Some more facts about Spanish in the Philippines
Late last year I wrote a post here about the proposal of reintroducing the teaching of Spanish in the school system of the Philippines.
My post has generated many responses. It has been in fact the most popular of my post since I started this blog. Since the time I wrote it I’ve found out some other facts relating to the history and nature of the Spanish language presence in the Philippines.
- During the colonial period (over three centuries) Spanish was the language used for administrative purposes, however, there was never a massive immigration of Spanish colonists as the Philippines didn’t have the economic potential of Mexico or Peru.
- The preaching of the gospels and the overall propagation of Christianity was mostly carried out via the native languages.
- Spain as colonial master only made the teaching of Spanish compulsory quite late in the 18th century.
Based on Ostler (2005:377 – 379)
Point 1 translates into a situation where a language doesn’t need to be used or maintained and consequently naturally reproduced by new generations of native speakers. The lack of enough native Spanish colonists didn’t provide the necessary environment for Spanish to have an initial firm hold at a greater scale during the period of the Spanish domination of this country. Ostler (2005) also lists the case of Dutch, as a colonial language with similarities to the fate of Spanish in the Philippines’ context. (p 395-403)
Apart from the primary role of the family for the maintenance of a language and the role played by a same language group setting to achieve this same goal, a language is propagated by organised school systems. Spain’s late response to the need to teach the general population Spanish together with the effects caused by the other two factors listed above may be assigned as the main reasons for Spanish not to have taken firm roots in the Philippines.
Ostler, Nicholas. Empires of the Word (Harper Perennial, 2005)
Posted on August 23, 2008, in Culture, Education, Foreign Language Learning, Language, Language learning, Second Language Learning, Spanish, Spanish Language Learning. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.