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This post is a reaction to the blog post “Top 10 Filipino Expressions I Wish to Hear Less in 2014.”

The tone of the post is very, for lack of a better, more descriptive word, whiny. I do partly agree with his post, so I would like to attempt to reiterate the points I agree with in a less whiny manner.

Language evolves. Words can change pronunciation or usage, or can mean something differently over time. Dictionaries add new words to their roster if a certain word is ubiquitous enough to be used in popular context.

Now, this is what the original author states in his introductory paragraph:

Gone are the days when an expression or a catch phrase is personalized. It is only you or your circle of friends who say it. Lately, the manner of how people talk is the same. They express their thoughts using similar diction and delivery. The influence of television and social media is truly profound. There is no other reason for this phenomenon other than that.

He lamented the loss of “personalization” of language, which he described as having a similar speech confined within a social circle. Sort of like a “language hipster.” The language hipster says, “No, you can’t use that word! You didn’t invent that. It’s only us in our exclusive social circle that can use it.” If the French, Anglo-Saxons, and other tribes thought that then we wouldn’t have an English vocabulary as rich (and terribly complex) as it is now.

What I’m saying is, that’s the nature of language: it starts from a small social circle, and eventually it gets out of that circle then everybody else starts using it until it gets enough traction. Traditional (i.e., print, TV, and radio) and social media merely amplify this effect.

Now, do we merely have to accept that media dictate how we speak or use words? Of course not. We can always choose to steer clear of the bandwagon. Not because everybody else is referring to another as “teh” that we have to do the same as well. We have a lot of words, both in English and Filipino, and whatever third or so forth language one speaks, that we can use to express ourselves.

A lot of the words/phrases he listed can be traced to the popularity of Vice Ganda (which he name-dropped in his post) because he regularly uses most of these constructs in his dialogue. However some of those phrases have been around for a while, originating from the Filipino gay lingo.

For each, he explained why its use is problematic. He mentioned sexism (against females), laziness, abuse, sarcasm, and repulsiveness (he mentions this for “boom” and the word repetition in the structure for “…pag may time”). Let me address each one.

There are words that are a lot more sexist, more hurtful, against women than “teh”: “puta” (whore) and ”pokpok” (also whore?) are two such words. I don’t even think that “teh” (short for “ate,” sister) is sexist as you can use the same structure when referring to any gender.

Regarding laziness, what do we make of contractions in English, such as “don’t,” “won’t,” and “we’ll,” or in Filipino, such as “ika’y,” “‘yan,” and “‘yung”?

He mentions the abuse of the word “peg.” It’s true that it’s used differently from its English counterpart. The closest English definition to how it’s used here is this:

a predetermined level at which something (as a price) is fixed

Or maybe even this:

something (as a fact or issue) used as a support, pretext, or reason <a news peg for the story>

Especially for the second definition, it’s not that far off from its original usage, right? Besides, why can’t we use such a convenient, short word to convey a larger, more complex idea? Convenience does not equate to laziness.

Sarcasm is a legitimate form of expression, similar but not limited to a back-handed compliment. You can’t use it everywhere though. You can’t talk sarcastically to your boss unless you have a close relationship, or else you’d probably be fired.

Reduplication is also a legitimate language structure. In the “…pag may time” phrase, its function is to emphasize the action. Outside this structure, reduplication is also used. I hope he’s not offended by words such as “halo-halo” (noun), “sari-sari” or “manamis-namis” (adjectives). An even earlier expression that uses this is “Galaw-galaw baka ka ma-stroke!”

We can wish those 10 words/phrases to be used less frequently, but pinning the (non-)problems above on these words/phrases is not the way to do it.

The lesson we can all learn here is that we all have our opinions and we are free to express and share them, but it is best that we choose our words wisely. Especially, if it’s a blog post regarding language.

Please do tell me if I suffered the same fate with this post.

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