potetjp potetjp at wanadoo.fr
Sat Dec 4 11:55:19 UTC 1999

    In the Philippines too, the foreign phoneme /f/ is a shibboleth. Either
you can pronounce it and you are regarded as educated, or you can't and you
are regarded  as an ignorant. Hypercorrection ensues. I remember a
conversation in which a Filipino friend used the words _jifney_ for
"jeepney" and _fiyano_ for "piano", but _pisnet_ for "fishnet".
    The name now given to Tagalog as the national language is no longer
_Pilipino_, but _Filipino_, so great the prestige of /f/ is, despite its
utter uselessness in this language. I have the (good) Tagalog-Tagalog
dictionary published in 1989 by an official body, and its title is
_Diksyunaryo ng Wikang Filipino_ although there is no chapter of entries
beginning with an F. Even the word _Filipino_ is not entered.
    The Spanish /x/, represented by the letter J, must have a similar status
among some circles for I remember meeting a teacher of Spanish who used this
phoneme for the English /r/, thus pronouncing [bexe] for "very", [xed] for
"red" etc.. I thought she was the only one to do this, but I had the
opportunity to hear a rare recording of a famous photographer made several
decades ago, and he pronounced the Spanish R /r/ like  J /x/, for instance
uttering [xetxato] for _retrato_ "picture" - a very odd phenomenon indeed.
    As for the phonemic final glottal stop in Tagalog, it is so common and
found in so many genuine Tagalog words, that it is hardly possible to see it
as a status symbol per se. Waruno's hypothesis should not be discarded
lightly, though, for there may have been in pre-Spanish and early-Spanish
Manila snobs who would systematically add a final glottal stop.
    Adding or removing sounds from words is often practiced by minority
groups. For example, one of the well-known features of Tagalog homosexual
slang (sward speak) consists in replacing /k/ by /kw/, e.g. _[ba]kwit_ for
_[ba]kit_  "why". I discovered this the day I made everybody laugh because I
had pronounced the island name _Marinduque_ [marin[du]kwe] instead of the
correct [marin[du]ke]. My friends apologized and explained why they had
burst out laughing - a rewarding experience for a linguist.
    Jean-Paul G. Potet

More information about the An-lang mailing list