An Open Letter to KWF Commissioner Virgilio S. Almario re Draft of the Filipino Orthography Guide (2013)

Dear Mr. Almario,

I posted the above guide on orthography for Filipino (2013) in Multilingual Philippines in the hope of helping generate some discussion/suggestions/comments on the subject.

As I recall, the 2001 Revision which was subsequently pulled back was rendered in both Filipino and English. I wish you could render the 2013 Gabay Edition in English as well to enable some of us who are non-native Tagalogs and with suspect skills with the Tagalog and/or Filipino language to better understand the Borador and make hopefully more intelligible/useful suggestions/comments thereto.

I remember coming across an earlier piece on siyokoys (Mga Salitang Siyokoy by Paul Morrow) and this quote attributed to you:

Ang bokabularyong siyokoy. Mas malapit sa ating wika ang bigkas sa mga salitang Espanyol. Sa gayon, malimit na isa-Espanyol ng mga akademista ang mga hiram nila sa Ingles. Ngunit dito mas lumilitaw ang kanilang kabobuhan. Dahil hindi bihasa sa Espanyol, nakalilikha sila ng mga salitang siyokoy – hindi Ingles, hindi Espanyol (gaya ng “aspeto”… na hindi aspect ng Ingles at hindi rin aspecto ng Espanyol).

I recommend you step back a bit and re-read the above quote. Now, don’t you think it’s a bit harsh for you to make your pronouncement: “Ngunit dito mas lumilitaw ang kanilang kabobuhan. Dahil hindi bihasa sa Espanyol, nakalilikha sila ng mga salitang siyokoy – hindi Ingles, hindi Espanyol (gaya ng “aspeto”… na hindi aspect ng Ingles at hindi rin aspecto ng Espanyol)”. As I recall, this phenomenon is not unique with the Philippines. In the United States, for instance, I remember former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s coining “refudiate” which became the new word of the Year 2010. Language, as we know, does not always evolve in neat, logical ways. The intent is to use language to communicate — and if it succeeds in doing that in any way, who are we to be judgmental, such as calling those unwitting agents of language evolution “bobos” or “hindi bihasa”?

Once you’ve got Borador in English, rest assured I will promptly post it in Multilingual Philippines.

Additionally, please allow us a sufficient period of time to study and review the Gabay Borador — like may be a year — so we may come up with unhasty comments or suggestions. We don’t wish to hang knee-jerk reactions or impulse albeit smart-sounding repartees on such an important matter as orthography in much the same way that we don’t particularly relish a similar excuse about not having enough time as in the high-lighted part in the following portion of a paragraph in the Borador:

“…muling nagdaos ng tatlong araw na pambansang forum sa ortograpiya ang KWF nitóng 11-13 Marso 2013. Sinikap pagtibayin ng forum ang mga tuntuning napagkasunduan na sa serye ng forum NCCA noong 2005-2006, bukod sa hinarap ang ibang problema kaugnay ng pagpapabilis sa pagsasanib ng mga salita mula sa mga katutubong wika ng Filipinas. Sinimulan ding talakayin sa 2013 forum ang mga problema sa panghihiram mulang Ingles ngunit hindi nabigyan ng karampatang pagpapasiya dahil kinapos sa oras…

I await the English version of “Binagong Gabay sa Ortograpiya ng Wikang Filipino (Edisyong 2013)” and your reply. Thanks.

Joe Padre

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