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A Day for Linguistics

Dr. Shirley N. Dita, a Linguistics professor of the De La Salle University, delivered a
whole-day seminar on Morphology and Syntax of Philippine Languages and Philippine
English at GR242 Main campus for the morning session and Gansewinkel Hall for the
afternoon session on September 25, 2010.

Students of the Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics program of the Department of
Languages and Literature presented their papers during the morning session, where Dr.
Dita shared her expertise on linguistic research through her comprehensive comments
on and critique of their studies.

Dr. Dita’s lecture during the afternoon session…

The afternoon session encompassed Dr. Dita’s lecture on the morphology and syntax of
Philippine languages and Philippine English. The faculty and students of DOLL were
acquainted with terms, concepts and features of Philippine languages and Philippine
English that apparently they have never encountered before.

The open forum that followed was a heated discussion on the “transitivity-intransitivity”
of Cebuano-Bisaya and the acceptability of Philippine English in the academe.

The seminar ended with Dr. Dita expressing her enthusiasm for further talks and the
DOLL faculty and students with research prospects and new linguistic awareness at
their disposal.

                                On Journalism Ethics

What if someone refuses a media interview? What are the grounds for libel? How is
news verified? Where can we get news?

A seminar on Journalism Ethics organized and participated by the Journalism classes of
Mrs.Sun Leigh Gador and Ms. Frances Serenio was held last July 31, 2010 at the
Rigney Hall, USC Talamban Campus.

Ms. Cherry Ann T. Lim, Managing Editor of Sun Star Publications, shared her
knowledge and personal experiences as a journalist on gathering news, accessing
sources, and dealing with sensitive news items.

The talk was short but very informative, a good way to introduce the basics of
journalism to aspiring journalists.

In the field where credibility and commitment matter, the message is simple – know very
well what you can do and what you cannot do.
English Majors Attend Public Speaking Forum

On August 14, the English majors united once again in attending the annual public
speaking forum organized by the English Majors Association.

The event was conducted at the Rigney Hall of the USC - Talamban Campus. The
guest speakers were former English majors, Joanna Marie Cuenco and Francis Adrian
Ding. The speakers not only talked about effective communication in the corporate
world, but also shared their personal experiences as public speakers.

With their success, English majors are indeed among the cream of the crop.
                                        EMAFIA

Spruced up in black and white garments, to fedoras, pearls and feathers- this was
definitely the perfect way to kick off a good start to the first semester for the English
Majors!

This year’s Acquaintance Party was held at the Golden Peak Hotel on the evening of
July 10, 2010. The party was entitled “EMAfia” mainly because it was a Black ’n White
themed party with a twist of “Mafia” from all over the world. Some dressed up as part of
the Japanese Mafia, the Chinese, the Americans; almost close to the Sopranos, and so
much more!

Being an annual gathering for the students and faculty of the Department of Languages
and Literature, the program was filled to the brim with a good deal of dance numbers,
song intermissions and a mini-pageant. It has been tradition for four beautiful ladies to
represent their specific year levels during the pageant that takes place at the
acquaintance party. This year’s pageant though, remarkably, decided to slip in four
princely men as well. And so, Mister and Miss EMA 2010 took place. From evening
wear, to casual wear and a stunning performance, it was definitely a bit of a baffling
decision for the judges. They came to a head with Miss Nanami Mimura, a First Year
student as Miss EMA 2010 and Martin Flores, a student in his Senior Year, by her side
as Mister EMA 2010!

 The black and white’s austerity, portraying each English Major’s simplicity and high
spirited personality, lived on for the rest of the night as we all danced, laughed and drew
memories in each others’ hearts.


                                  Jane Eyre: A Review
A staging of Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE was staged on September 18-19, on
CAP theater, Jones. It was a production of the Department of Languages and Literature
of the University of San Carlos, Talamban Campus as the final requirement for Play
Production class.

       Presided by Mr. Eugene Ramirez, like both plays that preceded it in a 2 year time
span (Sunset Boulevard, My Fair Lady), it is a non-profit endeavor whose beneficiaries
are the Queen of Heaven Missionaries.

       Once again, the play features an ensemble cast comprised of majors from AB
Linguistics and Literature and BS Communication Arts. The production was masterfully
executed, albeit major scenes from the novel were omitted. While “Sunset Boulevard”
featured lighter, more somber minimalistic lighting akin to the film noir it was based
upon, and “My Fair Lady” featured bright, orange overtones, this year’s Jane Eyre
featured neutral hues of white as a palette for Thornfield Hall.

      The Speech 108 class, and everyone involved in realizing this production is to be
commended of the noble effort done in the name of charity, compassion and social
responsibility.



                         Those Mythical College Horrors—
                                Fresh Year So Far
You know how kids never get tired of spaghetti and fried chicken. Well, I was like that
with my Pocahontas “Into The Forest” book.

My mom would read it to me night after night, and I would listen to her voice and stare
at the pictures with big bright eyes exactly the way I did the very first time I heard the
story. Without ever learning to read first and without understanding half the words of the
childish poetry (except through my crude understanding of the illustrations), I
memorized the book from cover to cover and loved every inch of it.

It was the beginning of a lifelong (in this case, 17 going on 18 years) relationship with
books. My mom, never an avid reader in her youth, didn’t get me the stereotypical
“Anne of Green Gables” or “Little Women” kind. As I slowly outgrew my favorite
Pocahontas book, I consequently lost interest in reading—for a while—mostly because
of the lack of new material.

Like all children, I grew up. My mom wanted me to become a nurse because she said it
was her own unfulfilled dream. Like all good loving children, I grew up thinking that that
was what I was going to be. A nurse.
Biology class then became a wake up call. First of all, I was afraid of blood—even my
own blood, for crying out loud! I didn’t have the patience to memorize (or “familiarize” as
the teachers would put it) the scientific names of a gazillion plants and animals. By the
end of sophomore year, I had to accept the fact that Biology wasn’t for me. Taking up
nursing, at that point, would have made me suicidal.

When I was in third year, I was not much different in Chemistry, but I rediscovered my
long lost passion for books. In school, we were required to read novels by renowned
authors such as Pearl S. Buck and Harper Lee. Not to mention a literary genius by the
name of William Shakespeare. Most of my classmates would literally shrink when the
English teacher would announce a chapter test, but I would inwardly rejoice. It was the
best excuse to curl up in bed at 8 or 9 in the evening and read something worth my
while until falling asleep.

I was never the best, but I was pretty good in English. I enjoyed literary analysis better
than spying on lactobacilli from a strawberry yogurt under a microscope. I loved writing
essays and reflection papers because it gave me the chance and freedom to express
who I really was—a shy person who could only come out of her shell with a piece of
paper.

Still remotely foreign to the idea of college, I feel like Peter Pan. I don’t want to grow up.
Four years ago, I would never have had the courage to strike up random conversations
with complete strangers. I was forever dreading rejection—wrapped up in a bubble full
of what-if-they-think-I’m-weird issues. But now, I feel like a whole different person.
Besides, I found out that people aren’t usually mean and snooty.

Someone once told me that you can tell a good book by the way it starts out in the first
few chapters. College seems to be playing in that direction. Contrary to all those
mythical college horrors my friends and I were inventing in high school, I think the next
four years will turn out to be a good story after all. Not nearly as close to my Pocahontas
book, but still pretty good.
Social Zoning

        Each society has its own social zoning method, from educational institutions to
actual workplaces where professionalism does not go so far as to overcoming
stereotypes, and it’s more or less usually the same regardless of location. But nothing is
more cruel than subjecting or allowing oneself to fall into only one category, thereby
limiting one’s own potential.

        Our peers play a vital role in determining what type of stereotype we fall into. For
example, if I choose to associate with the intellectuals, more commonly – and meanly –
termed as geeks or nerds, then those people who do not fall in the same category
would most likely typecast me as a nerd as well, thereby overestimating my mental
capabilities. And as is typical human behavior, I would most likely strive to be one (an
intellectual) in order to keep up and fit in with my peers, for nothing is worse, especially
to most teenagers, than not fitting in. Although it is positive in the sense that I am
exploring and expanding my potential, I could also be limiting myself so that I am no
longer able to enjoy life because I am too busy trying to become what people expect me
to be.

      A negative example would be being mean and ‘bitchy,’ with the only reason
backing up my behavior being that I hang out with the ‘mean girls.’

        One must keep in mind that stereotypes did not rise out of anything. There are
many issues that back up certain prejudices, an example being the rough behavior of
African Americans. They had to overcome so much, and the fight, which was once for
their freedom from slavery, continues to this day at the fight for equality in terms of job
and education opportunities.

       We should learn to rise above prejudices in order to give ourselves boundless
opportunities. As stated by Edward Grey, “an understanding is perhaps better than an
alliance, which may stereotype arrangements which cannot be regarded as permanent
in view of the changing circumstances from day to day.”




                Sex, Scandals, and Sweethearts (In the New Decade)

       In this age of “right now” and easy access to almost everything, the idea of
impossibility is quickly waning and fading into the background. It also means that there
are a lot of things that we cannot easily escape. Take for example, sex, a topic that
concerns most people our age, if not all. If you really look at it, you’ll find that sex is
indeed everywhere. It’s on the Internet, in the television, in magazines, in novels, and in
billboard commercials. You think about it for a second and you realize that you are also
overwhelmed with the massive exposure of sex to our generation. You ask yourself,
how can you escape the mounting pressure to do it when the idea of sex is hard to
avoid?

        Every now and then, you may meet someone who has already had intercourse or
has more experience in that field than most people you know. It makes you wonder
what made them decide to do it. Was it the mounting pressure to have sex brought
about by the ideals of modern society? Was it just for fun? Peer pressure? Or was it
because they were in love? We must never forget that one is never in the position to
judge others for the decisions they make or the things they do. But I have come to find
out that most of them do regret going through with it at a young age. Most of them say
that it would be better to wait and know and trust the person you are with. Though the
idea of having sex with someone you really love is cliché and a bit overrated, you’ll find
that this way of thinking shows that the Filipino youth are still old-fashioned and
conservative at heart.

       With that said, we then come to the topic of finding love in the modernized world:
where friendships are formed from superficial means and relationships grow through the
internet or text messaging. How then can one verify that what one has could be true
love? In our generation, it is very hard to say. It is not rare these days to find that most
couples form their relationships with the help of modernized society. Everything is easy,
fast, and not time-consuming. You live in a world where the idea of finding real love is
next to almost impossible, yet you never seem to lose hope because every once in a
while you’ll find that the kind of love that everyone looks for still exists even in the age of
the Internet. Though most relationships blossom in unconventional ways, one can never
deny real feelings. So with this, we learn to change and adapt with the ways of
modernity. In this age of “right now” and easy access to almost everything, who says
finding love is impossible?

                             On Being Just a Ling/Lit Major

More than once have I been given a snicker or a sign of disdain every time the mention
of college degrees take place.


"I'm studying PT at *&%$ college. You?"
"Oh, I'm a Linguistics student at the USC."
"Great! So, how many languages do you know now?"
----or worse yet----
"Ah! So you're gonna be a tour guide?"
First of all, to make things clear, when a college curriculum offers a Linguistics course,
make it a point to understand what Linguistics is. It is not just learning how to speak
French, or Greek, or Yup'ik. Those are electives, and there are actually separate
degrees for those. Neither is learning languages going to end you up as a tourist guide.
Even polyglots can get lost, too, unless they ask for directions. And sure, one may as
well end up as a translator or interpreter, and yes, an English teacher, but Linguistics is
more than that. Infinitely more!

Linguistics, then, is a study of language as a whole. Although there are more specific
fields, like Semiotics or Comparative Linguistics, it just so happened that the degree we
have enrolled in the school is focused more on English, as it is (for the moment) the
dominant language in society. It is, in a nutshell, the study of how thought is
transformed into signs, and how these signs perform in the world. Does that not sound
more convincing than giving those who ask that sheepish line “Yes, I’m just an English
major.” If not for the sake of propriety, I would right then and there, if I happen to have
stumbled upon such conversation, laugh at their ignorance, and more so to the
Linguistics degree holder at his pompous audacity to enroll in a degree he knows
nothing about.
Similarly, in the sea of nominalities and marginalization, we are lost to the noble cause
of Literature. In our society, being a Literature student is deemed a worthless recreation,
much like being a culinary student is to the Chinese. Does it not seem severely
misinformed to reject an artistic pursuit because, being in a Third World country, money-
making is deemed the ultimate and superior agenda? Has the world really gone mad?
What more satisfaction can be derived from Milton’s works, from the cloyingly
saccharine sonnets of Shakespeare, from Achebe’s novels, from the written memories
of masters past, which, in the end, make the world as meaningful as it is now, not just a
pithole of clinking cash registers and steam presses?
The travails of the Clerk in Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” are called to mind. He
drove himself to bankruptcy from investing too much in his books, and the author (and
similarly the general readers) scoffs at his “foolishness.” Is it, really? Would it be foolish
to pursue something you are passionate about? Albeit a miscalculation on the part of
the Clerk, his intentions were noble, especially when one considers the number of
students enrolling in degrees they are not fond of, but do so anyway for the reason of
landing a job after graduation. But a lotus asked to grow on mud will ultimately wither.

Consider this uninspired conversation:
“So you study medicine at the Lyceum?”
“That is correct. I am a senior in my pre-med.”
“And so you know all about medicines, I presume.”
“Well, no. I don’t know about medicine. I know about the human anatomy and its
diseases.”
“Then why are you a medicine student, if you do not know about medicine?”
“Those who study medicine and drugs are the Pharmacologists. I study human
diseases and how to cure them”
“Then you are not a medicine student?”


And the conversation only gets more dismal in the succeeding lines. Similarly it is like
that to equate Linguistics to foreign languages, and Literature as something basic and
unprofessional. Why would anybody rank the Arts as less in reputability as the Sciences
or the Engineering courses? Did Chomsky not achieve something as great, or even
greater, than Einstein? Would our lives really be better if we all thought in binary codes,
and not in letters?

I came across this quote once: “There are two types of people in the world, those who
dream of great things and those who wake up to make those dreams a reality.” To toil
after someone else’s dream imposed on you is no better than to be asked to slowly
choke yourself to death. But to chase after your passion, your true passion? There can
be no greater satisfaction. One day you hope to look back on your journey and speak
about your accomplishments, speak fondly of what you have achieved, not what you
hoped to have had.

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  • 1. A Day for Linguistics Dr. Shirley N. Dita, a Linguistics professor of the De La Salle University, delivered a whole-day seminar on Morphology and Syntax of Philippine Languages and Philippine English at GR242 Main campus for the morning session and Gansewinkel Hall for the afternoon session on September 25, 2010. Students of the Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics program of the Department of Languages and Literature presented their papers during the morning session, where Dr. Dita shared her expertise on linguistic research through her comprehensive comments on and critique of their studies. Dr. Dita’s lecture during the afternoon session… The afternoon session encompassed Dr. Dita’s lecture on the morphology and syntax of Philippine languages and Philippine English. The faculty and students of DOLL were acquainted with terms, concepts and features of Philippine languages and Philippine English that apparently they have never encountered before. The open forum that followed was a heated discussion on the “transitivity-intransitivity” of Cebuano-Bisaya and the acceptability of Philippine English in the academe. The seminar ended with Dr. Dita expressing her enthusiasm for further talks and the DOLL faculty and students with research prospects and new linguistic awareness at their disposal. On Journalism Ethics What if someone refuses a media interview? What are the grounds for libel? How is news verified? Where can we get news? A seminar on Journalism Ethics organized and participated by the Journalism classes of Mrs.Sun Leigh Gador and Ms. Frances Serenio was held last July 31, 2010 at the Rigney Hall, USC Talamban Campus. Ms. Cherry Ann T. Lim, Managing Editor of Sun Star Publications, shared her knowledge and personal experiences as a journalist on gathering news, accessing sources, and dealing with sensitive news items. The talk was short but very informative, a good way to introduce the basics of journalism to aspiring journalists. In the field where credibility and commitment matter, the message is simple – know very well what you can do and what you cannot do.
  • 2. English Majors Attend Public Speaking Forum On August 14, the English majors united once again in attending the annual public speaking forum organized by the English Majors Association. The event was conducted at the Rigney Hall of the USC - Talamban Campus. The guest speakers were former English majors, Joanna Marie Cuenco and Francis Adrian Ding. The speakers not only talked about effective communication in the corporate world, but also shared their personal experiences as public speakers. With their success, English majors are indeed among the cream of the crop. EMAFIA Spruced up in black and white garments, to fedoras, pearls and feathers- this was definitely the perfect way to kick off a good start to the first semester for the English Majors! This year’s Acquaintance Party was held at the Golden Peak Hotel on the evening of July 10, 2010. The party was entitled “EMAfia” mainly because it was a Black ’n White themed party with a twist of “Mafia” from all over the world. Some dressed up as part of the Japanese Mafia, the Chinese, the Americans; almost close to the Sopranos, and so much more! Being an annual gathering for the students and faculty of the Department of Languages and Literature, the program was filled to the brim with a good deal of dance numbers, song intermissions and a mini-pageant. It has been tradition for four beautiful ladies to represent their specific year levels during the pageant that takes place at the acquaintance party. This year’s pageant though, remarkably, decided to slip in four princely men as well. And so, Mister and Miss EMA 2010 took place. From evening wear, to casual wear and a stunning performance, it was definitely a bit of a baffling decision for the judges. They came to a head with Miss Nanami Mimura, a First Year student as Miss EMA 2010 and Martin Flores, a student in his Senior Year, by her side as Mister EMA 2010! The black and white’s austerity, portraying each English Major’s simplicity and high spirited personality, lived on for the rest of the night as we all danced, laughed and drew memories in each others’ hearts. Jane Eyre: A Review
  • 3. A staging of Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE was staged on September 18-19, on CAP theater, Jones. It was a production of the Department of Languages and Literature of the University of San Carlos, Talamban Campus as the final requirement for Play Production class. Presided by Mr. Eugene Ramirez, like both plays that preceded it in a 2 year time span (Sunset Boulevard, My Fair Lady), it is a non-profit endeavor whose beneficiaries are the Queen of Heaven Missionaries. Once again, the play features an ensemble cast comprised of majors from AB Linguistics and Literature and BS Communication Arts. The production was masterfully executed, albeit major scenes from the novel were omitted. While “Sunset Boulevard” featured lighter, more somber minimalistic lighting akin to the film noir it was based upon, and “My Fair Lady” featured bright, orange overtones, this year’s Jane Eyre featured neutral hues of white as a palette for Thornfield Hall. The Speech 108 class, and everyone involved in realizing this production is to be commended of the noble effort done in the name of charity, compassion and social responsibility. Those Mythical College Horrors— Fresh Year So Far You know how kids never get tired of spaghetti and fried chicken. Well, I was like that with my Pocahontas “Into The Forest” book. My mom would read it to me night after night, and I would listen to her voice and stare at the pictures with big bright eyes exactly the way I did the very first time I heard the story. Without ever learning to read first and without understanding half the words of the childish poetry (except through my crude understanding of the illustrations), I memorized the book from cover to cover and loved every inch of it. It was the beginning of a lifelong (in this case, 17 going on 18 years) relationship with books. My mom, never an avid reader in her youth, didn’t get me the stereotypical “Anne of Green Gables” or “Little Women” kind. As I slowly outgrew my favorite Pocahontas book, I consequently lost interest in reading—for a while—mostly because of the lack of new material. Like all children, I grew up. My mom wanted me to become a nurse because she said it was her own unfulfilled dream. Like all good loving children, I grew up thinking that that was what I was going to be. A nurse.
  • 4. Biology class then became a wake up call. First of all, I was afraid of blood—even my own blood, for crying out loud! I didn’t have the patience to memorize (or “familiarize” as the teachers would put it) the scientific names of a gazillion plants and animals. By the end of sophomore year, I had to accept the fact that Biology wasn’t for me. Taking up nursing, at that point, would have made me suicidal. When I was in third year, I was not much different in Chemistry, but I rediscovered my long lost passion for books. In school, we were required to read novels by renowned authors such as Pearl S. Buck and Harper Lee. Not to mention a literary genius by the name of William Shakespeare. Most of my classmates would literally shrink when the English teacher would announce a chapter test, but I would inwardly rejoice. It was the best excuse to curl up in bed at 8 or 9 in the evening and read something worth my while until falling asleep. I was never the best, but I was pretty good in English. I enjoyed literary analysis better than spying on lactobacilli from a strawberry yogurt under a microscope. I loved writing essays and reflection papers because it gave me the chance and freedom to express who I really was—a shy person who could only come out of her shell with a piece of paper. Still remotely foreign to the idea of college, I feel like Peter Pan. I don’t want to grow up. Four years ago, I would never have had the courage to strike up random conversations with complete strangers. I was forever dreading rejection—wrapped up in a bubble full of what-if-they-think-I’m-weird issues. But now, I feel like a whole different person. Besides, I found out that people aren’t usually mean and snooty. Someone once told me that you can tell a good book by the way it starts out in the first few chapters. College seems to be playing in that direction. Contrary to all those mythical college horrors my friends and I were inventing in high school, I think the next four years will turn out to be a good story after all. Not nearly as close to my Pocahontas book, but still pretty good.
  • 5. Social Zoning Each society has its own social zoning method, from educational institutions to actual workplaces where professionalism does not go so far as to overcoming stereotypes, and it’s more or less usually the same regardless of location. But nothing is more cruel than subjecting or allowing oneself to fall into only one category, thereby limiting one’s own potential. Our peers play a vital role in determining what type of stereotype we fall into. For example, if I choose to associate with the intellectuals, more commonly – and meanly – termed as geeks or nerds, then those people who do not fall in the same category would most likely typecast me as a nerd as well, thereby overestimating my mental capabilities. And as is typical human behavior, I would most likely strive to be one (an intellectual) in order to keep up and fit in with my peers, for nothing is worse, especially to most teenagers, than not fitting in. Although it is positive in the sense that I am exploring and expanding my potential, I could also be limiting myself so that I am no longer able to enjoy life because I am too busy trying to become what people expect me to be. A negative example would be being mean and ‘bitchy,’ with the only reason backing up my behavior being that I hang out with the ‘mean girls.’ One must keep in mind that stereotypes did not rise out of anything. There are many issues that back up certain prejudices, an example being the rough behavior of African Americans. They had to overcome so much, and the fight, which was once for their freedom from slavery, continues to this day at the fight for equality in terms of job and education opportunities. We should learn to rise above prejudices in order to give ourselves boundless opportunities. As stated by Edward Grey, “an understanding is perhaps better than an alliance, which may stereotype arrangements which cannot be regarded as permanent in view of the changing circumstances from day to day.” Sex, Scandals, and Sweethearts (In the New Decade) In this age of “right now” and easy access to almost everything, the idea of impossibility is quickly waning and fading into the background. It also means that there are a lot of things that we cannot easily escape. Take for example, sex, a topic that concerns most people our age, if not all. If you really look at it, you’ll find that sex is indeed everywhere. It’s on the Internet, in the television, in magazines, in novels, and in
  • 6. billboard commercials. You think about it for a second and you realize that you are also overwhelmed with the massive exposure of sex to our generation. You ask yourself, how can you escape the mounting pressure to do it when the idea of sex is hard to avoid? Every now and then, you may meet someone who has already had intercourse or has more experience in that field than most people you know. It makes you wonder what made them decide to do it. Was it the mounting pressure to have sex brought about by the ideals of modern society? Was it just for fun? Peer pressure? Or was it because they were in love? We must never forget that one is never in the position to judge others for the decisions they make or the things they do. But I have come to find out that most of them do regret going through with it at a young age. Most of them say that it would be better to wait and know and trust the person you are with. Though the idea of having sex with someone you really love is cliché and a bit overrated, you’ll find that this way of thinking shows that the Filipino youth are still old-fashioned and conservative at heart. With that said, we then come to the topic of finding love in the modernized world: where friendships are formed from superficial means and relationships grow through the internet or text messaging. How then can one verify that what one has could be true love? In our generation, it is very hard to say. It is not rare these days to find that most couples form their relationships with the help of modernized society. Everything is easy, fast, and not time-consuming. You live in a world where the idea of finding real love is next to almost impossible, yet you never seem to lose hope because every once in a while you’ll find that the kind of love that everyone looks for still exists even in the age of the Internet. Though most relationships blossom in unconventional ways, one can never deny real feelings. So with this, we learn to change and adapt with the ways of modernity. In this age of “right now” and easy access to almost everything, who says finding love is impossible? On Being Just a Ling/Lit Major More than once have I been given a snicker or a sign of disdain every time the mention of college degrees take place. "I'm studying PT at *&%$ college. You?" "Oh, I'm a Linguistics student at the USC." "Great! So, how many languages do you know now?" ----or worse yet---- "Ah! So you're gonna be a tour guide?"
  • 7. First of all, to make things clear, when a college curriculum offers a Linguistics course, make it a point to understand what Linguistics is. It is not just learning how to speak French, or Greek, or Yup'ik. Those are electives, and there are actually separate degrees for those. Neither is learning languages going to end you up as a tourist guide. Even polyglots can get lost, too, unless they ask for directions. And sure, one may as well end up as a translator or interpreter, and yes, an English teacher, but Linguistics is more than that. Infinitely more! Linguistics, then, is a study of language as a whole. Although there are more specific fields, like Semiotics or Comparative Linguistics, it just so happened that the degree we have enrolled in the school is focused more on English, as it is (for the moment) the dominant language in society. It is, in a nutshell, the study of how thought is transformed into signs, and how these signs perform in the world. Does that not sound more convincing than giving those who ask that sheepish line “Yes, I’m just an English major.” If not for the sake of propriety, I would right then and there, if I happen to have stumbled upon such conversation, laugh at their ignorance, and more so to the Linguistics degree holder at his pompous audacity to enroll in a degree he knows nothing about. Similarly, in the sea of nominalities and marginalization, we are lost to the noble cause of Literature. In our society, being a Literature student is deemed a worthless recreation, much like being a culinary student is to the Chinese. Does it not seem severely misinformed to reject an artistic pursuit because, being in a Third World country, money- making is deemed the ultimate and superior agenda? Has the world really gone mad? What more satisfaction can be derived from Milton’s works, from the cloyingly saccharine sonnets of Shakespeare, from Achebe’s novels, from the written memories of masters past, which, in the end, make the world as meaningful as it is now, not just a pithole of clinking cash registers and steam presses? The travails of the Clerk in Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” are called to mind. He drove himself to bankruptcy from investing too much in his books, and the author (and similarly the general readers) scoffs at his “foolishness.” Is it, really? Would it be foolish to pursue something you are passionate about? Albeit a miscalculation on the part of the Clerk, his intentions were noble, especially when one considers the number of students enrolling in degrees they are not fond of, but do so anyway for the reason of landing a job after graduation. But a lotus asked to grow on mud will ultimately wither. Consider this uninspired conversation: “So you study medicine at the Lyceum?” “That is correct. I am a senior in my pre-med.” “And so you know all about medicines, I presume.” “Well, no. I don’t know about medicine. I know about the human anatomy and its diseases.”
  • 8. “Then why are you a medicine student, if you do not know about medicine?” “Those who study medicine and drugs are the Pharmacologists. I study human diseases and how to cure them” “Then you are not a medicine student?” And the conversation only gets more dismal in the succeeding lines. Similarly it is like that to equate Linguistics to foreign languages, and Literature as something basic and unprofessional. Why would anybody rank the Arts as less in reputability as the Sciences or the Engineering courses? Did Chomsky not achieve something as great, or even greater, than Einstein? Would our lives really be better if we all thought in binary codes, and not in letters? I came across this quote once: “There are two types of people in the world, those who dream of great things and those who wake up to make those dreams a reality.” To toil after someone else’s dream imposed on you is no better than to be asked to slowly choke yourself to death. But to chase after your passion, your true passion? There can be no greater satisfaction. One day you hope to look back on your journey and speak about your accomplishments, speak fondly of what you have achieved, not what you hoped to have had.