Thursday, May 13, 2010

That Religious Guy: Languages are awesome!!

..... I've gone through so many introduction sentences for this post that I'm starting to see the irony between this momentary lapse in writing and my subject: Languages are awesome. I can't even describe how languages have expanded my world, making it more alive and open to others. There's nothing like learning a new tense in French or memorizing key phrases in Spanish.
..... The concept of words is an amazing one. Words give form to our thoughts, our emotions, and our desires. They've evolved from simple gurgles and mumblings to full-fledged "tier-3" titans as Mrs. Weir-Graham would say like "maladroit" and "gregarious." Coupled with various pronunciations, regional accents, and numerous definitions, the language salad is further tossed and turned. One cannot forget about how grammar, both academic and colloquial, spices this green creation even more (Hey, I like putting hot sauce in my salad, making it into a forest fire, but that's another post for another time.) But I myself have only nibbled on the leaves of this language salad (Talk about extended metaphor huh?).
..... Alas, I can only speak a few languages: English with a California neutral accent, Filipino with a Manile├▒o twist, French with an American feel, and Spanish with a Filipino lleismo. To enhance my learning experience, I started participating in the forums on Antimoon.com, a Web site dedicated to helping people learn English as well as other languages. During my short adventures on the site, I realized how much languages not only unite but divide. For hispanohablantes, the topic "Hablemos Espanol" provides an outlet to practice the Spanish language. There's also a pretty generous peppering of other topics on French, Dutch, German, Chinese, and other tongues. It seems that the language world is divided into teams based on whatever language you speak. Therefore, on Antimoon.com, los Hispanohablantes hate les Francophones, Chinese speakers are ridiculed, Germans keep to themselves, and the Dutch apparently hate their language. There's one thing that unites everyone who knows another language however and that's the conclusion that English sucks! Being only a novice in the languages I've taken on (French and Spanish), I see myself inferior to the other polyglots, but I can't help but see the idiocy in insulting other languages.
..... The rants and ravings against other languages are mainly based on false stereotypes. For example, someone posted concerning my topic, "Philippine Spanish Accent," that "it is very important for a Filipino to learn Spanish in order to effectively communicate with the other chief source of low-cost labour, the Mexicans." Apparently, there are people in the world who are quick to generalize all Spanish speakers as uneducated dunces. Then there's the stereotype that the French are sissies or that the Chinese are a sneaky people. These stereotypes have nothing to do with the languages themselves, just overlapping histories that have festered into hate.
..... It's important to note that I go on Antimoon.com for the content, not the conversation. This is to say that petty arguments and debates don't really affect or matter to me when I'm on this Web site. What matters most is the tiny treasures I learn about like how "vosotros" is more popular than you think and that lleismo isn't that archaic. So beware of ignorant individuals who will be quick to insult, but even quicker to back down once they find out you're not a primitive islander living in the Philippines but a headstrong Filipino American. Get out there and learn a language but be proud doing it!

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

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