Sunday, July 16, 2006

Learning Tagalog

I have started teaching English at a Korean school here in the Philippines. I started last Monday, hence the reduction of posts on The Expat but being a native speaker it is quite lucrative. OK by Filipino standards, very lucrative.

There are a lot of schools here teaching English to Koreans of varying ages. Learning English is a very big deal for the Koreans and as the Philippines is considered an English speaking country a lot come here to learn. It is just so much cheaper and easier than going to the States.

Working closely with my mother tongue has high lighted the differences in pronunciation that one must adopt when speaking Tagalog. It would seem that 2 letter syllables are all the go, whenever possible.

Take for example the Tagalog word for thank you, ‘salamat’. For an English speaker it would be pronounced sal-a-mat, wrong. In Tagalog it is pronounced sa-la-mat with the emphasis on the second syllable. Likewise with the tagalong for ‘how are you”, Kumusta. The Aussie pronunciation would be Ku-must-a, wrong again, in Tagalog it is Ku-mus-ta, with again the emphasis on the second syllable which is pronounced like puss in English rather than pus.

Say the word the wrong way and for the majority of Filipinos it is unrecognizable. When I pronounce my surname, Bateman, in the English way of Bate-man, I get a lot of blank looks and rustling of papers. Pronounce it as Ba-te-man and I am found amongst the hundreds of others with ease. Not that I mind this pronunciation of my name, sorta sounds like a super hero, faster than a speeding snail, able to leap double Leggo blocks in a single bound, etc etc.

Although learning the pronunciation linguistics of Tagalog does make my head hurt. Now if I could make use of my super powers and find a nice brick wall to smash down with my forehead…………

7 comments:

Lizza said...

Ba-te-man? Really? LOL

Tagalog is quite a difficult language to learn, many foreigners find at first. But it'll get easier in time because the long words are really just extended versions of the short words. For example: "nag-uumapaw" (overflowing) from "apaw" (flow).

And you'll get the hang of pronunciation too. Try to watch Tagalog TV programs. :-)

pissedpoet said...

Alam ko Lizza, but it is a long process for ako. When time permits I get to see Eat Bulaga which is a firm family favourite. But they talk so fast, seesh it seems to be at 400 miles an hour.

JB said...

one funny, heart-warming post. especially the "nice brick wall to smash down with my forehead" part. very witty...

slither dude said...

Hahahaha! Lizza, you really had to say it, huh? I was trying real hard not to make fun of henry's last name here ;p

Even better for you Henry, you could buy those Pugad Baboy comic books -- guaranteed to make you more familiar not just with the language, but of the people Ü

pissedpoet said...

Its ok Dude joke away, I'm an Aussie. Taking the piss out of ourselves is a national sport.

Anna said...

I agree with Lizza; Tagalog is hard at first, but it gets easier. Have you tried watching the translated and dubbed asianovelas on TV? The voice actors there tend to enunciate their lines there, so perhaps it would help you get a hang of the language more.

Anonymous said...

^^Thanks!!

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