My interest in the standard usage of English has become somewhat espousal since I entered the academe and the stenographer’s world in 2009. The interest and the espousal spiked up when I started working outside my home country in 2012. It was there that I noticed the nuances, subtleties, unique lunacy (‘English Is Crazy’ Poem Proves The English Language Makes No Sense Whatsoever and “Linguistic Humor, The English Lesson”), and the seductive power of the English language even more.
I never got more hooked into digging the language until I interacted with the Definitely Filipino blog’s subscribers and commenters and the blog’s fans (2.9 million and counting) on their Facebook page. I got such an overwhelming reception from them when my first three articles got published. Gleaning from their reactions on the articles, I realized one thing. We, Filipinos, are indeed sensitive to articles that compromise the validity of our very own Philippine English. The views, likes, shares, and comments found on the blog and their Facebook page though proved that we take them as mere constructive criticisms at the end of the day. Moreover, their questions and corrections are without a doubt informative not only to the attentive public but to me. To prove my point, there were actually new grammar rules (e.g., like does not introduce examples and when using “such as” to introduce examples—always precede the last item with “and” or “or”; never end the list with “etc.’ or “and so forth”) that I learned from them. Click here if you want to read the whole discussion thread.
See, all the articles in this, I may say, series were inspired by the readers’ suggestions and thought-provoking questions and the common grammar pet peeves I hear and see around of course. So I would like to give time to answer two stirring questions from Ms. Joy in the comment section of the article “’Masteral’ and Some Very Common Filipino Concoctions.”
1. In a different perspective, how can we translate our English competency into the economic status of our country?
2. Is it the English proficiency of the Japanese people that sets them where they are economically?
Let me start by saying our competency in Business English has persuaded BPO companies to move their base from India to the Philippines. In an article titled “The Philippines has become the call-center capital of the world” published on the Los Angeles Times’ website last 01 February 2015, experts estimate that the country’s BPO industry will generate an astounding $25 billion in revenue, accounting for about 10% of the Philippines’ economy and as much as the total amount expected to be sent home by 11 million Filipinos working overseas. The industry has helped boost our country’s economy into one of the region’s fastest-growing. The outsourcing boom has, beyond question, spawned the bustling business districts in the metropolis with skyscrapers and 24-hour buffets and condos that sell for $500,000. I am no economist but I could see those figures mentioned sending massive thanks to our English competency.
As to the second question, I do not believe that English proficiency can set any country economically as English is definitely not the only essential key to economic prosperity. Most of the first world countries such as China and Russia are not English-speaking but their peoples have strong commitment to their national integrity systems (e.g., anti-corruption), advanced technology, well-managed resources, among other things that propel their respective economic statuses. It does not guarantee progress for a country but it would be useful—and helpful like in the current state of our country’s economy as explained earlier.
It should be noted that the main reason why I (and the rest of the English language’s concerned citizens) write articles like this is to just let the attentive and inattentive public know the differences between Standard English, Non-Standard English, and Philippine English.
It is true that there is a place and time for everything. However, when it comes to professionalism, there should be no substitute for proper grammar there.
Just like what I said in the article titled “Filipino Concoctions, Philippine English, and Standard American English“, most of the grammar pet peeves I have presented in this humble series are accepted in Philippine English regardless of their grammatical quirks. In the end though, they will remain as mere parts of this English variant in the region. When it comes to the three major English proficiency exams (Test of English as a Foreign Language [TOEFL], International English Language Testing System [IELTS], and the hot of the press Pearson Test of English, Academic [PTEA]), Standard English sets the record straight not the English variants nor the Non-Standard English. Therefore, the grammatical pet peeves on the list remain incorrect and should be really avoided, especially by those who aspire to join the global workforce.
Always remember, knowledge of the English language (i.e., good grammar) is necessary no matter what your career is. A number of studies have been conducted to validate probable career advancement for those who have superior knowledge of the English language. These studies have also demonstrated that a strong command of the English language will lead to higher paying jobs, more social mobility, and a great deal of social success. I am not saying though that it is an absolute prerequisite for a successful career. I know that there are people who are very good in grammar but when it comes to dexterity in practical works, they are incompetent.
I would like to reiterate that for us Filipinos, it takes a certain amount of determination to be exceptionally good in English because it is just our second language. It is a given that not all Filipinos can speak and write English correctly. Learning English as a subject in school is definitely not enough. We need to accept related corrections and treat English as a working language and a means of communication on a global scale (i.e., in accordance with Standard English). We should also consider better ways to learn it because, whether we like it or not, English is now the new kind of technocracy to be learned; one reason it has become an international standard.
I am fervently hoping that all the readers who followed the articles published on this blog site get to read this one, for them to understand better where I am coming from.
Accent’ matters: Philippines acquiring 70% of India call centers at philstar.com
Global Business Speaks English at hbr.org
Does Grammar Matter in the Workplace? at dictionary.com