Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Jejemon Phenomenon

Labels are powerful, especially the stickier ones. The term, jejemon, is an outstanding example.

Before this phenomenon even became a word-of-mouth, I've already been bothered by the occurrence of a weird language pervading the web, one that made use of capitalized letters in all the wrong places. Jejenese, as it is now called, highlights the importance of inserting the letters h, x, and z, and celebrates the replacement of ordinary English letters with Hindu-Arabic numerals in a non-algebraic context.

Here's an example:

GMA-7 Michael Fajatin also made funny, interesting reports on the jejemon invasion. Click here and here.

I've never encouraged  jejenese, but when kids begin writing this way, to the detriment of their academic mastery of English, there is clearly a reason to be concerned.

Writing, after all, is a discipline. It is putting thoughts—abstract, invisible ideas in one's brain—into tangible letters which form words, then phrases, and then sentences. It is a skill to choose the right words or to know which letters must be capitalized; it is even a bigger task to word them in a way that is consistent with time, with mood, and with one's intentions. If we coddle jejenese, a form of writing not bound by rules, we may be in danger of losing this discipline.

But genuine concern must not translate to intellectual snobbery. I don't see how branding them with pejorative terms would help them. Which is why I haven't opted to be part of Facebook groups like Jejebusters whose sole goal is to wipe the jejemons out of the face of this world. There is a chasm of difference between mocking and helping them.

What I'm saying is that the popularity of the jejemons is a call to educators—both teachers and parents alike—to heighten efforts to train our children in language. At this point I agree with Sec. Guilbert GilbertTeodoro, and I truly hope he means this:

(Photos: Erwin San Luis, via Facebook, and Katrina Magallanes)

UPDATE May 4, 2010: Follow this interesting discussion in my Multiply.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on. But if you read Lourd de Veyra's thoughts on the subject (, you might think that jejemon is but another phase of our development as a national culture--for the better or the worse, I don't know. :D

I, too, have long noted that offensive treat of language long before it had a name. Funny though, that now we have a name for it are we deriding it.

Sa bagay, only when it has a name does it gain consciousness.

Sat May 01, 10:51:00 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

Well said, Anjo. Mr. de Veyra also hit the point right: language is a dynamic entity, and the people define how it should be used. Sooner or later, language has to reach its equilibrium point; language is in a state of homeostasis. Radical changes like jejenism will be radically opposed. What I'm against, though, is the way it is being opposed.

Sat May 01, 02:24:00 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoah! Lour de Veyra! Galing na poet nun! Thanks sa link! And i totally agree with you, Master Lance.

Gusto ko yung sinabi ni sir Lourd: "Certain websites have enumerated the jejemon’s supposed lifestyle choices: rap songs made with tinny synthesizer beats, Dota, Ragnarok, and other online network games".


- Ralf

Sat May 01, 05:22:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

Ralf, buti na lang na-link ni Anjo (previous commenter). Naku, walang lusot ang Dota. Haha.

Sat May 01, 05:37:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger rAIx said...

Napansin ko na rin yan dati lalu na henerasyon ng kapatid ko. At inaamin niya talaga na ganun siya dati ngunit agad niyang dinidiin na "hindi na ngayon."

Nakakatawa kasi akala ko evolution lamang siya ng iniwan nating wika sa text bilang henerasyong unang nalulong sa text. Naaalala ko kasing kahit ako naman nag-alternate cases din kahit minsan. Haha. Pero hindi sa puntong naglagay na ko ng h, x, at z. hahaha.

Pero di nga, dati pa, bago pa sila naging pokemon, este jejemon, napansin ko nang kahit sa kapatid ko nakakalimutan niya ang tunay na pagbabaybay ng mga salita lalu na sa ingles.

Nakakatawa lang na porke't may pangalan na sila ngayon, bigla-bigla, wala nang jejemon. O kahit papano, wala nang umaaming jejemon sila. Benta. Haha

Sun May 02, 03:24:00 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

Ryan, totoo 'yun. Nag-eebolb talaga ang wika, at pruweba ang jejenismo. Nakikita kong napakadaling gayahin ito ng mga kabataan, kaya natatawa rin ako sa sinabi mo tungkol sa iyong kapatid. Pero totoo 'yun, kung nasanay ka na sa pagsusulat nang ganoon, makakalimutan mo na rin ang tamang baybay ng mga salita.

Naranasan ko ito noong kumuha ako ng French class. Litong-lito ang lahat kung kelan ginagamit ang é at e. Dahil daw sa text. Iniisip ko ngayon: naku, mas lalo na sa mga jejemon.

Sun May 02, 08:01:00 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Katrina Magallanes said...

Hey Lance. I read De Veyra's blog. Nice commentary. I didn't expect you, however, to also react to the jejemon invasion. hahaha.

Sun May 02, 01:30:00 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

I was hesitating to, actually, but since everybody was writing about it (including you) and I thought I had something to say, I went ahead.

Sun May 02, 01:44:00 PM GMT+8  

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