Vi havde engang en kemilærere på besøg, der var en kende irriteret over, at kemikere når de underviste selv på begynder niveau havde det med, at pladre selv forholdvis enkle sammenhæng ind i fagjagong, hvad hun mente skadede fagets omdømme i almindelighed og i særdeleshed, at det forhindrede folk i have et fornuftigt forhold til faget. Som hun sagde: Man kan bruge sproget til så meget og ikke al brug er nødvendigvis konstruktiv. Og det er ganske vidst: nogle mennesker ser et lighedstegn mellem kemi og gift.
Tilbagebage i 2009 havde hædersmanden, og en passant ikke-tilhænger af dødsstraf og vold som middel i opdragelsen af børn, Søren Krarup en kronik i Pravda i Pilestræde, hvor han præsenterede argumenterne for en lov, der skulle sikre det danske sprog. Vi lader ligge, at vi her i huset ikke mener lovgivning eller anden politisk indgriben er egnet til den slags. Fra kronikken:
Jeg fandt dette meget groft, og i anledning af en tilsvarende holdning på Landbohøjskolen, der offentligt bekendtgjorde, at »inden år 2010 skal engelsk være det primære undervisningssprog for alle kandidatuddannelser«, besluttede vi at råbe vagt i gevær. Det handler om det danske sprogs overlevelse, i hvert fald inden for de videregående uddannelser. »Det er ikke meningen med dette forslag, at vi her i landet skal afskære os fra udlandet og lukke os hermetisk inde i vort eget sprogområde. Det drejer sig om at sikre det danske sprogs fremtidige eksistens. Forudsætningen for det internationale er som bekendt det nationale«.
Beslutningsforslaget kom til første behandling i Folketinget 30.januar 2007, hvor jeg begyndte med at understrege, at der her ikke var tale om politik, endsige partipolitik. »Det danske sprogs skæbne er et fælles dansk anliggende, og det er i bekymring for det danske sprogs eksistens i fremtiden, at vi i dag fremkommer med dette beslutningsforslag om forberedelse af en dansk sproglov. Vi er bange for, at dansk er ved at forsvinde.
Vi er bange for, at dansk efterhånden synker ned til at være et almuesprog, som ikke kan benyttes af alle i landet i alle sammenhænge.«
Til min store glæde blev forslaget venligt og positivt modtaget af alle partier, og der var enighed om, at noget måtte gøres for at hævde det danske sprog. Men vi lod det ikke komme til afstemning ved en anden behandling, hvor resultatet alligevel ville være tvivlsomt, men vi accepterede, at det mundede ud i nedsættelse af et sprogudvalg, som efter en grundig behandling af problemet skulle komme med forslag til styrkelse af det danske sprog.
I april 2008 offentliggjorde sprogudvalget sin rapport, »Sprog til Tiden«, som fremkom med mange anbefalinger til at hævde det danske sprog i en truet situation – men det blev ved anbefalingerne. »Hvor det drejer sig om forslag om at udmønte udvalgets anbefalinger i bindende bestemmelser eller lovgivning, har der ikke kunnet opnås en fælles forståelse«, hed det i rapporten.
While a people preserves its language; it preserves the marks of liberty.
He who does not love his own language is worse than an animal and smelly fish.
When Sisa was brought in she came calmly, showing neither wonder nor fear. She seemed to see no lady or mistress, and this wounded the vanity of the Muse, who endeavored to inspire respect and fear. She coughed, made a sign to the soldiers to leave her, and taking down her husband’s whip, said to the crazy woman in a sinister tone, “Come on, magcantar icau!”2
Naturally, Sisa did not understand such Tagalog, and this ignorance calmed the Medusa’s wrath, for one of the beautiful qualities of this lady was to try not to know Tagalog, or at least to appear not to know it. Speaking it the worst possible, she would thus give herself the air of a genuine orofea,3 as she was accustomed to say. But she did well, for if she martyrized Tagalog, Spanish fared no better with her, either in regard to grammar or pronunciation, in spite of her husband, the chairs and the shoes, all of which had done what they could to teach her.
One of the words that had cost her more effort than the hieroglyphics cost Champollion was the name Filipinas. The story goes that on the day after her wedding, when she was talking with her husband, who was then a corporal, she had said Pilipinas. The corporal thought it his duty to correct her, so he said, slapping her on the head, “Say Felipinas, woman! Don’t be stupid! Don’t you know that’s what your damned country is called, from Felipe?”
The woman, dreaming through her honeymoon, wished to obey and said Felepinas. To the corporal it seemed that she was getting nearer to it, so he increased the slaps and reprimanded her thus: “But, woman, can’t you pronounce Felipe? Don’t forget it; you know the king, Don Felipe—the fifth—. Say Felipe, and add to it nas, which in Latin means ‘islands of Indians,’ and you have the name of your damned country!”
Consolacion, at that time a washerwoman, patted her bruises and repeated with symptoms of losing her patience, “Fe-li-pe, Felipe—nas, Fe-li-pe-nas, Felipinas, so?”
The corporal saw visions. How could it be Felipenas instead of Felipinas? One of two things: either it was Felipenas or it was necessary to say Felipi! So that day he very prudently dropped the subject. Leaving his wife, he went to consult the books. Here his astonishment reached a climax: he rubbed his eyes—let’s see—slowly, now! F-i-l-i-p-i-n-a-s, Filipinas! So all the well-printed books gave it—neither he nor his wife was right!
“How’s this?” he murmured. “Can history lie? Doesn’t this book say that Alonso Saavedra gave the country that name in honor of the prince, Don Felipe? How was that name corrupted? Can it be that this Alonso Saavedra was an Indian?”4
With these doubts he went to consult the sergeant Gomez, who, as a youth, had wanted to be a curate. Without deigning to look at the corporal the sergeant blew out a mouthful of smoke and answered with great pompousness, “In ancient times it was pronounced Filipi instead of Felipe. But since we moderns have become Frenchified we can’t endure two i’s in succession, so cultured people, especially in Madrid—you’ve never been in Madrid?—cultured people, as I say, have begun to change the first i to e in many words. This is called modernizing yourself.”
The poor corporal had never been in Madrid—here was the cause of his failure to understand the riddle: what things are learned in Madrid! “So now it’s proper to say—”
“In the ancient style, man! This country’s not yet cultured! In the ancient style, Filipinas!” exclaimed Gomez disdainfully.
The corporal, even if he was a bad philologist, was yet a good husband. What he had just learned his spouse must also know, so he proceeded with her education: “Consola, what do you call your damned country?”
“What should I call it? Just what you taught me: Felifinas!”
“I’ll throw a chair at you, you ———! Yesterday you pronounced it even better in the modern style, but now it’s proper to pronounce it like an ancient: Feli, I mean, Filipinas!”
“Remember that I’m no ancient! What are you thinking about?”
“Never mind! Say Filipinas!”
“I don’t want to. I’m no ancient baggage, scarcely thirty years old!” she replied, rolling up her sleeves and preparing herself for the fray.
“Say it, you ———, or I’ll throw this chair at you!”
Consolacion saw the movement, reflected, then began to stammer with heavy breaths, “Feli-, Fele-, File—”
Pum! Crack! The chair finished the word. So the lesson ended in fisticuffs, scratchings, slaps. The corporal caught her by the hair; she grabbed his goatee, but was unable to bite because of her loose teeth. He let out a yell, released her and begged her pardon. Blood began to flow, one eye got redder than the other, a camisa was torn into shreds, many things came to light, but not Filipinas.
Similar incidents occurred every time the question of language came up. The corporal, watching her linguistic progress, sorrowfully calculated that in ten years his mate would have completely forgotten how to talk, and this was about what really came to pass. When they were married she still knew Tagalog and could make herself understood in Spanish, but now, at the time of our story, she no longer spoke any language. She had become so addicted to expressing herself by means of signs—and of these she chose the loudest and most impressive—that she could have given odds to the inventor of Volapuk.
Sisa, therefore, had the good fortune not to understand her, so the Medusa smoothed out her eyebrows a little, while a smile of satisfaction lighted up her face; undoubtedly she did not know Tagalog, she was an orofea!
“Boy, tell her in Tagalog to sing! She doesn’t understand me, she doesn’t understand Spanish!”