11. Nimble tongues

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In the Philippines, state policies for economic development focus on two things: attracting foreign investors to set up export-oriented manufacturing and business-process outsourcing industries or supporting the already well-established structures that encourage Filipino workers to find jobs abroad. These three industries have a great impact on Filipino women as it is mostly women who are employed in minimum-wage jobs at manufacturing firms or who are sent abroad as domestic helpers or “entertainers.” With such policies – which rely on foreign investors and employers needing a cheap but trainable labor force – English becomes a necessary skill for Filipino women. Following Bourdieu’s concept of the “structured systems of sociologically pertinent linguistic differences” corresponding to “an equally structured system of social difference,” it is not surprising that Philippine English displays characteristics of this structured system of social difference. This is most evident in a study done in 1995 by Ma. Lourdes Bautista that described three sub-varieties of Philippine English as yaya (nanny) English, bargirl English, and colegiala (Catholic schoolgirl) English. What is immediately striking about this template is both the inscription of the labor-export economy into, and the feminization of, Philippine English. This study examines the relations between language, power, and the new, postmodern, global, economic order of which English is both a catalyst and an offshoot. It will attempt to determine how the relations between the linguistic standard and the sub-varieties correspond to the link between patriarchal state/global capital and the most marginalized groups within that order.


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