Denouncing Linguistic Prejudice and Discrimination

Freddie Rabelas Obligacion
Posted August 16, 2015 from Philippines

Through direct witnessing or hearsay, Ramon Tulfo, popular radio commentator and columnist in the Philippines recently wrote about an alleged “gayspeak exchange” between spokespersons of Philippine President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and Vice President Jojo Binay, namely, Edwin Lacierda and Joey Salgado, respectively. In this reportedly catty verbal joust, Lacierda supposedly characterized Binay’s alternative Sona as “charot” (translated by Tulfo as “joke”) and the “true state of the nation address” as “Tsona”.

Per Tulfo, Salgado allegedly retorted in fluent gay speak or swardspeak (originally minted by Filipino writer Nestor U. Torre, Jr. in the seventies), “Imbey ang fez ni secretarush dahil trulalu ang spluk ni VP. Pero ang Sona ng Pangulo, chaka ever sa madlang pipol dahil trulalu (Tulfo’s English translation: The secretary is mad because the Vice President spoke the truth. But the President’s Sona has no appeal because the people know it’s not true).

Summing up,Tulfo muses that this gayspeak back-and-forth is symptomatic of “just to what level national politics has gone.” Moreover, easily ensnared by the trap of stereotyping,Tulfo delivers a veiled insinuation as he observes, “Words from the gay vocabulary…were used in public by Lacierda and Salgado, who are supposedly straight guys”.

Connotatively, linguists would likely categorize Tulfo’s nuanced negativity toward gayspeak as a form of linguistic prejudice through which disparaging attitudes are directed toward persons based solely on their use of a particular genre of language.

Disturbingly, social scientists aver that linguistic prejudice may be a precursor to linguistic discrimination (also termed linguicism or languagism), the active singling out of a certain group for unfair treatment based purely on their use of language.

Oppressed and marginalized social minorities such as the LGBT community and women are frequently the victims of linguistic prejudice or discrimination because speech genres associated with these groups face ridicule in everyday interactions or worse, impunitively stigmatized.

Gayspeak instantly identifies the speaker as gay. While such identification easily demarcates for gays the outgroups from the ingroups, it also makes them highly visible and vulnerable targets of prejudice, discrimination, and at its very real extreme, outright violence.

Nothwithstanding, gayspeak proudly sports a celebratory face. For one, gayspeak strengthens gays’ resistance to cultural assimilation. Using a power framework, it allows gays to resist the dominant culture of their society and create a space of their own.

Debunking Tulfo’s subtle thematic that gayspeak is an inferior type of discourse, it eloquently demonstrates the dynamic nature of language with newly fashioned words and clauses enriching everyday language, including that of straights.

Gayspeak’s constant flux reflects changes in gay culture and the larger society, ensures the burgeoning of gay identity, and most importantly, allows for greater freedom of expression among its speakers.

For its practitioners and receptive neophyte audiences, gayspeak is strikingly witty, outstandingly creative, humorous, and patently multicultural as it is ingeniously and creatively derived from the world’s major languages such as Chinese, Spanish, English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese, to name a few.

In a twist of humorous irony, Tulfo himself becomes an unwitting proponent of gayspeak, as manifested by his seemingly flawless ability to translate this sometimes fiendishly complex genre, particularly to the uninitiated.

Failing to build on this saving grace, Tulfo shoots another foot, and, indubitably lost lots of fans from the multi-faceted, savvy, and richly diverse high-Filipino-density Golden Gate City, with his unenlightened oversimplification, not boding well for our country’s globalization thrust, “Lacierda and Salgado should live in San Francisco, California, a gay haven, where they can freely use gayspeak”.

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