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Buwan ng wika is for tongue-lashing (PJI editorial 14 August 2005)

THERE are now 350 ways to insult someone, 10 times more than new expressions meant to shore up a person’s sense of self-worth. Some 50 new words turned up for good-looking women, a mere 20 for men.

The new words were listed for the first time in the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English, tabbed as the definitive record of the English language.

As the London-based Reuters have it, among the new entries are “potty-mouthed” (using or characterized by bad language), “lush” (for very good) and “scophophilia” or sexual pleasure derived mainly from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity.

The news agency added that many of the new words are formed by mixing two others together. Say, charity and mugger makes “chugger” or someone who approaches passers-by in the street to ask for donations for charity.

It is unlikely we’ll be hearing any of those new English words plied out in formal speech, treatise, or daily usage—broadcast media do casual butchery of English and Filipino while lawmakers normally mangle both tongues but who’d notice such heinous mercies done upon a vehicle of thought and communication?

It takes a seven-step process to gain mastery of language. The first starts out as a baby’s pre-verbal gestures—screaming, yawning, weeping, and laughing—that has to be experienced to be aware of one’s body.

Next comes babbling—an exploration of the sounds the tongue can whip out. It was German physicist Hermann Hemholtz who found out that the five vowels are based on body resonance—a echoes in the heart, e resounds in the neck, i at the pineal gland, o around the navel, and u at the belly. Yes, fully-sounded words can also engage the body.

What about the consonants?

French philosopher and historian Michael Foucault cites that nearly all philosophers of the Middle Ages based their philosophy on a numerology of 1 through 9 which was tied to the structure of consonants. By knowing the meaning of the numerals they were able to create incantations, and in rituals of alchemy and magic called spirits to their aid. Thus began the magic of language.

Let’s skip the next five steps toward mastery of language, be it English or Filipino.

The Department of Education found out that a scant 3 of every 1,000 high school seniors have an understanding of Filipino; only 7 of every 100 of ‘em know their English.

Where do we go from here—saan mula rito?


Hagupit ng dila sa buwan ng wika

MERON nang 350 bagong dagdag na salita para laitin ang kapwa, mahigit 10 ulit na dami kaysa mga salita na magpapahalaga at mag-aangat sa kapwa. Nadagdagan ng 50 salita para sa mga magandang babae, 20 lang para sa lalaki.

Isinama sa unang pagkakataon ang mga naturang salita sa huling limbag ng Oxford Dictionary of English, pinakamahusay na talaan sa talasalitaan ng wikang English.

Ayon sa Reuters, kabilang sa mga dagdag na salita ang “potty mouthed” (gumagamit o may katangian ng masamang pananalita), “lush” (talagang mahusay) at “scophophilia” o nalilibugan lang sa panonood sa ibang nakahubad o nagtatalik.

Idinagdag ng ahensiya sa balita na karamihan sa mga bagong kataga ay binuo sa pagsasama ng dalawang salita. Halimbawa, charity at mugger na naging “chugger” o iyong nanghihingi ng donasyon sa mga dumaraan sa kalye.

Hindi marahil maririnig ang mga bagong kataga sa English na gagamitin sa pormal na usapan, panulat o pang-araw-araw na talastasan—madalas katayin ng broadcast media ang English at Filipino habang nakasanayan nang gulpihin ng mga mambabatas ang mga naturang wika. Pero sino ang makakapansin sa ganoong paglapastangan at pagwasak sa paraan ng kaisipan at pakiki-ugnay?

May pitong hakbang tungo sa mahigpit na paggagap sa wika. Unang hakbang ang mga gawi ng bata—hiyaw, hikab, iyak, at halakhak—na kailangang maranasan upang magkaroon ng kamalayan sa sariling katawan.

Kasunod ang pagbigkas—pagtuklas sa mga tunog na maibubulalas ng bunganga. Natukoy ni German physicist Hermann Hemholtz na ang limang patinig ay umaalon sa katawan—sa puso ang alingawngaw ng a, e sa leeg, I sa tinatawag na pineal gland o third eye, o sa pusod, at u sa puson. Tahasang kalakip ang katawan sa masinop na bigkas ng mga kataga.

Ano naman sa mga katinig?

Pinansin ni French philosopher-historian Michael Focault na lahat halos ng mga pilosopo nitong Middle Ages ay ibinatay ang kanilang pilosopiya sa mga bilang mula 1 hanggang 9 na nakabigkis sa bulas o istruktura ng mga katinig. Mula sa malalim na pag-unawa sa katuturan ng mga bilang na nakabatay sa mga katinig, nakalikha sila ng mga oracion at iba pang rituwal para manawagan sa mga diwata, espiritu atbp. Dito may mahiya at hiyang ang wika.

Huwag na nating ungkatin ang lima pang hakbang para lubusang maunawa ang wika, English man o Filipino.

Pinansin ng Department of Education na tatlo bawat 1,000 high school seniors ang lubusang nakakaunawa sa Filipino; 7 bawat 100 sa kanila ang nakakaunawa sa English.

Saan tayo patutungo—saan mula rito?


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