By Romy Monteyro
GIVEN THE BASTARDIZED WAY FILIPINOS SPEAK, I often ask myself this question: What language do we Filipinos really speak? Is it Tagalog? Spanish, perhaps? Or maybe English?
The answer I believe is we speak all three at the same time which would make us Pinoys, TagSpangLish speakers!
In the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada English is the official, if not the constitutionally mandated national language. It is not surprising therefore that English and only English, with the possible exception of Canadian style French in some parts of Canada, particularly Quebec, is the language used in all forms of communications both in the government and private sectors.
In Japan, needless to say, everything is spoken or written in Japanese. The same is true in Germany and many other countries in Asia and Europe.
But the Philippines stands out unique in that while the current Constitution which is written in English, mandates that Pilipino, based largely on the Tagalog dialect, is the national language, and both English and Spanish may alternately be used as official languages.
The medium of instruction in all schools is English. The language of commerce, medicine, government, science, broadcast and print journalism and even the military and police is also English. And while three languages—Tagalog, Spanish and English may be used in Philippine courts of law, only English is actually used.
That being so since the turn of the century when America introduced English in the Philippines, the Filipino is unique because like it or not he is the only national in the world who may need an interpreter in his own country’s courts to translate his native dialect into English, to in turn enable the court stenographer (whose knowledge of short hand or steno is English-based) to properly record his testimony and for the judge, prosecutor and defense counsel to truly understand what he is saying. Wow!
Thus a Visayan, Ilocano, Tagalog or Pampango, not proficient in English who testifies in court either as a witness or as the accused is provided an interpreter to translate what he says into English! Whoa, is something wrong with that picture?
Apparently not because it is the accepted norm in our courts of law since time immemorial!
Funny isn’t it? But why is nobody laughing? But wait until a witness, counsel or prosecutor happens to speak what Filipinos call Carabao English, and a very humiliating roar of laughter will thunder across the courtroom! The same goes true in the Batasang Pambansa or Philippine Congress, which would make boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao a mere comedian should he ever speak in that supposedly august body!
So if one wants to witness something funnier, as far as murdering the English language is concerned, then one should attend a session at the Batasang Pambansa! It was not comedic at all during the time of true statesmen in the incomparable stature of Laurel, Recto, Quezon, Osmena, Paredes, Fernandez, Tolentino, Ople and Salonga.
Only after clowns like the Estradas, Sotto, Revilla, Jaworsky and a host of other comedians replaced the tried and true statesmen did the Philippine Congress become, in the words of the late great columnist Joe Guevarra, “the place to go when one wants to enjoy real comedy!” And according to a recent report, the same is true with the Philippine Supreme Court!
Again, I dare say that when the likes of Laurel and Abad Santos, Arellano and Araullo were presiding or speaking in that august chamber, the most beautiful interpretation of the English language permeated its every nook and cranny.
But let’s get back to TagSpangLish. How did that happen? Why do Filipinos speak such a gibberish gobbledygook that only they could understand? And why do, strangely enough, Filipinos (mostly) use English when writing letters to one another?
I believe the Filipino entertainment writers are mostly to blame for the proliferation of TagSpangLish., ably aided by Pinoy movie and TV personalities whose grasp of English is most wanting to say the least!
Just try to read what a movie columnist writes in his so-called column, or listen to a TV interview of Pinoy celebrities and you will get my drift. Politicians are also to blame, modern day Filipino politicos that is.
So what language do we Filipinos really speak? To be honest, I’m confused so I don’t really know the answer to that question. Perhaps, you, dear readers can tell me?