English Notes. The vocabulary of the illiterate
MANILA (07 July) - Traveling on ordinary fare by bus from Dagupan City in Pangasinan to Roxas City in Isabela, looking out the window for most of the long 10 hours of that trip by Victory Liner, despite the heat, reading the signs, I was a little amused when 2 thoughts struck me, when I realized that: (1) English is already very much a part of the vocabulary of the most ordinary Filipino, that in fact, English is in the vocabulary of the illiterate! (2) English is embedded in the life of the Filipino more importantly, visually and aurally more than Tagalog (Filipino) is. My list below proves my point.
Ever an advocate of the genius of the Filipino, I have always found Tagalog (Filipino) a foreign language. I dare say: The genius of the Filipino is in English, not in Tagalog (my wife’s native speech), not in Ilocano (my own, my native tongue), not in your Cebuano either.
Here is a selection of my original 237 one-day list of the English vocabulary of the illiterate in the Philippines, where the words intrude every single day and their meanings are either understood clearly or accepted vaguely:
(01) 15 T
(03) Open 24 Hours
Every bus rider knows that “15 T” means 15 tons metric is the load limit of the vehicle passing over that bridge. No one has ever complained that he did not understand what that sign meant. I’ve seen that sign since I was that high, and I’m now 69. “24/7” is the modern parlance that everyone with a cellphone knows, including pedicab drivers who never went to school: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Meaning, all the time, folks!
(04) Accept All Kinds - A common part of the signs of repair shops. If the illiterate can’t understand this, how come it has survived decades of exposure to those who can hardly read English? It really belongs to the vocabulary of the illiterate.
(05) Accident Prone Area - You see this on the road before you see a dangerous curve or a long stretch of road straight ahead. The driver of the bus or jeep may be literate, but I am prone to think he does not understand what “prone” means. And yet the sign “Accident Prone Area” persists. The vocabulary of the illiterate persists.
(06) Agricultural Supply - You buy your fertilizers, pesticides, even sprayers mostly from here. You can even borrow from the owner and pay at the time of harvest, at his price, of course, and that could be plus 20 or 30% interest. This is the age-old, unrecognized “Lending Agency” for small farmers. And yet it is acceptable in the vocabulary of the illiterate.
(07) Appliance Center - You buy your basic home and luxury appliances here. The place can be huge or can be as small as 5 meters x 5 meters floor area. Nobody’s complaining about the space, that you can’t call a limited space “Center.” Filipinos are familiar with the concept of a “Reading Center,” so “Appliance Center” is not really unfamiliar territory.
(08) Apply Now! - Can be seen in announcements of calls for applicants for jobs here or abroad, scholarships, and house & lots for sale at some fabulous price or other. Why not “Mag-Apply na Kayo!” (Tagalog) or “Ag-Applykayon!” (Ilocano)?
(09) Authorized Retail Outlet - These 3 words are “heavy” English, and yet they persist in the vocabulary of signs in the Philippines. Nobody ever asked from whose authority? Or asked to be shown the authority on paper. The buyer may not be able to explain what either “retail” or “outlet” means but he knows he can buy what he needs here.
(10) Auto Shop - The ordinary Filipino would say “kotse” and hardly ever says “auto,” so why do the repair shops insist on calling themselves “Auto Shop” anyway? The name has a nice sound to it. And because they assume that the Filipino understands, and he does, if vaguely.
(11) Available Here - Even on the most unpromising place, you can see the sign, “Available Here,” whatever it is. “Available” is not a concept in the vocabulary of the Filipino, whether Tagalog, Ilocano or Cebuano, and yet the sign “Available Here” is ubiquitously obtrusive. It is part of the vocabulary of the illiterate.
(12) Avenue , Boulevard, Street - “Rizal Avenue,” “Roxas Boulevard,” JP Rizal Street” - such names are so much part of the Filipino lore that even the ultra-nationalists (advocates of Tagalog or Filipino as the national language) have not dared touch. They will change the honored name but not the magic words “Avenue” or “Boulevard” or “Street.”
(13) Bakery - “Bakery” is an old part of the vocabulary of the illiterate, but “Bake House” is catching up.
(14) Ballpen - Even those who have never seen a classroom know what you mean when you say “ballpen,” even if they cannot spell the word. The Hilarios in Asingan, Pangasinan were one of the first to own a Parker Pen. I seem to remember saying “Parker Ballpen” even when I was that high.
(15) Bar - It is curious that the common denotation of the word “bar” in the Philippines is that of a girlie nightspot. It is a place for drinks, but the girls are what make it a bar, not the alcoholic beverages.
(16) Barbershop - I don’t understand why is it that Filipinos commonly say “barbero” and not “barber” and yet they know enough to say “barbershop.”
(17) Basketball Court - The term “basketball court” is clearly the place to play basketball, even if sometimes the place is used as a dance hall without walls in the evening, and occasionally, it is a place to dry palay on.
(18) Beer & One for the Road - “Beer” has always been San Miguel Beer, a concoction that has become a symbol of adult males having a good time together in a party, after work, or just for bantering. “One for the road” really means one last shot, but often it becomes “One for the road” again and again.
(19) Billiards - You don’t have to go to school, or drop out of it, to enjoy a game of billiards. Unschooled boys know enough to say “billiards” as well as “billiard table” even if they can’t spell any of those words.
(20) Board Member - Don’t tell me all voters are literate in English and yet the ballot still say “Board Member” and nobody has ever explained whatever does a Board Member do.
(21) Boutique & Gift Shop - I’m a long-standing writer, but I myself can’t tell you why it’s called a “boutique,” and yet the name persists in the marketplace.
(22) Boys / Girls, He / She, Male / Female, Men / Women - Signs to designate only one thing: a toilet, or what we Filipinos call a “comfort room.” (See also “CR.”)
(23) Bridge - This is not the game of cards but the structure found over a canal, gorge, river or stream. “Carmen Bridge,” “San Juanico Bridge,” “Palma Bridge” - why don’t we ever formally (in maps, say) call a bridge its equivalent in Tagalog (“tulay”) or in Ilocano (“rangtay”)?
(24) Bridge Under Construction - I never ever saw a sign that said the Tagalog equivalent, “Tulay na Ginagawa” or the Ilocano equivalent “Rangtay nga Tartarimaanenda.” That’s because English is so much easier to use.
(25) By Order - These words are usually accompanied by a notice or instruction to some effect, “By Order of Management.” Once I saw a post that said, “Out of Order, By Order of Management.” No kidding!
(26) Cakes & Pastries - Quick: What’s the Tagalog equivalent of “cake?” Never mind. Same with “pastries.” But people will order a “birthday cake” or a “wedding cake” and everyone will know what is being talked about.
(27) Call - This word is usually accompanied with a name and a telephone number, often with a cellphone number, sometimes with a fax number. You need to “call” to signify your intention.
(28) Camp - You will hear names such as “Camp Aguinaldo,” “Camp Aquino” and “Camp Eldridge,” and everyone knows that’s where you find members of the army. Why not “Kampo Aguinaldo” or “Kampo Aquino” or “Kampo Eldridge?”
(29) Campus - The common use of this term may be only 20 years old, but everyone understands when you say “Asingan Campus” or “Echague Campus” or “Santa Maria Campus.” The concept of the school has expanded to mean “2 or more campuses or branches,” a quiet lesson in systems or holistic thinking. Campuses are under one management whether they like it or not.
(30) Captain - Usually you will hear, “Barangay Captain,” a strange concoction of Tagalog and English, the term denoting the political head of a village as if he were a member of the army or the police. I don’t know how the title came about.
(31) Cellphone - Never mind that they can’t spell the word, but even pedicab drivers and sidewalk vendors have cellphones these days. And they know in general what a cellphone looks like, whether run-of-the-mill or luxurious.
(32) Checkpoint - It’s almost always “PC Checkpoint” and everybody knows your vehicle can be stopped at any time for any suspicion whatsoever. My father, who did not reach Grade 4, could pronounce the word correctly and knew what was a checkpoint all about.
(33) Children Crossing - You usually see this sign along the road, with a pedestrian lane emanating from the middle of a school front gate. Actually the sign means, “Careful, There May Be Children Crossing.” I was Grade 1 in 1947, and I have yet to see that sign replaced with Tagalog (Mag-Ingat, Baka May mga Batang Tumatawid) even now that Tagalog / Filipino is all over the place.
(34) City - Check out your Philippine Map and you will see the word “City,” as in Pasay City, Dagupan City, Baguio City, Roxas City, and Marawi City. Because mapmakers make “maps” and not “mapa” (Tagalog).
(35) Club - As ubiquitous as the name “bar” or “restaurant” or “hotel” is “club” for an establishment. And yes, the reputation of a club is that where a boy can pick up a girl more easily than elsewhere.
(36) College - Sometimes plural, everyone knows a “college” is higher than a “high school.” “Nag-college ka?” in Tagalog or Ilocano means, “Did you finish college?” more than just “Did you go to college?”
(37) Come again! - You hear this often when you go home after a party or celebration, no matter how simple the event had been. It’s usually a lady who says that; the hostess wants to make you feel important.
(38) Come one, come all! - A broad invitation to a party or celebration, usually in far-flung places, I don’t know why. The country folks must be friendlier than the city folks.
(39) Congressman - I heard the term “Congressman” when I was in high school more than 50 years ago, and it hasn’t changed a bit. The more accurate term “Representative” is very much less known.
(40) Construction Supply, Lumber and Hardware - It has always been “construction supply” or “lumber and hardware” since I can remember, designating a place where you can buy materials usually for building a house, along with water and electrical fixtures as well as kitchen and washroom stuff.
(41) Contact - The word “Contact” is followed by a name, usually just a nickname, and a contact number or post office address.
(42) Councilor, Governor, Mayor - These political positions must be as old as Philippine Independence Day from the United States of America, 04 July 1946. Some things never change.
(43) CR - Everyone knows how to pronounce it and what this signifies - a toilet or washroom - even if not everyone knows that it is the acronym for “Comfort Room.” If you don’t know that, you’re not a Filipino.
(44) Danger! Deep Excavation - Even in the boondocks, the road side invariably reads “DANGER. Deep Excavation” and I doubt if they teach what an excavation is in driving school.
(45) Dead End - Add the traffic sign “Dead End” to the English untouchables. You can’t ever change that sign.
(46) Dental Clinic - This sign must have appeared in the Philippines with the first graduate of Dental Medicine, and that would be at least 60 years ago. I have yet to see a sign that says, “Manggagamot ng Ngipin” (Tagalog) or “Dentista” (Ilocano).
(47) Department Store - Instinctively, you know that you can buy lots of things from a department store, even if you don’t understand that it is made up of departments or sections.
(48) Detour - I have always seen this sign since I learned to read, and that must have been when I was Grade 1, in 1947. Why don’t they change the sign to “Mag-iba ng Daan” (Tagalog), to “Baliwan ti Dalan” (Ilocano)? I don’t understand, except that English is so much easier to write for road signs: you just copy from the Americans.
(49) Dining Hall - The Americans first came to the Philippines as conquerors in the late 19th century, and so that must have been when the name “Dining Hall” came about. The Americans never left, and neither did “Dining Hall” as part of the vocabulary of the literate and illiterate.
(50) Donated by - You usually see this engraved on concrete fences surrounding elementary schools: “Donated by So and So.” You never see it said, “Gift of So and So.” On printed matter, it’s usually “Compliments of” or “Courtesy of.”
(51) Drug, Drugstore, Pharmacy - “Drug” here refers to medicine and is not a singular of “drugs” which refers to prohibited or restricted medicine. It’s usually used as the second part of the name of a pharmaceutical outlet, like “Mercury Drug” and “Ellen’s Drugstore.” The word “pharmacy” is also often used to designate a drugstore.
(52) Café, Eatery, Restaurant - The unlikeliest - that is to say, the smallest - place calls itself by this name, like “JoAnn’s Eatery.” A place that refers to itself as a “café” is usually more presentable, but it’s still an eating place, just like a “restaurant,” which name is usually used for a bigger place, with more tables and chairs.
(53) Electronics - Like “Jim’s Electronics.” This is where you bring your radio or TV to for repairs. Since Jim knows enough to say “electronics,” he must be good.
(54) Elementary School - How many “Elementary School” buildings did I see from Dagupan City to Roxas City? No “Mababang Paaralan” for the towns and cities of the provinces of Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, and Isabela. English is the norm.
(55) Enroll Now! - This is the sign you read in posters for all private schools, colleges and universities in those provinces I just mentioned. Why not “Magpatala Ngayon!” (Tagalog) or “Agpalistakayon!” (Ilocano)?
(56) Enrollment now going on - Usually this is what appears in banners strung across roads, streets or facades of buildings. You can also find it on posters. Despite the hegemony of Tagalog in these mostly Ilocano provinces, even for Nursery, Kinder, Prep, the sign is in English.
(57) Enterprises - As in “Zoilo Enterprises,” which can mean any business and most every business you can think of. “Enterprises” for engaging in business is the equivalent of “General Merchandise” for engaging in retail.
(58) Entrance & Exit - Why not “Pasukan & Labasan” (Tagalog) or “Serkan & Ruaran” (Ilocano)? I much prefer the English version myself.
(59) Eye Ear Nose Throat Specialist - I’ve never seen even in Manila a sign that says, “Espesyalista sa Mata Taynga Ilong Lalamunan” (Tagalog) or even “Specialista ti Mata Lapayag Agong Karabukob” (Ilocano). I must be in America.
(60) Farm Supply - Same as “Agricultural Supply.” The farmer may not understand “farm” or “agricultural” but he knows this is the place to buy what he needs for his farm.
(61) Fertilizer, Spray, Sprayer - “Fertilizer” and “sprayer” are among words the farmer knows even if he cannot spell them. Curiously, usually the farmer does not know the name of the pesticide, so he says to the effect “something for spraying against insects” in these words: “pang-spray ng uod” (Tagalog) or “pang-spray ti egges” (Ilocano). Notice the word “spray” - there is no equivalent in any of the languages in the Philippines, as in fact many English words cannot be translated into Tagalog, or Ilocano, or Cebuano.
(62) Flag Ceremony - I like this one; I have never ever heard it said in an equivalent term in Tagalog or Ilocano, although we have equivalent terms, for flag: “bandila” (Tagalog) and “bandera” (Ilocano), and ceremony: “seremonya” (Tagalog) and “ceremonia” (Ilocano).
(63) For Rent - “Renta” for Tagalog and “Abang” for Ilocano, but I have never seen any sign in Tagalog or Ilocano except “For Rent.”
(64) For Sale - Like “For Rent,” this is the normal sign for a house, building, place, lot, equipment, or vehicle.
(65) Foundation Day - Usually used to commemorate the birthday of a school, company or organization.
(66) Fr. - Everyone knows what the title “Fr.” means, as in “Father Montenegro,” a Roman Catholic priest usually assigned to a parish.
(67) Free Registration - These are 2 ubiquitous words in the English vocabulary of the illiterate: “free” and “registration.” Only once in a blue moon can you see the equivalent, “Libre palista” (Tagalog, Ilocano).
(68) Garage Sale - You can’t beat the English sign “Garage Sale.” Everyone knows what to expect: much value for less money.
(69) Garden - Signs like “Tano’s Garden” and “Anna Marie’s Garden” are common. Why can’t the Filipinos write “Hardin” (Tagalog, Ilocano)?
(70) Gas Station - You can’t find a gasoline station that says “Estasyon ng Gasolina” (Tagalog) or “Stasyon ti Gasolina” (Ilocano). Why not?
(71) Good Morning! Good Evening! - These greetings are more often heard that their equivalents in Tagalog or Ilocano, even if the words that follow them are in Tagalog or Ilocano.
(72) Gravel & Sand - Ever since I was a kid, I have always known it as “Gravel & Sand.” Why not “Graba at Buhangin” (Tagalog) or “Graba ken Darat” (Ilocano)?
(73) Grocery - A grocery store is where you buy bread, butter and lots of other things. To say, “Please go to the grocery,” you say in Tagalog, “Punta ka nga sa grocery” or in Ilocano, “Mapanka man idiay grocery.” It’s always grocery.
(74) Happy Fiesta! - Somehow, “Maligayang Piyesta sa Inyo!” (Tagalog) or “Naragsak a Fiestayo!” (Ilocano) does not say it well enough.
(75) Heavy Traffic & Traffic - Usually, Tagalogs and Ilocanos say, “Heavy Traffic.” Even when they simply say, “Traffic,” they really mean “Heavy Traffic.”
(76) Hello - My own favorite first word when I answer the phone. You are supposed to say, “Good morning” (or “Good afternoon” or “Good 75evening” as the case may be) - how may I help you?” “Hello” is good enough for many people.
(77) High School - On my way from Dagupan City to Roxas City, I did not see “Mataas na Paaralan” (Tagalog) or “Nangato nga Pagadalan” (Ilocano). “High School” is burned in my memory.
(78) Highway & Highway Patrol - Sounds familiar to the ears of the Filipino as you almost always hear them on radio or TV.
(79) Homes - “Homes” are take-it-or-leave-it houses & lots for sale in “Subdivisions” that are also called “Villages.”
(80) Hospital & Medical Clinic - The sign always reads “Provincial Hospital” or “Medical Clinic” (sometimes “Medical Center” or “Medical City”).
(81) Hotel & Resort - From the smallest establishment to the biggest, the name says “Hotel” and never “Otel” (Tagalog). The Ilocano would say “Hotel.” Sometimes, it reads “Inn.” I don’t know of any Tagalog or Ilocano equivalent for “Resort.”
(82) Ice for Sale & Ice-Cold - I hear the word “Yelo” whether in Tagalog or Ilocano, but I hardly see the sign “Nagtitinda ng Yelo” (Tagalog) and not ever, “Pinalamig ng Yelo” (Tagalog). It’s always “Ice for Sale” and “Ice-Cold Drinks” or “Ice-Cold Beer.”
(83) Junkshop - A common sight nowadays. I have yet to see a sign that says “Bakal Bote Dyaryo” (Tagalog) or “Landok Botelya Diario” (Ilocano).
(84) Keep Distance - You see this sign at the tail of a truck. Why don’t cars also say, “Keep Distance” as it is a good traffic reminder?
(85) Keep Out & No Trespassing - Either sign is intimidating, and people know instinctively to keep their distance or stay out of trouble in such places.
(86) Municipal Hall - Town halls know English enough to each call themselves “Municipal Hall” even if they house the Tagalog “Sanggunian Bayan” (Municipal Council) or “Sangguniang Panlalawigan” (Provincial Council”).
(87) Landslide - Whether in English or Tagalog, the news almost always says “Landslide” and not any other equivalent term. And readers or listeners know what that means.
(88) Law Office - Have you ever seen a sign “Tanggapan ng Batas” (Tagalog) or “Opisina ti Linteg” (Ilocano)? Of course not.
(89) Library - One of my favorite places is the “Library” and never “Aklatan” (Tagalog); I think the Ilocanos have always called it “Library.”
(90) Liner & Lines & Transit - Why is it that bus lines call themselves either “Liner” or “Lines” or “Transit” and not “Linya” (Tagalog)? I have always known the Ilocanos to call it by their English names. Those words are, by the way, not easy English, especially “Transit.”
(91) Loading & Unloading Area - Traffic signs are always in English. Why is that? It must be that English is a powerful language.
(92) Low Bat - There is no equivalent term yet in Tagalog or Ilocano. I think the Ilocanos will stick to “Low Bat” to mean their cellphone is running out of battery power.
(93) Machine Shop, Welding Shop, Machine Works - Do they ever speak English in a welding shop or a place that calls itself “Machine Works?” Never, but the sign always reads in English: “Machine Shop” or “Welding Shop” or “Machine Works.”
(94) Made to Order - Usually refers to shoes and clothes, male and female. I never see “Cut to Fit” but I never see “Gawa sa Gusto” (Tagalog) or “Aramid ti Kayat” (Ilocano) either.
(95) Management - A “Notice” in a small office or a big one invariably always ends with the word “Management” and never “Namamahala” (Tagalog). If the Ilocanos don’t sign off as “Management,” they will use the word “Manager.” The Ilocanos have more English terms in them than the Tagalogs would like to accept.
(96) Money Changer - With the government’s program of Overseas Filipino Workers, “Money Changer” signs have proliferated. Why not “Nagpapalit ng Pera” (Tagalog) or “Agsukat ti Kuarta” (Ilocano)? For “Money Transfer,” why not “Padala ng Pera” (Tagalog) or “Patulod ti Kuarta” (Ilocano)? English is better.
(97) Multipurpose Cooperative - Many coops call themselves by the generic term “Multipurpose Cooperative” and seldom “Kooperatiba” (Tagalog). I think the Ilocanos will always say, “Coop” or “Cooperative.”
(98) No Overtaking, No Parking, No Smoking, Not for Hire - Signs you see everywhere. English spoken here? Probably not.
(99) Now Open for Business & Now Open to Serve You - Establishments invariably display English signs and not in the local language. I love it!
(100) One Way - Have you ever seen a sign that says, “Iisang Daan” (Tagalog) or “Maymaysa a Dalan” (Ilocano)? No way!
(101) Park & Plaza - 2 favorite words for places of public sports, recreation or leisurely walks and talks. No acceptable equivalents in Tagalog or Ilocano that I know of.
(102) Partner - This is used in the phrase “Partner tayo” (Tagalog) or “Partnerta” (Ilocano) to mean a partnership in a business undertaking.
(103) Pawnshop - Only in Manila do you see “Bahay Sanglaan” (Tagalog). I have yet to see a sign that says, “Balay ti Saldaan” (Ilocano).
(104) Per Kilo - Usually you see the sign in wet markets and stores that sell weighable meats, fruits and vegetables. I have yet to see “Kada Kilo” (Tagalog) or “Kada Maysa a Kilo” (Ilocano).
(105) Picture Taken, Picture Taking, Smile! Say Cheese! - Usually toward the end of a celebration or party, someone says, “Picture Taken” or “Picture Taking” (or the less popular “Photo Op”). So everyone who cares gathers near the stage or some corner and pose for the photographer, who invariably says before he clicks the camera, “Smile!” or sometimes, “Say ‘Cheese!’”
(106) Piggery & Poultry - The sciences of piggery (swine husbandry) and poultry (care & management of chickens) started with the founding of the College of Agriculture of the University of the Philippines in 1909. The Thomasites are gone, but the terms and names of establishments, “Poultry” and “Piggery” have stayed with us. The equivalents “Manukan” (Tagalog) and “Pagmanukan” (Ilocano) for “Poultry,” and “Babuyan” (Tagalog) and “Pagbabuyan” (Ilocano) are not as well-known or acceptable. “Piggery” is it; “poultry” is it.
(107) Public Market - In town, it’s always “Public Market.” I did not see any sign that reads “Pamilihang Bayan” (Tagalog) or “Paglakuan ti Ili” (Ilocano) from Dagupan City to Roxas City.
(108) Radio & TV - Most of the time the Tagalogs say “Radyo” while the Ilocanos always say, “Radio,” using the English spelling even if they don’t pronounce it in the English manner. Everybody says “TV” and knows what that means.
(109) Rice Dealer & Rice Mill - I see “Kiskisan” (Tagalog, Ilocano) for “Rice Mill” but no equivalent terms for “Rice Dealer.” Why should a rice trader use English and not Tagalog (“Magbibigas”) or Ilocano (“Agbabagas”)? You tell me.
(110) Rosary & Block Rosary - You have heard of “Rosaryo” (Tagalog) or “Rosario” (Ilocano), but not any equivalent of the term (and phenomenon) of the “Block Rosary.”
(111) Rural Bank - Why doesn’t it call itself “Bangko sa Bayan” (Tagalog) or “Bangco ti Ili” (Ilocano)? And in fact, “Rural” is pejorative, not complimentary, but it’s accepted.
(112) Rush ID - A modern phenomenon, of course. It would be awkward to put up a sign that says, “Apurahang ID” (Tagalog) or “Apurado nga ID” (Ilocano).
(113) School Bus - Why doesn’t it call itself “Sasakyang Paaralan” (Tagalog) or “Lugan ti Pagadalan” (Ilocano)?
(114) School Supplies - Why is it always “School Supplies” and never “Gamit sa Paaralan” (Tagalog) or “Aramat ti Escuela” (Ilocano)? Even illiterate mothers know what “School Supplies” means.
(115) Science & Technology - You will see quite a number of colleges calling themselves institutes or colleges of “Science & Technology” and not “Siyensya at Teknolohiya” (Tagalog). The Ilocanos will never dare come up with an awkward “Siensia ken Tecnologia.”
(116) Security Guard - Why do we always call him (sometimes her) “Security Guard” and not ever “Bantay Seguridad” (Tagalog) or “Bantay Securidad” (Ilocano)?
(117) Seminar & Workshop - The English word “Seminar” has endeared itself with the Tagalogs and the Ilocanos that they dare not replace it in their languages. “Workshop” is often used interchangeably with “Seminar.”
(118) Service Road - Everyone knows where the “Service Road” is and no one dares call it by any other name in any language.
(119) Slow Down - The traffic sign “Slow Down” comes with either “Dangerous Curve Ahead” or “Slippery Road Ahead” or “Children Crossing.” You can’t have equivalents in Tagalog or Ilocanos of those.
(120) Sorry For The Inconvenience - This is one of the road signs I love. I don’t want to see a sign that says, “Pasensya na Kayo, Ginagawa ang Kalsada” (Tagalog) or “Pasensia Apo, Tartarimaanen ti Kalsada” (Ilocano).
(121) Sorry We’re Closed - Why not “Sarado Na Po” (Tagalog) or “Nakaserran, Apo” (Ilocano)? English is better.
(122) Special Delivery - You can’t translate “Special Delivery” and imply the pleasant surprise that this English term brings to the one who receives it.
(123) Tailoring - Why has this English word for an occupation survived the nationalization of Tagalog (Filipino)?
(124) Take-Home Pay - Everybody knows what this means; it is self-explanatory - your salary minus debts, loans, IOUs, advances and whatnot.
(125) Teacher - The Tagalog word “Titser” is a corruption of the English word “Teacher.” The Ilocanos don’t usually corrupt English words: teacher, nickel, school, biodata or curriculum vitae.
(126) Tel. No. - In any public notice or ad, whether in English, Tagalog or Ilocano, invariably the telephone number is entered as “Tel. No.” and everyone understands.
(127) Terminal - This is the sign for buses and jeepneys, not to mention tricycles, located in an outskirt of the town. Spoken, you hear “Estasyon ng Bus” (Tagalog); the Ilocanos will invariably say, “Bus Station.” I do.
(128) Text - This modern English word has embedded itself into all the languages in the Philippines and cannot be weeded out. “Text” now stands for “text message” or “Short Message Service.”
(129) Thank You! - This is one of the most frequently encountered expressions anywhere in the Philippines, and of course it’s absolutely English.
(130) This Serves As An Invitation - This is one of the nicest things you can receive if you are in the countryside, for a wedding, birthday, or any public celebration. I have yet to see an equivalent line in Tagalog or Ilocano.
(131) Tricycle - Why haven’t the Tagalogs or Ilocanos found an equivalent term for “Tricycle” after all these years? I have no complaints; I’m happy with that name.
(132) University - In that long 10-hour ride from Dagupan City to Roxas City, I didn’t see any sign that says “Pamantasan” or “Unibersidad” (both Tagalog). The Ilocanos will always say, “University.”
(133) Van for Hire - Why not an equivalent term in Tagalog or Ilocano? I don’t think there is any. Let it be!
(134) Vertical Clearance - The genius of the Tagalogs (and the Ilocanos) cannot invent a term in their language that says, “Vertical Clearance” equally clearly.
(135) Via - You see this word in buses and sometimes in jeepneys. Everybody knows “Via” means “Passing By” even if they don’t know where that came from.
(136) Video on Board - A delightful recent innovation in air-conditioned buses plying long-distance routes - you can watch blockbuster movies the whole trip through. I doubt that any Tagalog or Ilocano can invent an equivalent term in his own tongue.
(137) Waiting Shed - A farmer who can hardly read or write knows exactly what a “Waiting Shed” is even if he cannot spell the words.
(138) Welcome! - You can find this word on the road: “Welcome to Pangasinan.” Coming into a town, you see the sign, “You are now entering Umingan” and at the end of the town, you see the sign, “You are now leaving Umingan.” Why don’t the signmakers put that in Tagalog or Ilocano? That would be too much trouble.
(139) Wholesale & Retail - Can you simplify “Wholesale & Retail” in Tagalog or Ilocano? You can’t.
(140) Wrong Send - You can’t invent a Tagalog or Ilocano term for this error in text messaging.
(141) Xerox - Sometimes it’s deliberately written as “Zerox” to avoid making a false claim - the machine used is not one made by Xerox Corporation; it’s a plain paper copier made by Minolta, say. But everybody knows to Xerox is to copy by machine.
(142) Yes Man - Most managers hire a “Yes Man” who agrees to everything the boss tells him to do. Noynoy Aquino told the people in his Inaugural Speech as President of the Philippines on 30 June 2010, “You are my boss.” I don’t know if he is a Yes Man - or a Yes, Ma’am.
(143) Zero - Even a Grade 1 pupil will tell you when he gets “Zero” in an exercise, and it means nothing to him or to you.
That’s about 200 English words or terms (sometimes with 2 or more entries in one number) culled and added to from my original 1-day list of 237 terms. Mostly they refer to knowledge, business, commerce, and transportation.
You can of course argue that Filipinos love to use English words on other Filipinos even if they don’t really understand them, just to impress the neighbors. As for me, in the use of English, I will grant 10% for impression and 90% for expression. English is excellent in both. No other language comes close!