You want me to sapak you?


Yesterday, a gradeschooler went to the office to ask us to send her mom a message. After a few minutes of waiting, the girl, feeling hopeless as though a reply would never come, said something that totally irritated me — “Pwede pong i-call Mommy ko?”

You see, this kid is Indian, but she speaks fluent Filipino, so I don’t understand why she had to use i-call when she can just use the Filipino word, tawagan.

Some people think combining Filipino and English words in one sentence when clearly there is an easy-to-pronounce colloquial, even millennial, term for whatever word they choose to use is cute. Like, “get mo yung ball,” or “anong like mo here?”

Let me tell you frankly. It’s not cute. It’s not impressive. It won’t make you sound mayaman or matalino. It does not signify fluency in two languages; rather, it exhibits ignorance of both. It is verbicide — you kill your mother tongue and your second language in one shot — and there’s no glory in that.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no expert in Filipino nor in English. My vocabulary especially in Filipino is very limited, but when the need arises to express myself in either language, I do so without combining the two in one sentence, most especially if the words have direct translations. I try my best to make my point using the language I am more comfortable to speak in.

We are Filipinos; we do not even need to be soooo good at English — that’s just a bonus! English is not a standard of intelligence, and we don’t have to prove anything.

So instead of trying so hard to speak in Fil-glish, why not appreciate Filipino and English just as they are — two different languages but equally beautiful? Why not become proficient in both languages, along with their accompanying grammar rules and idioms, and eventually be able to speak with such mastery and eloquence? Wouldn’t that be soothing, even therapeutic, to your audience’s ears?


2 thoughts on “You want me to sapak you?

  1. Olivia

    This mixed language usage is also the result of language shift/culture change/globalization. Many people, I would surmise, just want to communicate and they use a manner of speaking that has become the norm. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it is prevalent, and for the most part, it works!

    Interestingly, as non-grammatically correct as the mixed language usage might be, the point is to communicate and unfortunately (or fortunately), this improper usage is understood. Hence, it has become an ‘accepted’ method of communication. After all, the goal is to get a point across. And there are (often) times when substance over format makes sense.

    With texting, IM and other shorter, quicker means of communication, spelling, word usage and grammar have become less important. These newer forms of communication lend itself to the breakdown of perfect, or at least, good usage.

    Personally, I enjoy hearing someone speak fluent Tagalog. I don’t hear it often, but when I do, it’s really lovely to the ear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cicely

      Yes, actually, the end goal is to just get your point across. But I’m so worried about what will happen to language in the future. Instead of language evolving, it might be the other way around. Anyway, what really pisses me off are parents who talk to their children using mixed language. 🙁


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