Tag Archives: language influences

Spanish Philippine Language Influence

The Spanish Philippine language influence is apparent the moment I started on my Tagalog lessons. I was hoping that some of the terms I learn would mean the mean the same thing in Spanish too. That would make the lessons earlier. I came up with a list that got embedded into the Filipino vocabulary. Do they mean the exact same thing in Spanish?

Spanish Philippine language influence

10. Suffixes like “-ista” in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

One speaking pattern that the native Filipinos learned by assimilation from their Spanish colonizers is attaching suffixes at the end of Filipino words. It converts nouns to adjectives, making words easier to use in describing people. The Spanish Philippine language influence has a way of making grammar easier. “Periodista” to refer to someone that works in a “periodico” (news journal or newsletter). “Arsonista” to refer to someone accused or guilty of arson. And today “fashionista” to refer to someone who may or may not be someone working in the fashion industry. But someone that knew how to handle his or her looks in a magazine level and look good doing it.

9. Suffixes like “-ero” or “-era” in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

Then we have another speaking pattern that was more Spanish in the equation involving Spanish Philippine language influence. Why? Because suffixes just made nouns and adjectives gender-sensitive. A man working in the “cocina” (kitchen) is called “cocinero”. A woman working in the “cocina” is called “cocinera”. A man playing mahjong is called “mahjongero” and a woman playing mahjong is called “mahjongera”. And mahjong is not a Spanish word. Still, when describing people, some native speakers would resort to this shorthand instead of saying “yung naglalaro ng mahjong” (someone that plays mahjong). Gender-sensitivity and cultural amalgamation in one situation.

8. Buena mano in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

Most businessmen would occasionally mention to their potential buyers “Buena mano na kita ha?”  (Be my buena mano okay?) This is the cultural shift I noticed demonstrating the Spanish Philippine language influence. “Buena mano” literally means good hand. But in the Philippine business setting, it refers to the first sale of the day. There is a hint of superstition in it. I prefer to think of it that if you closed a sale early in the morning, there is more than enough time during the day to close sales too. As the cliche goes, the early bird catches the worm.

Spanish Philippine Language Influence

7. Suerte/Malas in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

I put “suerte” and “malas” side by side because “malas” turned out to be an abbreviation of “mala suerte” in the Philippine context. “Suerte” alone means luck. To say good luck is to say “Buena suerte”. Some Spanish teachers say this to their students to improve on their proficiency. On why it became just “suerte” and “malas” is to understand the Spanish Philippine language influence. The Filipinos living during the Spanish occupation may have heard these terms from their Spanish friars. Then it got ingrained into the Filipino language. And since Pinoys have this penchant of abbreviated names and words. “Buena suerte” became “suerte” and “mala suerte” became “malas”.

6. Basura in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

Not many people may realize this but “basura” is a Spanish word. It was so common as a Filipino word that now people get it mistaken for being a native word. It literally means garbage. But it doesn’t get used as a derogatory word for people in the past as it is now. When people say to someone they hate (“Basura ka!”) is where the Spanish Philippine language influence sets in. Because they say this instead of “Wala kang silbi!” (You are useless!) The harshness of the term has started to wear off ever since it became one of the common expressions used in battle raps like FlipTop.

5. Maldito/Maldita in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

Lately, the term “maldito/maldita” is more often heard in Pinoy teleseries even in advertising features that promote new productions. When one is cast as the antagonist in a story the word “maldito/maldita” is used instead of “evil”. Apparently, most Pinoys, when they use the native Filipino word in describing a person, it comes across as too deep or too harsh. So instead of using “masamang tauhan” (literally “bad character”), the word “contravida” is used. The effect of Spanish Philippine language influence, for some native speakers of Filipino, is that when you use a foreign-sounding term, it sounds less negative or harsh. It sounds less offensive compared to using the native terms. You may have sensed where this article is going.

Spanish Philippine Language Influence

4. Punyeta in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

“Punyeta” is an abbreviated term for “puñetazo”. It means to punch. I understand that Pinoys like abbreviating words and expressions they borrowed from the Spanish vocabulary. But the story involving the word “punyeta” are not very clear. Those who learned of this piece of Spanish Philippine language influence would attribute it to Ambeth Ocampo, Philippine historian, professor and author of several history books like “Aguinaldo’s Breakfast and Other Stories”. Maybe somebody heard the Spaniard wrong. Maybe he thought the word said was “punyeta” when in reality he or she did not hear the whole word “puñetazo”.

3. Puta in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

In Spanish, “puta” literally means “whore”. Apparently Filipinos and Spaniards use this word as one of those “inappropriate” expressions to attach in the tradition of saying “fuck”in English. Some young people say “Ay puta!” when shocked or perplexed. Others say “Ay putangina!” on national TV whenever they trip or start on the wrong foot. People occasionally are heard saying “Putangina mo!” when cussing the person they hate. Just the person they hate; the mother is excluded. What they actually mean in English is “Fuck you!” Some say “Putangina ka!” for the sake of being grammatically correct. Where does the Spanish Philippine language influence factor here? Both Filipinos and Spaniards (and other nationalities that speak Latin American Spanish) insert the word “puta” in any sentence that helps them release anger, frustration or negativity.

2. Leche in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

In yet another case of “misheard”  Spanish words, we have the word “leche”. “Leche” means milk. But some Pinoys exclaim “Leche!” (with an exclamation point) when exasperated, angry or upset. Individuals not used to cussing get confused. It is okay to say “leche flan” but not “Leche!” Once you realize the Spanish Philippine language influence in the way words are used, translation is thrown out the window. The intention becomes the factor instead. “Leche” is the Spaniards’ creative way of saying “Fuck you!” It is a shorthand for “I shit in the milk of the mother who bore you”. It is such a long sentence. But Spaniards immediately understand the insult by saying “Leche!” alone, al least in the old days. Pinoys? They know it’s a bad word but don’t get why, at least initially. But they senses that it does not mean something good when exclaimed in the context of the Spaniards. Nowadays if you say Leche alone in Spain, it can mean a surprise or anger expresion.

Spanish Philippine Language Influence

1. Coño in Spanish Philippine Language Influence

And we finally arrived at one of the borrowed words that summed up best the Spanish Philippine language influence – the word “Coño”. Those who actually knew the literal translation of the word would be horrified upon hearing youths say the word as if it doesn’t mean anything grave or harsh. It was even mentioned occasionally on national TV in some talk shows. Others would snap at the folks who said “Coño” by saying “Watch your words”. But they don’t think it meant what it really meant especially when context comes into play again.

The word “coño” was used in the award-winning film “Jose Rizal” when they showed Rizal’s days as a young college student. He and his fellow “ilustrados” would get into verbal tussles with the “peninsulares” and the “creoles” that are enrolled in the same university. And the word “coño” would be thrown at them because it’s what irritates them Spaniards the most.

When used in today’s context, the word “coño” would mean a mean-spirited joke on Filipinos that have difficulty speaking Filipino – those who were raised abroad and came to the Philippines only to find themselves struggling while trying to speak their supposed native language. In not finding the right Filipino word to complete a sentence, their sentences end up sounding like “I am so kawawa. I cannot make tiis any longer this sunlight”. Worse, some students, even when born and raised in the Philippines, have started faking the inability to speak Tagalog so that they would look richer than they actually are. It made the word “coño” even more derogatory. In Spain, it is already a derogatory word meaning “cunt”. No wonder Rizal’s Spanish schoolmates would flare up every time they get called “coño”.

Spanish is an interesting language to learn because most Filipinos already know so many Spanish words. They just need to realize which among those words are borrowed from the Spanish vocabulary. I might end up writing more about them in the future. So to keep yourself updated with my latest articles, please like my official Facebook fan page, Kuya Manzano Fan Club. Follow me on Twitter too @kuyamanzano. Hasta luego.