Speaking in English


What proof is there that an American gets drunk much more easily than an Igorot?

An Igorot drinks a lot of gin, tapey, basi or whatever alcohol is there before he speaks in English. An American is already speaking in English after the first shot.

This riddle is not true to all Igorot drinkers, of course. There are those who talk in English without any motivation, and there are those who don’t even after they have drunk barrels of their favorite alcoholic poison.

Yet the riddle must mean something. There must be a grain of truth there somewhere.

Igorots (and other Filipinos) who normally consider English a truly foreign tongue do have the propensity to talk in English after a few drinks.

On the conscious level, I think we do it to present a façade of intellectuality, thereby boosting the value of our arguments. The façade is certainly necessary because judgment is clouded by the alcohol in our bloodstream.

On the unconscious level, I suppose speaking in English is a manifestation of how much we have absorbed of American and Western influences in education, the mass media and the economy. It shows that even our thought processes have changed, our logic and argumentation having adopted foreign influences.

Of course there also concepts or ideas that defy translation into local dialects and thus are best expressed in English. Come to think of it, some Igorots also lapse into Tagalog when they get drunk, attaining levels of articulation that are not apparent in their sober states.

So we speak in English when we are drunk. At least we have gin to blame for our lapse. As to others who insist on speaking in English even when the local dialects are much more effective, what rationalization do they have for their patent colonial mentality?

The riddle answers it for us – they do not need alcohol to get drunk – they already are.

This is what I believe, or I may just have had a drink too many.

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