Juan E. De Castro deposited ¿En qué idioma escribe usted?: Spanish, Tagalog and Identity in José Rizal’s Noli me tangere in the group CLCS Global Hispanophone on MLA Commons 3 years, 5 months ago
“¿En qué idioma escribe Ud.?” (142) “In which language are you writing?” This question, that Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra, the protagonist of José Rizal’s novel Noli me tangere (1887), addresses to the old scholar Don Anastasio, better known as Tasio, is more than just an expression of curiosity when he sees the latter writing, of all things, hieroglyphs. Tasio is, in Rizal’s novel, the one character who is presented primarily as an intellectual—the chapter in which this episode takes place is titled “En casa del filósofo” (“At the Philosopher’s House”). Yet he is also emotionally aligned with local values and with the future development of a Filipino nation, despite his pessimism regarding the social, political, and even cultural present. Tasio can be seen, therefore, as representing the anti-colonial Filipino scholar. Ibarra’s question—¿En que idioma escribe Ud.?—raises the issue of the connotations and comparative advantages of using the imperial versus the vernacular tongue in anti-colonial and postcolonial contexts.