Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Comparing Filipino and Indian Nationals

The Indian and Filipino nationals may be said to share only in common geography, and may indeed be fierce competitors in most other areas, be they in ICT jobs or the like. The toss-up in call center location, for example, though now shared with China, had been initially between the Indian and Filipino counterparts, with the Filipinos usually getting the shorter end of the deal.

Having lived in the Bay Area for over 25 years, it is my personal perception that indeed, by and large, the Filipino or FilAm still has a lot of reorienting and catching up to do with the Indian nationals. At the height of the tech boom, at least 46% of H-1B visa holders were from India and the Philippines was not even remotely close.

Surprisingly, even in the area of language (especially, oral), it has been my personal perception that the manner that the Indian national speaks English has been more acceptable to the general populace, than the typical FilAm who learned his English in the Philippines. In other words, people are more comfortable and understanding listening to the English of the Indian national and unfortunately where I live, comfort is associated closely with acceptance. Another example of this "bias" is the English spoken by a Frenchman. Most would find it cute, interesting, and even romantic; but not many would have negative comments about it, enough to be turned off listening to it.

Having grappled with this issue for too long, I have come to the realization that the crux of the matter may be in enunciation. Filipinos reflexively speak English in the same manner that they speak their dialects. The result does not usually sit well with the typical native listener. Unlike the other nationals, there may be a need to speak English in a manner closely approximating the manner the natives use. One needs only listen to the bilingual and US-grown FilAms as they cross-navigate between their two languages.

Thus, while the typical Filipino, or the entire Philippines for that matter, may enjoy the inherent advantage of "understanding" English, there may be a crying need to improve in the area of oral expression.

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