Tuesday, September 04, 2007

what remains of the languages we no longer speak? or speak very little of?

i speak Pampango and Pilipino with declining fluency for lack of practice. my son, 1.5 generation, understands both languages but can't speak except for a few vocabulary words. my grandson, Noah, will probably never know either except for the funny words we've taught him like kili-kili and buldit.

even so, Noah knows that when he hears these words, they refer to his Dad and Lola who are Filipinos. he looks at me and looks at himself in the mirror and says "I am Filipino!" he looked at the checker at WalGreens and asked her: Are you Filipino? and when she answered affirmatively, Noah said: I am Filipino, too!.

or when I play the Pilipino audibles on yahoo messenger, Noah is tickled by the different sounds and he giggles and with sparkling eyes he knows that this is his language, too. he couldn't speak the words, and he doesn't understand the meaning but he recognizes the lilt, the intonation, the pronunciation -- they belong to him because he hears me speak in the same voice. Okey ka lang?

Lola, sing to me -- he asks of me at bedtime...and he knows I will sing "Ugoy ng Duyan" and the lullaby calms him and sends him off to dreamland.

so what remains of the languages that we no longer speak in words...but yet the language lives on in our voices, in our songs, in our touch, in our eyes?. . .Noah will always know.

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