“In your world I have no meaning though I’m trying hard to understand.“- Missing You, John Waite.
When I write I find myself often defining words straight from the dictionary. Unconsciously it has become my defense against people collectively assigning the wrong meanings to some words. Trying to get a point across is hard enough in a world where you are bombarded with many different sources of information. All those different sources have almost an equal number of agendas for your time and your consciousness. Competition is everywhere. I should hope most people when they discern what information they will pay more attention to reward the source that bothers to establish authenticity.
What do I mean by that? Well in more primitive terms, you don’t want a foundation of bull feces. You want people to come at you with some sort of basis of truth. The reality of Filipino urban life in our lifetime has been that a lot of our information is in English. Like it or not, even after a once captured land gains their “independence” institutions like religion and language remain as a reminder of the previous occupants. For those of you who have been around Asia but live here, what do you notice the instant you step outside the airport? Every other country drives on the left hand side of the road. We are the one country occupied by the U.S. and we drive on the other right hand side of the road. Except during rush hour or any other hour but I digress.
Is there one person with any sort of business sense that would argue that having some understanding of the English language has helped the Philippines when it comes to international commerce? Things would be different if all our signs, newspapers, school curriculum and TV were truly all in Tagalog. How different neither you nor I can say for sure. Just know that our acclimatized use of the English Language over the last hundred or so years has had it’s impact on us.
Definition of CO-OPT
a : to choose or elect as a member
b : to appoint as a colleague or assistant
a : to take into a group (as a faction, movement, or culture) : absorb, assimilate <the students are coopted by a system they serve even in their struggle against it A. C. Danto>
b : take over, appropriate <a style coopted by advertisers>
Since I believe the case that we have adopted the English language for communicating with the world and communicating with ourselves, is it too much to ask not to add an additional Pinoy layer to the meaning of English words? There are English words like run , base and concentrate that already have multiple meanings that pinoys take a complex thing and add their own unique brand of chaos to it. You guys can complain when other countries that use the Filipino language change the meaning to Filipino words.
I often use the dictionary because it’s a point of reference. A point of reference in real life is some sort of marker to prove to yourself you have not gone astray. The pinoy culture has always resisted order and embraced rudeness. For those of you reading me for the first and maybe the last time (onion skins) let me cite the examples: jeepney drivers, bus drivers, MRT passenger queuing , Ultra Stampede, death count during election season , jejemon writing. All those I would think do not indicate a mature, considerate society. When the tsunamis hit Japan last year , local viewers admired the grace the Japanese people showed during a calamity. Which culture has the better sense of community? You be the judge.
There are already many barriers to understanding each other in life like different cultural backgrounds, misuse of technology, pronunciation and others. It bothers me that some English words have uniquely co-opted by the pinoy culture to mean something different. It bothers me because it renders a civilized tool like the dictionary useless. It is one thing entirely to come up with a new word like jologs and put your own meaning. Fine, but if you take words that already have a meaning and insert your own there is just something so kapal about the practice. There are many dictionaries available here giving precise meanings to English words. None of them are authored here. There is a reason for that. It’s not our language to redefine.
What I did was list five words that Filipinos redefined and quoted the Webster- Merriam definition of the five words:
a : fearless before danger : intrepid
b : showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit
2: impudent, presumptuous
3 obsolete: assured, confident
4 : sheer, steep <bold cliffs>
5 : adventurous, free <a bold thinker>
6 : standing out prominently
7 : being or set in boldface
I am old enough to remember when the showing of a James Bond movie originally released in the early sixties on prime time on RPN Channel 9 a decade later was event viewing for my classmates and cousins who did not have prudish parents. To this day I remember the tagline for the TV trailer as bigger, bolder, better. Pinoys use the English word bold to imply a state of undress. Of course the off shoot of this pinoy bastardization of the word bold was the common noun bold star. As in “Oh you have a relative named Kristel? Sounds like a bold star”.
a : happily excited : merry
b : keenly alive and exuberant : having or inducing high spirits <a bird’s gay spring song>
a : bright, lively <gay sunny meadows>
b : brilliant in color
3: given to social pleasures; also : licentious
a : homosexual <gay men>
b : of, relating to, or used by homosexuals <the gay rights movement> <a gay bar>
Gay is actually a word that itself was co-opted decades ago to an alternate meaning. Still at some point , that revised meaning made it’s way into the dictionary. Gay is a great word to use an example because instead of changing the meaning pinoys got more brazen and actually changed the part of speech of the word ‘gay’ from an adjective to a noun. For example “Maybe the guy is a gay”. As you can see from the dictionary definition that noun form of gay is “gayness”.
Not that there is anything wrong with a man being gay. Conventional use of the adjective gay. Where gay describes the man and the man is the subject. As in “not that there is anything wrong with being a gay. “Pinoy use of the word gay as a noun. Where gay is the actual subject and the noun.
: language peculiar to a particular group: as
a : argot
b : jargon
2 : an informal nonstandard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech
Slang is used by pinoys when the proper English word for what they should be saying is “accent”. Slang/ accent yes very similar words. Add the word sarcasm to the list of similar words. I have no idea how the entire culture made that leap but they did. If there was some central entity that decreed this alternate meaning, I could understand but there is not. Having a process like that requires some order and civility. Something we lack here.
a standardized serial computer interface that allows simplified attachment of peripherals especially in a daisy chain
Pinoys seemed to have reduced the definition of the USB standard down to the one tool, the flash memory drive. The USB ports present in a computer open the door to many many things beyond flash memory ranging from webcams, printers , DVD burners , game controllers and even electric fans. Pinoys somehow confined the Universal Serial Bus to just flash memory.
1 : a boat made by hollowing out a large log
a : a shelter dug in a hillside; also : a shelter dug in the ground and roofed with sod
b : an area in the side of a trench for quarters, storage, or protection
3 : either of two low shelters on either side of and facing a baseball diamond that contain the players’ benches
I love sports. I hate the way pinoys cover sports. Sports is just entertainment. Competition on the field, track , pool or court does not define one’s national self esteem unless other more significant aspects in a country are lacking in achievement. Then sports becomes a substitute to the significant things in life. Pinoys are by no means the only violator of this but they are annoying the way they go about it. I have gone on record saying that pinoy priorities are messed up compared to real national issues that they love to sweep under the rug.
News is news and sports is sports. Sports is entertainment with a score as Colin Cowherd once said. Ideally the headlines of a newspaper is reserved for the most significant story of the day. In the Philippines it can be used for Manny Pacquiao’s trainer to say his prediction of an upcoming fight. Like I said before Filipinos uses Manny Pacquiao as their ticket to pansin and he don’t care. Pansin is the holy grail for pinoys.
Another reason why I don’t like seeing sports through the eyes of pinoy “journalists” is because professional pinoy sports journalists are not professional. They would rather sound hip instead of being right. That speaks volumes to the pinoy desire to appear sophisticated as opposed to just being simply right. Accuracy is often a voluntary sacrifice for the pinoy who wants to look good. For NBA fans there will always be the flash in the pan guards with fancy behind the back no look passes that are more likely to end up as turnovers and then there is John Stockton. As in no flash and dash but the basics done well over a long period of time. It’s like comparing Pedro Calungsod with Vicky Belo. Both have extremely contrasting value systems. Pinoy culture is a great canvas for the classic conflict of style vs. substance. The problem is in a baduy culture, substance rarely shows up for the fight. Style is what is desired.
“Joined team for mass at Araneta dugout. My final act. Happy for the players & coaches. I said I’ll be w/ them til the end. Mission accomplished,” his tweet read, posted about an hour before the thanksgiving mass on campus.
The NBA is the only one international sport that the nation will watch that has absolutely no Pinoys. It is lost on them the word dugout is never used in the context of NBA basketball, ever. Unless of course the commentators are pinoys. Somebody should get all these so called professional sports writers and introduce them to this thing I sometimes use called Google Images. There you see actual dugouts not the pinoy version:
You notice something funny about dugouts in the concept of a basketball article? That they are outdoors? The presence of grass? That people in them are below ground level? That to make room for a dugout in a field you have to dig out the ground and having done that you can then place the benches there hence the name dugout.
I am not a genius but sometimes I find that if you take a word and break it down , you get the meaning of that word. The word timeout comes to mind. A situation where the play and the clock are both paused. It never occurred to pinoy professional sports writers that a dug out is earth literally dug out from the ground to make room for the facility. Baseball is the only sport, not football, basketball, hockey or soccer where the players waiting to get into the game are at a lower level than the surface of play. Hence they are the only sport with a “dugout”.
Pinoy sports writers try to be too fancy that the words “locker room” are beneath them. So they use another word they may have randomly heard at the cost of accuracy. Then you have sports editors that do not know the difference. It’s a cultural mind fart. Then again elections can be described as the same.
There is not a nationality in the world that will care what meaning you assign to erpats or jologs or whatever. If you want chaos with your own language that is fine. Specially with a language that is only used by native speakers and foreigners that want to communicate with native speakers. Changing meanings and even categories of English words just reveals why very few people point to us how to get things done. Our national tolerance for this totally explains why we tolerate bus drivers who seem to be direct from hell.
Vocabulary enables us to interpret and to express. If you have a limited vocabulary, you will also have a limited vision and a limited future.
Language is a dynamic thing. If you don’t believe me where art thou been? I am not saying we should treat the dictionary like the Ten Commandments Moses came down with but there should be some common reference everybody can use so we don’t go adrift. A framework as Prof. Elfren S. Cruz preaches in his column in Business World and to his many many classes. A lesson that he says has been lost on me. A framework is so you can have common terms of reference. Christians use the Bible as a framework and Muslims use the Koran as a framework. So the answer to the question is it immoral to eat pork ? Depends on the framework you adopted.
Words do two major things: They provide food for the mind and create light for understanding and awareness.
Pinoys every day and every hour treat laws of all types (not just traffic) as suggestions. They disregard all sorts of frameworks. Frameworks are there for guidance and order and to establish a standard. All those things run counter to the pinoy mentality of “basta” and “bahala na”.
The Philippine Constitution is supposed to be a framework yet the highest elected public official is himself high. In it under
Article 3 Sec.4
Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
Yet Noynoy himself talks about derelict of duty when it comes to aggressively pushing for the Cyberact. He signed something essentially unconstitutional. A constitution his own mother (the source of all his perceived credibility) put into place. Not only in our treasured president so gung-ho about co-opting the Constitution but he did it in such a covert fashion.
Do you ever recall in Noynoy’s campaign his promise he defy the Constitution? I don’t recall either. Yet defy it he does. Sorry but those of you who believed for a second that Noynoy’s words will match his deeds did not take five seconds to analyze his “track record”. The campaign also told you he was a leader and had integrity. How’s that working out for you Philippines?
Our beloved president of course is no stranger to co-opting:
a) The Laban hand sign became the Liberal party hand sign
b) The Yellow Ribbon co-opting the Philippine Flag
c) The Color Yellow- replacing the national colors.
Make no mistake, Noynoy Aquino The Accidental President does all this co-opting but we let him. We ourselves have existed so long in a culture of co-opting that our brains and good judgement have been co-opted too. It takes a “special” culture that gets more worked up over a teen idol spreading humorous memes about a public event that was meant to be entertainment (to the point of banning) but to give some balding, bespectacled, bumbling, befuddled boor free reign over real national institutions like the Constitution and the flag. The joke is on us folks.
I wrote this blog not only to correct faulty perceptions of words but to show how a meaning can spread throughout a culture whether it’s right or wrong with very little basis. English is a complicated , inconsistent language to begin with. The pinoys with a combination of their hubris and their laziness butcher and distort meanings of simple words which adds to already inevitable episodes of misunderstanding. Like most of my posts where I point out misplaced values, it just gives the powers that be carte blanche to mess around with things we should be valuing. They know our attention is more on Justin Bieber’s Instagram. Instead of a national debate on issues that matter we find ourselves acquiescing to the uninformed. It’s their agenda. Look at the relevant issues and look at the elected officials. All this starts with assigning arbitrary inaccurate meanings to words. In an ignorant culture it’s the people who are educated who are penalized.
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