THOUGHTS ON NATIONAL LANGUAGE WEEK
QUICK, which is the correct Filipino name of Quezon City – Lungsod Quezon or Lungsod ng Quezon?
Many may say it doesn’t really matter because one will readily understand that the words refer to Quezon City. After all, that’s what communication is all about – to be understood. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done as far as our national language is concerned.
On this last day of Linggo ng Wika, it’s a most opportune time to remind everybody that while Filipino is a rich language, it could also cause confusion. (With apologies to my Bulakenyo friend Bert de Guzman.)
The problem is that while Filipino is supposed to be understood all over the country, it has many words that have different meanings when spoken in some regions. A guy may greet another “Kumusta ang lagay?” (How are you doing?) and get a friendly reception. However, he’ll be met with an embarrassed or quizzical look when these are said to a Bisaya. You see, “lagay” is Bisaya word for the male organ.
“Libog” is a bad word in Filipino but not to a Bisaya. A sweet young thing may say “Naglibog ako” with no tinge of embarrassment for she merely means that she’s confused.
I’ve written about this anecdote before but I want to repeat it because it still gives me a lot of kick.
An Ilocano won P1 million in a national contest and was immediately interviewed by a media man. Here’s how the interview went:
Reporter: Congratulations! Ano ang gagawin mo sa isang milyon na napanalunan mo?
Ilocano: Bibili ako ng daga.
Reporter: Ha? Bibili ka ng daga? Aanhin mo ang daga?
Ilocano: Tatalunin ko.
Reporter: Ano? Patatalunin mo ang daga?
(At this point, somebody told the reporter that “daga” is Ilocano for “land,” and “tatalunin” means “to farm” and that the winner is a farmer.)
Reporter: Magsasaka ka pala!
Ilocano: Oo pero nagsa-sandals din ako.
Another source of confusion, especially in conversing with foreigners, is the general failure of Pinoys to properly pronounce “f, v, z and th” since these are not found in the Filipino alphabet. “Francisco” is “Prancisco,” “Valium” is “Balium,” “freezer” is “priser,” and “thought” is “tot.” One can say “pud por tot” and be understood by a Pinoy but not by a foreigner.
More confusion takes place if ultra-nationalists insist on translating English technical terms into Filipino. A reader, Rocky Avila, born in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, accentuated the ensuing confusion in an email to me.
Incidentally, Rocky said he was baptized “Roque” but changed his name when he moved to the US.
Rocky said “asset” is “ari” in Filipino so what is “fixed asset?” “Aring nakatirik?”
Here are other translations of accounting terms in his email:
Dead asset – patay na ari
Written-off asset – aring pinutol
Double entry – dalawa ang nakapasok
Erroneous entry – mali ang pagkapasok
Multiple entry – labas-pasok ng labas-pasok
Correcting entry – itinama ang pagpasok
Reversing entry – baligtad ang pasok
The richness of Filipino may be seen in the many terms used for “money.” Aside from “pera” or “salapi,” these words denote the many uses and sources of money: abuloy, limos, padulas, sahod, buwis, paluwal, kupit, hulog, tong, utang, kobra, ambag, etc.
And how about “pork barrel?” That’s easy.
“Pang-senador at kinatawan.”