I DON’T know if the Latins ever reversed, contracted, transposed or mixed up their words, but this trend I now call “ibal-ibalng itlus” (bali-baling sulti or reversing, transposing mixing up a word to create a new form or to use as tribal lingo) has been around for at least 51 years.
This is of course, if I am to believe my Uncle Gustave, who said that he and his friends have been doing ibal-ibalng itlus since they were wearing knee socks to school.
“Manila is going crazy over lodi (idol) and werpa (power), but Cebuanos in my, ahem, era have been saying uyab (bayu, short for kabayu or girlfriend or boyfriend).”
“Really, Uncle? I know wayuk (kuyaw or literally fearsome or for something to be awesome); yupak oyaak (kapuy kaayo or tiresome) and imal (lami or delicious).”
My niece Ellen said, “Shodi abas is a recent code for dili saba or don’t make a peep.”
My aunt Tita Blitte said that when she was a young woman, she and her friends loved to add a syllable to make their conversation mysterious to their parents.
“Sigi Indidaygi nagigiligigo sagi igiyanggi egitucgi ngagi igirogi,” my aunt said.
“Whoa! Is that Latin?” I asked.
“No! It’s part of ibal-ibalng itlus. It is: Si Inday nagligo sa iyang cute nga iro or Inday is bathing her cute dog.”
“How about this offensive statement: Otnot gu diputs as kuobit ubilaknat?” Dona, my cousin, said.
“Hmm, who said that? President Duterte to his detractors?” Krystalle asked and we all laughed. Go figure what that sentence reads.
“It’s a millennial thing, people think, but it has been around for ages,” Uncle Gustave said.
“Will ‘syote nga salgine yak imal oyaks’ count?” I asked my uncle.
“Sure! Ibal-ibalng itlus accepts contracted words too. You said, ‘Sayote nga ginesal kay lami kaayo’ or sauteed chayote is delicious.”
“Uncle, G, can we use ibal-ibalng itlus to reflect current events?” I asked.
“Sure. It’s been done for years.”
Uncle said that notorious criminals hiding from the law never say they were doing just that. They say, “I wasn’t hiding; you just couldn’t find me.” Or say, “He didn’t die from being mauled; he had a heart attack.” Or “I didn’t flee from the law; I was just having a vacation in Europe.” Or “Sabu (i.e. shabu)? There’s no sabu. I’m in jail,” even if a large amount of shabu was found in the jail.
I’m like ibal-ibalng itlus. You can “pissog tuoba ruoy borneigh ot ruoy s’traeh tentcon dna ton eb dnuof tuo.” This sure beats lodi and werpa.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on November 18, 2017.
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