Monday, January 29, 2007

English Zero

I WROTE A few years back in our college student paper, The Solution, about the incompetence of fellow engineering students when it comes to speaking the English language. One of the things that I emphasized at the time was to realize that a sophomore, who was sitting three desks behind me in a Psychology class, didn’t comprehend nor pronounce properly simple words such as ambiguity, transmission, ecology, and the list went on and on. I used it as premise in questioning the quality of education that these students were getting since they passed high school, and was admitted to college and close enough to be graduating as full pledged engineers. I did receive a handful of comments with regards to the article but nonetheless, it had stir less of an issue to be talked about like gossip that spreads like wild fire, and had a little concern to the students. I guised myself, as if they’d completely fail to understand what I wrote about.

Interestingly, the college put up a measure to contain the degrading English comprehension of its students. It required all freshmen who fails English entrance exams to take English 0 (zero) as a prerequisite to enrolling English 1 and 2 for two semesters. However, it turned out as a waste of time because the school had eventually appraised all students to Speech Class the following year with full disregard of their measure in improving English proficiency among the students.

Fast forward to 2007.

Almost everyone that I speak to, either casual or formal, tend to blabber in bilingual fashion. They speak in dual mode, a mesh of the English and Tagalog, or Taglish if there is such a word registered in the dictionary. I could barely find one person who can speak straight English nor straight Tagalog these days. If they do, they will squeeze their neurons finding suitable Tagalog equivalent for “develop” or “print”. Or to translate into English the interrogative sentence “Pang ilang pangulo ng Pilipinas si Erap?”. Even on the television or radio, I could have my thumb bleed pressing the remote controller and search for a local station who patronizes only one medium of expression.

I personally thought that only the colegialas and coƱos were inflicted with these defect in our communication but I am surprised that it has become the standard by which we expressed ourselves, as a person and as a nation. Kasi we understand each other naman eh, di ba.

Internationaly, our country has been known as one of the best english speakers in the world third only to the Americans and English people. That is why over the past few years, Koreans have invaded our country without us realizing it. We let them enroll in our schools just so they could learn english from us and eventually be able to improve their proficiency. They are stealing the knowledge which we have acquired since the time of World War II as history supposes to tell it.

As a result, we end up with a language similar to a tangled yarn and fishing line, one without an identity that we can fully take pride about. And I guess cell phones and text messaging is partly to be blamed for this grammar fault.

It reminds me of Jose Rizal, our national hero’s famous words: (gee, I almost forgot we have a national hero):

Ang ‘di marunong magmahal sa sariling wika,
Ay daig pa ang amoy ng mabahong isda.

Pareng Jose must have been turning into his grave.


cj said...

Nice Blog!
I was born in the Philippines too!

>>Jervis said...

thanks cj. it's great to read somebody has dropped by.
have u ever considered going back here?