Monday, October 05, 2009

Let's Not Get Carried Away Here

I realize, of course, that I can draw a lot of shit from this. But what the heck. At the risk of sounding like a total douchebag…

Not to diss our lingua franca, but when patriots say that the Filipino language is beautiful, I tend to ask: as opposed to what?

Is there such a thing as an ugly language? Is there a standard of beauty when it comes to languages? Is it the melody? Or maybe the sibilant consonants? Consider Tolkien’s fictional High Elven and Black Speech. High Elven is more sibilant, more melodic. Mordor’s Black Speech is guttural and brutish. If Black Speech is the ugly language, then Filipino, with its hard consonants and short vowels, sounds more like the tongue of Mordor. French, on the other hand, sounds more like High Elven. Do I like French better? Of course not. Despite the two French subjects I took in college, it still sounds like gibberish to me. I use Filipino everyday. Do I think I sound orcish? Christ, no. I can articulate complicated thoughts using Filipino; thoughts no orc can contain within his puny brain. Thus it’s not the sound that makes a language beautiful.

Is it the poetry? But every language has its own great poems. And these poems are great only for those who understand the language. For everyone else they sound like Pig Latin, despite the beautiful metaphors.

Is it the ability of the language to transmit ideas? Well, every language does that to those who understand it. And, quite frankly, there are a lot of ideas Filipino isn’t developed enough to convey effectively. That’s why when we’re talking about particle accelerators we switch to English. Do I think English is more lovable than Filipino? No. I write better with it but I use Filipino about 70 percent of the time when I’m talking to other Filipinos. Filipino does the job more effectively with fellow Filipinos. But when talking to the world via the Internet, I use English because it’s the language most people understand.

Let’s not get carried away here.

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