Fries and chips. Crisps and cookies. Mozzies, kelpies, neddies, and roos.
From Americans to Brits to Aussies, not all English is created equal. Especially when it comes to slang.
Last year when I announced my impending move to Asia, friends and family expressed their concern about the language barrier. I’d tell them not to worry, since most people speak English in the Philippines.
And it’s true. English is spoken in the classroom and on TV. It’s on billboards, dinner menus, and street signs. The first language of some of my Philippine-born friends? English. In terms of population, the Philippines is the third largest English speaking nation in the world.
The prevalence of English in the Philippines can be traced back to just a century ago during the United States’ colonial rule and when Americans introduced the national education system. This is all after Spain’s 333 rule over the country.
On the ground and in every day language, this resulted in a twisting journey of direct translations, mixed usage rules, and even Western brand influence. It also resulted in an American (that’s me) having a ball learning how to speak English like a real Filipino.
- I wear slippers to the beach. Sometimes I wear them to the mall and other public places.
- If I need to freshen up, I excuse myself and find the comfort room. Also known as the CR.
- I store leftovers in the ref and when I’m hot I turn on the aircon.
- When it’s dark, I open the lights.
- Before I walk the dogs I make sure to put on my rubber shoes.
- In the drug store, I ask the clerk where the Colgate is but come home with Close Up. In the sari-sari I tell the attendant that I want a Coke and walk away with Sprite. In the office I ask my coworker to Xerox an agenda.
- How much, in pesos does a pair of Gap denim cost? Around two five.
- I’m leaving for Cebu November three.
- Let’s grab a burger at McDo!
Can you guess what any of these words mean? Can you add any Filipino English words to the list? Have you experienced a similar situation in another English speaking country? Please share!