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Sunday Lifestyle

Filipino English to the world

TURO-TURO - Claude Tayag - The Philippine Star

In one of my favorite scenes in last year’s groundbreaking Filipino movie Heneral Luna, the ill-tempered general was at the train station together with his two lieutenants, about to commandeer a train from the British station manager. Arguing with the Englishman in broken English, he gets exasperated after failing to get his message across.

“Puñeta!” he explodes with his now-famous expletive. “Nauubusan na ako ng Ingles, arestuhin niyo na tangina naman o! Sige na! Rapido! Ingles-inglesin mo ako sa bayan ko?” (I’m running out of English, arrest that sonababitch. Go on! Hurry! You talk to me in English in my own country?”)

Farcical, though fictional, as this turn-of-20th century scene may be, little did Filipinos then, nor the Americans as the new colonial masters, prophesize that more than a century later, English would be our official language. Filipino English, that is.

And by a strange twist of fate, look who’s borrowing words from us to incorporate into their own language? We’ve known all along where the abacá, boondocks, carabao, gulaman, “Imeldific,” karaoke, salacot, tamarau and yo-yo come from. Last year’s official “new words” added to the Oxford English Dictionary included 35 Filipino words, 14 of which are foods or food related.

It’s just the proof in the pudding (I’ll bet bibingka will be shortlisted next) that Filipinos, and Filipino cuisine, are fast conquering the world. Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach has already conquered the Universe for us. Here are those 14 Filipino words that are now part of the English language. Does this mean we don’t have to write them in italics?

Oh, by the way, “kuya” is also in the original list, meaning “an elder brother. Also used as a respectful title or form of address for an older man.” I’ve noticed our son Nico, and his generation I suppose, calls the attention of a waiter by saying “kuya” when ordering in a restaurant.

 

 

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