I Choke on Taglish

      18 Comments on I Choke on Taglish

I remember my first TV interview.

I was not prepared to talk in Tagalog. First of all, MOMS is an english word so I thought the interview was in English. When I saw the script, I was horrified.

I asked the writer: So I have to reply in Tagalog? I don’t speak Tagalog so well.

It can be Taglish. the production staff said

Taglish is just as worse. So throughout the interview, I struggled for the words, figuring out what the Tagalog word for grief….feelings…etcetera.

Suffice it to say, I had a Take 2.


It was a pain to speak in Taglish. My first language is English (Blame my parents) and spoke Cebuano with my peers. I spoke two languages as a child and never mixed cebuano and English in one sentence. When my daughter was once an active blogger, she received a deluge of criticisms for being more fluent in English. At least she can still speak in Tagalog. Shouldn’t we choose the first language that is best comfortable to communicate?

How come Cebuanos don’t mix Cebuano and English in one sentence? There is no such thing as ““Cebualish”“. People would gush with admiration at how we, Cebuanos didn’t have Cebuano accents whenever we spoke English. The Cebuanos from UP or Ateneo studied from top-notch high schools in Cebu with the same high standards as those of exclusive schools in Manila. So what made the difference? It was only much later that I found out that the taglish originated from the ““yayas”

Yet, I think it is really wrong to speak in Taglish so I forced myself to learn to speak Tagalog. So far so good especially if it is a radio interview since I have a cheat list in front of me and I can concentrate on my train of thoughts.

Experts discourage the use of Taglish and that has also been my rule at home. I wanted my kids to be bilingual- English and Tagalog so I told their yaya to speak in straight Tagalog and not to mix English and Tagalog. It worked pretty well at home. My little ones spoke to us in English and shifted easily to Tagalog when they speak to their yaya

Eventually, their yayas learned to speak English fluently but the kids associated Tagalog with them that they never spoke English except to my their dad and mom and not even to relatives. Later on in life, they learned to speak English with anyone if spoken to. I found that really peculiar.

I know that English is spoken differently in every country but I believe that the Tagalog and English should not be mixed in one sentence. I also understand that ““coños,” can speak in straight English but that the taglish is just a social norm among themselves. However, it also isolates them from the rest of their schoolmates who come from the provinces.

So what did the experts say in the First Philippine Summit on Early Childhood Education?

1. Kris Aquino should set an example to Filipino children and avoid mixing Filipino and English when talking.

2. Speak in the language of your home, not Taglish, Pampangueñoish, or Ilonggoish. The most important thing is for the parent to be very clear. She cannot mix it,”

3. Parents should read to kids even before they are born, not only for their children’s benefit but also for the parents’ because “we need moms who know how to read to their children.”

4. Parents could start at home by reading aloud to their children ““every day,” encourage them to ask questions, and later encourage them to write.

5. Teaching children early about language was ““really training the brain and developing neurological pathways” for children to be able to learn more languages other than their mother tongue.

I don’t care if I have an accent whenever I speak Tagalog. At least I don’t choke on it as much if I speak in Taglish.

Do you believe the use of Taglish should be discouraged?

Photo: “Baguio > Manila: GoodAh!!!” by sarah c, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1388 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • Honestly, no one should “discourage” anyone in public, like Filipinos do. In schools, yes. Talk shows should respect their guests. They are guests after all. I don’t think English or Tagalog should be forced on anyone in talk shows. Either one should be acceptable since either one is universally used in R.P.
    .-= BrianB´s last blog ..COWON iAudio 9 PMP at JetMall =-.

    • I often wonder if our viewers prefer to listen to taglish, tagalog or English. That’s why lesson learnt. I always ask first if tagalog or english and I often beg off if it is Tagalog.

      • I was brought up to speak English from the moment I could open my mouth. This was in the late 60s, and I was schooled in the company of expats from pre-school to Grade 7, so obviously fluency in English was a pre-requisite to academic excellence. As well as good relations with fellow students.

        My mother’s rule about language once I entered high school and began the misery that was Tagalog instruction (seriously, the language is beautiful, but the learning process was agony, I just don’t know); was that never should the two languages meet in a single sentence. I was to speak English (preferably without the so-called “colegiala” accent) or Tagalog, but never Taglish. Ever.

        Also, I will forever be grateful for a mother who filled my life with books. One of the most invaluable things I learned as a child was how to use an index to look up encyclopedia articles. Reading aloud was encouraged, be it from books or the newspaper. This was a common refrain in my house: “Mommy, what does —– mean?” “Go get the dictionary, and let’s look it up, shall we?”

        However, I do admit to using Taglish to facilitate communication with non-English speakers, in the days when my Tagalog was of a truly lamentable quality. I like to think I’m a little more fluent these days, though I slip into Taglish now and again; but with a greater proportion of Tagalog words to English in a given sentence.
        .-= Starshadow Rivaulx´s last blog ..From Twitter 11-04-2009 =-.

  • Ria

    Personally, I discourage kids from speaking taglish. I don’t force the issue though especially since as a teacher, I have to contend with both English and Tagalog speakers in my class. I do remind them, however, to “tell it to me in English/Tagalog” if I hear them mix both, but only when they’re talking to me directly and not in front of the class so as not to embarrass them. Sometimes, though, I find myself code-switching when giving instructions but I always make it a point to say things in straight English first, then straight Tagalog.

    However, when I am talking with my friends, I have to admit….I play the cono role hahaha!
    .-= Ria´s last blog ..The Gift of Education =-.

  • Ria

    P.S. One of my biggest Taglish peeves is when various organizations, particularly government programs, use Taglish tag-lines!!! it evades me right now, but I remember once for nutrition month a few years back, the theme was in Taglish and it bothered me a lot! We inadvertently teach the kids to use Tagish (I am resisting the urge, but I will give in!) tuloy!
    .-= Ria´s last blog ..The Gift of Education =-.

  • we talk to our son in tagalog and we try not to speak to him in taglish. but sometimes you can’t avoid speaking in taglish, that’s the colloquial now if you realize it. however, we need to be sure that when one talks in tagalog or in english that they’re used the right way. i’ve heard kids talk only in english but the grammar, ay!
    .-= neva´s last blog ..the sun is shining… =-.

  • I myself can’t also speak fluent tagalog..
    And what’s funny about it is when i talk to a total stranger, the only words coming out of me is english.. and there was this time when i bought balut.. It took me a few mins just to say “pabili poh balut.” LOL!
    .-= steff´s last blog ..deliberating these goddesses =-.

  • M

    Hi, I concur, we should get rid of Taglish! The problem with Taglish is that it messes up our syntax and grammar as well and its prevalence has hurt our English-speaking skills. We did a study on English speaking in the Philippines back in 2006 and we were surprised to find that despite the booming BPO industry in the Philippines because of our supposed fluency in English, very very very few of those agents accepted by BPOs actually aced the test. Surprising because English is considered one of the official languages in the Philippines (check CIA World Factbook if you don’t believe me). A lot of agents fell short of what was expected of us, the only reason they were accepted was the need for manpower and our easy understanding of American accent and culture. How many aced the English skills tests? A whopping 5%, wow!

  • i just remembered, when we got back here from Papua New Guinea, my parents won’t let me and my siblings speak in tagalog.. I guess that’s why I had to take my filipino2 3 times in college.. LOL! that’s when we just allowed to speak tagalog at home.. LOL!
    .-= steff´s last blog ..deliberating these goddesses =-.

  • I grew up on Sesame Street and other english based programs that helped mold my english speaking proficiencies. My generation attritubutes their english speaking skills on the same reasons as well. Now that i am a parent to a precocious three year old kid, and living abroad also, we chose to hone him in the same tradition..via child friendly english programs. We speak to him in English and do not intorduce tagalog words. As far as im concerned, he can learn tagalog later as he grows older. I do not believe in the use of taglish. If speken in english, answer in english.If one can not address correctly, then speak tagalog instead, but dont mix it with english phrases and words.
    .-= Anton Deleon´s last blog ..Sharjah Aquarium experience =-.

  • kristine0019

    I agree that we should avoid the use of “Taglish.” Given that BPO is one of the major industries here in the Philippines and that hordes of OFWs leave the country everyday, we should know the proper usage of th English language. Sad to say, mass media is the number one champion of “Taglish” – it projects the language as “sosyal.”

    Well, here’s an eye-opener for you: “Taglish” is never “sosyal,” even if it is being spoken by Kris Aquino. If we keep on insisting on the usage of “Taglish,” we have no right to complain how come the BPO industry in the Philippines is dwindling. Neither should we send OFWs abroad anymore.

  • John Moxford

    It is always good to speak the language the way it is meant to be. You either speak >a href =”http://www.langocity.com/learn-tagalog-course-comprehensive.html”>Tagalog or English, NOT Taglish. It is horrible. Check the online resources available to learn Tagalog the easiest way.

  • No! I love taglish. Without it, I would be more lost than I already am. Since my Tagalog is horrible (I am not good at learning languages) that is the only thing that allows for my communication with a lot of people. If I am in a group speaking taglish, I can usually glean enough information from the few English words to get by. If it was straight tagalog, I would be screwed.
    .-= kikas_head´s last blog ..Why yes, I am Martha Sterwart =-.

    • Marienne Brommenschenkel

      I agree with you kika. I was born in the Philippines. My mother, an english teacher decided to speak english with us since birth but some friends and relatives had a hard time coping up with it. We switched to tagalog when I was about 8 yrs. old. That was really very difficult for me and for my 4 brothers. I´d been communicating with everyone “taglish” since then. Now I´m almost 31 years in Germany. Golly, I didn´t know communicating in english (or purely in tagalog) would one day really hopelessly confuse me and the person I´m talking with. My brother in Houston, Texas would look at me as if I´m talking like/ with E.T. Lol! What a shame, sometimes! One thing I realized: If I´m with filipinos, I´m allowing myself to speak taglish, they will understand me. If I´m with foreigners, I speak english automatically just acceptable for them to understand me.

  • jane

    Great post. I think this is one reason why the Philippines’ proficiency in English had been declining. I think one major contributions is that the comission assigned to develop Tagalog and other languages don’t do well with their job. Constant changing of alphabet(we used to have c, v, j, z, etc.. but they got rid of it. I think some extremeist even wanted to use the alibata/baybayin) and rules(are we going to loan words or create funny words like salumpuwit? Are we suppose to call bras salungdede? Pardon the vulgarity. Hehe). They can’t make up their minds. It’s like they want to create seemingly native words that even Tagalogs themselves can’t accept to use and there comes the confusion. Nothing wrong with loan words. Other languages do loan. English for example has massively borrowed words from Latin. it even borrowed the Tagalog word “bundok”(boondocks)

    But then, this mixing of language syndrome seems to be limited to Tagalog. The Manila Tagalog to be exact. My cousin has a friend who hails from Rizal and they use a more pure form of Tagalog and even words that the mainstream media never use. I speak Ilocano and we don’t mix it the way Tagalog speakers(esp in Manila) do. We don’t say “Manu ti money mo” unlike in the Manila-Tagalog “Magkano money mo”. We do use English LOAN words but we do not substitute.

    I think the main cultprit aside from the government is the MEDIA. They keep promooting conyo speaking celebrities – celebrities who are neither good in English nor Tagalog(they only pretend to be good in English with their funny and fake accent. if you listen closely they commit a lot of blunders to and mispronunciation of the English language). They only have status because of their ‘pilipit’ FAKE accent. The pretensions that they cannot roll their ‘r’. Unless they’re Cordillerans(native or not, as long as they grew in the Cordilleras. ), I will see their inability to roll ‘r’ fake. In colloquial/Taglish term: ‘pacute’

  • jamie anne

    Im a full-blooded filipina who grew up and studied in Geneva Switzerland.
    My native languages are english, french and taglish- I speak, read and write the two first better than most of my peers but i fall short in tagalog and can only converse in taglish.
    Which, truth be told, i find shameful to the utmost.
    What I don’t understand is that english seems to be elevated to such a level whereas tagalog is to be spoken only with the yayas… why is that?
    No one speaks straight tagalog anymore: and it’s such a pity, it’s a beautiful language!
    I can only wish to go home for a year or two and take Filipino and philippine history.
    I know english is one of our official languages but no one speaks of the general decline of the proper use of tagalog.
    More than english, i think we should be focusing more on the loss of our own language.

    • I’m a full blooded Filipino from Cebu and I prefer speaking English than Tagalog as I don’t know how to speak it well. This just show that we value English more than our own national language, maybe it’s because we need English more for our careers than Tagalog.

  • Owen

    Tama na yang panggagamit ng taglish! Na kakainis at sobrang sakit sa tenga!