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Taglish and English

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When people ask me where I got my “accent” I would simply smile casually, and sometimes sheepishly reply “I came from an English speaking school”. I came from an English speaking school, that’s why I’m fluent in English. English is generally noted as one of the languages commonly used in the Philippines. English is taught in schools as one of the two official languages of the country, the other being Filipino, a standardized version of Tagalog. Sub-varieties of Philippine English is emerging based on the regional location of the speakers. Code-mixing is one of the most prevalent example of emerging sub-varieties among Ilokano and Visayan speakers particularly Cebuano and Hiligaynon. But what connection does coming from an English speaking school have with the fact that I can speak English fluently? Looking at the teacher of a school, it is usually stressed on how teachers, being one of the preliminary role models for children next to the parents, need to establish a sturdy communication between them and their students.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) Communication is the foundation of a healthy student-teacher relationship. Now, imagine what would happen if there are boundaries and an obstacle between the students’s learning and the teacher. What if such obstacle disrupts the child’s learning and affects the child’s potential. Pretend, for a moment, that this boundary is the inability for the teacher to communicate thoroughly. If the teacher has problems with communicating effectively this could affect the child’s response to the lessons. If my response to a good English teacher’s accent during lessons is the eventual acquisition of this skill then it can be said that whatever the teacher’s methods in teaching can also affect the child’s skills. However, the previous example is on a personal level and does not necessarily describe the outcome. It can still give an idea as to why a teacher should be careful with every move he or she makes in the classroom. Here is where I bring in the concept of Taglish.

Taglish is an example of the boundaries or obstacle that could possibly prevent a student’s development if used by the teacher. It can be said that if the teacher’s most commonly used method of teaching is speaking, then he/she better check his/her language. If all the things mentioned above are true, an answer to the proposition: that using Taglish as a form of language is or is not valid and therefore should be accepted in classroom use can be identified.

What language does one speak? The common language one speaks at home and at their leisure is their language. The language being referred to here, of course, is the spoken language. Filipinos are known to be Bilingual; this means that Filipinos are known to have two commonly used languages. Some Filipinos can speak fluently in Tagalog, some in English. Some Filipinos can even speak both Tagalog and English. There is a situation however, wherein instead of speaking either language consistently the Filipino speaker inserts one word from the other and creates a totally different language altogether.

This situation is usually called either Taglish or Englog. Taglish is a portmanteau of the words “Tagalog” and “English” which refers to the Philippine language Tagalog (or its liberalized official form, Filipino) infused with American English terms. It is an example of code-switching. Codeswitching on the other hand means switching between one or more language, or language variety, in the context of a single conversation. Multilinguals—people who speak more than one language—sometimes use elements of multiple languages in conversing with each other. Thus, code-switching is the use of more than one linguistic variety in a manner consistent with the syntax and phonology of each variety.

In the Philippines, the existence of Taglish is becoming more and more widespread as the modern world slowly begins to rise. Taglish exists for many reasons, one being the need for an easy way of expressing things verbally for the multi-lingual Filipino. The question is why Taglish must co-exist with the other two languages when the two languages are sufficient enough to provide for speaking. If one has the ability to speak in English, why not speak English? If one has the ability to speak Tagalog, why not speak Tagalog? The answer to this question could vary on a lot of answers and ideas.

If one is to venture deep into the context, we could find out that Taglish is used, not because of the speaker’s lack of education but because there are things that cannot be easily expressed when one comes from a bilingual country. Imagine again, our Filipino teacher in a classroom scenario. Freshly graduated and recently hired, the teacher is to teach English in a public school. A student would raise his/her hand and says he/she finds it hard to understand the topic. What does the teacher do? The teacher could switch from one language to the next, but there is a danger of just having them overlap each other. Eventually Taglish starts getting played around in the tongues of those who find it extremely difficult to explain things in the multi-lingual universe. The teacher’s use of Taglish would come with the risk that even though the explaining was made easy, the presentation of it was not so formal. In an author’s point of view, expressed in Tagalog “Sa kabila nito, naniniwala pa rin akong dapat disiplinahin ang Taglish sa loob ng klase. Kung bagá, dapat gamitan ng preno. Ipaliwanag sa mag-aaral ang kabuluhan ng panghihiram upang yumaman ang kanilang wika’t isipan. Upang kaugnay nito’y linawin din sa kanila ang masamâng bisà ng walang-pakundangang paggamit ng salitâ’t praseng Ingles.”

Taglish is commonly used because, even if English is considered one of the Philippines’ languages it can be said that not everyone can speak it fluently. Taglish comes in when there is a need for a word that cannot be expressed in English (i.e. naman, eh, talaga, kasi and etc). Taglish is different from Englog; in Taglish it is intended to be a fully English sentence with inserted Tagalog words. Why the Philippines insist on using Taglish is a big question. English, despite the Philippines’ freedom to use only Tagalog as their National language, is still used because of the assets it gives to the country.

” More than this, English is the language of power and progress. In the Philippines, it is highly valued not only because it is functional and practical and washes over us constantly, but more importantly, because it is an affordable item, a skill that can be used to increase one’s position, respectability and marketability. In most cases, the better one’s ability to understand and use English, the better one’s chances of career advancement. “

Now that we have an idea about what Taglish is we can sum up to a proposition: that using Taglish as a form of language is not valid and therefore should not be accepted in classroom use. Although Taglish is convenient, whenever there is a shortage of expressive words for the teacher it cannot be a liable excuse for the use of the language. The use of Taglish by the teacher could cause the use of Taglish by the students. One can predict that, since school of all places is the place where learning is an ongoing thing, the student would eventually adapt the use of Taglish themselves because they see it so openly used by their teacher. After class there is no way we can be sure that the environment presented in the classroom won’t affect the child’s speech. The possible outcomes of a class, openly speaking Taglish is endless! As a country, so open with this scenario happening in classrooms, the Philippines is faced with more questions regarding the use of this Language.

If the student, aside from the teacher, keeps on using Taglish in the classroom and outside it reflects the capacity of the student to perform and speak a language fluently. There is a case wherein a TV personality is frowned upon by an educator because of the use of Taglish. Quoting “That one is really very bad because she’s a lit (literature) major. She reads very well. She’s very intelligent” says educator Carolina Gustilo de Ocampo “She should be a good model for language because she’s excellent in both English and Tagalog. She should not mix it (sic). She has so much power. Everybody looks up to her. Everybody finds her wonderful, so use that opportunity to be good in both languages.”

Using Taglish could mean two things; either you know enough of the two languages but you insist on speaking in this manner because of necessities to express and/or be understood or you don’t know enough of one of the languages thus you have the need to rely on the other. If either one of these is a speaker’s reason for using Taglish, both reasons are invalid. The ability to do code switching hints that the speaker came from a race of multi-linguists,which also hints the presence of the ability to speak one fluently. If there is a case wherein the code switcher, acquired the need to continuously use code switching because his/her language has developed with a reliance to both languages; we can prove that the constant use of Taglish in a classroom can result to the inability of an affected student to speak either language fluently. If Taglish is continuosly used in class then this language will eventually form a shape of its own. It can be possible that a student who uses Taglish in the classroom wouldn’t develop an ability to speak either English or Tagalog perfectly. “We have the gift of languages. But what sets us apart is how with any language we use, we are able to speak it clearly.”

Taglish can affect the student more than the teacher. Regardless of the fact that the teacher can or cannot speak one language, there is a chance that this could affect the child who sees the teacher as a role model. A child, especially during the earliest stages, is a like a sponge that takes in whatever is fed to it. “Children being very influential can be heavily affected by their role models. A role model for a child is someone seen as big and great in their eyes. Whoever the role model may be, children will pick up actions, words and mannerisms from them. It affects them in every way, how they deal with people, their dress, and vocabulary and how they aspire to be”. That could be the reason why American Literacy Specialist Laura Benson, a Professor at the University of Colorado, who attended the first Philippine Summit on Childhood Education as a speaker said it was important not to mix languages, adding that studies by Harvard Unniversity showed that the Language used at home primes, prompts, patterns our children’s thinking. If she means to address the language parents use in front of their children at home, what more for the language used in the eight hours they spend in class.

Of course, It is a fact that Language is dynamic, creative and resourceful, including in the Philippines. It is one of the characteristics of language: Language grows and develops. By evolution, that is, the changes take place very slow and gradually. A language grows by innovation and by borrowing. A language grows by innovation when the people coin new words to be added to their vocabulary and by borrowing when words are borrowed from other languages and adopter as part of the vocabulary.

The use of Taglish in general should be addressed to promptly with the same way we address other languages because it could be just another language at the verge of development. Language is dynamic, therefore Taglish shouldn’t be misjudged nothing more than an informal way of speech but a creative and new way of speaking English and Tagalog. The possibility of a decline of both English and Tagalog in the Philippines is surfacing if Taglish makes itself a Language. English, which was once second to Tagalog as the commonly used language is now Third next to Taglish which is Second! People are using Taglish more and more and despite being hailed as an English speaking country once, The Philippines’ use of the English language is slowly deteriorating. “…Perhaps the Decline of English is simply a reaction to the rise of Taglish, this blend of two languages.” Says a Mr. Roger Thompson in his book Filipino English and Taglish where he observed Taglish in the eyes of a foreigner.

English isn’t the only language in the Philippines that gets dipped on by other languages’ words. Before Tagalogg was formed, some Spanish words were transposed into Filipino. In other parts of the Philippines they have their own languages that are not even Tagalog like Cebuano. Words get mixed in depending on its convenience. It doesn’t change the fact that mixing languages can cause jeopardy by creating a new language in the process. Creating a new language is tricky and can cause damage to the use of the others. Languages like Taglish draw us away from English in a subtle way, even if English is used now and then. The meaning of sentences would not only depend on English words but on Tagalog as well. Both Languages are diverse in use, mixing them together could create a difference in meaning and word usage. If English, which is the only universal language the Philippines has, is compromised the country would suffer from isolation because they would lose connection to the other countries.

So if we allow the use of Taglish in such minorities such as a classroom, what more with the country itself. The classroom, being the home base of self-discovery and development, would be a place where a child’s personal language is being identified. Taglish as a language cannot be valid for classroom use because the use of such language can cause risks for the students and possibly the society. Taglish, should not be given the same amount of privilege as English and Tagalog which are both diverse and independent. If Taglish is used, it can be addressed to as Jargon because after all only a handful can understand. If we are to use a language in the classroom we should choose either English or Tagalog and stick with it. It is plainly informal and tricky to mix them together.


1) Philippine English. Para. 1. In Wikipedia the free Encylopedia. Retreived from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_English

2) Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) King James 2000 Bible (@2003)

3) Taglish. para. 1. In Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia. Retreived from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taglish

4) Almario, Virgilio S. (n.d.) Wikand Taglish, Kamulatang Taglish “Sa kabila nito, naniniwala pa rin akong dapat disiplinahin ang Taglish sa loob ng klase. Kung bagá, dapat gamitan ng preno. Ipaliwanag sa mag-aaral ang kabuluhan ng panghihiram upang yumaman ang kanilang wika’t isipan. Upang kaugnay nito’y linawin din sa kanila ang masamâng bisà ng walang-pakundangang paggamit ng salitâ’t praseng Ingles.” Retreived from http://www.sawikaan.net/wikang_taglish.html

5) (English in the Philippines, Global Issues in Language Education, Issue 26, 1997, Espinosa, Doray, Language Institute of Japan – LIOJ)

6) Tubeza, Philip (2009, November 4).Experts discourage the use of taglish. The Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from http://www.Inquirer.net

7) Hizon, Rico (2011, May 12). Being proud of our own Filipino-English diction. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retreived from http://www.Inquirer.net

8) Willows, Matilda (2011, January 7) How role models affect children. Retreived from http://www.helium.com/items/2059988-how-role-models-affect-children

9) (Foundations of Education, Language and Writing, Jose F. Calderon, Ed. D. ,1998 Edition, P.176)

10) (Filipino English and Taglish, Rationale for this study, Thompson, Roger M. , p. 3)

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