August 4, 2013

The Non-Sexist Filipino

I don't remember how I came across Google's Endangered Language Project, but I remember planning to research on Alibata (pre-Hispanic way of writing in the Philippines) to contribute in the project. Unfortunately, I wasn't really that interested in Alibata so I never got started.

I still haven't prioritized learning Alibata just yet, but since it's Linggo ng Wika (National Language Week of the Philippines), I'd like to share my favorite aspect of the Filipino language:

I'm not sure for other countries, but at least in the states they have the gender specific "he" and "she" to refer to a singular person. In the Philippines, we only have a gender neutral pronoun "siya". We don't have any Filipino pronouns that specify if the person is male or female. And I prefer it that way, because my gender has very little, if not nothing, to do with my decisions and actions.

I'd like to think that ancient Filipinos didn't care enough to distinguish males from females in their language because they cared more for people's functions and abilities rather than their vaginas or penises (unless of course they want to reproduce.) I cannot prove this theory as of the moment though.

By the way, in the Philippines, we celebrate our national language (Filipino) every first week of August; we call this Linggo ng Wika which can be literally translated as "week of language". In schools, we used to celebrate it by having competition and presentation of sorts - ranging from monologues to speech choirs.

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