DO NOT Leave Your Language Alone

“Languages are increasingly viewed as scarce national resources,” wrote Joshua A. Fishman, noted linguist and author. “Speech and writing communities the world over are not only expected to exert themselves on behalf of their own languages, but to feel remiss if they fail to do so when their language resources are threatened.”  He views languages as “not unlike flora and fauna, agricultural or environmental resources, and all other such improvable or alterable resources whose quality can be influenced by planned human intervention (emphasis supplied).”

Hence, Fishman’s admonition:  “DO NOT Leave Your Language Alone“, which is the title of one of his important books.

The central idea is that if you don’t take care of your own language, nobody else will.  “DO NOT Leave Your Language Alone” is Fishman’s own thinking on counteracting what he noted as the benign or aggressive indifference of the powers-that-be toward minority languages.

“The most general reason for the neglect of reversing language shift (RLS),” notes Fishman in his book, Reversing Language Shift, “is probably the fact that RLS is an activity of minorities, frequently powerless, unpopular with outsiders and querulous amongst themselves; it is an activity that is very often unsuccessful and that strikes many intelligent laymen and otherwise intelligent social scientists as ‘unnatural’, i.e., as counter to some supposedly ‘natural’ drift of historical events or the ‘obvious’ direction of social change.  It is hard for self-serving mainstream intellectual spokesmen and institutions to be sympathetic to the lingering, cantankerous, neither fully alive nor fully dead quality of many (perhaps most) efforts on behalf of receding minority languages (and the majority of sidestream scholars too are ultimately dependent on the mainstream for their perspectives, if not for their very livelihoods)…”

So, to all the Ilocanos in La Union, and the rest of Ilocandia, and to all the others whose ethnic languages are threatened by Tagalog:  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR LANGUAGE ALONE!

One thought on “DO NOT Leave Your Language Alone

  1. First of all, I am an Ilocano, born in Ilocos Norte and I am proud of my language and I am proud to say that I can write and speak as correctly or accurately as it should be written in the national Ilocano newspapers or magazines although I never had any formal training other that my day to day communication at home and with people in my community and by reading the BANNAWAG when I was still in the Philippines.

    As proud as I am an Ilocano, I am also equally proud as a Filipino. I am very proud of my national language which should be a very important medium in binding us all Filipinos and make us understand each other. How could we communicate with people in other parts of our country if we don’t have a common national language?

    As far as Tagalog is concerned, I believe it is not a threat because it is mainly the basis of our national language. The threat is some of us Ilocanos are abandoning this unique language of ours.

    It is also my belief that Ilocano should be taught as a separate subject with the first half dedicated to the language itself and the second half maybe translation of Ilocano words into Pilipino and English. I may add that teachers must have training first before the children. And what happens if a teacher relocates to a region where he/she has a different language? It must be a taxing experience I suppose.

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