Friday, April 05, 2013

speaking English

From the African Executive:

The fact that we still shun that which is clearly local and homegrown is a manifestation of the low regard we have for ourselves and one another.  We prefer to use firms with English sounding names rather than vernacular ones and we associate Western or “white” tastes and ideas with superior quality. In what other country would a Shona-speaking mother and a Shona-speaking father produce an English-speaking child? Where does this low self image come from?  Is it a result of being disappointed one too many times by some of our own? Is it a product of our early experiences which inform our foundational beliefs about ourselves?
Yes, it is a problem here in the Philippines too. Which is why Filipino ("tagalog") is the official langauge.

But if you speak English, it opens you to the world of ideas (and jobs in other countries where you can live in comfort and send money home to support the family). In grade schools, local books will be available, but if you want to get more information, you need English.

This is similar to Latin in  the Middle Ages: it was the language of scholarship that enabled educated men to talk to each other.

The polyglot of western Europe started with Dante, and was accelerated with the Protestant revolt against the Catholic church, when Protestants decided to translate their version of the bible into the venacular for ordinary folks to read (and alas interpret wrongly due to lack of scholarship, but that's another argument altogether).

I don't think wanting to learn English is the problem. The real problem is that local goods tend to be shoddy, mainly due to corruption. I am aghast at how things here in the Philippines stop working quickly, because they are made locally, or more commonly, in China . So a Filipino can work in a Korean factory and make high quality goods, but here the same item is poor quality, and everyone knows it.

My husband even refused to buy a cheaper European make car (BMW) that was made in the Philippines, even though the Germans kept an eye on the place for quality control.

Prefering "european" (or here, Korean or Japanese or American) goods may not be from low self esteem, but because they usually are better.

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