Right To Be Heard
Growing in humble province painted a naive and simple picturesque of what the English Language has to offer. I thought it is just one of the academic requirements to pass, or yet another armor for high-level conversations with people who are used to uttering flowery and powerful words.
I was wrong.
Language has a personality. It is unique, distinct, and ‘sui generis’ that embodies one’s culture, origin, aspirations, and visions. I had a very thick English accent, being a native speaker who breathed out words and phrases in a loud, fast, and immodest manner. Have you heard some up north saying “crossing” or “noodles” to name a few? We smile because we understand each other, but we also smirk because what has become normal is wrong.
Language is evolving. I can still recall my first time eating in a restaurant, hearing a couple engaging in sweet conversation in French. It was love at first “heard” if there is such a thing. My housemate in Singapore, who happens to be an Italian, speaks so sexy and with utmost elegance. It came to a point that I had to enrol to a simple Italian class to learn the language prior to visiting Europe. Although it was never a challenge for me to compose a string of English words to express myself, I knew there was something wrong. Everytime I bumped into my British-Singaporean landlord in the kitchen and had a quick chat over morning coffee, she would always ask me to repeat what I was saying. I can understand her “Harry Potter” accent but she had a struggle understanding mine. Is it the thick, Ilocano accent, I have been carrying for years?
The answer is yes. After carefully thinking whether or not improving my English would benefit me, I decided to enrol in Accent Neutralization class. The few sessions I had made me realize I have been pronouncing most words wrongly, stressing the syllables in different ways, and not paying attention to passion and style the English language deserves to have.
The improvement in my spoken English has brought me to new heights. I now enjoy a more engaging conversation with other people, without worrying if they understand every word I utter. It helped me in my negotiation meetings with clients, and added a new sense of belonging to my non-Filipino friends.
At the College of Law, the English language is given high priority and utmost importance. Add to that the variety of language embedded in the constitution and law of lands. English, Old English, Latin, and other business and scientific jargons that are vital to information of the law.
As a Juris Doctor student, hoping to become a Lawyer in the future, I give emphasis to using language not as a bar to separate the academic differences in the society, but as a bridge to connect everyone towards a balanced, transparent, and equitable society. All men, whatever language they are speaking (or not speaking) should be given equal opportunities to be heard.
Let language be the strength of the oppressed, the wealth of the poor, and the freedom of the prisoners.
Language, in whatever form or origin, will always be the heartbeat that gives life to the spirit, and expression of the soul.
For when the mind cannot describe because of numbness of thought, nor when the heart cannot express because of fear, the language of the law will always be available for everyone to uphold the constitution that men shall enjoy the right to be heard.