Pangasinan language not dying, but deteriorating

IS the Pangasinan language on its way to extinction?

The question was addressed during the Salitan Pangasinan: Natatalusan mo ni Kasi?, a talk organized by the UP Subol Society Baguio Chapter in the University of the Philippines Baguio on April 2, 2018.

UPSS President Janlie Bruno, who highlighted the importance of the Pangasinan language said, “Paunti nang paunti ang mga natural na nagsasalita ng wikang Pangasinan. Bilang mulat na kabataan ng Pangasinan, nais naming i-preserba ang kultura ng minamahal naming probinsya at kasama na ang wika nito.”

Dr. Linda Rivera Andaya, founder and president of the Ulupan na Pansiyansyay Salitan Pangasinan (UPSP) and an author of various Pangasinan books, discussed the development of Pangasinan language, the common notions on the language, and its deterioration.

“If somebody calls you Pangalatok, say I am Pangasinan,” Andaya said referring to the common mistakes of non-Pangasinan speakers to the Pangasinan language. Dr. Andaya explained that Pangalatok is a derogatory and insulting word which is often used to refer to Pangasinan speakers.

Andaya said among factors behind a lower percentage of Pangasinan speakers in the province is the “Speak in English Rule” which prohibits students to speak in their native language.  Technology such as mobile applications and cartoons are also factors why the youth prefer English.

She added the influx of Ilocano and other languages in the province contributed to the lower percentage of native Pangasinan speakers.

“Pangasinan language is not dying, it is deteriorating. I will not accept that it is a dying language because we are trying our best to uplift the language,” said Andaya.  “”Pangasinan will be one of the eight major languages in the Philippines,” she added.

Jerico Juan Esteron presented his study titled, “Anto Ey? Is Pangasinan Endangered? Language Perceptions and Attitudes of Pangasinan Native Speakers” discusses how Pangasinan native speakers view their language and its death.

“We all like Filipino and English not because we do not associate ourselves with our first language anymore but because we recognize the practicality of Filipino and English,” said Esteron as he mentioned that English is predominantly used in linguistic landscapes like churches.

Esteron’s study also revealed younger generation prefers English as a language of communication as he pointed out that most Pangasinan speakers associate Pangasinan language with poverty while English is deemed to be more “nakaka-syosyal”.

He pointed out that some Pangasinenses lack courage to speak the language and know more about their roots.

On a positive note, Esteron said Pangasinan native speakers believe in the importance of the language and that the Pangasinan language is worth learning.

“Preserving the language is preserving the culture and identity of its speakers. The death of language is the death of our culture,” Esteron noted. (Contributed by Paula Jhea Sison)

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