The Metamorphosis of Filipino as National Language Page (...continued )

by Jessie Grace U. Rubrico

Filipino Today

The evolution of the Wikang Pambansa, now known as Filipino, has not remained  uneventful, as one finds out from the its historical perspective in the previous section.  From 1935 onwards, to the present 1990s we have seen this language develop, first as Tagalog-based that barely ill-disguised itself as the "national language"--a clear victory of Manuel L. Quezon and the espousal of the tagalistas over the Bisayan hopes of  Sotto and his Ang Suga advocates-- then, in 1959 acquiring the term "Pilipino"given to it by executive fiat to remove the last vestiges of "tagalogism" and imprint its national character. In 1965, when the "puristas" (purists) attempted to enhance the vocabulary through artificial wordsmithing and thereby intensifying the 'word war" with their critics. Then, beginning in the 1970s which saw Pilipino finally being used as medium of instruction at the primary and secondary levels of public and private schools. And, lastly, from its 1987 constitutional enshrinement as "Filipino" to the present --an amalgamation  of Pilipino/Tagalog, Spanish, and a preponderance for English in respelled forms.

Some lexical items given in the Appendix will now be discussed here as representing a type of dominant Filipino written or spoken in: (a) the academe;(b) a language journal; (c) a Cebuano weekly of general circulation; (d) an article written by a noted Filipino linguists; (e) a series of TV news broadcasts, and (f) some Metro Manila daily tabloids. The choice of sources for these lexical items is rather arbitrary, albeit on firm linguistic ground that the best sources of data are the people themselves --what they speak, what they read, and so on. In this study,Tagalog and Cebuano speakers are taken as a combined    language group comprising more than 50 per cent of the Philippine population (Atienza, 1996, citing NSO 1989 figures) with 92 per cent of Filipinos being able to speak the wikang pambansa, thus effectively establishing Filipino as the lingua franca of the country, if not, as the national language itself.

Exhibit A (please see Appendix) presents some lexical items used by professors of the University of the Philippines in their publications in Filipino on the same topic. These terms are arrayed alongside their English equivalent. Thus, konsiderasyon is "consideration" (respelled form),  natural  is, likewise, "natural" (adopted form). The original data of about 600 terms show consistency on the aforementioned forms.

Exhibit B, with lexical items sourced from the writings of of a distinguished group of Filipino writers, exhibits the same forms --respelled, affixed, or adopted (e.g., diyagram, kategorya, and minimal). Exhibit C, with lexical items from the highly popular and widely-circulated Cebuano weekly, Bisaya,   shows a close congruence of Filipino usage as its staid counterparts above (Exhibits A and B). For instance, anawonser for "announcer,"  ideposito for "to deposit," and tiloring for "tailoring."

Exhibit D shows some lexical items from one of the works of the foremost proponent of the "universal approach" to Philippine languages (Constantino, 1974). These items are unabashed borrowing from the English language, such as fyutyur (future), vawel (vowel), tsok (chalk), sabjektiv (subjective), and diksyunari (dictionary).

Exhibit E is a transcription of terms used in selected, highly-rated TV newscasts in Filipino.Typically, the commentary is fast-paced, accompanied by live "on the spot" camera footages, with words pouring out in staccato manner, like administrasyon, kovereyj, masaker, trafik apdeyt,insedente, aprobahan, and the like. (The respelling of these English equivalent in Filipino is the researcher's alone, consistent with the phonological rules of Philippine languages.)

Exhibit F lists lexical terms from the proliferating Metro Manila tabloids written in Filipino and read by the masa, the "man in the street" literally. Familiar words like mentaliti (mentality),  sektor (sector), isyu (issue), and abroad (abroad).

Taken as a whole, the lexical items drawn from Exhibits A toF reveal a common, tell-tale pattern of usage one can ignore at his/herown peril. All point ot a heavy and consistent borrowing from the English language. Why this phenomenon is so will be explained in the next section.

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