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Filipino English   -   "Say What?"

 

As a part of the Americans "protectorate" relationship with the Philippines during the 1st half of the 20th century, the English language was introduced to our education.  While Private Schools teach most to almost all classes in English, this is not true for Public Schools where most Filipinos attend.  So, not ALL classes are taught in English as many Westerners believe.  Usually NO English is taught until 1st grade and then only 1 or 2 classes.  

As students advance to higher grades more subjects are taught in English and normally all College courses are taught in English.  This is one reason I suggest to USA, British, Australian and Canadian gentlemen to give preference to college students and graduates as they normally speak and write English much better than Filipina not attending college.  Also, you will hear women mention taking American English classes.  I now tell you why.

Filipinos apply the peculiar sounds of our different dialects (mainly Tagalog and Bisaya) we speak at home.  Few Filipino families speak English as main language at home.   Sometimes visitors have to listen carefully to determine whether Filipinos are even speaking English.

As examples:  Few Filipinos distinguish between the short 'i' sound and the long 'e' sound; so big will sound like beeg. The mixed 'ae' sound in 'ham' will sound as hum to a Westerner.  Filipinos use vowel sounds as in the Spanish five vowel sounds without the complex and illogical phonetic variations English gives to these vowels (remember Spaniards were here much longer).

Filipina, Philipina, Philippina, Pilipina

Let me explain why there seems to be so many spellings of Filipino and Filipina used on the internet.   This is because the indigenous languages don't have the "f" sound, which is substituted by "p". That is why at first Filipino English is hard to understand until you get use to the absence of certain sounds you are use to in US, Canadian, Australian and British English.  About 20 years ago the RI Department of Education added several new "Western" letters to our alphabet.  Since then we have started spelling a number of words with a "F."  Even the name of our language was changed from Pilipino to Filipino.  By the way Filipino, Pilipino, Philipino, and Philippino are all used as same by Westerners.  We use Filipino (Filipina) or Pinoy (Pinay) here most often.  For females just use an "a" at end instead of "o" - Filipina, Philipina, Philippina and Pinay.  In fact, I, and I am sure most of younger Filipina, have never used Philipina, Philippina or Pilipina.

Filipinos that meet with tourist deal with much confusion as everyone's' English is different.  Germans speaking English sound much different plus they use some slang expressions that are very different.  Likewise, Australian English sounds quite different than Canadian, American or British English.  So, no surprise that Filipinos also have a hard time understanding different types of English.  Usually we understand visitors English better than they understand us.  Of course, we (in tourist areas) are more use to hearing different forms of English and if you spend more time in the Philippines, I am sure you would get use to our pronunciation also.

Please do not correct Filipinos on our English usage.  But discuss differences OK.  Filipino English is a dialect in its own right, just as is American English or Australian English.  If fact, the Philippines is the third most populous English speaking country in the world, after India and the United States.  So, our English IS correct here, just as Australian English is correct there!

Normally, Filipinos speak more deliberately and more clearly than Americans, whether they're speaking Tagalog or English.  Filipinos say that Americans speak 'slang', which itself has a  different meaning to Filipinos than it does to Americans.  When a Filipino says  'slang', he means 'to mumble or speak unclearly'.  Listen to Filipinos  speaking. You can define each separate syllable.  Now listen to Americans.  All of the words are run together.  Sometimes it is hard to tell where a sentence ends, and another starts.  No wonder foreigners have such a  difficult time trying to understand American English, even if they have studied  English in their own countries.  So, when in the Philippines, try to speak as  the Filipinos do.  Not baby talk, but clearly annunciated standard English, free of American colloquialisms, idioms and slang.  You will be  understood by nearly everyone when you take the time to speak carefully.  We not deaf, so don't shout at us! (why do people do that anyway?)  Remember, you are guests in our country / neighborhood / store / home.   And, unfortunately, many of us are very sensitive and get hurt feelings even if we not show it so just be the polite gentleman I know you are, OK?

Did you know that there is at least one Tagalog word in contemporary American English?  It is  "boondocks,"  derived from the Tagalog word  "bundok,"  meaning  "remote places" to Americans, and "mountain" to Filipinos. This word was apparently brought back around the turn of the century by soldiers or teachers.  Since it is current information, did you know "turn of the century" means the year 0 of each century as the new century does not technically start until year 1.  So, while Jan. 1, 2000 starts a new millennium, the new century does not start until Jan 1, 2001. (Check your dictionary and amaze your friends;-)  

One of the other peculiarities of Filipino English (from an American viewpoint) is that in some cases the same phrase can have an opposite meaning.  For example, "every now and then", which Americans use to mean "occasionally", is used by Filipinos to mean "often".

As the Philippine secretary will say, "The meeting will push through for a moment."   Say  what?

 

@^_^@     Other Funny Sayings     @^_^

( Have some to add?  Just email them to me Jean )


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