268th blog … bastardization is true in all languages, not only in tagalog!

Plagiarized? lengua estopado does not mean stupid language! just an attempt to prove that pinoy is worth dying for, and many already did!

Tagalog language, whatever it is, is oftentimes outrageous if not altogether crazy.

Etymologists and linguists told us that Filipino (it used to be spelled Pilipino before 1985) with Tagalog as its basis, is essentially Malay which is easily a tagalog word but greatly influenced by western languages, albeit a bastardized influence.

Why bastardized? In the more than 350 years of subjugation by europeans and americans, together with more hundred years of hindu and buddhist overlords, we have assimilated several of their words into our tagalog language, but many of them seem to have mutated and taken on different meanings from their original expressions.

Take the common word “desgracia,” for example, especially when used with “caer en ______” means “to fall out of favor.” How did it become “accident” when said in Filipino?

Going a bit further with a derivative of this original word, “disgrasyada” paints a picture of a once respectable girl or woman who has had a sexual “accident” and is thus “disgraced.”

Now it takes on a deeper undertone that borders on social stigma.

“Seguro,” for another, which, in any spanish dictionary is found to mean “sure, certain,” becomes the unsure and uncertain word “maybe” when used in our language.

But if one conjugates it a little further and it quickly reverts back to its original meaning, as in “sigurado.” Just like “Pingala” that traces the origin to tagalog “Pinga” that was indigenous to the island of Luzon.

“Diperensiya” is understood as “something wrong” with something. There seems to be a big difference from its literal origin.

Do you believe that “lunch” in Spanish is “almorzar” (breakfast is “desayuno”. To most, the word “recado” meant an “ingredient or condiment” used in cooking a meal, but to a dictionary it meant “outfit, message, regards.”

Hispanics in the United States call “sponge cake” “bizcocho” which is quite diametrically different from the crunchy, crumbly goodie from Bacolod.

The Spanish “lechon” is “a suckling pig,” same as the tagalog “litson.” The big incongruity is that “lechon” is a live pig while “litson” is already roasted and ready to be eaten, and is definitely not chinese.

“Maruya” is supposedly original tagalog delicacy, but this dish made of banana and sweet potato fritters is actually called “marjuya” in mexico. 

“Atsuwete”, “kakawati” and “kamatsile” meanwhile, are in fact the equivalent of Aztec terms for “aziote,” “cacahuate” and “camachile” respectively. Ditto for “calachuchi.”. “Mani” of tagalog is also Mexican.

In the past, it was considered “sosyal” for every chinese panciteria to list in its menu the spanish translations of the dishes they offer, like “Morisqueta Tostada,” “Camaron Rebosado,” etc.

I guess, to the ordinary Filipino at that time, it was the nearest thing to dining at an elegant European restaurant with such exquisite foreign sounding cuisine.

Can someone tell me if “carne norte” really comes from the north?   What about “ilaya” and “ibaba”?  How about the authentic  “pinga” which actually meant “consciousness or spirit” or “malay” and “diwal” to the indigenous tagalog natives who derived the word from the ancient alphabet “pi” and “nga” known as tagalog baybayin?

Pinga was bastardized by the europeans after they “discovered”  the island of luzon in the forgotten past. Queer pronunciation turned the word into “Pigna” in western script, or “Pena”.

They likened the origin of the name “Pinga” from the pointing finger-shape of the island of corsica to mislead or misconstrue the meaning as “finger or penis” for the other generations of inhabitants in the numerous lands that they conquered.

Then, the romans tried to immortalize the name in a sculptured-pine cone in one of the vatican plazas and inscribed the name as “pigna”, without them really knowing its etymology and true meaning that made queerly different from origina “pinga” of the tagalog baybayin text.  

The same way that the conquered indigenous inhabitants of america learned from the europeans that “Pinga” actually meant  “spirit” so that they interpreted the word  as “cachaca” which to them is the spirit of the wine.

“Despachadora” is the accepted local term for saleslady. But its origin, “despachar,” means “to hasten; to make haste.” I cannot seem to find the connection there. What’s worse, “idispatsa” in Filipino means “to fire; to send away.”

Maybe cockfight and horserace aficionados can explain why the local versions of “dejado” and “llamado” are not what the dictionary says. “Dehado” at the cockpit or racetrack means “slight chance to win”.

In the dictionary, “dejado” is “neglect, untidy; indolent.” “Liyamado,” meanwhile, is the cock or horse “favored to win” while “llamado” means “call, denominate.”

“Tupada” means “picnic” and “casino” is actually “club house.”  I was looking for gamblers in the “casino” in santa monica island off of los angeles but there was none, no gambling machines like we have in manila.

Does “pintakasi” also mean “patron saint”? Does anybody know who is the saint called “Sta. Mesa”?

“Diskarte” is the “unique way of handling things” but with a touch of shrewdness, perhaps. This term cannot be found in dictionaries. Its origin may have been “descartar” (“to discard”) as in when playing card games, one has to be astute in choosing which cards to throw away.

“Hirit” used to mean “One more card, please,” when playing blackjack but now connotes “one more time” or “one more chance.”

According to a friend, the current way the word is used is a Johnny-come-lately pick-up from American English of “Hit it!”

“Sugal” came from “jugar” and “pusta” from “apuesta.” But as in many other mundane things, once a native learns something, he not only masters it, he even does one better.

Who do you think invented “pusoy” and “tong-its?”

If one were to translate the word “kursunada,” it would be “having a yen for.” Actually, its derivation is “corazonada” or “impulse of the heart”. How sweet. But “kursunada” can also mean, especially among teen-age gangs, “wanting to have a fight with someone!”

“Eskinita” is actually the corner leading into an alley an “kalyehon” is the correct term for “narrow street.” “Etiketa” is the label or tag of a piece of clothing but “etiqueta” means “etiquette.”

“Patas” which means “the same, equal” actually comes form “pata” meaning leg. “Papel” is simply “paper” but it can also mean “role in a play,” or even “reputation.” But “pumapapel” graduates to “trying to create a good impression” with some undertones of falsehood and deceit in it.  

But when an american driver is suddenly caught by the red traffic light in the middle of the road, how will he say “nag-alanganin ako” to the apprehending officer?

The Spanish adjective “simple” means just that in English but pronounced with an “e” that is not silent. In its pure tagalog form, it means exactly the same. But when it becomes a verb as in “sumisimple” or “nasimplihan” the definition blossoms into another.

For the former, the nearest translation I could come up with is “surreptitiously trying to get away with something trivial.” This is somehow related to the Filipino trait, “baka makalusot.” In fact, the usual rationalization of one who has been caught “sumisimple” is, “Baka makalusot, e.”

How about that honorable word “delicadeza?” I was amazed to learn from the dictionary that it means “fragility, weakness.” I am sure men of integrity who do not wish to tarnish the image of the office they are holding do not resign out of “weakness,” don’t you think so?

Maybe we should take a cue from the Spaniards. As in Spanish, “esposa” in Filipino means “wife” but its Spanish plural, “esposas” can also mean “handcuffs.” They seem to be telling us something there.

Even some English words suffer the loss of their veracity when they become part of our rich vocabulary.

“Traffic,” for example, is defined in motoring books as “the flow of vehicles in a thoroughfare.” But when the double “F” is replaced by a single “P” and used in the vernacular, it transforms to mean the “flow has stopped.” Or it might also be translated as “the person who tries to enforce the flow.”

“Bistek” is the Filipino version of “beefsteak” but cooked quite differently. And this style of cooking has also evolved other dishes like “bistek na baboy” or “bistek na bangus.” Where has the beef gone?

While browsing at a local department store, an American acquaintance was appalled to find that “step-ins” were being advertised as bargains–in giant bold letters at that. It turned out that fancy slippers were on sale not panties. Step-ins are what some girls call underpants in the US of A.

Here’s a piece of advice for young gentlemen. To be proper about it, when you “make sundo” a girl who has lived in the States for some time, use the word “fetch” rather than “pick up” so as not to insult her.

Never say, “This is where we get down,” at the end of your trip, unless you want to be slapped. “Get off” is the proper phrase.

Do not ever call her loose comfortable housedress a “duster” either (unless of course she uses it to wipe some dusty furniture). “Muu-muu” is the appropriate term for the dress which, by the way, is pure Hawaiian.

Here are some more useful terms a Filipino must remember when traveling abroad. If you have to “get rid of excess liquidity,” do not say, “Where is the C. R.?” Request that you be directed to the restroom or bathroom.

When it’s time to pay after dining in a restaurant, it is very Filipino but very wrong to ask for the “chit”; just say “Check, please,”and the waiter will promptly deliver your bill.

Aside from “boondocks” (“bundok” or “mountain”), Another is “yo-yo” but are a lot of other tagalog words on loan to american dictionaries but are not recognized due to their colonist mentality.

What about “Gulong ng Palad” because one rolls it from one’s palm when playing with it?

Brand names of popular products have also become Filipino words. Many still call their refrigerators, “pridyider” from “Frigidaire”.

Or all kinds of water soluble dye, “dyobus,” which is actually “Joe Bush,” the American who founded the
company that specializes in powdered dyes.

My mother told me that during her time “vetsin” was actually “Bee Chin,” a popular brand name for monosodium glutamate. “Kotex” has also become the generic word for all feminine napkins as well as “Jockey” for men’s briefs and “Flit” for spray insecticide or “Katol” for mosquito coil.

Ditto for those “X” words “Chlorox” and “Xerox.” By the way, did you know that “tansan” is actually the name of a soft drinks factory in the 1930’s?

A number of Filipino along with “kalaykay,” “hikaw,” “suyud,” “lugi,” “punglo,” “suwitik,” “susi,” “pakyaw,” “pusyaw,” “puti,” “mungkahi” as well as “kuya,” “ate,” “bayaw,” “hipag”, “siyaho” and other words we use as fond appellations for our close relatives were also used people in china.

The authentic tagalog words such as amang, inang, nanang, tatang, mama, nana, lelong, lelang, ninuno and even anito are already a forgotten word already.

More popular now are “pansit,” “liyempo,” “lugaw,” “luglog,” “lumpia” and hundreds of other food terms, but to say or claim that these words all came from china is very misleading.  Oh, “apa,” however, is also being used in japan.

I came across the word “barbakua” in an old Ilocano dictionary compiled in 1800’s. This Iloko word means “To roast. Fruits in their rind, potatoes in their jacket, etc.”  This makes me wonder, did we introduce “barbecue,” a supposedly all-american social event, to them?

On the other hand, in an old webster dictionary, I found the word “jitney” and it even had an illustration showing a horse-drawn cart with passengers seated facing each other.

It further explained that the fare charged was one “jit” which was equivalent to a nickel. Was this the forerunner of the all-filipino “jeepney?”

And how do americans explain their enunciation and diction for the name “los angeles” or “arkansas” and many other more?

Sometimes our version of some foreign technical terms are quite peculiar if not altogether paradoxical. Take for example the word “concrete.” If one were to visualize this, in the mind’s eye, it would be a sturdy tall building or a massive infrastructure project.

But what is “concrete” to a Filipino layman? It is “buhos.” The word does not sound solid at all–in fact, it is liquid! Still, “buhos” (“pour”), truly, is the correct Filipino translation of “concrete.”

Playing around with literal translations was an entertaining pastime when we were still in school  Of course you’ve already heard of “Bullet day, I will giant you!” (“Balang araw, maghihiganti ako!”).  

Another transliteration of “He has met his match.” was “Nasalubong niya ang kanyang posporo.” Or the other way around, “magbalatkayo” would mean “All of you, peel!”

Today, however, we would have called all this foolishness “lightningations” (“mga kalintikan”)!

My daughter tells me that Filipino idioms are called “sawikain.” The word “balat” (“skin”) is often used in this vernacularism as in “balat sibuyas.” “balat kalabaw” “pabalat bunga,” etc.

It took me a long while to fully appreciate “maghahalo ang balat sa tinalupan” as one of the most graphic of Filipino idioms. These are usually expressed as fighting words when someone nears the end of his patience.

Imagine a situation where good sense, order and civility are thrown out the window and what is hurled at an adversary is a grave threat and a reckless challenge to engage in a no-holds-barred battle where everything is fair–no limit to weaponry or the manner of fighting.

That’s what “mixing the peeled item with its peelings” is-something akin to another word which should really mean “to do nothing at all” but instead connotes utter mayhem–“magwawala.”

Of these idioms, what I cannot comprehend is “magtaingang kawali.” A person with two giant ears as big as woks can definitely not “feign deafness!” There seems to be a double entendre there somewhere that I cannot discern. 

However, “magbilang ng poste” manifests a more vivid mental picture. With the poor economic situation nowadays, we are consoled by the fact that at least the unemployed still have posts to count.

Many Filipino words cannot be directly translated into English. A European friend noted this when he asked me what the word “tampo” meant because his Filipina girl friend refused to see him for a while. “It’s something like – well, sulking, playing hard-to-get”.

But the more I tried to elucidate, the more muddled my explanation became. It took me a full hour to illustrate the rituals of courtship and several other examples before he could grasp what “tampo” meant.

And to this day, I still have no idea if I was able to convince him with my dissertation. Well, as the song goes, “It was clear as mud, but it covered the ground.”

What “May I have your attention, please?” was in Filipino. The answer? Just one single word–“Hoy!”

And if you want something even shorter, how about this? “Ha?” may be an interjection but it is also a true sentence translated to mean any one of these three: “What did you say?”, “Do you understand?”, or “Is that so?”

Yes, Tagalog or Filipino may be very simple. It may even be as simple as repeating a syllable over and over to make a complete sentence.

For example, if an elevator stops at the third floor of a building and the operator peeps out of his cab, a Filipino wanting to get home would invariably ask. “Bababa ba?”

Or it might be as longwinded or as difficult to pronounce as “nakakapagpabagabag” Now that’s a challenge for you.

Try saying that word, even just once without reading it slowly and I bet you, you won’t get it right. Isn’t that a real tongue twister and you hardly even use your tongue to enunciate it!

Some expressions in our national language may even be completely wordless, like when we conducted an experiment while in the States to find out who among a crowd of people was Filipino.

One of us hissed “Psssst!” and, true enough, it was only a Filipino who responded by turning around to look who psssted. Or, try shouting “baluuuut!” in a crowd in LA, and you will know who’s gonna turn the head around.

The younger generation finds it hard to believe that during the days of Highway 54, it was quite proper for a passenger to stop a running bus by giving out a loud hiss and an equally loud slap on the side or roof of the bus–just one slap, mind you. two slaps meant go. Do you still know where that highway is?

Conversational Filipino contains many indefinites that sometimes one has to have a sharp psychic ability just to be able to comprehend. One can hear these words every day, for example: “Paki-ganyan mo nga yung kuwan sa ano.” and still be perfectly understood.

In the fifties and sixties, reversing entire words was common-“Erap” for”`Pare” (from the word “kumpare”). Or placing the last syllable first as in “Chô” or “choy,” meaning “buddy” or “pal” which was the shortened version of “chokaran” from “ka-rancho,” (literally meaning “from the same ranch”}.

“Yosi” comes from the last and first syllables of “sigarilyo” with all the other syllables dropped. “Igan” was the abbreviated common day version of “kaibigan”; “senglot” was the corrupted reverse of “lasing”; ditto for “mahoburn” from “mabaho.”

I still haven’t found out how “siyota” originated and I can’t believe my son’s explanation that it comes from that motel phrase, “short time.”

I still believe in its more unsullied origin, “bata,” which meant one had already an “M.U.” (“mutual understanding”, or, in some sectors, “mag-un”) with another. But then again, why “bata?” That really confounds me.

“Ebak” seems to have been invented by biology students who shortened the phrase “evacuating the bowels.”

It is the gay population of our country that has the most slang words probably done intentionally so that by using them, it would make their existence all the more interesting, perhaps, making them feel important as well as emphasizing their being un-understood instead of misunderstood.

Words like, “bading,” “badaf,” “chugi,” “kadiri to the bones,” “chica,” “datung,” “éclat,” “ek-ek,” “chuk-chak,” “chuva-chuva,” “kebs,” “jologs” and so many others fill their flowery vocabulary. These change from season to season and it dates one to use “old-fashioned” words.

Clichés, too, like “Ano ka, sinusuerte?”; “Patay kang bata ka!”; “Ganoon?”; “Aray ko!”; “Korek ka diyan!”; “Diyos ko, `Day!”; “O, `di ba?” or the candidly naughty “makalaglag-panty” would be of not so recent vintage. From TV commercials too came “Ibalik ang swerti” and “Ano ba talaga, kuya?”

But saying “Ayos na ang buto-buto!” or “Ano ba Dzing?” would reveal a generation gap. At the same time, “siga” (Is this a corruption of “astig” or “tigas”?} is no longer the language of the kanto-boy in the 60’s and has now been accepted in journalistic circles.

The old idioms like “kulang sa turnilyo,” “kulang sa pito,” or “basag ang pula,” have been replaced with “may sayad,” “may kililing” and “may toyo” or “may patis ang utak” (its shortened and combined version is “topak”) while “utak-pulbura” means “war freak”.

Only recently did I come to realize that “durog” and “durugista” find their roots in “droga” or “drugs” and not “crush, granulate” or “granule” which is the physical shape of this narcotic. Or is it the clever combination of both?

“Stir,” “alaska” and “bola” are related words meaning “fib, tall tale, white lie.” “Bola” I can understand as the Spanish “ball” which is round and thus may have been derived from the idiom, “binibilog ang ulo.” but the two other words’ origin is a complete mystery.

One contemporary addition to conversational Filipino is the word “kulit” (probably from paulit-ulit and a jumbled version of “likut”). This has already taken on many meanings from “nag” and “pester” to “unbearable” and “exasperating.”

The word “palpak” (“flop, unsuccessful, does not work,” etc.) may have come from “lagpak” which is “fail” but is more related to studies and schooling.

Another new expression, “dating” is more like “élan,” “appeal” or “mien, countenance,” or even “turn-on” depending on who uses it as well as how and when it is used. And, with tongue in cheek, would you believe its local English counterpart is “arrive?”

But the word I find cutest is “dedma.” It comes from “patay malisya,” reinvented and shortened to “dead-ma.”

Somehow,the original idiom which meant “nonchalant” or “nonchalantly” has now graduated to mean “snub.” As in thousands of other show-biz lingo words, I dare not give you any logical explanation of its etymology.

By the way, one believes that the reason why people in the entertainment industry have so many vices is because when you reverse the order of the syllables of “show-biz” you get “bisyo.”

Of puzzling origins are these numerical idioms: “siyete-siyete” which used to mean “mentally unbalanced” and now “siyete” which is some sort of “chismis.” “Onse,” another number, means “swindle.”

Up to now, nobody can tell me how they came to be. Meanwhile, DOM playboys name all their teen-age girl friends “Daisy”. you know, as in “daisy-sais, daisy siyete, daisy otso.”

Still on numbers, “one-two-three” is a con game involving three persons who victimize a restaurant or eatery. Here is how it goes. After eating at a restaurant, more often than not with the use of toothpicks, lots are drawn by the three conspirators on who should be number one, two or three.

Number one leaves first. Soon after, number two also leaves. Number three would then make a run for it. Sometimes, number one and two create a diversion outside the eatery to help number three escape with their bill unpaid. Thus, “na-1-2-3” now means duped by gypsters.

The Batangas fan knife called “beinte-nuwebe” is supposed to be about 29 centimeters long when open, thus its nickname.

The phrase “galit-galit” (literally, “angry-angry”) which means “agreed silence in a pair or group when a speechless moment is needed” seems to have originated from children’s games.

But I find “ilang tulog na lang” to be quite poetic. It brings back many pleasant memories of childhood.

Newscasters and members of the print media love to use cruel words like “ibinasura ng Supreme Court.” just for their jarring effect. I am quite sure the esteemed ladies and gentlemen in the high court do not actually treat like garbage formal petitions or pleadings.

Another heartless word is “sibak” which now means “fire or dismiss” although its real denotation is “to chop or chop off.”

My, such violence! “Sisante,” from “cesante” in Spanish, is a much kinder, more humane term whose origin is related to the English word “cease.”

As a side light, it is quite disheartening to note that many announcers, even the cocksure ones from the big networks, still cannot pronounce common English words correctly so much so that when they say, “heinous crimes” they are practically calling them “crimes of genius!”

Uninformed on-the-spot announcers often call “shrapnel,” “sharp nails” and use “commander” for “commandeer.”
How about “taken cared of?” I cringe every time I hear it said on the air. “Taken” is the verb in the past tense, and “care” is the noun which should have no past tense.

But that’s digressing from our subject matter at hand.  What do you expect when these people do not even known when to use the tagalog “bukod at maliban” properly?

An idiosyncrasy of speech or even a peculiar manner of speaking could give away one’s local geographical ancestry. “Ala, e,” of course, is pure Batangueño and replacing “L’s” with “R’s” marks you as one from the hinterlands of Rizal province.

In other words, each region also has its own intonation or vernacularism, as a probinsiyano unwittingly remarked, “Paano mo nalamang bisaya ako. wala ka namang ibidinsiya?”

During our time, the late distinguished baritone and great actor used to admonish us not to fault the bus konduktoras for shouting “Yo-pee. yo-pee!” when calling out for passengers.

According to him it was natural for most simple Filipinos, whereverfrom they hail, to use only three vowels: “A,” “E” which is interchangeable with “I,” and “O” which is interchangeable with “U.”

To the konduktoras’ ears, therefore, they were pronouncing “U. P.” correctly. (Again, to warn the uninitiated, put the right accent where it should be or you will end up saying a word that means “dented”).

Yes, just by altering the accent changes a Tagalog word entirely, i.e., “Kung bagá, makakaroon ka ba ng bagâ sa pag-iihaw ng bagà sa baga?” (In other words, can you get breast tumor if you roast lungs over live coals?)

“Pala” has six meanings depending on its accent and usage. It may be spade,” “paid applause,” “blessing” (as in the prayer to the Blessed Virgin), “by the way” (as in “oo nga pala”), “scaffolds” (as in “pala-pala”), or “gain or obtain” (as in “wala kang mapapala”).

Did you know that it is only the Filipino who points with his snout or “nguso” especially when his two hands are occupied or doesn’t want his fingers exposed? This is done with a slight raising of the eyebrows for effectiveness.

In my incessant desire to satisfy my curiosity, I have interviewed thousands of Tagalogs, even linguists and scholars of the language but to this date I still have to find the correct English translation of the word “kalabit.” 

It cannot be “tap” or “pat” which is done with the fingers and is a polite way of catching attention the person beside you. “Fillip,” meanwhile, is actually “the snapping of the fingers.”

The nearest word is “poke” which has now a pointed finger with which to stab. But it still cannot describe this hooking movement of the finger in “kalabit.”

Then I realized that among all the nations of the world, no one practices this pesky habit of catching another’s attention except the filipinos.

So if a person has breakfast for lunch, shouts “Hoy!”, makes psssst, communicates effectively by using only three vowels or by repeating four syllables, points with his puckered lips, or makes “kalabit,” you can be definitely sure that he is your countryman.

Notwithstanding all these quirks, be proud you are filipino.You are unique. You live in a country whose people speak a wonderful concoction of languages from three worlds.

To prove a point, where on earth can you find a nation where three languages are spoken all at the same time? “Haber, name me one, sige nga, hige nga?”


One thought on “268th blog … bastardization is true in all languages, not only in tagalog!

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