Salomone Publishes Commentary in University World News

Professor Rosemary Salomone‘s commentary, “Court Decision on Language Provokes Cries of Neo-Colonialism,” was published in the June 8th issue of University World News.

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Rosemary Salomone

The commentary examines the recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the Philippines denying “with finality” a rehearing on the Court’s prior decision upholding the Commission on Higher Education’s Memorandum Order removing Filipino language and literature from the university core curriculum. The plan’s intent was to open the way for higher level language competencies, preparing students for the global knowledge economy presumably in English. The petitioners, including professors from more than 40 colleges and universities, students, writers, artists, lawmakers, and cultural activists, plan to again request a rehearing despite the Court’s definitive language.

Both the Order and the Court’s ruling have sparked heated debate, plumbing the depths of nationalism, globalization, the legacy of colonialism, and the country’s conflicted relationship with English which the American occupiers used as a tool of cultural conditioning. Using Facebook and other social media, some charge the Commission and the Court with “kill[ing] the nation’s soul” and the people’s “capacity to think freely” while others point to Filipino as the main cause of “economic stagnation” and English as the language of “business and technology.” The debate is significant, and the Order somewhat baffling, given the country’s turn toward extreme nationalism, confused with patriotism.

In the end, Professor Salomone concludes that, regardless of the constitutional merits of the petitioners’ claims, their concerns are not unreasonable, nor are they inconsequential. Eliminating Filipino language and literature from the core curriculum weakens the intellectual worth of the language and its unifying role as a symbol of national identity. Without denying the role that English has played in driving the Philippine economy and its business processing industry, the Commission’s Order demands reconsideration at least as a matter of policy.

The commentary draws from a book project on global English, identity, and linguistic justice that Professor Salomone is completing for Oxford University Press.

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