Posted: Saturday 19th May 2018 | 09:21:59 PM
By Graziella Pogolotti
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Here and there, in private commercial establishments, the use of English advertisements is spreading, as if by blast wave. This presence begins to invade public space. In these circumstances, it is essential to remember that Spanish is the official language in our country. Identity bearer, an essential component of our culture, it integrates the constitutive factors of the sovereign nation. Moreover, the law imposes a requirement that all citizens must use it it.
One might suppose that there is a temptation among new traders to please visitors from other countries who are increasingly coming to us, even though not all of them are native English speakers.
This is an erroneous assessment. The motivations of travelers are manifold. Many enjoy the attractions of nature, the sun and the beach. Others prefer to frequent the cities, interested in the heritage values that make them unique and in the behaviour of a communicative, streetwise, welcoming and friendly people, as those who have spent time with us since colonial times have recognised. In the built environment and in the people who inhabit it, they discover the values of a different culture, built up through a specific history.
Unconsciously, the environment around us influences the use of language. I was a young graduate looking for a job when I was offered the opportunity to collaborate on the development of a spelling manual. The author of the text had previously conducted a survey among students to detect the most frequent errors. There were not when writing the word beer, despite the c, v and z, so committed in our Latin American speech. At that time, the competition between the most recognized brands was manifested in an advertising display in the streets and on television. The spelling was indelibly engraved on everyone’s retina.
According to the press, the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel, stressed in words spoken by the Ministry of Education, the need to attach the importance it deserves to the development of reading habits through the conduct of a teacher, who must always carry a book before the schoolchildren who must follow his example.
The issue becomes more important in times of increasing dominance of audiovisual communication. It has been the subject of international analysis and research. Among us, the issue demands first-rate attention in view of the deterioration in the use of the language, which is of concern to a wide range of social sectors. In various ways, there has been a need to give due weight to language learning, not only through the use of grammar, but also through training in the comprehension of literary texts.
The mastery of the language associated with human communication and the ability to forge in the students the exercise of independent, critical and creative thinking, open to access to knowledge and to the permanent search for innovation, is a fundamental demand of this era. It constitutes an inseparable part, together with history and mathematics, of the triad of disciplines which, beyond the instrumental, are distinguished by their formative character.
Preserving the potential richness and expressiveness of the word and designing strategies based on the present and, above all, with a view to the future of the creatures that are being born, when the dominant telegraphic messages in the use of mobile phones supplant the art of conversation, block productive dialogue, interfere with the transmission of knowledge, castrate the creative impulse of imagination and limit the sensitive approach between humans, are urgent demands.
The complexity of the challenge involves the family and the school, but transcends compartmentalized institutional boundaries. Since dawn, communication has presided over the entirety of our existence, just as much as the oxygen we breathe. It manifests itself in the most intimate part of the home, in the streets, in the provision of services, in the formulas of civilized coexistence, in the fabric of the information networks that connect us with the reality of the country and with the paths of international events. Understanding the magnitude of the problem is an essential step in the search for solutions.
Culture and identity embrace the territory of spirituality, the residence of the values that define us as a people. They last and are transmitted through the language we have inherited. Let us take care of it in the messages that animate our streets, in the media, at school and in the workplace. We can do it right now. In the meantime, to be precise