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Friday, November 16, 2018

Valderrama: Philippine English

THROUGHOUT the many centuries of colonization by Spain, we have adopted thousands of Spanish words into our language. Over time, we skewered their spellings, screwed up their pronunciations, and even twisted some of their original meanings.

For example, in Spain, “derecho” means “right,” in contrast to the Ilonggo meaning of “forward.” A typical Filipino might assume that “cubierto” means “dining utensils” when in fact it means “covered” – “cubiertos” however, means cutlery, which is closer to the Filipino meaning. Careful, that’s tricky. Adding to that, the Spanish word “seguro” has a completely different meaning from the Filipino “siguro.” In Filipino, “siguro” means “maybe,” while in Spanish, it means “definitely.”

When the Americans came here and started introducing us to English, we did the exact same thing with their language. Well, we didn’t murder it to the point of it being unintelligible, but we messed with it just enough to make a Filipino English speaker stand out among a crowd of native speakers. We use words that sound strange or alien to American English speakers, such as:

Armalite -- The M16 is not called the Armalite in say, Columbia, or Turkey, or the United States for that matter. The first variant of the M16, the M16A1, was made by the Armalite company, but nowadays, the famous rifle is being manufactured by Colt. However that doesn’t stop Filipino policemen or soldiers from calling it the Armalite.

Already -- In the Philippines, the word “already” is used to denote something that’s been finished, but in American English, it’s only used when something is completed before a deadline.

Barbecue -- Filipino barbecues are different from American barbecues. In an American barbecue, you get a slab of meat, put a little bit of BBQ sauce on it and toss it on the grill. The Filipino version, however, has more of a resemblance with the kebab. We get bits of pork or chicken, fat included, and skewer them on a stick.

Biscuit -- A loan word from British English. In England, a biscuit is a cookie-like, hard snack made of flour. In America, a biscuit looks more like a small muffin or a scone.

Blowout -- When we say blowout, we actually mean “treat,” and in American usage, a blowout is what happens when you get a flat tire.

Bold -- Softcore porn. No other English-speaking country calls their adult entertainment “bold.”

Canteen -- A loan word from British English. In the Philippines, indoor food stations with no waiting staff are called both “canteens” and “cafeterias.” The former is the British term, while the latter is the American one.

Chancing -- Flirting.

Chicken -- This word does not refer to the animal, and neither does it refer to a coward. The word “Chicken” in Filipino English is short for the expression “chicken feed,” which means that something is easy.

Civilian clothes -- Street clothes.

Comfort Room -- Toilet.

Course -- Another borrowed term from British English. In the US, however, the word “course” means “subject,” and Americans use the term “major” or “academic major” to mean a series of studies required to complete a degree.

Dine-In -- In the United States, “dining-in” is a formal military dinner. In American English, the term “eat in” is used when food service staff asks a customer if they plan to eat their food inside a restaurant.

Duster -- Sun dress.

Feeling -- e.g. “Feeling close”. The word “feeling” is never used like this anywhere else on the globe.

Salvage -- Execution.

Tripping -- Something done for entertainment.

Turko -- This word is often incorrectly used for any Indian or South Asian person. Sometimes also used for Arabs.

Xerox -- Photocopy.

It has been said that the Filipino is an excellent mimic. This, combined with the quality of English education we were given as children, has led to English becoming a major language in our country; however, Filipinos are creative, and being creative as ever, the Filipino just had to add some words to this foreign language. Some of us didn’t even know that there was such a thing as “Philippine English.” It might not be 100 percent correct, but that’s what makes it special.


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