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Say It, Write It, Defend It and Judge It – in English!

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 01:19 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 46.5 
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We see them in public discourses, Filipino lawyers and people of the law expressing their opinions and rebuttals in English.   We see them stored up in voluminous heights, documents of trial proceedings written in English.   Our courts are alive with people engaging in the litany of judicial trials in English.   For a layman who has no grasp of the motions of court trials, the experience could well be both overwhelming and confusing, not only on account of the case itself, but also on the awesome impact of the language being extensively used during the whole process.   English, though considered the second language of many Filipinos (and first language to some) (Graddol, 1997) continues to strike up controversy among sectors of the society – those who feel that our own ‘national’ language, i.e., Filipino, and therefore our nationalism are threatened by the widening popularity of English; those who fear that the underprivileged and non-English speaking litigants are deprived of justice; and/or those who simply could not and would not accept that there is such a language with absolute accuracy to equate to fair interpretation of law and therefore fair rendition of judgment.

This paper intends to express a hypothesis that argues:   “The use of the English language in the Philippine judicial system ensures accurate interpretation of the law and therefore fair rendition of judgment.”   As such, the paper hopes to show that the use of the English language in the law profession does not necessarily put the English language in a pedestal of absoluteness, nor its use deprive justice to non-English speaking

litigants and nor does it follow that we lose our nationalism when we speak and use the language.

History of the Philippine Justice System’s Language according to the Constitution

The influence of the West, first the Spanish then the Americans, is ever apparent in the Filipino life.   Governance of its people...


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