I have quite a strong interest – and strong opinions (but hey, who doesn’t?) – in languages. My own native languages are Tagalog and Ilocano, and I’ve somewhat acquired a bit of skill in writing in English – although when you listen to me speak in English, you will immediately know I’m no American.
All three languages were spoken at home when we were kids. Our parents and other members of the household (we had a huge household!) talked to us mostly in Ilokano, and we talked back to them mostly in Tagalog (yes, we TALKED BACK to them, you have a problem with that?). Tagalog was of course the language of the region and its melting-pot people, so when we walked through that door to the outside world, to the mean and lean streets of our youth, Tagalog was king. (Not to mention radio and TV.) Thus, gradually, my Ilocano atrophied to an ugly parody – a ridiculous parody, in fact – of my parents’ mother tongue.
English, on the other hand, was the language of schools and print media. We had to grapple with it from Grade 1 onwards. And what’s more, the public elementary school I attended from Grade 4 to Grade 6 required that we speak English at all times, even during recess and at play, on pain of being listed and penalized with extra coin contributions to the Red Cross, should we be heard speaking even as much as one word of Tagalog.
Since a mastery of English was considered a must for all-round academic excellence, we shrugged and said, ok, we’ll speak it. It was only later, in high school and college, as part of the generalized youth rebellion and the revolutionary protest movement in particular, that we rediscovered Tagalog and became more critical of the blind worship of English that we were used to. And for me, personally, I had to rediscover my own Ilocano roots and language skills.
So take note of this blog section, and have a peek every so often. (RSS. Duh. Okay.) It will have quite a few surprises for you, dear readers.
(Note: I also posted this piece as a Page so it could set the tone for future related pieces.)