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Tidbits on Language


A sudden silence in the middle of a conversation suddenly brings us back to essentials: it reveals how dearly we must pay for the invention of speech.
Emile M. Cioran

Is it my right brain or the left brain that’s functioning within my skull? I don’t know exactly because I must admit that my mind is not as sharp as others’ for I still have an inadequacy of mastering any language. So much more with my style, simply because I am not adept in constructing right phrases or choosing appropriate words for my sentences; and with all of these errors and poor English usage, I usually get a bad remark from my girlfriend. Naks!

In the current situation, it is a formidable fact that one is adjudged by the predilection of correct sentence constructions. With vicissitudes and inconsistencies, one may flunk from the standard of languages and be scorned publicly regardless of one’s effort to muster his thought into writing; all the more with the English language. And now that call centers and English schools are sprouting and populating like rodents, the English language is given more emphasis than anything in this world. Sure to say that one thing that Filipinos should be proud of is their eloquent English skills. But lo! Speaking is far different from writing and most of the time writing skills become a ground for criticisms. Your tongue may perfect all the tongue twisters but your hand will always tremble to hold your pen right. Take note that the most dangerous thing is to write because it doesn’t hide your flaws rather highlight your mediocrity in language. I am not exempted!

Three years ago, I was working on my research paper and came across a research from one of the UP publications. The research was about the aptitude test on the English efficiency of the students in UP Cebu. The result: UP freshmen were all above average in terms of verbal skills but flunked below average in writing. It was a sad realization especially that Filipinos are expected to be a prime exemplary of the English Language in both fields. The worst thing about it was how I coincidentally read that publication while taking a subject in one of the most charismatic speakers/professors in UP Iloilo yet deemed to be one of the lousiest writers among the academe. That was long ago, and how I regret labeling him on that.

But! To all the lousy like me, don’t despair for there are still ways to prove our worth. It is not the language alone that serves as the measure of intelligence. In market paradigm, Filipinos with a knack for the English language are in demand and we have to face it because that’s the reality. Yet don’t forget that your skills in mathematics, your keenness in science, your prowess in visual arts are all very important. It is only through your excellence in a certain field that makes you a true model. As what the Japanese proverb states, “It is better to master in one art than mediocre in a hundred.” So let alone if they pin you down because you are an awful English speaker; never mind them if they think that English is the gauge of Intelligence for that is already mere ignorance in their part. Yet, regardless of their demeaning remarks, strive to improve your skill and harness your capability by reading and writing. It is only through this that you will imbibe the language even to the point of owning it. And at a given point in time, you will have the best of both worlds…then, like me, you will not give a fuss of which side of the brain is functioning within you.


A man’s feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.
George Santayana

Conrado de Quiros once retold a story of Rizal boarding a ship to Europe. He was boarding on upper deck because he could afford to be with the mestizos and the leche colored Spanish (hidalgos and intellectuals). In one moment, the Spanish approached him and they conversed articulately in Spanish. Then a French joined them in their in their conversation, and Rizal occasionally spoke to him in French. The French was very impressed for how could a young brown man of small stature be a word-class polyglot. Then the German joined them in their coterie and Rizal greeted him in German. Impressive! The German was very delighted by this small man for he not only spoke Spanish, but French and German as well which he couldn’t even do himself. So Rizal made an impact on all of them: that Filipinos had all the fair share of intelligence in the world.

But! Rizal went to the lower deck, where the stench of poverty could be smelled. Most of the Filipinos were there and all of them seemed to be pressed in a floating coffin. Then Rizal, with his love for his race, never minded this and went to sit with them. He asked the old woman squatting on her piles in Tagalog where she came from. The old woman not sensing any word from Rizal’s mouth answered him in native Cebuano language that Rizal didn’t understand. So she asked the man in ragged clothes the same question, and the man answered him in plain Hiligaynon and Rizal didn’t understand. Still, our National Hero didn’t stop and approached a lady standing in a corner and asked her the same question. The lady answered him in Bolo-anon and Rizal gave up hope and went back to the upper deck.

I don’t know how the story ended but surely Rizal must have wept to understand the world yet failed to comprehend his own feet on the ground.


Short words are words of might

Gellet Burgess

When thesaurus is the sole long word….

Let me ring a bell to you: that when you speak, speak with one straight word. Do not make it hard for some to know the sense of your thoughts. Please be clear with your point. It is through clear words, not blurred by fog of blahs, that you are well grasped. So stay with one word… but not till the time you need it most that you start to look at THESAURUS for long ones.


P.S. I admit, it’s very hard to maintain a 1 syllable word all through out…hehehe

Categories: philosophy
  1. March 12, 2009 at 1:05 am

    You must have a mean girlfriend! Serves you right! Haha Kidding!!! Oh wait, I didn’t know you had a girlfriend! Text me, tell me all about her! =D

    You are right. The English language should not be the meter on which intelligence is measured. I know very intelligent people who are not too fluent in English, and I also know people who have highfalutin statements but cannot even speak from their own hearts.

    You are still clearly understood and you should stop looking at yourself so basely. What you usually write have more essence than most blogs I visit.

  2. March 14, 2009 at 3:12 am

    thank you Mir… you always cheer me up with your kindness.God Bless you always!

  3. joy
    May 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Whatever language one speaks, it should be a language that unifies, that brings warmth, that makes people safe and smile. I think you do that already.

    Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comment. Come back tomorrow for the Keukenhof series!

    A Pinay In England
    Your Love Coach
    I, Woman

    • May 7, 2009 at 7:39 am

      thanks again Maam! 🙂

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