Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Different Reasons People Tell Me Why They Want to Study Cebuano
Whenever someone writes me about my online course in Cebuano, I always think about his reasons or objectives for studying it. And when I ask this, I always receive responses ranging from serious to funny to downright impossible. Some of them say that they want to learn Cebuano because it is their fiancee's language and they want to be able to talk with their fiancee because they could see that she is struggling in communicating in English. This kind of reason not only tells me that the person is very sensitive towards his fiancee but also there is genuine intention to be acculturated, which, I believe, is really important in order to make the relationship strong and solid.
Another reason is work-related. I also believe this is a very legitimate reason to study Cebuano. If you are dealing with people who speak Cebuano more so if you plan to stay long in a place that speaks Cebuano, especially in Cebu, where people are proud of their language, then you should voluntarily learn it. Don't wait for someone to tell you to learn it. Learn it in any way you can. The people will wonder why you never learned the language if you have stayed in a place for a long period of time, like two or three years. The locals would be wondering how come you have stayed for quite some time already, yet you never try to communicate in the local language. A foreigner should realize that whether it is a personal reason or a work-related reason, it is always easier to win the trust and friendship of the community if you talk to them using the local language.
Learning the local language separates you from an ordinary tourist who does not stay long enough to learn the culture and communicate using the local language. An ordinary tourist becomes an easy prey to the locals who rip off tourists, simply for economic reasons. Whereas, someone who stays long enough and talks to the locals in their native language, would know why the locals behave this way towards foreigners. Now, that is another issue to discuss. One of the funny and impossible reasons that I received from someone was, because he suspected that his wife was doing something funny behind his back and he wants to be able to read and decipher text messages between his wife and his wife's relatives. I told him outrightly, I am not a detective so I can not help him and hire a detective if he wants to know his wife's activities.
Another reason, which I tell my students is always the shock value of it. The locals will be shocked at first, to know that a foreigner understands and speaks their language (even if it is broken at the beginning) and then later on, will be impressed. They would immediately be drawn towards that foreigner, having earned their trust and friendship. You would know if a local likes you because they would like to spend time with you, if they don't, then something is not right with the way you behave towards them or they are suspicious of you (now, this is extreme, but it does happen).