‘English Carabao’ – Grammar boo-boos become an obsession for humor

Joseph “Erap” Estrada, during the height of his political career as the 13th President of the Philippines from 1998 to 2001, became widely popular for – guess what? His “Carabao English,” a form of Filipino conversational English riddled with grammar boo-boos or gaffe.

“I smell something fishing (instead of fishy),” was among them.

The disbanded Apo Hiking Society, in their popular hit “American Junk” had someone talking to “Pidro” (which is how Filipinos pronounce Pedro) about American colonialism: “You just wants (instead of want) my natural resources.”

“American Junk, tik it out (instead of take it out) of my country.”

And the list goes on.

Sociologists say Filipinos, the fun-loving bunch that they are, have grown to morph honest mistakes about pronouncing certain English words as well as grammar rules into a national past time hinged on humor.

Thus, you hear jokes about a proud father standing by a churchyard right after his daughter’s wedding, addressing well-wishers: “Today is my daughter’s wedding. I KILLED 12 chickens, 4 pigs and two cows. I cooked them. I invite you to EAT MY HOUSE.”

In fact, argues some linguists, it takes “skill and finesse” to come up with a really funny Carabao English.

Here’s another one from a friend talking to his pasaway buddy: “I told you not to go to, you go to still. Look at!” Which is actually a Filipino transliteration of: “I told you not to go, but you went ahead. Now see?”

How about a mom talking to her boy who dropped a vase and broke it: “Because youuuuuu!” This one’s a transliteration of “Ikaw kasiiiii!”

Might you have some hidden carabao English? Share on.

Staff Report

The Filipino Times is the chronicler of stories for, of and by Filipinos all over the world, reaching more than 236 countries in readership. Any interesting story to share? Email us at [email protected]

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