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I Hate Filipino Culture -Society/Politics

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Was Teddy Locsin Jr. right about the Filipino Language

When I first read Teddy Locsin Jr's tweets, I thought it was a fake account because it didn’t seem like it was written by a fully matured man whom I thought him to be, prior to reading the tweets. His twitter is like youtube’s comment section with such memorable quotes as “Tangina, anong gagawin ko sa Sabado. Syet. Kahit si Jesus patay, si kong kakausapin.

I ran this sentence through a Filipino-English translator and it came out as gibberish. Maybe part of the hate is due to the fact that he doesn’t know how to use the language properly yet

While i find his use of words questionable, i don't entirely disagree with him. In my younger years, I used to engage in a lot of debates online. It was good mental exercise. The preferred medium for the debates was always English. I noticed that whenever a debater used tagalog, the ideas didn’t flow as fluidly. I wasn’t quite sure if that was because of the debater or the language that he was using.

In a recent interview, Teddy Locsin defended his tweet by saying that Filipino is a flowery language and not as straight forward as English. I would disagree with his observation. I think that Filipino is actually a more straightforward language. There is less room for subtle nuances and wordplay. It’s easy to say a straightforward sentence like: “I don’t like this” in tagalalog. “ayaw ko ito”. But try saying  “I am somewhat fond of this” without using the world  “medyo” or “konti”

Tagalog is more than sufficient for everyday conversation but when engaging people in formal debates, sometimes you have to wield words with surgical precision or with ambiguity depending on the need. Where tagalog lacks is in denoting degree. There’s no word in between Ayaw and gusto. There are tagalog words that will denote gradation like: medyo, konti, halos. But most tagalog words tend to be in Black or white. Whereas in English, words can denote gradation without the assistance of additional words. Disapprove, dislike, hate, loathe, abhor -These words imply similar things but to different degrees. When combined with adverbs that denote degree, you can be more creative with your expression of disgust or you can express your disgust politely. For example: “I highly dislike your choice of words” “Sir, I slightly abhor your hairstyle”

A somewhat polite way of saying your hairstyle sucks

The lack of gradation in Filipino words probably explains why the word “medyo” tends to be overused in Filipino discourse. I myself am guilty of this. Gutom ka na? medyo. Pagod ka na? medyo. You wouldn’t realize how important it is until you take it away and you’re left scratching your head when asked simple questions.

“Gusto” and “ayaw”-there are no currently used alternative tagalog words that convey the same meaning as far as I know. Whereas the word “hate” has more than 40 synonyms. And that is one of the main reasons why Filipino can be less efficient than English in formal debates. English is a constantly evolving language that absorbs words from other languages and is used by more people. There are significantly more words in the English language than there are in Filipino. With more words, you have a richer palette to compose sentences with.

So did teddy locsin have a point? Maybe to a certain degree. But what’s more important than the language that you use is your mastery of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a language that has a richer vocabulary if you’re unfamiliar with most of its words. An experienced artist could paint a masterpiece with just 3 colors. A masterful writer or speaker should be able to express his ideas with whatever words that are at his disposal, whether those words be English or Filipino

He did raise one excellent point in his interview though. English is also a national language and there should be no shame nor treachery in using it.