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BLIND SPOT: Communication or Confusion

What is language for? Oh yes, many linguists would be quick to raise their hands and quote Sir Francis Bacon and thrill us with the explanation that it grants man, completion, preparation and precision. Yes, yes. But I want to look at it simply and say that language is for communication. Well, is it not, after all? Yes, the functions have branched ever so convolutedly in a web of complexity, but if one breaks it down, it’s simply for you and me to understand each other. It may be crooked or some would put it, “wrong grammar” or “wrong pronunciation”, but if I catch it, I’m cool with it. Come on; let’s set some semblance of simplicity in this increasingly intricate rat race which we have forgotten, is called life. “The House of Representatives (Yes, the same House of Representative which recently evicted a Speaker through a coup, a short time before the President’s State of the Nation Address; and later goes into confusion on which now becomes the minority. Yes, that same House.) approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to declare Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as the national sign language of the Filipino deaf.” “The measure seeks to mandate the use of FSL in schools, broadcast media, and workplaces involving the deaf.” ( Okay, okay; this seems very noble. You’re probably reading this or have heard about this and are thinking, “For all I care, I’m not deaf, anyway.”, or “They’re just having an official sign language right now? So, what have they been flexing their fingers all this time?”. I’ll let you in on something. The Filipino deaf (as they put it) or Filipinos with hearing impairment (if you want to be more politically correct) have long flourished in their communities communicating among themselves with ASL or American Sign Language. For decades, they’ve established a standard for exchanges of messages among themselves. Now, here comes FSL. You get the picture? Me and my homeboys are getting along just fine with our lingo; and now here comes these big boys telling us we should speak in some new way, and that’s going to be official. The funny part of it is, they think they’re helping us. Just imagine the confusion it could create. I’ll let you in on something more. The ASL which they’ve been using, takes them beyond the understanding of a hearing man. This system is a worldwide accepted standard. A finger flexing Filipino sees another finger flexing Caucasian, or another finger flexing bearded Arab, or someone else from another part of the world, and they would be understanding each other, totally free from the bounds of spoken language. Then, here comes something to limit the Filipino with hearing impairment with the confines of 7,100 or more islands. Is this in keeping with the trend of populism espoused by Presidents Duterte and Trump? A turning of our backs from globalization? Whatever happened to ASEAN 2015? Isn’t international relations and even technology have been heading towards breaking linguistic and cultural borders, and not building walls around our own community so we could only talk among ourselves? Sometimes, or maybe many times, some people, (or is it many people?) just make moves to showcase their concern for a sector; despite the moves being unnecessary and sometimes counterproductive. Just think about this. Some officials would want to have sign language interpreters on the side of the stage on an Independence Day function when there were no persons with hearing impairment, who are the ones in need of it, among the audience. What does that make the interpreters? Spectacles for personal aggrandizement and satisfaction? Did they coincide this with August being “Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa”? That would be interesting. Yes, Sir Francis, language is for human completion, preparation and precision, and most probably many other manifestations; but break it down, man, and go back to the old school, to the roots, it’s for communication. That’s language in its rawest form. You could recite your rhetorics or pen your poetry to me and find yourself forgetting what language is for , in the first place. It’s for communication. Then amid the discourses and dissertations, why are we in so much confusion? Could it be that the very purpose of language towards communication has reversed itself and turned up to an acid reflux of confusion? Despite the lofty level of language on lengthy letters, speakers seem to be in convolution over procedures as inscribed in books of rules. Directors seem to be in disarray on descriptions of their duties; and heads hear none of the humanity’s hounding hurts. “The Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:9

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