Thursday, February 21, 2008

Back in the early 80’s we were living with my in-laws. Their residence was at the second floor of their machine shop. It was a large household: my parents–in-law, three sisters-in-law, two brothers-in-law, five maids, two houseboys, my husband and I, my three girls and numerous transient relatives living together in one big roof. There was always a cacophony of sounds amid us: the noise of buses and jeeps traversing by the main road, the monotonous clanking of the numerous apparatus of the family’s bread and butter and the almost-always-angry like-shouting style of my husband’s kin and their more than fifty employees when speaking.

Their inflection, my in-laws’, my husband’s, the transient relatives’ and the whole community’s, was the pure unadulterated Cavite intonation. They talked loudly and frequently all at the same time. One has to strain to hear above the din. I was worried then that my girls will eventually acquire the accent and the vociferous manner of talking. What am I to do?
When my children were very young the language spoken in our household was Filipino. I did not talk to them in English since I figured they will eventually learn the language. However, one cannot help but occasionally English-ize a word or phrase.

“Tweengkel, gusto mo ba istap toy o eeslipers?” (Twinkle would you like a stuffed toy or slippers?) “Ganda neto o, teddy bur.” (This is a nice one, it’s a teddy bear). “Wurs d erplane?”; “Ders da erplane”; “Com yor her now”. Of course that was not me. Was it the norm in this slice of Cavite to mispronounce words or make up terms? A t-shirt was a t-sert, a shrimp was a shreem, a mango was a mangoo, birthday-berdey, a turkey was a tarkey, a vanda was a panda, the dish bopis was gopis and a committee was a komiti with accent on the KO. The machine shop that was their business was of course called “masin siyap”. I was constantly reminded of my high school teacher who curses us every time she says “class get one whole shit of paper”.

My mother in-law asked me one day: Gusto mo ba ng koboy? (Would you care for a cowboy?) Huh?! What the heck will I do with a cowboy? Ha-ha-funny-dimwitted me. It turned out koboy was actually “turon” (deep fried banana in an egg roll) that goes well with “caramba.” No, not the Spanish curse word, more like “ukoy.”

I was incessant in my quest to un-Cavite my girls’ speech. I enrolled my eldest in preschool at the (then) very early age of 3. When my eldest was about to turn five, I demanded from my husband to build us a house or else my daughters and I will leave him. Dang the consequences. I designed the house. He supervised the construction. In five months time we left my in-laws’ abode and lived in our new house.

With no in-laws lurking about, I corrected every wrong grammar, pronunciation, and enunciation that I perceived my girls make. The worst part was my husband. He cannot and will not be corrected. He seemed to enjoy and knowingly commit mistakes in Tagalog! If you want to ask someone if he has eaten, one normally says “Kumain ka na ba?” When translated in English it is “Have you eaten yet?” Most Caviteños, my husband included will say, “Nakain ka na ba?” which connotes to “Have you been eaten?” By what, nobody is quite sure. Basically, “Nakain ka ba ng pating?” would indicate that you have been eaten by a shark and not the other way around.

How about the verb conjugation of the root word kain? (to eat): where kumain is past tense, kumakain is present tense, and kakain is future tense. Not so in the south of Manila where the verb conjugation would have been non-existent. Read: past: nakain, present: nakain, future: nakain. Yup! You’re right! My husband was banned from tutoring our kids in Filipino.

My kids all speak correct English and Tagalog. Well, except for my youngest and only son who is not quite that flowing in Tagalog. Anyway, they have not acquired the full wave of the Cavite “twang” but rather a mixture of Manila-Cavite-Taytay intonation. They do talk loud though. I said to myself, when a grandchild comes, I will definitely start him/her in English to avoid the Tagalog-speaking quandary.

Then Ethan, the first and so far only grandchild, was born. Everyone. English. No Tagalog. Okay. Understood. Here comes grandad. “Eetan, grandmam said eespeak in Eengliss”.

Oh my gas! Scratch it. Grandad, talk to Ethan in Tagalog. Please!?
Reactions:
Posted by desperateblogger On 2/21/2008 07:33:00 PM 17 comments

17 comments:

  1. “Eetan, grandmam said eespeak in Eengliss”, funny! It gave me gas alright. Transported me back to my third world (said with alot of fondness of course) playground Cavite City. Does the husband call his friends Moy too? It's an ancient version of Pare and Chong in Cavite el Viejo. Moy, nagkain ka na ba?

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  2. ganun naman talaga , maski dito sa usa kapag mga pilipino ang kasama mo at nag-salita ka ng tamang english ay ma-arte ka. ha-ha-ha (murphy = marpy) ha-ha-ha

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  3. sure lets exchange links. pati RSS feeds sana. let me know if you have linked me. god bless :)

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  4. duchessG, you're right. my article was written not to make fun but to have fun. hindi "moy" dito... "chis"...

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  5. wahaha.. really funny! and i could totally relate. back in 2004, i was a scholar at la salle. as someone who spent her whole life in davao, i was so shocked how they used 'nakain' instead of 'kumain'. tapos, ur ryt! same tenses nga lahat yung 'nakain'. yung friends ko from bulacan, batangas and laguna, they all talked that way. interesting talaga. pero, i think u ought to know as well na hindi lang sa cavite o dyan sa luzon may mga mali-maling tagalog. here in davao, we have a certain way of speaking tagalog in that it is mixed with cebuano. thus, if one were to ask 'have u eaten?'..in tagalog: kumain ka na ba? in cebuano: nagkaun na ka? in davaoeno: nagkain ka na? so, yung kumain in tagalog at nagkaun in cebuano, hinalo. and believe me, dito sa davao lang yan! when my siblings and i talk that way, my cousins from cagayan de oro and bohol would always laught at us 'cause they think it's too weird. i know butchery ito ng both tagalog and cebuano but ganito talaga dito. even my classmates and i talk this way although, when i was in elementary, the jesuits would tell us not to..oh well..more examples..in tagalog: saan kayo pupunta? in cebuano: asa mo mag-adto? in davaoeno: saan kayo magpunta? in tagalog: sinasabi ko sayo. in cebuano: ginaingon nako sa imo. in davaoeno: ginasabi ko sa iyo.. haha.. i was planning on making a blog about this.. but nah, when i have more time na siguro..

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  6. @ desperate blogger:

    hi! we saw your comment at our ipod touch contest entry. we want to follow up your registration. you now have 6 points (5 for linking and 1 for 1 comment you posted in our blog) . are you still joining our contest? it's still open to new entries. :)

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  7. hi..nice to have hopped here in ur page again...hope u and ur family is doing well...hope to hear from you soon too..God bless you and take care!

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  8. @duchessG, i was originally from Cavite City before moving to Davao (because of my husband, samok-a uy! JOKE! I love Davao!) But I don't think my parents and sibs have the old Cavite el Viejo accent (which can be attributed for speaking chabacano?) because my papa is Ilonggo and my mama is chinese...so my accent would be ilonggese?

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  9. Hahaha! This is so funny! I can totally relate with the Eetan coz my son's name is Ethan Roi. He once complained about his teacher calling him Eh-than so I sort of insisted that she and the classmates call him by his nickname instead. So it's no longer Eh-than this time, it's Troi.

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  10. oh wow! my ethan complains too.. because most call him eeetan not
    E-thun

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  11. Love it!!! You write quite well. That shit of paper part had me in stitches.

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  12. I can relate! Not that I speak impeccable English but when one is in Nueva Ecija, the "p" becomes "f" and the "f" sounds "p" to me. So Novo Ecijanos "fray" not "pray" and has a "pamily" instead of "family". I am a mixture of Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Quezon City so my English gets muddled too, sometimes.

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  13. and yes, I worked in Bacoor, Cavite and in some towns of Batangas ad Quezon, so I understand "Nakain ka ba ng isda?" :-)

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  14. ..ay nakakatawa naman ang kwento mo! when we move to cavite, malalaki na ang mga bata so, wala silang accent.....

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  15. This is so hilarious! I'm still giggling as I type this. "Nakain ka na ba ng pating?!" HA HA Classic! I love it! But then, this is the beauty of our language and culture that is now unfortunately, is becoming extinct with kids raised in the US. I actually posted an article about this here: http://brownisthenewcolor.blogspot.com/2009/06/language-immersion-ost-art.html - Let me know what you think. For now, I'll laugh out loud. HA! Glad to find your blog.

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  17. laffinanenglishaccent3/1/11, 11:05 PM

    Way to go dear friend! Great blog. I have forgotten my correct Tagalog conjugation, hagip mo pa rin. Talagang matutuwa sa iyo si Miss ??? ( I forgot na our Pilipino teacher but I remember her face. She's the tall and lanky one with pusod.)

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