Author Topic: A is not for Atis  (Read 8147 times)

sage

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A is not for Atis
« on: May 15, 2010, 10:12:52 AM »
I am a huge fan of Mr. Carillo and wish schools make his books their formal English textbook!  Of course, that would entail training teachers how to teach it.

I am desperate so I have turned to FB and yahoogroups and writing to people I idolize but who don't know me from Eve.   I do this for my nephew, who like most children, will believe school teachers more than me, an English teacher myself.   I simply cannot accept these dang errors in our local textbooks!

I apologize since my ranting about this issue is so trivial compared to life's more pressing needs.  But if I don't stand up for this, who will? Maybe someday someone with authority who is as passionate about uplifting our country's standard of English education will see my point.  It starts with the little things.  We can't keep teaching what’s wrong and pass it down from generation to generation.

Either authors and publishers get their act together or I’m calling for a boycott of all local Phonics books including ABC coloring books.   To think the authors are from institutions like PNU, UP, Ateneo, etc.  I don’t blame them though.  They are writing books based on what they themselves learned before.

I just went through my nephew's Phonics textbook for the next school year and I am absolutely livid at what I saw, although I had already expected it.  It just never fails to send me into a rage.

Every English book will always start with the vowels and the star of them all is the letter A.   The “miseducation” of Filipinos in English has its roots right here.

The short sound of A as heard in “ant" and "alligator" is not the sound you hear in "America," "aquarium" or "atis."   Reread this statement and digest it well… authors, teachers and publishers!

First let me tackle atis.  The A is pronounced "ah" which rhymes with the A in "father."  It's a totally different sound from the short  A in “apple”.  The letter A is pronounced in different ways. There’s the short A in alligator, long A in apron, ah sound sa in father, schwa sound as in assignment,  A as in fall, and silent in cocoa (this is not pronounced "kokwa" please).

Is it so hard to understand that “atis” is not even an English word???  Based on my asking around and checking with Google, atis is sugar apple or custard apple or sweet sop.  I have seen so many local books, some even finding their way in other countries where Filipino teachers are employed, that say A is for Atis.   Nooooooo!
 
Then there’s “aquarium.”   We do not teach Filipinos one of the most important and vital features of English pronunciation – the SCHWA.   It is a neutral vowel that sounds something like a quick “uh” found in unstressed syllables.   This fish tank is pronounced “uh-kweh-ree-yium” because the first syllable composed of a single letter A is unstressed.

All vowels can represent the schwa sound.  Examples: A in about, O in lemon,  E in listen, I in pencil and U in supply.  So essentially, they are pronounced as if the vowel is not there (lemn, lisn...)
 
To make it less technical, listen to how native speakers of English pronounce “America” and “apple.”  The two letter A’s in America are never pronounced like the A in apple.   
 
In the world of Linguistics, there is now such a thing as World Englishes.   Philippine English is what educated Filipinos speak.  (Sorry jejemons, you are not included ok?)  It includes words like  “CR” (never use this abroad to mean the toilet because nobody outside of us says that) “presidentiable” and “holdupper” which are not words that exist in the vocabulary of native English speakers.
 
Well, I cannot accept ATIS as Philippine English because it’s not an English word at all.  And to say that the beginning sound of “aquarium, assimilate, accordion, amazing” is the same as that of  “animal, abdomen, anthill, amnesty” is going against a strong pronunciation rule in English.  Time for a trip to the ENT for a hearing test, hello?
 
Hey, so what?  Pronouncing America like “ahh meh ree kah” with all the letter A’s sounding like the “aaaah” you utter for the dentist doesn’t change the meaning and you are still able to communicate properly, right?  Sure, I get that.
 
How we do things in our daily lives to establish contact and make ourselves understood is a practical act we perform.  We are free to prefer fluency over accuracy.   In the end, it’s really all about getting the message across and I am all for that.
 
However, books are formal records of knowledge and teaching is a profession that should label as blasphemous incorrect information being passed on to the succeeding generations. 

Last semester I was asked to evaluate a textbook.  My groupmates chose a book DepEd has mandated for use in public schools. What I saw made all the blood go against gravity and rush to my brain like boiling lava about to be spit out by an awakened volcano.  I can forgive the minor errors but the following I cannot:
 
These word pairs are labeled as homonyms, santisima!
 
grip/gripe                              eat/it               three/tree
branch/brunch                       for/fur              are/hour

Two pairs need explanation:

 -  In rapid speech, “for” does sound like “fur” which is a homonym of “fir” and rhymes with “sir” but strictly speaking, “for” is a homonym of “four” and “fore” more than “fur.”

- strictly speaking it should be “our” and “hour” that are homonyms not with “are.”    “Our” and “hour” can be pronounced as two syllables sometimes in extended pronunciation while “are” is not.
 
Nobody cares, I know.   But I’ll continue to write about this.  In a country with a population like ours, someone, for one reason or the other, may see the point I’m making.  We cannot take on such a casual attitude when it comes to publications.  We just CAN’T!

At least, please get the word out that ATIS IS NOT AN ENGLISH WORD and does NOT have the same sound as the A in APPLE!!!

hill roberts

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Re: A is not for Atis
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2010, 09:29:07 PM »
Hello, Sage, I can feel your  frustration. Indeed, I was lucky to have a mother for a teacher since she was a proponent of good, correct spoken English. While the four girls were willing to speak "American" their three boys, to this day, still speak it with a typical Filipino accent and no amount of goading from my end would change that. But, I'm not here to discuss them. When I first visited the north of England which is bordering Scotland, I myself was taken aback by the difference in which they pronounce the English words. Somehow, I thought that everybody spoke the Queen's English and how wrong I was. I now can pinpoint the blame to many of the BBC costume period drama that were shown, as we were growing up. By then, I had it in mind that it was glorious listening to a cut-glass English accent, and I began imagining Richard Burton speaking to me in that manner. Knowing what I know now, let me tell you that, for starters, Richard Burton was in fact, Welsh, and his accent was Welsh--rather guttural if you asked me. But many of these British actors you hear today are actually taught how to speak with a posh accent. And there are those other Brits who, upon arriving in a foreign country like the US or the Philippines, automatically switches to a posh accent (despite coming from Liverpool and Newscastle where people there do not speak correct/proper English, let alone, with an acquired cut-glass accent.) Imagine Judy Dench or Hellen Mirren or Daniel Craig--all of them speak with a posh accent, but no, dear, the majority of the British people speak bad , bad English. ;D :o

hill roberts

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Re: A is not for Atis
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2010, 09:52:08 PM »
Part 2. Also, there are many other Brits, while having difficulty finding work in the land of Dollars, they, for reasons I know now, is for them to be seen as well-spoken, highly-educated and brought up well. In fact, they play this card to get into high society, get the chance to associate themselves with those snooty folks, in the same manner that we in the Philippines would certainly enjoy mingling with those Spanish speaking snobbish people who belong to the higher echelon of Philippine society. Indeed, being well-spoken can give people confidence as well as a personal badge that strikes to the heart of social climbing. :D Having lived in Europe for three decades has made me aware of different accents. Even if I closed my eyes in a restaurant or pavement cafe, I could easily spot who was Irish, Scottish, German or French..just a matter of getting the hang of listening to them on a regular basis while out dining and wining. Still, acquiring a certain accent like a cut glass British accent needs a good amount of good ears and adaptability would pave the way to a better approach to having to contend with judgemental, ignorant, narrow-minded people. in Britain, accent is considered a ticket to a better-paying job, as well as befriending economically-better off people. ???

hill roberts

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Re: A is not for Atis
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2010, 10:04:42 PM »
Part 3, a short one...Perhaps, Sage, we can just call it "patis" instead of "atis"---then we can drown the confusion emanating from phonics  and histrionics while learning to imitate Judy Dench or Daniel Craig saying, "It's Bond...James Bond..." so unlike the Filipinos  when they  say with gusto, "kopon bond"--while  buying a few leaves of this A size in a sari-sari store. Cheers! ;D ;D :-*

hill roberts

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Re: A is not for Atis
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2010, 11:23:43 PM »
Part 2.

"...that strikes at the heart of social climbing..."

Apologies. I go to many sites that I have no time proofreading my comments here--and everything I write is spontaneous...(I don't believe in making drafts...puts me to sleep.) then I jump to the next favourite site..and the next...oh, dear, Joe will kill me! ;D ::)

maxsims

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Re: A is not for Atis
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2010, 08:19:30 AM »
I'm surprised the British haven't killed you; you seem to put them down at every opportunity!

hill roberts

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Re: A is not for Atis
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2010, 04:12:18 PM »
When one loses his/her sense of humour, the attack becomes personal. :( Aww, Maxsims, lighten up. Besides, the Brits will kill themselves first before they'll kill me. They are the ones talking down their own kind...I only make a  rejoinder when the need arises. ;D :o Have a good Sunday! :-*

hill roberts

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Re: A is not for Atis
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2010, 02:12:29 AM »
It is indeed important that what you suggested Sage must be considered. Here in Spain, the government is getting more frantic than ever that the kids here learn English--correctly and properly. When I first came here thirty years ago, there was only one  British school that offered English or made it as its medium of instruction. Somehow, the previous governments here never gave any importance to  English as a major language since many of them speak French or German anyway as a second language. In fact, they are not now as demanding at the Brussels Parliament as before which country's language should be more prominent, i.e., whether or not it should be French, German, Spanish, Portuguese or English. It seems the English Language is winning hands down. ;D Today, learning English is  part of the national curriculum. Spain has seen the light of day. As for your yearning to see all Filipino children learn it properly, I am all for it. I myself give English lessons in private and yes, I place importance in phonics, pronunciation, basic grammar and learning to spell correctly. I also teach them the proper use of punctuation and believe me, they know how to use it more than many schoolteachers in the UK (I'm sure Maxsims' eyebrows would be sneeringly sky-high again, ha ha) but it is true that proper use of punctuation isn't taught at all in the UK, hence, their confusion how to use the apostrophe correctly. ;)Even TV channels in the past didn't have a clue, until someone pointed it out to them! ;D Still, we can't drop our guard since the future of our school children would partly depend on learning English which is a major language. Besides, learning any language is a skill and we shouldn't shy away from this responsibility. :D