tongue, if or when the need for linguistic support arises.

    further, i do not understand this exercise to transliterate mathematical sentences word for word from english into filipino if only to show that filipino would falter in this regard. what is not explicated is that lingusitically there are gramtical distances between our regional languages and the english language, and therefore a one-to-one transliteration will not be a valid exercise at all times hold. but it does not mean we cannot express these statements in other ways.

    djb said:

    “If I am glad and proud to be part of that Anglosphere, it is because the gift of English is what awakened the Sleepers of the Centuries in this archipelago, to the history of the world, to the wonders of science, to the knowledge and notion that they too could one day be as great as their Masters. Or even greater! ”

    indeed, america has much to be grateful to an asian like you who have studied their maths and sciences in their shores because their own local english-speaking citizens are losing interests in these subjects (proof: u.s. timss standing is far below hongkong, malaysia, taiwan, japan; it could have gone further down, if not for the asian students regressing it up to the mean, with apologies to upn). but hey, they will always be at the helm marketing your discoveries. ikaw ang nagsaing, sila ang kakain.

    • inidoro ni emilie on April 27, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    should read: therefore a one-to-one semantic transliteration will not be a valid exercise that would hold at all times.

    [pardon the earlier ungrammatical construction. or did i just transliterate my filipino thoughts into english?!?]

    • vic on April 27, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    We are a nation of multi-languages, multi cultures and it is not just encouraged by our respective governments, (federal and provincial), in fact it is supported by financial grants and programs. Parents have a choice of sending their children to learn their own “mother tongues” in their own communities and students can take “language immersion” of the other official language and that too is publicly funded. Language immersion is taking of another language in entirety. e.g. An English speaking student taking “French immersion goes to a French Language School” instead of just taking French Lessons and vice Versa. Profeciency in either or both of our official languages is the key to learning and the quality of our universally funded education is also a lot of help.

    I think it will be very impractical to switch to any language as there are no common language or dialect spoken by more than 25% of the total population at any given time and it is also impractical to have a “zoning” system of medium in every region with its given dialect.

    And I’m pretty sure Tagalog is not a very popular language in Mindanao. Simply means we have different Textbooks in the south, different in the north, in central regions and what about if the 20% or so Chinese descents Pilipino want theirs in Mandarin? Can our Bureaucracy handle such complexities? No and a Big no…

    • Blackshama on April 27, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    Kailangan ng pagkakasundo kung gaanong kahalaga ang Ingles sa lipunan. Minumungkahi ba ni Vic na sundan natin ang halimbawa ng Canada?

    Do you think we should declare ourselves and write into the Constitution that we are officially bilingual?

    Ang malaking gulo sa palisi ng bilingualism sa Canada ay kung hanggang saan ang pwedeng ibigay na serbisyong pangwika sa Pranses at Ingles sa mga mamamayan. Sa mga komunidad na ang nakakarami ay mga nagsasalita ng Ingles, kinaiinisan ng mga tao na kailangan nilang ibigay ang serbisyo sa wikang Pranses.

    Parang walang away, Esperanto o Interlingua na lang! 🙂

    • UPn student on April 28, 2007 at 12:08 am

    Side-note: For a hint of the quality of Mainland China math education, see this link which contains a University entrance-exam question:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/6589301.stm

    • UPn student on April 28, 2007 at 12:21 am

    inidoro… I have seen three instances where people did not recognize that the science in front of their noses was worth several pieces of gold. One was the science of “branch and bound”. The twist is that it was white dudes who did not know what they had. It was a core-group of yellow-skinned who took the math, formed their own company, packaged the science along with databases and Sun Unix workstations into a product-offering that they marketed to Telecom companies (for network route optimization).
    If you did not see “IT”, then “IT” is not yours.

    • baycas on April 28, 2007 at 12:36 am

    djb, i tried looking for the text of the researches mentioned in the petition online…as you said, they were only cited as references.

    —–

    unless we come up with a new study (a Philippine version) such as the one done in Hong Kong this Language Wars will continue.

    the following is the abstract of the study published in Bilingual Research Journal:

    This paper is the first of a series of articles reporting the findings of a longitudinal study on the impact of a new language policy about the medium of instruction on science learning of secondary students in Hong Kong. This paper compares the science achievement of Chinese students learning science through a second language, English, with that of students receiving instruction in their mother tongue, Chinese. Based on the scores on a science achievement test made up of multiple-choice and free-response questions, the English-medium students, despite their higher initial ability, were found to perform much more poorly than their Chinese-medium peers. They were particularly weak in problems that assess understanding of abstract concepts, the ability to discriminate between scientific terms, and the ability to apply scientific knowledge in novel or realistic situations. This result implies that the English-medium students were handicapped in science learning by their low levels of English proficiency, and learning English as a subject through the primary years is not sufficient to prepare them for a full English immersion program in secondary school. (Evaluation of the effects of medium of instruction on the science learning of Hong Kong secondary students: Performance on the science achievement test, Bilingual Research Journal, Summer 2003 by Yip, Din Yan, Tsang, Wing Kwong, Cheung, Sin Pui)

    note that the study was conducted in secondary students. perhaps, the English-medium students would fare better if they have higher English proficiency as a result of English MOI in the primary years. but then again, the mother-tongue-advocates could have a strong argument favoring them in this study. if only we can do similar research…

    —–

    as to the Filipino translation of subtraction (in mathematics):

    correct pronunciation of págbabawas (the stress being on the first syllable) will differentiate it from pagbábawas meaning bowel movement. the word umawas is actually the one with a bathroom connotation, as in…ang tubig ay umawas sa banyo (the water overflowed in the bathroom.).

    • DJB on April 28, 2007 at 1:02 am

    inidoro,
    I am NOT an Asian. I am a Filipino-American. Filipinos are NOT Asians. They are Westerners who happen to be in Asia. Here I am talking about cultural identity. It is senseless to play the nation vs nation game with TIMSS. It’s purpose was to help each nation learn from the others’ strengths and weaknesses. The 20 out of 45 rank of the US average score probably reflects the polyglot (international) composition of the population. One parameter not often discussed is the standard deviation from the average or mean score of each country, which is just as impt. For example, even if the Philippines mean score was near the bottom, we still had a small percentage of our students scoring in the above average ranks because we have a broad curve (large standard deviation). Though we cannot be sure, this is almost certainly the component that studies a lot of English in the private schools and the few good public schools that don’t always take their cue from the the Pasig HQ.

    There is absolutely NO basis for your claim that Asians in the US cohort are what pulled up their mean score since there is no such traceability in the data. That’s the same consuelo de bobo I heard from DepEd folks who also tried to make palusot with the excuse that the tests were given in English. I’ve already pointed out that our own local NSAT and NEAT testing in Pilipino and vernacular confirms TIMSS. The US also had individual school districts participating. In 1999, some of those school districts ranked near the very top beating countries like HongKong and Singapore, as well as one, I think Chicago, which was down with us and Somalia!

    The key lesson of Timss is that the high scoring countries all have very focussed curricula, not the hodge podge congestion of the Philippines. Even the Palestinian Authority beat us out! We effectively have 12 subjects for cryin out loud, when there should be only three like Bro. Andrew wanted: Math, Science and Language, today’s equivalent of reading writing and ‘rithmetic.

    When school opens in June and this argument about the govt not spending enough on education gets headlines from all the usual highly educated editors and reporters and pundits, please remember that the reason we don’t spend on classrooms and computers and good textbooks is because we insist on paying for PATRIOTISM and IDEOLOGY taught by ex-activists in Filipino instead of math and science facilities, materials and the right kind of teachers.

    • cvj on April 28, 2007 at 2:43 am

    Take England and America, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, and even India, are these countries not separate identities even if they have a common language? – DJB

    Yes they are. (I’m not the one who peddles the idea of an ‘Anglosphere’.) Nevertheless, it has been established that language influences thought, and therefore identity. A lot of the things that distinguishes us Filipinos (our songs, our humor, our worldview) comes from our language. I mentioned in a previous comment that one thing i observe is that, unlike English, it is possible to say something in Pilipino without objectifying it (e.g. ‘it is raining’ vs. ‘umuulan’). Even here in Singapore, i feel that this resulting worldview is a source of strength.

    It’s an Indo-Malayan language, yet Filipinos can hardly be lumped in with Indonesians and Malaysians in anything but skin color and racial type. That language you call our Mother Tongue was alien to the human beings that came to be “Filipinos” at some point in history. – DJB

    On this matter, you are speaking for yourself, and perhaps other Fil-Ams (or wannabee Fil-Ams). You’re certainly not speaking for us Filipinos. The words that Pilipino has in common with Bahasa (Indonesia and Malaysia) speaks of our shared Southeast Asian heritage.

    So why should local languages be preserved as if such a thing were even possible or natural? I think, like biological species and their genes, the very special memes called languages experience evolution and extinction based on survival of the fittest and natural selection. – DJB

    Because anyone who appreciates complex adaptive systems realizes that diversity is one of the keys to survival. Convergence towards a monoculture (even an American monoculture) opens up a vulnerability that could ultimately lead to extinction.

    And we have got to believe that this evolution of man won’t end at the nation-state.

    I agree, but as someone who has worked with foreign nationals, i also realize that the key is to transcend, but not to discard national identity.

    Filipinos are NOT Asians. – DJB

    Genetically, that’s not true. Linguistically, that also not true. Culturally, that’s only true for some.

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