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PostSpanish Language (Ronald Hilton, USA, 03/15/98 11:45 am)
Retired foreign-service officer Tim Brown, who spent some time in the Philippines, raises an interesting point in commenting on the statement that only 1% of filipinos speak Spanish. We should not confuse numbers and power:
"While few Filipinos spoke Spanish, the few who did were often filthy rich -- owners of the San Miguel brewery and the like. There were also concentrated around San Juanga and Cavite City in upper class enclaves. I agree, Spanish is not what it used to be. But I am not too sure the old Spanish-speaking elite has lost all its clout."Throughout the Spanish-speaking world there has developed a romantic attachment to the pre-Spanish language. Educated Basques tell me they wish they knew Basque, Mexicans that they knew nahuatl or maya. The new stress on the aboriginal languages in Chiapas and elsewhere has class overtones. How are Spanish priests and nuns received by non Spanish-speaking peoples, e.g. the panish nuns among those whom Edith Coliver is studying?
The class and language issue has also affected French. When I first went to Latin America, the educated upper classes, especially in Brazil, boasted that they spoke French. No more. This status symbol has disappeared.