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June 18, 2006

Missing "R" And Other Stories

One morning, after a morning job from the nearby beach, I decided to pass by a hawker stall. I browsed the menu of one and decided to order a hot dish of chicken rice. Afterwards, one of the locals approached me and asked me something I couldn't discern at first ("kalah" I heard). I asked to repeat his question. With quizzical look (and somewhat irritated voice), he asked what to choose the type of chicken or something like this: "Choose what kalah" and started to point at the soy chicken then next to the steamed white chicken. I was surprised "color" was pronounced as "kalah". I never heard the emphasis on the "r" and so I thought he said a local word I've never heard before.

This sounds like an emergency English checkup for most of the people here.

Frankly, I still find it difficult to understand or discern most of the locals here when it comes to everyday English communication in stores, markets, food stalls, and even at the office. I'm used to Western English, specifically the American English. And since I came from a working place back from my country where I interact with American counterparts, I'm still struggling to communicate and understand non-Filipinos here (of whom I have no difficulty understanding English, even the broken "Carabao" English or the hybrid "Taglish").

I've heard in the local news that the government is deciding to hire native (take note: native as in coming from America, British, Australia and other predominantly English speaking countries) speakers to teach the people here effective English. But I would agree at a local who commented on this issue that learning how to speak and write in English starts at home (and doesn't end after schools or office hours); and if this is constantly used at home, the children mostly would eventually be armed with verbal skills to communicate in English. It's constant practice and usage which will get anyone to become fluent in speaking in English.

Here is a list of some of the locally pronounced English words that lately I misheard for another (or totally I did not understand at all):

  • At 7-11: klastik bak (plastic bag)

  • At McDonald's: kiddie sos (chili sauce)

  • At Carl's Junior: hamburker meel (hamburger meal)

  • at a TV show: some kind of foz... (you mean, force? "r" was lost)

I'll not be surprised to misheard horse for hose (hos).


rmacapobre said...

its similar to the boston accent. The traditional Boston accent is non-rhotic; in other words, the phoneme [r] does not appear at the end of a syllable or immediately before a consonant. Thus, there is no [r] in words like park [paːk], car [kaː], and Harvard [haːvəd]. After high and mid-high vowels, the [r] is replaced by [ə] or another neutral central vowel like [ɨ]: weird [wiɨd], square [skweə]. Similarly, unstressed [ɝ] ("er") is replaced by [ə], [ɐ], or [ɨ], as in color [kʌlə]. Although not all Boston-area speakers are non-rhotic, this remains the feature most widely associated with the region. As a result, it is frequently the butt of jokes about Boston, as in Jon Stewart's America (The Book), in which he states that the Massachusetts Legislature ratified everything in John Adams' 1780 Massachusetts Constitution "except the letter 'R'".

and on a similar note, in french R sounds like ch in the word lochness monster.

jio said...

Hmmm. Talaga namang tiningnan mo pa ito sa wikipedia ha, Max. ;-)

Still, the "r" is still missing, whether right or wrong. It defeats the purpose of teaching people how to write, read, and speak English properly in schools if this is how simple words like "park" will be pronounced as "pak" (with the a pronounce with a hard "a" as in aardvark).

rmacapobre said...

its cool. i just truly enjoyed the new england accent. (lobsters and clam chowder hehehe). i lived there for a while, i house sitted for vera? you remember her.

lourdes is the news editor during my time. we were the same batch as deni kit mikes mikec ..

jio said...

I see... I think I remember "Lourdes" now...

Once I saw Mike in one of the gyms in Makati City (fitness first, I had a membership there). That's the only time I saw of him. He never changed at all (still the Mike I knew since Plaridel days).

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