Sunday, January 3, 2016

¿Inglés o Castellano? (1916)

     A common tongue is, between man and man, like a family bond that, unnoticedly, generates brotherly and sympathetic feelings. From brain to brain, form heart to hear, it is the best conveyor of a communicating current that makes mutual understanding and solid union of hearts and brains possible.
    Efforts have been made, until recently, towards one worthy ideal; for men to understand each other by means of a common, though artificial tongue.
    But, being artificial, it failed to materialize and go through the idealistic stage, which result was for the better, anyhow.
    Every race, every people ought to have maintain, and develop their own language, for there are feelings that cannot be expressed in a foreign tongue.
    But in this there should be no exclusivism, since that would confine us within such a narrow space of action that it would be impossible to expand.
    We could not live alone, for the countries of the world are so strongly built into an unbreakable inter-dependency as to render it impossible for any single one of them to avoid homogeneity.
    And this compels us to understand them. And to understand them, and for them to understand us, intelligently.
    And for this there is nothing more efficient that their own tongue, in default of our own, to offer to them, a fact of paramount importance for us; for our language, sweet as it is to us, to our misfortune, has not been developed enough even for its general use throughout the country, though not through our fault. So, we find it absolutely imperative to choose the most widely used and the one we are most familiar with. And to adopt it like men, determinedly, without purposeless discussions, for our international intercourse.
    Fortunately for us—and this is no mean fortune— in this we have gone through the experimental stage; and, instead of only one, we have tow languages which, as if by nature, are as our own: the English and the Spanish.
    English, very little known fifteen years ago, is the Government’s official language, and the exclusive agency of our public educational system, from the university down to the village public schools; and it is now used in the social intercourse of about two million young Filipinos form among whom the leaders of the nation’s morrow will emerge; and, though to a lesser degree, by our press.
    Spanish, implanted here almost four centuries ago, is, mainly, the language of our reviews and periodicals, and of the leaders of the present generation, and is till intensely cultivated by them.
   Thus it would be simply impossible at this time to suppress either the one or the other; for, besides the many, many millions of the people’s tax and private money, and energy s well, already spent for both of them, they are now too far advance upon the inclined plain of naturalization in the Islands.
    Through them we are enable to get in contact with two immense worlds: the English world and the Spanish world; the first composed of two most powerful nations representing over a hundred and fifty million, exclusive of India; and the second, by twenty-three countries, of about one hundred and fifteen million inhabitants in all.
    And each has its richly, highly-developed literature which should be, as it is, ours, by means of which it may be possible to make one single aggregation out of all these many cultured countries for a practical, useful, positive Pan-American-Anglo-Hispanism through a joint, devoted, sympathetic movement of the powers of interest.
    England and the United States are related through tongue and by tie of blood; America, Central and South America, sister-countries physically and through oneness of interest; Central and South America, Spain, Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines, united because of the early formation, into one single mold, of their Latin spirit and character; America and the Philippines, by the English language, the education of our youth, and other strong ties of friendship. With such powerful bonds of relationship, why should it not be possible to work out, as we said above, a union of hearts and brains for a mutually beneficial Pan-American-Anglo-Hispanism which, as an initial step, in the end may result in good to mankind?
    In so far as it may be possible, we ought to feel happy to work out this idea, which, visionary as it may seem, is feasible, particularly after the readjustment of each nation’s or group of nations’ sphere of activities after the great war, which is conclusively demonstrating the helping value, under certain circumstances, of even the least important power, and that the support of a small country is just as earnestly solicited as a great one’s.
    High is the price of the vindication of right!
    Such is the only consolation amid so much bloodshed and destruction!
    It may be possible, too, that such Pan-American-Anglo-Hispanism may cause the re-division of the world into two or three large, logical groups, perhaps more or less antagonistic. But, antagonistic or not, we are most hopeful that, at least in said groups, this “ism” will, in time, do away with dividing racial lines, under the powerful and pleasant influence of democratic brotherhood in the countries concerned, all under the protective and equalizing mantle of a community of interest and a common cause.
    Small powers will have then been duly acknowledged and dignified.
    May that not be but the first grand step towards that beautiful, not-impossible, human federation at a not-so-very-distant date?
    One century, two centuries? What are they, after all, but one or two days in the life of nations?
    Thus, to the question:
                                                      ENGLISH OR SPANISH?

in hope and conviction we answer:

    And this we respectfully submit to all who, for the promotion of mankind’s welfare, may feel directly or indirectly concerned, and heartily inclined to discuss and actively to labor for.

Gregorio Nieva
The Philippine Review
January 1916

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