Sunday, October 16, 2005

[Blog Entry] Evolving Language

Evolving Language

While it’s important to be faithful to language (i.e. using correct spelling, grammar, tenses, etc.), I think that it’s also important to bear in mind that language itself isn’t static but a dynamic entity. Take a look at English. Not so long ago, cute meant shrewd or clever, a word shortened from the word acute. Now, it simply means pretty. Or look at the word nice. Currently it denotes something positive, but its original meaning was foolishness or stupidity.

Filipino English has its own evolution as well. I mean our Spanish Tagalog has some big differences from its Spanish counterparts, why would English be any different? (Take for example the Filipino word “diretsyo”, which is our directions for straight ahead. In Spanish, “derecho” means turning right.)

I was hoping there’d be an account of Filipino English etymologies. Here’s some that I’ve came up with:

Plastic. Adjective. 1. Fake, not real. 2. Insincere. Word History: Plastic probably alludes to jewelry, the fake ones being made of plastic. In the Filipino context, it is used to describe people as well, indicating that one isn’t being honest in their attitudes and behavior.

Salvage. Noun. 1. Murdered and thrown into the river. Word History: The first person who was salvaged was probably the result of some people trying to recover items from the river or a dump site for trash. Instead of finding junk, they found a body. Currently, salvaged means a person who was killed and the body of which is usually found in dumpsites and rivers.

And then we have the expression “in the province”, which doesn’t translate well into English. I mean when Filipino use the word, we use it in contrast to the metropolis, which is busy, hectic, and noisy. A lot of Filipinos have provinces, and their idealized version of the province is a calm and peaceful place. So when they’re asked what they did for vacation, when they simply utter “we went to the province”, Filipinos understand. Foreigners would not.


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