Chillax, it’s 2008
- Scott R. Garceau () - January 13, 2008 - 12:00am

Yes, that big ‘ole blue marble has spun around the fiery orb once again, and it’s time to say out with the bad, in with the good.

Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves every New Year’s Day. You know: all those annoying expressions that have wormed their way into our text messages and become woven into the daily conversation here. Stuff that has either been around for too long, or produces explosions of snickers. Stuff that makes your ears curdle in horror. Truly, here are the expressions of 2007 that are just… so over.

And then? I first encountered this expression while watching Dude, Where’s My Car years ago, so I can’t say its provenance is specifically centered in the Philippines. It was uttered by the old Chinese woman working the take-out drive-through window, each time the Ashton Kutcher dude would complete reciting his food order. “And then?” would come the infuriating reply, over and over, a question mark hanging in the air every time he paused to take a breath.

That’s what it’s like here. You start telling a story, you pause to grab a handful of peanuts, collect your thoughts, whatever, and the listener jumps in with “And then?”

Boy, are some people impatient. The expression is a bit annoying because it implies that your story is not sufficiently interesting to warrant further attention. “And then?” implies “Get to the point.” “Talk faster.” “Connect the dots.” “Wrap it up.” I don’t know about most Filipinos, but I find it hard to tell funny or interesting stories under such pressure. “And then?” kind of makes me want to clam up.

Brokeback. Ang Lee has a lot to answer for. His movie about gay cowboys was so universally successful that it has led to chortle-driven Brokeback Mountain references everywhere you turn. Filipinos are particularly good at the game. Anytime a couple of guys go up to a mountain province now, it’s “Brokeback” this, “Brokeback” that. In fact, anytime two males who are not gay spend any time together, it spawns a reflexive “Brokeback” reference. Come on, people. The movie’s three years old already. Find a new gay-baiting term.

(Okay, I’m guilty of the same thing. I saw some buffed-up male acrobats performing a dinner show in Amsterdam recently. They were shirtless, of course, and grabbing each other in very personal points of the male anatomy, so naturally my first thought was “Brokeback Circus.” My, how mature we are.)

Chillax! A conflation of “chill” and “relax,” it’s usually uttered by exasperated tweens and 20-somethings whenever their elders open their mouths. The implication is that only people capable of uttering “Chillax!” are fully in control of themselves and the situation. I almost fell off my chair when I heard a seasoned newspaper editor using the term. I knew then that the expression was dead in the water. While it is merely annoying when young people use it, it is truly horrifying and henceforth should be banned when used by people older than 45.

Close! It’s the new “Uy!” There are cutesy little terms that Filipinos adopt, usually spoken in arch, singsong voices, and “Close!” is the new one. “Close!” is uttered whenever a hint of romantic interest or even personal contact rears its head between two non-dating people. Usually accompanied by a chorus of whistles and high-pitched squealing. The phrase is meant to drive torpe people back into their shells, and to kid them mercilessly until they are totally pikon. Usually, it works. Spoken thus, “Close!” has that particularly annoying schoolyard flavor — the true birthplace of immature teasing — that, in the Philippines, lasts long into adulthood. There are other accompanying, singsong phrases, acronyms like “HH” (holding hands) that are spoken to increase the teasing factor, but “Uy!” — the predecessor to “Close!” — has Lifetime Achievement Award standing now, so it can retire with its head held high.

Confi. Short for “in confidence,” this is another example of how Filipinos love to clip their words. Perhaps it’s an extension of the texting mode, this desire for verbal shortcuts. This one usually comes out right before someone is about to share a secret. “It’s confi…” they will tell you, before spilling their little dose of gossip in a loud, braying voice that anyone with WiFi can easily pick up on.

Friend. A recent specimen of gayspeak (or swardspeak), my sources in the entertainment industry say it is now being used to replace “mudder” (which replaced the even more dated “girlfriend”) when referring to a fellow bakla. It must be very tiring to keep track of the most au courant gayspeak. Take note, cocktail party planners.

In fairness. This one is really starting to get on my nerves. It’s a cloying mash-up of “To be fair” and “In all fairness,” two phrases that usually precede a parenthetical thought, a mitigating circumstance, a qualifying statement of some kind. Now, people simply use “In fairness” to clean up after all the trash-talking they’ve just done about somebody else. As in: “In fairness, he’s actually a really good cook,” after going on for 10 minutes about what a completely loathsome and despicable S.O.B. a particular guy is. It’s meant, apparently, to show that the speaker is not really all that judgmental, that he or she is capable of seeing the good qualities in even the most speckled toad. After all, a spoonful of sugar helps the hate go down a lot easier.

Slight. Another bit of shortening, usually spoken by 20-somethings to indicate a minimal degree of something or other. In other words, if someone asks if you’re experiencing a mental breakdown over your job, school or love life, you just say “Slight” instead of “Slightly.” Why 20-somethings abandon the “ly” and turn a perfectly useful adverb into an adjective, just on a whim, is worthy of further study. I think there may be a developing tendency to avoid adverbs, and the “ly” syllable in particular, among 20-somethings. My feeling is that adverbs somehow lack emphasis to the 20-something tongue: a quick one-syllable replacement, like “slight,” seems to fit the needs of time-challenged slackers. In fairness, it’s because they’re into, like, making everything faster and less baggy, you know? It’s not ‘cuz they’re lazy, or anything like that. In fairness.

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Got more Filipino or English phrases that people say or text you that drive you batty? Send them to

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