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Taglish: What Works and What Doesn't

Just now on World Patrol, an indignant Nursing student savored her moment under the spotlight and bitched about Malacañang’s late suspension of classes at all levels in Metro Manila this morning.

For those who did not know, Typhoon Karen was due to slice across the northernmost regions of the country this morning. But this is not about the typhoon at all…

Given that she and her friend were on the air for no more than a few seconds, she was able to say way too many things for me to remember.

“Sayang ang pagod,” she and her friend complained. “Ang hirap sumakay!”

Those were the ones I remembered. Also another one was a complaint that made me cringe, “Sayang ang money namin!”

Now picture me saying this with my most disdainful sneer, “Wow… Sayang ang money…”

Where I come from, whatever English words one used when speaking Tagalog were those that could be used seamlessly as though they were not English at all. Words like “kidnap.” Kinidnap… Nakidnap… Kikidnapin… Makikidnap

Or words for which there were no easy or direct Tagalog translations. Nag-U-Turn sa kanto…. Kumain sa restaurant… Sumakay sa elevator…

You just sort of learned as you grew up that there were certain words you did not use when speaking Tagalog if you did not want to be heckled. Sumakay ng car sounded phony. Funnily enough, sumakay ng airplane didn’t. Neither did sumakay ng eroplano, which is Hispanic.

Back, then, to premise number 2, the one about no easy or direct translations. We were taught in Balarila lessons that the translation for airplane was supposed to be salipawpaw. And, of course, nobody would be caught dead using that word conversationally.

There were no black-and-white rules about which words to use and which ones not to. But just to illustrate my point, take the word “go.” Then try saying, “Gumo ka na sa bahay.” See if that doesn’t make you cringe as well…

Ah, well… Sayang ang money brings to mind one of my current pet peeves… when kids tell me to, “Wait lang po!” Can’t they just bloody well say sandali lang po!?

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