Friday, June 16, 2017

Culture Nurture: Musings About Globalization & the English Language By: James U. Sy Jr.

Philip Kotler, the prominent marketing guru, had always emphasized that globalization is one of the five factors that brings change in the business world. All we have to do is to look around us and see the very truth in this pronouncement. Last year’s ASEAN full integration, the Philippine Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) or call center industry, and the Korean students in the Philippines immediately come to mind. The ASEAN full integration of 2015 will usher free trade among the organization’s member nations. Last year some Singaporean companies had already expressed their desire to invest in the Philippines and more companies from other ASEAN nations are expected to enter the Philippine market. This year, more foreign banks are to open branches or satellite offices in the Philippines. Even before this development, the Philippine market had already been saturated with foreign products from the USA, Japan, Korea, and yes, China, the source of 68% of pirated goods in the world. Just last year, the Philippines has surpassed India to become the call center capital of the world, with an estimated earnings of $5.5 billion in 2010 (compared to India’s $5.3 billion) and employing more than a half million call center workers (compared to India’s 330,000). Bacolod City has been named 1 of the 4 “centers of excellence” in the Philippines. The City of Smiles has 13,000 call center agents as of December 2013, according to the DOST. This globalization of the Philippine market presents many challenges to Filipinos, both entrepreneurs and employees alike. In business, one has to adapt to the changes in the market. Those who can not adapt to the ever changing environment will be rendered obsolete and will perish. In the face of globalization, comprehension of cultural diversity is of primary concern. The Grolier Webster International Dictionary defines culture as “the total of human behavior patterns and technology communicated from generation to generation.” Essential to the transfer of culture is language. The top three languages in the world today are Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and English, in that order. It is not a surprise for the standard Chinese language to top the list since China today is the most populous country in the world, with 1.35 billion people in 2014. Roughly there is one Chinese person in every 5 people in the world. Spanish is also well utilized with speakers not only in Spain but also in America where many countries had Spanish descendancy or influences. Even if English is only third in the list it is still universally considered as the international medium of communication, especially in commerce. In fact, English has been the official language of all international air travel, regardless of the nationality of the pilots, since 2001. English is a highly evolved language. The English alphabet has grown from an alphabet first used by the Phoenicians 3,500 years ago. The English alphabet, in its earliest known written record, had 29 letters and in its modern form, can be made into 403,290,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different combinations. English is the language with the most synonyms, and the most words, at approximately 250,000 distinct words. Standard spelling for English words is a modern concept; it was absent in Elizabethan England. William Shakespeare himself spelt his own name in different ways. Distinction is made between American English and British English. Differences are found in the pronunciation, the use of particular terms, and the spelling of words. The British will use lift for the American elevator, water closet for the American rest room (which is comfort room in the Philippines), and flat for the American apartment. British English is identifiable by its addition of “a” or “e” in words such as aeroplane, anaemia, anaesthetic, encyclopaedia, faeces, and haematology, or its addition of “u” in words such as armour, behaviour, clamour, colour, flavour, and neighbor. British English uses “s” instead of “z” in words such as analyse, anglicise, apologise, authorize, and organization, and uses “re” instead of “er” in words such as caliber, centre, centimeter, kilometer, and theatre. British English do not lose the “e” in the -ing form of verbs, such as in the case of ageing and bingeing. Other British English English spellings are jewellery for the American jewelry and judgement for the American judgment. The Philippines is the 5th largest English-speaking nation in the world, after the USA, India, Pakistan, and the UK. Previously, the Philippines was 3rd, with the USA and the UK at the top. But it has to be noted that India is the 2nd most populous nation in the world (after China), with a population of 1.22 billion. Compare that to the Philippine population of only 100 million by July 2014. The Philippines was also named the best country in business English proficiency in the world, when it earned the highest score in the Business English Index, beating its western counterparts in the USA, UK, and Australia. What’s more, the Philippines is the only English and Spanish speaking nation in Asia. It was the British who first introduced the English language to the Philippines, when they invaded the Spanish colony in the 18th Century. However, the Philippines was more influenced by the Americans who introduced Protestantism and the American education system during their brief conquest of the country. While the Philippines has adapted American English, majority of ASEAN nations use British English - Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The English language has served Filipinos well. It is a known fact that the Philippines has the largest diaspora networks in the world, with more than 11 million Filipinos working overseas. In fact, the Philippines is the largest supplier of nurses in the world, supplying roughly 25% of all overseas nurses worldwide, and it provides more seafarers to the global labor market than any other country in the world, accounting for about a fifth of 1.2 million maritime workers (roughly 240,000) as of 2013. In Singapore, Filipinos are preferred because they are industrious and have good command of the English language. As business continues to be globalized, it is apparent that Filipinos need to maintain proficiency in the English language to become more competitive globally.

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