Friday July 20, 2018

A call to save Hiligaynon

“Make it alive. Make Hiligaynon a ‘class’ language and the people will follow.”

THIS was the call of Dr. Carmencita Robles, dean of the College of Communication of West Visayas State University (WVSU) in Iloilo City, to media practitioners and mass communication students in Negros Occidental.

Robles was the speaker of the Hiligaynon Proficiency Seminar organized by the Negros Press Club (NPC) in partnership with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas-Negros Occidental and University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R) held at the President’s Hall inside the campus in Bacolod City Saturday.

In her talk dubbed “Save Hiligaynon: A Call for Practitioners in Media,” Robles underscored the role of media in revitalizing the Hiligaynon language.

She urged media practitioners especially broadcasters as well as students to help save the language from possible extinction.

“By not using Hiligaynon, we are killing the language itself,” Robles stressed.

A research conducted by Robles, which she presented during the seminar, showed that most radio broadcasters in Western Visayas, including Negros Occidental, use more foreign or borrowed words than the native language in their commercials and news reports.

For television, the ratio of foreign and native word usage is almost 50-50, it added.

“One of the things that we can do to save and preserve Hiligaynon is to never forget using the language properly," Robles said.

Many do not realize that “we are losing a lot in terms of cultural roots which comes with the vanishing native language,” she said, adding that “by preserving our language, we are also preserving our identity.”

The speaker highlighted the crucial role of media in starting the advocacy of reversion of the so called “language shift,” wherein indigenous or native Hiligaynon is dominated by foreign languages.

Robles said bilingualism contributes to gradual language shift, explaining that the media, for the meantime, may use the native Hiligaynon words together with the borrowed words just to make both languages exist for better understanding especially among millennial audience until they can eventually eradicate the latter.

By using both languages, the Hiligaynon words are being reintroduced, she said.

Also, Robles pointed out that "media is the linguistic trend-setter which means whatever we say, people will follow thinking that it is right.”

“The media are the ones who can influence other people to speak and love their native tongue," Robles said.

To slowly address the Hiligaynon extinction in the local media industry, Robles suggested that media practitioners must try revitalizing the language in their adlibs, radio commercials, and if possible by introducing indigenous word every day.

For the academe, Robles said schools and universities should create programs or policies that could encourage students to speak and learn more native language.

She also encouraged each media outlet to have a credible and authentic Hiligaynon dictionary that can help them in using the “real and right” word and eliminate the use of “wrong” translations or interpretations.

Concerns like transliteration of foreign words to make it accepted as Hiligaynon and use of other lingos like "jejemon" and other “colloquial” common among the youth were raised during the seminar.

Robles said these are new language distortions that the media must watch out for.

Romel Azucena, a Mass Communication student of UNO-R, said the seminar is an eye opener for them to appreciate the native language.

Disc jockeys from FM radio stations also said the seminar motivated them to frequently use Hiligaynon in their programs.

Aksyon Radyo Bacolod reporter Mae Ann Defensor shared that the seminar was a wake-up call for the present and future generations to continue speaking the dialect.

The seminar, aimed to foster better understanding and appreciation of Hiligaynon especially in broadcast journalism, was participated by about 50 broadcasters, 30 Mass Communication students, school publication staff of La Consolacion College-Bacolod, and Master in Communication students of WVSU.

NPC president Renato Duran expressed his gratitude to everyone who supported the activity.

He said along with the media's role to inform and educate is advocating the use of Hiligaynon. "It would be much appreciated if we (media) can be instruments in the preservation of the Hiligaynon language," Duran said.

KBP-Negros Occidental chairman Serafin Plotria and UNO-R director of external affairs Carlos Legaspi also emphasized the importance of appreciating and valuing the native tongue. (Julie Ann T. Gonzales, UNO-R MassComm intern)