Written by Administrator
Thursday, 22 November 2007 03:06
By Morr Pungayan (columnist, Baguio Midland Courier)*
I came across with this very interesting and educational column which is
something we, Filipinos, urgently need to consider as an eye-opener on how we
exactly view OUR English.
WITH THE SUDDEN rise of Call Centers in the City and elsewhere, many young people
of this generation are scrambling to get hold of that “English”
– that which the ones “already there” (claim to already have
and thus) require the applicants to demo, before said applicants pass Base #
ITìZBN THREE YEARS since I’ve been meeting people saying these
– and the like: some coming for advice; some, looking for a silver-platter-type
of instruction (or “transfer”) of that said “English”.
AND WHEN YOU ask them what those “already-there” require them to
have presto(!)? They’ll answer you: American accent
(with emphatic accent on the word “accent”).
NOW, WHEN YOU smile and tell them, it is “not that easy” to acquire
such an “accent”, you can see the frustration all over their faces!’
BUT EVEN MORE frustrations (!) if you tell them, only native-born American –
of any ethnos or national – can readily produce the elusive “accent”!
BUT MUCH MUCH more frustrated if you tell them” the term American
“accent” is a Filipino “invention”; in New
York alone, there are four – even five – different such “accents”;
one is the Bronx.
“SO BEST THING you do” (you may advise them) is to try to speak
the “best American accent” you can project, and once you pass and
become one of them as “already there”, aloha(!) you too,
are speaking the “ideal, American accent!" And wow! Can
you picture the immensity of their surprise? Or, frustration?
* * * * * * * * * *
BUT LET US approach the issue using some data at hand; lest, we too become “elusive”.
FIRSTLY AND BASICALLY, the type of “English” we are trained to study,
learn and later on apply in actual life is “not pure American”
English; it is rather a “mix-mix” of four: the so-called American
English, Standard British English, Spanish, and “Philippinized”
English. For simplicity, let us use the abbreviations” AE, SBE,
Span., and PhE, respectively.
SECONDLY, IT IS IMPORTANT that we accept the truth-germane of the above before
we can proceed to venture deeply into the issue.
THRIDLY, IT MAY be easiest to support our above contentions by citing typical
morpho-phonological instances rather than dwell on the supra-segmental features
of: cadence, juncture, tone, pitch, and the like.
* * * * * * * * * *
WE, FILIPINOS, SAY rotonda (fr. Spanish rotunda, roundhouse; or rotundo,
round) when we are referring to the American English (AE) “traffic circle”
or the standard British English (SBE) “roundabout”; we say aparador
(also Span.) for AE “closet” and SBE “cupboard”; we
say viand for the side-dish of rice, when this word is already considered
“Archaic” in SBE, though it formerly meant “any article of
food”, and (now it is) non-existent in AE; we call that green fruit avocado
which is called “crocodile pear” in SBE, and “alligator pear”
in AE; and so on.
COMING NEARER TO our “distinct” nuances of English, we say ready
made for SBE “off the peg” and AE “ready to ear”;
attorney, for SBE “solicitor/barrister” and AE “lawyer”
(though in official references also “attorney” as in “District
Attorney”); increase for SBE “rise” and AE “hike”;
drunkard, for SBE “alcoholic” and AE “lush”;
the police, for SBE “bobby” and AE “policemen/cops”;
WE CLAIM WE speak American English in the Philippines but if given the choice
between “the former” or “the latter” what would the
young person of today choose as the one he uses more often: “no place”
or “nowhere”? “any place” or “anywhere”?
“some place or “somewhere”. “The former” ones
are AE, “the latter” ones are SBE. In like manner, don’t we
Filipinos say the SBE infinitives “to fail/to flop” rather than
its American equivalent “to bomb”? “to murder/to assassinate”
rather than the AE “to bump off”?
IN THE THREE words necessary, secretary, and laboratory, the
penultimate syllable is not articulated in SBE but is fully-articulated with
tertiary stress in AE; so, as a Filipino speaker of English, do you
articulate it “British way” or “American way” –whether
aware of it or not? Why don’t you try producing the sounds yourself
and decide which-is-which for you?
AGAIN IN THREE words: inquiry, research and excess, SBE has
later stresses while American English does the stressing on the first syllable!
Try these too and find out for yourself which stress pattern you are actually
BESIDES AND FINALLY, each one of us – i. e. each individual speaker
– who uses any language e. g. English, produces an idiolect:
the basic and supra-segmentals of which are the holistic sum of his
training, environment, personality and so on, thus to speak AE or SBE –
like the “native” – is “rare” rather than “normative”?
* * * * * * * * * *
IN 1986, there was a BBC World broadcaster describing on screen the speakers,
leaders, etc., on Philippine soil using “… the beautiful Philippine
(English) accent . . .” referring to the English-brand of those they
met personally on field, as well as those they heard speak on
TV channels during the Edsa I Resolution.
SO YOU SEE? That statement alone typifies an indication saying there is an observed,
distinct Philippine “English” – if not “accent”
– and, by logical implicatum, denies the presence of American
English “accent” among speakers of English in the Philippines
(!), except for a privileged and “gifted” few.
MEANWHILE FILIPINO USERS of “English” are fast coming up with their
“own versions” of formerly AE or SBE terms and expressions
the likes of: MJ from SBE “Marijuana” (n. b. they don’t
use the AE “grass” or “weed”); addict from
SBE “drug addict” (n. b. they don’t use the AE “junkie”);
dirty/sometimes unclean from SBE “dirty” (n. b.
they don’t use the AE “crummy”); or binder from the
SBE “ring binder” (n. b. they don’t use the AE “looseleaf
notebook” nor the “purer” SBE ring book); and many
NO WONDER MANY native speakers of English, name it: British, American,
Australian, New Zealander, South African, etc. are tickled when
a Filipino answers “we speak American (Accent) English!” when asked
the question: “What brand of English do you speak in the Philippines?”
SO DON’T YOU think we have our own English? Are we not entitled –
as users of the same – to name it by our own choice? Let’s start
calling it “Philippine English”, huh? We can use the abbreviation