Saturday, August 25, 2007

Languages Used and the Perception of Intelligence

Thanks to educator-activist Antonio Calipjo Go, the errors found in Philippine school textbooks are now well publicized and discussed. The focus has rightly been on how the Department of Education (DECS) can allow obviously poor quality textbooks to be distributed for use. Apart from this issue however, i believe that another aspect needs to be looked at. In an earlier post by Jessica Zafra, she listed ten examples of errors found in these textbooks:
  1. “Walang ulap kung umaga. Nasinghot na ng lumalaking populasyon.”
  2. “Many Filipino men and women have brains.”
  3. “He seemed to be waiting for someone, not a blood relation, much less a bad blood.”
  4. “People are not made to float like a bird.”
  5. “Seeing a rainbow in the sky is like a dream that disappears that’s why a child wants it painted permanently in the sky.”
  6. “As the campers trek through the trail at the rainboat they’ll stop now and then. They had huffs and puffs.”
  7. “The chicken was dressed. They stripped off her feathers, served her quite bare and everyone poked at her breast.”
  8. “God’s footsteps bulged the mountains up. God like morning bending over her baby kneeled down in the dust.”
  9. “On Basilio’s skull, fire nicked. The tiny fire had a blow, huge and quick. He touched the fire on his skull. Past all that is beyond, he runs.”
  10. “Si Pres. Garcia ay kumita ng unang liwanag sa Talibon, Bohol.”
Assuming the sample list is representative of the population of errors, we can see above that a majority are errors that can be attributed to the author's inability to express himself/herself in English.

A switch to Filipino language would eliminate these kinds of mistakes. What is true of the textbook authors all the more applies to the majority of Filipinos. As an example, the humor from this post at Expectorants is derived largely from the same sort of mistakes (intentional or otherwise).

Mistakes in the use of English encourage the impression that the speakers are less intelligent that they actually are. Since English is widely used in the Philippines, mistakes occur quite frequently and the impression of lack of intelligence is reinforced. Our more prosperous neighbors, Japan and China also have their share of well publicized English mistakes but these do not have a widespread negative affect on the perception of intelligence of the ordinary Japanese and Chinese because they largely express themselves in their local tounge.

I believe textbook authors and most Filipinos will be able to express themselves more intelligently if allowed to use the language they are more comfortable with.

1 comment:

mschumey07 said...

GMA said that now, all students will have textbooks. Yup, full of errors.