May 21st, 2008

balcony

ya tenemos que aprender tres idiomas en la escuela?

So, apparently, Spanish has been re-instituted as an official language in the Philippines. Or something like that.

Primary question: Why? People like my mother, who hail from the provinces, have, in addition to speaking their native languages (i.e. Ilokano, Bicol, Cebuano, etc.) at home and on the streets - they have to learn to speak the national language - Tagalog, and they have to learn, through education, to fluently speak English. Why the addition of a third language? Isn't this a little too much?

Second. What expectations are there for Spanish in the Philippines? Is it expected that students and the educated elite speak it as well as they do English and Tagalog? Because that's a pretty high expectation, I think. Here in Canada, the majority of students in Ontario learn French for at least nine years and most still end up with knowledge of some broken phrases and maybe a passive comprehension of the language spoken slowly.

I find it strange that when I visit my mother's family in the Philippines, every single one of my relatives and their family friends and all my "titas" and "titos" can speak English fluently with a bit of an accent and if I don't understand something in Ilokano, they switch just as easily to a fluent Tagalog, which I understand a bit better. What I find even weirder, is that with a Tagalog-English dictionary and with a few on-line texts in Tagalog, I've tested my mother's ability to understand poetry and higher registers of Tagalog. She can't give exact translations but she was able to explain in English what certain words meant. It seemed to me that she speaks Tagalog almost like a native! And that's something I find really bizarre because it's not her native language; she never lived in an area where Tagalog is primarily spoken - she lives here in Canada. Is this common among all Filipinos who learn Tagalog as a non-native language?

Third. What kind of Spanish is being taught in the Philippines? I mean, how are the "ll"s and "y"s taught to be pronounced? Is "vosotros" being taught?

Fourth. How widespread is Spanish expected to be used? I find it hard to imagine Spanish being as widespread as English is - everyone seems to codeswitch back and forth into English.
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