Monday, April 11, 2011

Notable Notes: Language

Most everyone everywhere in this country speak English. Just don't be too quick to assume you can blab your way around that easily though. You have to watch out where your "English" comes from. Example? If you're a Brit, an Aussie or from a country with the "Chinese-English" version, you may have to encounter a stunned Filipino or they may have to ask you to repeat what you just said. American English is very commonly heard (and spoken and mimicked) especially by the younger set, so that's easier. Just the same, a Filipino may have that bewildered face, frozen/stunned look or a creased forehead trying to fathom what you just blurted out. But don't give up, just repeat what you said in the way and manner you would say those at school. If you can speak like the Voice Of America news, the better hehe!

Intonation, rhythm and stress in your words can sometimes muddle things up. Example? ALL Filipinos (whether learned or not) say "mountayn dyoo" for Mountain Dew. Compare that to how you pronounce the thing in California or New York that sounds like "moun'un doo". But when all else fails, just ask for Coke hehe!

Now there's a bit of an issue amongst Filipinos ourselves! Yes, all Filipinos speak Pilipino for we all learn that as early as the first grade, right? But NOT Tagalog and most especially NOT the Metro Manila Tagalog. Those are starkly different things. Examples? In the non-Tagalog provinces don't say "san'to?" because someone might answer you with "hindi"! Why? Because in Pilipino, that question should and must be "saan ito?" in fact it should even be "saan po ito?"! So your "san'to" might be misconstrued that you are asking if a thing is a saint. Now now, trying to be respectful? Don't shorten the "saan po ito?" to "sanpoto?" as the provincial folks might think you're looking for "puto" or "kutsinta" hehehe!

More? Well, don't say "ay dyahe" expecting everyone in the provinces would understand you. Its not in reputable and respectable Pilipino textbooks. Just say "ay nakakhiya yata". Don't say "tigalawa" its "tagdadalawa, don't say "tigasanka po" its "taga saan ka po" or more formally "taga saan po kayo" So Tagalogs, don't be too over and extra confident because you are NOT the national language. Pilipino it is - as learned in school, not Divisoria. In this case, not only intonation, rhythm and stress are important but diction too! When all else fail, read the first paragraph above. In fact, most folks in the Ilocos, the Muslim areas in Mindanao and the elderly of most provinces find English more convenient than your Tagalog!

We are still on the language topic but did you know there is also the "look" factor? Yes there is, and I have observed this many times when traveling with my friends from Metro Manila. Example? Hmm, one time I was roaming Dumaguete (a Cebuano speaking place) with friends who grew up in Metro Manila. One of them asked a tindera "limang itlog nga po" and the tindera paused a bit, looking stunned bewildered perplexed. Friend turns to me and says "hehe hindi yata ako naintindihan". I said "naintindihan ka nya, ulitin mo lang sinabi mo". She did, and all went well. When we were out of the palengke, the friends kept asking me why was that so! I said "natulala lang yung tinderang tisay, dahil mas mukha ka pang ulikba sa kanya, tapos patagatagalog ka. She was just stunned to hear you speak that way, eh mukha ka namang local sex worker in your pekpek shorts, tas kasama mo ako na mukhang DOM na Hapon"! Ganun!

So in this country, language or dialect is not the sole basis for communication. Other factors also come into play, sometimes.

Remember that!


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