Tuesday, 25 August 2009

How to Speak / Interpret Filipino

Filipinos are often surprised that foreigners cannot speak Tagalog. It is often believed Tagalog is an easy language to learn. That could be true for the foreigner living in provinces here where little English is ever heard, but not in the metropolis of Manila where every third word in a Tagalog conversation is actually English. It is hard to isolate oneself from English if it is your native language and become immersed in Tagalog enough to get any real learning done.

Jokingly, one could simply mispronounce in stereotypical fashion some English words in ways that mimic the vernacular; such as switching the sounds for p and f in words. That's not what this post is about though.

This is more about how Filipinos use English to suit Filipino thought and/or customs.

Here's a few helpful phrases to keep in mind for anyone planning to come to the Philippines:

What you hear: I'll be there at 1:00.
What it means: I'll leave my house around 1:00.

What you hear: I lost my phone.
What it means: My phone was stolen.

What you hear: It's very traffic.
What it means: a. Traffic is heavy. b. I left late and I'm blaming traffic to cover my ass.

What you hear: For a while, sir/ma'am.
What it means: One moment, please.

What you hear: I will try to be there.
What it means: I will not be there.

I hope these are a big help for a new traveler or expat.

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