Sunday, May 01, 2011

Mikey Bustos: The Filipino Accent Tutorial

There are 171 languages in the Philippines other than English, which is one of two official national languages. The other is Tagalog, a word which is a corruption of the term "taga ilog," or "river dweller." This refers to the Pasig River, which flows into Manila Bay, along one flank of Metro Manila, the capital and largest city, the area to which Tagalog is native. It is in its standardized form (which incorporates both English and Spanish vocabulary, sometimes dropping the use of native equivalents altogether) that it is officially known as "Filipino," although most refer to it by its ethnic name.

Filipino schoolchildren learn Tagalog or their regional language in the home, and English in school -- ten years worth before university, essentially skipping junior high, which is not a bad idea in itself -- and continue to speak it in university. But those who do not continue to use it in daily life tend to forget it. "Sal" and her daughters speak perfect English, but for many Filipinos even in the States, who mostly interact with their kababayans (fellow countrymen), it is a different experience.

Many educated Filipinos, both in the States and back home, tend to go back and forth between English and Tagalog, even within one conversation. It may simply be a matter of the occasional phrases of one language within the use of another, a phenomenon known as "Taglish." Or they may spontaneously move from one language to the other, which linguists refer to as "code switching." Generally, the English language is more formal, spoken upon introduction, in business dealings, and with those with whom one is not well acquainted. Tagalog is more common when speaking informally, or otherwise more freely, and/or among familiars.

To put it another way, English is the language of the head, while Tagalog is the language of the heart, ano?*

For our featured guest in this second installment of our series (who is using his original speaking accent, as opposed to what you heard yesterday), the Filipino accent is "warm, high spirited, full of culture, unique, disarming, and is bound to make anyone smile" -- which for him characterizes the Filipino people.

* A term which is roughly equivalent to when Canadians end their interrogatory sentences with "eh?"

(Tomorrow: Traditional Filipino Courting Tutorial)

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