|~28,700 L1 speakers (2005 UNSD)|
~40 million L2 speakers (Crystal 2003a)
Official language in
Philippine English (similar and related to American English) is any variety of English native to the Philippines, including those used by the media and the vast majority of educated Filipinos. English is taught in schools as one of the two official languages of the country, the other being Filipino (Tagalog). Due to the highly multilingual nature of the Philippines, code-switching such as Taglish (Tagalog-infused English) and Bislish (English infused with any of the Visayan languages) is prevalent across domains from casual settings to formal situations.
Filipinos were first introduced to English when the British invaded Manila and Cavite in 1762, but this occupation had no lasting effect on English in the country. A national variety called Philippine English evolved eventually, as a result of the American colonization, and was arguably one of the fastest to develop in the postcolonial world. Its origins as an English language spoken by a large segment of the Philippine population can be traced to the American introduction of public education, taught in the English medium of instruction. This was marked by the arrival of the Thomasites in 1901, immediately during re-colonization after the Philippine Revolution in the late 19th century up to the early 1900. After a tumultuous period of colonial transition, Filipino leaders and elites, and the American colonial government alike begun discussing the formation of a Philippine national language. The retained high ethnolinguistic diversity of the new colony was due to low penetration of Spanish under Spain's rule. Spanish was limited to a medium of instruction for the landed elites and gentry. At the end of Spanish colonization, only 3-5% of the colonial population could speak Spanish. The lingering effects of Spanish amongst the general population nevertheless had notable effects on the lexical development of many Philippine languages, and even Philippine English, in the form of hispanisms.Tagalog was selected to be the basis for a national language in 1937, and has since remained so. It was re-labelled as Pilipino in 1959, and Filipino in 1987. With the successful establishment of American-style public education having English as a consequential medium, more than 20% of the Philippine population were reported to be able to understand and speak English just before the turn of mid-20th century. This meteoric growth was sustained post-World War II, much further through Philippine mass media (e.g. newsprint, radio, television) where English also became the dominant language, and by the ratification into the current Philippine Constitution in 1987, both Filipino and English were declared co-official languages.
Today a certain Philippine English, as formally called based on the World Englishes framework of renowned linguist Braj Kachru, is a recognized variety of English with its distinct lexical, phonological, and grammatical features (with considerable variations across socioeconomic groups and level of education being predictors of English proficiency in the Philippines). As English language became highly embedded in Philippine society, it was only a matter of time before the language was indigenized to the point that it became differentiated from English varieties found in the United States, United Kingdom, or elsewhere. This, along with the formal introduction of the World Englishes (WE) framework to English language scholars in the Philippines opened the floodgates to research on this new emerging English, which has since been branded as such as Philippine English.
The abundant supply of English speakers and competitive labor costs have enabled the Philippines to become a choice destination for foreign companies wishing to establish call centers and other outsourcing. English proficiency sustains a major call center industry and in 2005, America Online had 1,000 people in what used to be the US Air Force's Clark Air Base in Angeles City answering ninety percent of their global e-mail inquiries. Citibank does its global ATM programming in the country, and Procter & Gamble has over 400 employees in Makati, a central Manila neighborhood, doing back office work for their Asian operations including finance, accounting, Human Resources and payments processing.
An influx of foreign students, principally from South Korea, has also led to growth in the number of English language learning centers, especially in Metro Manila, Baguio, Metro Cebu and Metro Bacolod.
Philippine laws and court decisions, with extremely rare exceptions, are written solely in English. English is also used in higher education, religious affairs, print and broadcast media, and business. Most educated Filipinos are bilinguals and speak English as one of their languages. For highly technical subjects such as nursing, medicine, computing and calculus, English is the preferred medium for textbooks, communication, etc. Very few would prefer highly technical books in either Filipino or the regional language. Movies and TV shows in English are usually not dubbed in most cable channels except a few such as Tagalized Movie Channel.
Because English is part of the curricula from primary to secondary education, many Filipinos write and speak in fluent Philippine English, although there might be differences in pronunciation. Most schools in the Philippines, however, are staffed by teachers who are speakers of Philippine English and hence notable differences from the American English from which it was derived are observable.
Philippine English traditionally follows American English spelling and grammar (with little to no similarity to British English) except when it comes to punctuation as well as date notations. For example, a comma almost never precedes the final item in an enumeration (much like the AP Stylebook and other style guides in English-language journalism generally). Except for some very fluent speakers (like news anchors), even in English-language media, dates are also often read with a cardinal instead of an ordinal number (e.g. "January one" rather than "January first" or "January the first") even if the written form is the same. This is mostly because educated Filipinos were taught to count English numbers cardinally, thus it carried over to their style of reading dates. In reading the day-month-year date notation used by some areas in the government (e.g. 1 January), it may be pronounced as "one January" rather than "the first of January" or rearranged to the month-first reading "January one". Foreign nationals of Filipino descent, however, may have continued to read dates in English based on the conventions of their birth countries.
Tautologies like redundancy and pleonasm are common despite the emphasis on avoiding them, stressing brevity and simplicity in making sentences; they are common to many speakers, especially among the older generations. The possible explanation is that the English language teachers who came to the Philippines were taught old-fashioned grammar, thus they spread that style to the students they served. Examples are "At this point in time" and ".. will be the one ..." (or "... will be the one who will ...") instead of "now" and "... will ..." respectively - e.g., "I will be the one who will go ...", rather than "I will go ...".
Levels of primary pupils and secondary students are usually referred to as grade one, grade two, and so on, similar to Canadian English, rather than American first grade, second grade, etc.
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As a historical colony of the United States, the Philippine English lexicon shares most of its vocabulary from American English, but also has loanwords from native languages and Spanish, as well as some usages, coinages, and slang peculiar to the Philippines. Due to the influence of the Spanish languages, Philippine English also contains Spanish-derived terms, including Anglicizations, some resulting in false friends, such as "salvage". Philippine English also borrowed words from Philippine languages, especially native plant and animal names (e.g. "ampalaya", balimbing"), and cultural concepts with no exact English equivalents (e.g. kilig); some borrowings from Philippine languages have entered mainstream English, such as abaca and ylang-ylang.
Some terms are only used in some regions. Examples are bringhouse (bringing food home from fiestas), which is only used in the Visayas, and haggard (police on motorcycles), which is used only in Visayas and Mindanao.
|Word/phrase||Philippine English||Standard English||Notes|
|Advanced||of a clock ahead of standard time||state-of-the-art|
|Birdie||penis||little bird; golf score of one under par||Childish slang, popularized by the Parokya ni Edgar song "Don't Touch My Birdie".|
|Bold||(adjective) implying or associated with pornography (as in bold film, and bold star); (noun) pornography||(adjective) courageous; brave|
|Brownout||blackout; power outage||sudden drop in voltage|
|Cabaret||strip club||live entertainment in a restaurant or nightclub|
|Calling card||business card||name card|
|Certain||(particle) emphasis marker suggesting ambiguity or anonymity||known, but not specifically named|
|Comedy||practical joke||humorous act|
|Commute||to travel by public transportation||to travel between home and work|
|Course||college or university degree program||individual subject of a learning program|
|Crocodile||corrupt politician||genus of reptile||Originally referred to Philippine Constabulary officers, after the brown color of their uniform.|
|Dialect||languages of the Philippines other than Filipino||regional variety of a language||From an erroneous redefinition of the term coined by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino after declaring regional languages in the country as "dialects" to Filipino. Considered inaccurate and derogatory, and "regional language" is considered the correct and proper usage in linguistic discourse.|
|Drive-in||motel; motor inn||type of outdoor cinema; type of drive-thru restaurant where food is served by a carhop|
|Duster||simple sun dress||cleaning tool|
|Elimination round||group stage or regular season||single-elimination tournament or two-legged tie||Especially in basketball competitions. Preliminary round also used in football and volleyball.|
|Entertain||to help or assist (in a corporate context e.g. "How can I entertain you?" for "How can I help you)||to amuse|
|Fiscal||public prosecutor; solicitor; attorney general||public official responsible for control of public revenue in some countries||Calque of Spanish fiscal.|
|Gimmick||unplanned night out with friends||trick; ploy|
|Go up||get on a vehicle||get on (the bus/jeep)|
|Inhibition||(law) recusal||fear or embarassment that prevents natural behavior; stoppage or retardation of a chemical reaction|
|Junk shop||scrap dealer||store selling mostly used goods at cheap prices||Scrap dealer is also used as well.|
|Life imprisonment||reclusion perpetua||life sentence|
|Malicious||implying sexually perverted behaviour||having bad or evil intent|
|Maniac||pervert||someone suffering from manic behavior||From "sex maniac".|
|Middle name||maternal surname/last name or maiden name||second given name||From the adaptation of Filipino names using Spanish naming customs to the Western system of first name-middle name-last name.|
|Motel||love hotel; no-tell motel; sex hotel||motorist's hotel||Also simply called or used in conjunction with "short-time".|
|Nightclub||strip club||public or private establishment open at night to offer entertainment, food, drink, music, and dancing|
|Open||switch on (the light)||switch on / turn on (the light)|
|Rotunda||roundabout; traffic circle||circular building||From Spanish rotonda, via the Philippine languages.|
|Rugby||contact cement; rubber cement||ball sport||Genericized trademark from the wood glue brand by Bostik.|
|Sala||living room or courtroom||large hall or reception hall||Borrowed from Spanish via Philippine languages.|
|Salvage||(noun) summary execution involving a person being killed by a gang in some locations and the cadaver thrown onto a large space such as a river, roadside or vacant land; (verb) to kill a person in a similar fashion||(noun) act of rescuing or retrieved||False friend from Spanish "salvaje" ("wild", via the form "salbahe" in Philippine languages), after the manner the victims are killed.|
|Scandal||amateur pornography||controversy||Originally referred to celebrity sex tapes.|
|Slang||(adjective) indicative of a foreign or strong English accent||(noun) extremely informal language|
|Spandrel||soffit||A triangular space between the top of an arch and a rectangular frame||Termed by the local construction industry to describe usually metal or corrugated plastic types of roof soffit.|
|Subdivision||gated community or named residential area with a distinct flavor||parcel of land subdivided into lots|
|Tissue||paper napkin or toilet paper||absorbent paper; usually refers to facial tissue|
|Toga||graduation gown||ancient Roman garment; see also toga party|
|Tricycle||auto rickshaw using a motorcycle and sidecar rig||cycle with three wheels||In the Visayas, also used for pedicabs.|
|Trolley||makeshift handcar||(UK) cart; (US) streetcar||Also called skate in Bicol Region.|
|Undersecretary||deputy or assistant secretary||deputy to assistant secretary|
|Village||gated community||small settlement|
|Word/phrase||English definition or equivalents understood in most English varieties||Notes|
|American or Americano||white or Caucasian person||The shortened term "kano" is more commonly used, from Americano|
|Apartelle||budget hotel based on an apartment||See also condotel|
|Banana cue||skewered cooking bananas, sprinkled with sugar, grilled and served hot|
|Bed-space||to rent a bedroom at a private home, where the rent for it is paid by a lodger or boarder"|
|Boodle fight||gathering where food (usually pansit, or steamed rice and sardines) is served on old newspapers or banana leaves spread over a table and eaten with bare hands by a group of people||Devised by PMA cadets, and does not represent authentic Philippine culture, but instead symbolizes fraternity and equality among PMA members by their sharing the same food without regard to rank. From West Point slang meaning "any party at which boodle (candy, cake, ice cream, etc.) is served."|
|Carnapping||carjacking; motor vehicle theft||Blend of car and kidnapping.|
|Chancing||sexual advance with suggestive body contact||Often associated with Silent Generation and baby boomer Filipinos.|
|Civilian clothes||casual clothes||Usually in a context where one is not required to wear a uniform. From police terminology, referring to plainclothes officers.|
|Comfort room/C.R.||public toilet; Restroom|
|Community quarantine||A cordon sanitaire or stay-at-home order||Devised by the IATF-EID to distinguish a series of lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic from military lockdowns resulting from civil disorder or armed conflict, the latter being associated with Martial law. Compare with Malaysian English movement control order or Singaporean circuit breaker measure.|
|Computer shop||Internet café||From incorrect translation of kompyuteran.|
|Condotel/Condo||budget hotel based on a condominium||See also apartelle above|
|Coupon bond||bond paper|
|Cutex||nail polish||Genericized trademark|
|Disco||nightclub||Also disco club, or simply club.|
|Dirty ice cream||generic ice cream sold by street vendors|
|Dirty kitchen||kitchen dedicated to household workers||Also found in West Asian households.|
|Eat-all-you-can||all-you-can-eat||Common, but not necessarily peculiar to Philippine English.|
|Extra service||orgasm as part of erotic massage done by a masseur; happy ending|
|Filipino time/Pinoy time||habitual lateness of Filipinos||Stereotypical, but often used humorously. See also Juan time below|
|Government-owned and controlled corporation||state-owned enterprise||Often abbreviated to GOCC.|
|Green joke||off-color humor; ribaldry||Calque of Spanish chiste verde. See also green-minded below|
|Green-minded||dirty-minded; having sexual thoughts|
|Grotto||garden or roadside shrine simulating a cave and containing a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (mostly Our Lady of Lourdes), and sometimes paired with a water feature||From the holy cave in Lourdes, France.|
|Hand-carry||carry-on; hand luggage|
|Hold-departure order||criminal travel injunction|
|Holdupper||hold-up robber; stick-up man|
|Hollow block||cement, concrete, or foundation block|
|Informal settler||squatter||Also in informal settler's area (slum or shanty town).|
|Jeepney||purpose-built public transportation vehicles, originally made from used US military jeeps|
|Jogging pants||sweatpants or track pants||Often part of the physical education uniform of most schools in the Philippines|
|Juan time||habit of being on time||After Juan dela Cruz.|
|Kidnapable||person who is a likely target for kidnap for ransom for their wealth and social status||Slang, often used tongue-in-cheek.|
|Kikay kit||container where a woman's make-up and toiletries are kept|
|Load||(noun) prepaid credits; (verb) top up|
|Macho dancer||male stripper in a gay bar|
|McDo||McD's||Clipping of McDonald's. Also found in French.|
|Minor subject||An elective; optional subject||Usually contrasts to a major subject, which are required core subjects.|
|Necrological service||obituary or pre-burial event consisting of eulogies and songs, especially over a deceased celebrity or public figure||Used by funeral homes. Outside that context, first noted in writing in the Taglish elegy of Filipino poet V.I.S. de Veyra for English-language Filipino poet Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta titled Requiem Para Kay Ophie (Dimalanta)---Makata, Kritiko ng Wika which mentions "necrological service" among other Philippine English words and phrases. The phrase is also understood to mean "memorial service".|
|Nosebleed||to "have a nosebleed" is to have serious difficulty conversing in English with a fluent or native English speaker. It can also refer to anxiety brought on by a stressful event such as an examination, job interview or being afraid to be judged by others for not using proper grammar||Slang, often used to avoid conversing with English speakers.|
|Pekpek shorts||short shorts||From Tagalog vulgar slang for vagina.|
|Pension house||family-owned guest house|
|Pentel pen||marker||Genericized trademark|
|Person deprived of liberty||prisoner||Shortened to PDL.|
|Pisonet||Internet café with coin-operated computers that can be used for 5 to 15 minutes after dropping a Philippine peso coin||Genericized trademark|
|Polo||dress shirt||From polo shirt.|
|Red egg||salted eggs with shells dyed magenta||Translated from the Tagalog itlog na pula.|
|Ref||fridge||Shortened from refrigerator.|
|Rubber shoes||sneakers, athletic shoes, trainers|
|Sando||sleeveless shirt, tank-top, wifebeater, vest or singlet||May be traced to the Bengali word sando-genji.|
|Sari-sari store||small, neighborhood convenience store or booth||From the Tagalog sari-sari ("mixed" or "sundry").|
|Scotch tape||transparent adhesive tape||Genericized trademark, from the brand by 3M.|
|Sign pen||a technical pen used for signing documents||Genericized trademark by Pentel.|
|Sounds||music played in a radio, audio or speaker|
|Stolen shot||candid photography||Slang|
|Unli||unlimited||E.g. in unli-text or unli-rice.|
|Vetsin||monosodium glutamate||Genericized trademark from Tien Chun Ve-Tsin.|
|Videoke||karaoke||Coined in the 1990s, blend of video and karaoke.|
|Washday||day where an employee or student can wear casual clothes, as uniforms are usually laundered that day|
Abbreviations are often punctuated in Philippine English when they are usually not, and some abbreviations are unique to Philippine usage.
Philippine English is a rhotic accent mainly due to the influence of Philippine languages, which are the first language of most of its speakers. Another influence is the rhotic characteristic of General American English, which became the longstanding standard in the archipelago since Americans introduced the language in public education. This is contrary to most Commonwealth English variants spoken in neighboring countries such as Malaysia or Singapore. The only exception to this rule is the word Marlboro, which is frequently read as Malboro. Therefore, /r/ phonemes are pronounced in all positions. However, some children of Overseas Filipinos who are educated in Commonwealth countries (such as Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom) may speak in a non-rhotic accent unless taught otherwise. Native and well-educated speakers (also called acrolectal speakers) may also feature flapping and vowel sounds resembling the California vowel shift due to the influence of Hollywood movies and call center culture mostly pegged towards the American market.
For non-native speakers, Philippine English phonological features are heavily dependent on the speaker's mother tongue, although foreign languages such as Spanish also influenced many Filipinos on the way of pronouncing English words. This is why approximations are very common and so are hypercorrections and hyperforeignisms. The most distinguishable feature is the lack of fricative consonants, particularly /f/, /v/ and /z/. Another feature is the general absence of the schwa /?/, and therefore pronounced by its respective full equivalent vowel although the r-colored variant [?] is increasingly popular in recent years.
The following consonant changes apply for most non-native speakers of the language:
Vowels in Philippine English are pronounced according to the letter representing each, so that ⟨a, e, i, o, u⟩ are generally pronounced as [a, ?, i, o, u], respectively. The schwa /?/--although a phonological feature across numerous Philippine languages such as Kinaray-a, Meranao, or the Abagatan (Southern) dialect of Ilokano--is absent.
Many Filipinos often have distinct non-native English pronunciation, and many fall under different lectal variations (i.e. basilectal, mesolectal, acrolectal). Some Philippine languages (e.g. Ibanag, Itawis, Surigaonon, Tausug) feature certain unique phonemes such as [d?], [f], [v], and [z], which are also present in English. However, Filipinos' first languages have generally different phonological repertoires (if not more simplified compared to English), and this leads to mis- or distinct pronunciations particularly among basilectal and to some extent mesolectal speakers.
Some examples of non-native pronunciation include:
|journal=(help); "If I will be the one who will talk and explain, that will be self-serving," Anselmo Roque (January 18, 2007). "Ecija school faculty bares university exec's mess". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on March 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008.; "Whoever wins on the issue of secret balloting will be the one who will win the speakership,", Norman Bordadora (July 22, 2007). "Arroyo can deliver SONA sans Speaker--Salonga". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on August 9, 2007. Retrieved 2008..
|url=value (help). Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2020.