Errors or features?17 February 2009 at 3:09 AM | Posted in News | 3 Comments
Here is an excerpt from linguist Andrew Gonzalez‘s “Distinctive Grammatical Features of Philippine Literature in English: Influencing or Influenced?” in Linguistics and Language Education in the Philippines and Beyond: A Festschrift in Honor of Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista (2005):
“From the point of view of linguistic study, F. Sionil Jose presents unusual features in his sentential and grammatical constructions. For personal reasons, F. Sionil Jose does his own editing and publication of his fiction. Even edited, it exhibits the traits now associated with distinctive grammatical characteristics of Philippine prose writing, which may be summarized as follows: (1) lack of tense sequence within the complex sentence, switching from present to past and vice versa; (2) lack of tense harmony in the whole paragraph (a variation of the above in extended discourse); (3) lack of agreement between subject and predicate especially where a clause is inserted between subject and predicate; (4) non-native American English uses of the article; (5) non-native American uses of modals especially the use of modals in the past tense which usually demand a modal in the present tense; (6) non-native American uses of the perfect tenses (present perfect and past perfect); and (7) non-native uses of two-word verbs or verb plus preposition combinations with participle complementation. In traditional grammar classes in the Philippine classroom, these features would be considered errors.”
Gonzalez asks the question (which he asked several times earlier in his too brief lifetime) whether these are really errors or features. He even cites me (referring to the book A Dictionary of Philippine English, that I wrote together with Bautista in 1995) to justify labelling these “errors” as “features.” I don’t think all of the items he lists are features of Philippine English, particularly the lack of subject-verb agreement and the non-native American English use of the perfect tenses.