More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to. - Bill Bryson
My kid and I are flipping a picture book in the living room, I ask Bea, “Where’s the bug?” My 3 year old immediately points to a picture of an insect. “That’s a beetle, this is a bug”, I said, pointing at another picture. “Bag Daddy” my daughter exclaimed. I grinned and said “Sorry, BEAAAG”.
My kid learned her diction from Pixar and Disney. I got mine from an old maid English teacher whose favorite expressions are “giti” and “tiwis” (visayan terms for the female genital). It’s a tongue twister for Filipinos. We have difficulties pronouncing “A” as in “apple” instead of “epol” or “carrot” instead of “kerot”. To compound this, we can’t distinguish “P” from “F” and “B” from “V”. We say “pipty”, “flease”, “DBD” and “vallpen”.
While it’s amusing, I’d prefer to hear pinoys speak this way rather than sound like a call center agent. They’re trained to talk in proper diction with an American twang. Yet speak in “pre-programmed” sentences, polite but artificial. At least with the former, I can proudly say “That’s Juan dela Cruz” speaking.
This vicious mangling of English is not the sole expertise of Filipinos. South Asians are notorious for contorting the language as well. They speak as if they’re trying to withhold words, curving their tongues to block syllable from coming out of their lips. Of course we all know about the Chinese “flied lice” and Arabic speaking people have the same problem as we do. Since there is no phonetic equivalent of the letter “P” in the Arabic alphabet, they pronounce it as “B”. You often hear them say “baber”, “bebsi” and the famous “no barking” joke. It means you can neither park nor leave your dog in the car.
But at the end of the day, as long as we could understand each other, regardless how we say it, ebrybody’s haffy.