Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pot, meet kettle

A verbatim sampling of comments generated by Janina's walking away with the Bb. Pilipinas-World crown recently despite her, uh, creative way with the English language.

Says Rody Vera, who forwarded these gems: “Eto ang malupit... mga comments ng mga nagmamagaling. I find [this] funnier--kasi itong mga ito hindi ninenerbyos nung sinulat nila ang mga comments na ini. Ilan lang ba sa atin ang tuwid ang ingles pag ninenerbyos?”

Korekek! Not clear where they came from, but I'm guessing these comments sprouted in online forums that went into overdrive tsk-tsking Janina's improbable win. Their authors, as you can see, are so deserving of that fine admonition: “Physician, heal thyself.” Or, if they're too dense for it, perhaps a gift of a mirror?


2. “i dont think this is funny. guys let us not be so self-righteius.”

3. “ang galing ni janina i guest she deserve that.”

4. “Poor Janina, the nation almost hates your triumphant. You don’t deserve the title. Sheila is correct you’re better to go back in elementary school for remedial class, surely you will learn and could able to speak English fluently and correctly. Please, don’t be arrogant next time if someone is asking you simply, by the time the host asked you, how do you feel tonight, you’re just only answering, 'No, I’m not pressure' is that a correct answer. how dare you... All i can say, you should learn more in English language, read English reading materials and practice your pronunciation.”

5. “i think she do not deserve to be bb.pilipinas world. even a grade one student know simple subject-verb agreement. plus, being a mass communication major, she must know the right pronounciation of words. she kept apologizing about her nervouseness...”


Jeff said...

Are these real? Bwahahah. At least Janina's getting a language & public speaking scholarship (or so I heard). I've seen badly-phrased comments in YouTube but these smack them right in the middle.

Then again it's not about her (and I quote AJ) being lost in translation; she's just lost.

Baklang AJ said...

bwahahahahahah! Panalo itong mga comments na to! Hindi na ako natigil sa pagtawa! Ika nga nila tungkol dun sa isang scandalous blog na yun, let he who has not sinned cast the first stone! Charoooooot!

Kung lost si Janina, ano na lang kaya itong mga ito no? Lolz.

when did I say that? or am I that AJ? Lolz. I'm lost!

failed misanthrope said...


Ayoko na.

Ayoko na talaga.

the spy in the sandwich said...

I'm just really bothered by the fact that she went through elementary, and high school, AND college ... and passed all her English courses. What kind of teachers did she have? Worse: what kind of mass communication school does U.E. have?

There is a grain of truth naman when people question her intelligence with this kind of language. Unlike Venezuela and other countries, English is a huge part of our curriculum, from kindergarten to college. There is no getting away from English in the Philippines, even if we shout "nationalism" until we're blue in the face. Whatever did she do in school during basic grammar class? Daydream, and then flirt with the teacher hoping to pass? If you have the slightest attention span, you would know at least SOMETHING.

the spy in the sandwich said...

i meant: at least learn SOMETHING :)

rody vera said...

Gibbs, sorry for this long rambling. di ko matiis.

Whatever you learn in school will not have any significant impact in your life if you don't use it. We all know that, don't we? Commerce graduates who end up becoming domestic helpers or caregivers will soon forget the language spoken by economists and accountants. You eventually forget all the algebraic principles you learned in college when you start working in call centers, right? so is it with any other language-- English or whatever: no exceptions. I wouldn't be so rash in blaming schools. If there's anything I'd blame schools of it is this: the fact that they INSIST on teaching English as the most effective tool of communication in the Philippines.

Don't you find it stupid for a contest with a very Filipino title like BINIBINING PILIPINAS to expect its candidates to speak english the way Miss America would-- or at the very least the way call center agents are trained to do? I always thought that the organizers of these beauty contests have got it all wrong since 1980s-- and that's the reason why we've stopped winning. Not because our country has deteriorated in the area of English but because it has deteriorated in the area of effective communication, of developing our way of thinking! that's where I'd blame schools today-- not specifically U.E., mind you because we've had our share of those in many of the so-called prestigious schools.

Have you ever counted the times you had to speak English in one day? Filipinos in this country seldom speak English amongst themselves. They talk to foreign clients in English, that's fine. they use English in formal occasions, that's ok. But with each other? In school? at home? shopping? with friends? in the most mundane conditions? If you come to think about it, most of us only speak English in very minimal situations-- and most of the time in situations that don't exactly tax us to think in English (e.g. We pray in English but most of the time we have already memorized those prayers.) Many middle class people talk in English the way they see American actors talk in the movies or on TV. It takes practice to be able to speak in English that way. You have to not just practice, in fact. you have to live it, to breathe it. In order to get the right intonation, the right twang, the right accent-- you either have to rehearse like a professional actor (or a call center agent) or you simply have to internalize the culture that hosts the language. You have to think like an American. Otherwise the danger that Janina got herself into is the same danger we'd have to face constantly.

Now imagine Janina, in front of so many people, feeling nervous, though she's not supposed to admit that. I imagine she's like one us- who hardly speak english in our normal everyday lives. She's made to answer the question and she immediately tries to translate all the Tagalog thoughts in a language she hardly uses. that's exactly what this contest asks her to be: to be a good translator of her thoughts. that's exactly what this whole country of so-called English speakers strive to be. To be the best translators of our thoughts. Because we think in our mother tongue. Don't you find that sad?

to illustrate another point: In a reading of Nick Joaquin's A Portrait of the Artist As Filipino held in New York some years back, a number of Filipino American actors found the lines of the play too stilted and hackneyed. They found the construction of the sentences "kinda weird." Nick Joaquin, our beloved National Artist, was one of the best Filipino writers in English and yet, his brand of English couldn't stand up to par with those actors from New York. F. Sionil Jose's novels have been distributed by american Publishers and one of the reasons why these publishers love his works is that his English is "peculiarly Filipino." Something that many Filipino writers have disparaged Jose's exact same works here for not being written in English quite well.

this country has evolved a certain kind of English that people around the world would not probably relate to-- and that's not something you pick up in school entirely. The way we use English is unique to us Fiiipinos. The way we appropriate the syntax, and the diction and the idioms to suit our way of hearing, our way of thinking all contribute to develop an English language that's uniquely our own. and so even if English in this country is all around you as you claim. It's how people use it-- all around you. that's exactly what you'll pick up.

So the next time you hear someone like Janina talk that way-- think of the way YOU speak it-- not write it because writing it gives you all the time to edit, revise, and compose your thoughts. But speak it as spontaneous as this stupid contest required Janina to do. Impromptu, in front of so many people, and MOST OF ALL, in a language where you are least effective in communicating your thoughts. I dare you.

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