“Language, any language has a dual character: it is both a means of communication and a carrier of culture” (Thiongo). With the reading Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, the group discussions and lecture, I have a better understanding of the importance of language. If you take away someone’s language, you take away their culture. Thiongo raises an interesting point that the “final triumph of a system of domination [is] when the dominated start singing its virtue.” With this quote, I thought about my own culture and the language used. I wondered if Filipinos were subjected to language suppression, in what ways were they under the colonizer’s control and are they were working on decolonizing their minds.
According to an article, Background Notes on Countries of the World: Philippines, there are 87 languages commonly used nationwide. The top three languages spoken are Cebuano, by people in the Visayas, Tagalog by people around Manila, and Ilocano spoken by people of Northern Luzon. There are numerous resources giving different amounts of languages and dialects presently used in the Philippines. They range from 87 to 171. According to Wilson, there are 171 languages, some close to extinction, only spoken by fewer than 100 and some spoken by millions. The majority of the languages are used by a limited population, mainly those who are isolated away from the urban areas or by indigenous people. This wide range shows the wide diversity of the Philippine people. These languages often overlap with each other, they can include different variations, and most are based on the influence of the colonization of Spaniards and Americans. Many languages spoken depend on the region or area the people are from. Also keep in mind majority of people speak multiple languages within the spectrum of Filipino languages. So the country has not one language, but many.
First of all, the people of the Philippines did encounter language suppression. Looking at the history of the country, Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines in 1521. The Spanish colonization of the Philippines occurred in 1564 and remained until 1898. During this time, Spanish replaced most of the native languages. Spanish was used for instruction and education. The people were forbidden to use their native language. Then again in 1898, Americans colonized the Philippines. English speaking took over, and became the language to be used in schools and for educating. The use of native languages was still forbidden. The national languages were Spanish and English. In 1935 the Philippine government worked to create their own new national language. In 1973, it established a new national language, Pilipino, based on the Tagalog language. In 1987 the spelling changed to Filipino, and Spanish was dropped as a national language; Filipino and English remained (Walker, Dekker).
Second, the colonization took over the Philippine land, their culture and their thinking. For...