Philippine English

Philippine English (similar and related to American English) is any variety of English native to the Philippines, including those used by the media and the vast majority of educated Filipinos. English is taught in schools as one of the two official languages of the country, the other being Filipino (Tagalog). Due to the highly multilingual nature of the Philippines, code-switching such as Taglish (Tagalog-infused English) and Bislish (English infused with any of the Visayan languages) is prevalent across domains from casual settings to formal situations.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Philippine English
Native toPhilippines
RegionSoutheast Asia
Native speakers
~28,700 L1 speakers (2005 UNSD)
~40 million L2 speakers (Crystal 2003a)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3


A national variety called Philippine English, with its beginnings as English in the Philippines, has evolved tremendously and arguably one of the fastest to develop in the postcolonial world. Its origins as an English spoken by a large segment of the Philippine population could be traced all the way to the American introduction of public education, as characterized to be taught in English. This period was popularly marked to have begun upon the arrival of the Thomasites in 1901, immediately during re-colonization after the Philippine Revolution in the late 19th century up to the early 1900. After a tumultuous period of colonial transition, Filipino leaders and elites, and the American colonial government alike had already begun discussing and questioning the formation of a Philippine national language. This reality was raised based on the highly ethnolinguistically diverse landscape of this new American colony, and that Spanish, being the administrative language of Spain and its colonies, was in fact never learned by the majority of the native population as it was only relegated as a medium of instruction within schools for the landed elites. This also suggests that there was no colony-wide public school system, thus no comprehensive language policy, prior to American annexation. At the end of Spanish colonization, as much as only 3-5% of the colonial population could speak Spanish.[8][9] The lingering effects of Spanish amongst the general population nevertheless had notable effects on the lexical development of many Philippine languages, and even Philippine English, in the form of hispanisms.[10] Amidst debates, Tagalog was declared the sole national lanuage until the late 20th century (relabelled as Pilpino in 1959, and as Filipino since 1973). With the successful establishment of American-style public education having English as a consequential medium, more than 20% of the Philippine population were reported to be able to understand and speak English just before the turn of mid-20th century.[9] This meteoric growth was sustained post-World War II, much further through Philippine mass media (e.g. newsprint, radio, television) where English also became the dominant language,[11] and by the ratification into the current Philippine Constitution in 1987, both Filipino and English were declared co-official languages.

Today a certain Philippine English, as formally called based on the World Englishes framework of renowned linguist Braj Kachru, is a recognized variety of English with its distinct lexical, phonological, and grammatical features (with considerable variations across socioeconomic groups and level of education being predictors of English proficiency in the Philippines). As English language became highly embedded in Philippine society, it was only a matter of time before the language was indigenized to the point that it became differentiated from English varieties found in the United States, United Kingdom, or elsewhere. This, along with the formal introduction of the World Englishes (WE) framework to English language scholars in the Philippines opened the floodgates to research on this new emerging English, which has since been branded as such as Philippine English.[12]

Philippine English in the services sector

The abundant supply of English speakers and competitive labor costs have enabled the Philippines to become a choice destination for foreign companies wishing to establish call centers and other outsourcing.[13][14][15] English proficiency sustains a major call center industry and in 2005, America Online had 1,000 people in what used to be the US Air Force's Clark Air Base in Angeles City answering ninety percent of their global e-mail inquiries. Citibank does its global ATM programming in the country, and Procter & Gamble has over 400 employees in Makati, a central Manila neighborhood, doing back office work for their Asian operations including finance, accounting, Human Resources and payments processing.

An influx of foreign students, principally from South Korea, has also led to growth in the number of English language learning centers,[16] especially in Metro Manila, Baguio City, Metro Cebu and Metro Bacolod.[17]

Orthography and grammar

Philippine laws and court decisions, with extremely rare exceptions, are written solely in English. English is also used in higher education, religious affairs, print and broadcast media, and business. Most educated Filipinos are bilinguals and speak English as one of their languages. For highly technical subjects such as nursing, medicine, computing and calculus, English is the preferred medium for textbooks, communication, etc. Very few would prefer highly technical books in either Filipino or the regional language.[18][19] Movies and TV shows in English are usually not dubbed in most cable channels[20] except a few such as Tagalized Movie Channel.[21]

Because English is part of the curricula from primary to secondary education, many Filipinos write and speak in fluent Philippine English, although there might be differences in pronunciation.[22] Most schools in the Philippines, however, are staffed by teachers who are speakers of Philippine English and hence notable differences from the American English from which it was derived are observable.

Philippine English traditionally follows American English spelling and grammar (with little to no similarity to British English) except when it comes to punctuation as well as date notations. For example, a comma almost never precedes the final item in an enumeration (much like the AP Stylebook and other style guides used in the English-speaking world). Except for some very fluent speakers (like news anchors), even in English-language media, dates are also often read with a cardinal instead of an ordinal number (e.g. "January one" instead of "January first") even if the written form is the same. This is mostly because educated Filipinos were taught to count English numbers cardinally, thus it carried over to their style of reading dates. In reading the day-month-year date notation used by some areas in the government (e.g. 1 January), it may be pronounced as "one January" or rearranged to the month-first reading "January one".

Tautologies like redundancy and pleonasm are common despite the emphasis on brevity and simplicity in making sentences; they are common to many speakers, especially among the older generations. The possible explanation is that the English language teachers who came to the Philippines were taught old-fashioned grammar, thus they spread that style to the students they served. Examples are "At this point in time" and ".. will be the one ..." (or "... will be the one who will ...") instead of "now" and "... will ..." respectively - e.g., "I will be the one who will go ...", rather than "I will go ...".[23]


As a historical colony of the United States, the Philippine English lexicon shares most of its vocabulary from American English, but also has loanwords from native languages and Spanish, as well as some usages, coinages, and slang peculiar to the Philippines. Due to the influence of the Spanish languages, Philippine English also contains Spanish-derived terms, including Anglicizations, some resulting in false friends, such as "salvage". Philippine English also borrowed words from Philippine languages, especially native plant and animal names (e.g. "ampalaya", balimbing"), and cultural concepts with no exact English equivalents (e.g. kilig); some borrowings from Philippine languages have entered mainstream English, such as abaca and ylang-ylang.

Daily life

Some terms considered peculiar to Philippine English include:

  • Advance – Of a clock adjusted ahead of exact time.
  • Bed spacing — The act of renting a bedroom at a private home, where rent for it is paid by a lodger or boarder called a "bed spacer."[24]
  • Gimmick — A planned or unplanned night out with friends. Also, any offering during evening hours by clubs, bars and restaurants to lure customers in.
  • Kikay kit — A container where a woman's make-up and toiletries are kept.
  • Load — Prepaid credits on a prepaid mobile phone. Load can be acquired by "electronic reloading". As a verb, it generally means "to top up", including uses outside of mobile telecommunications.
  • Ref – Clipping form of refrigerator, as opposed to fridge as used in most English varieties.
  • Sala — A living room, borrowed from Spanish.
  • VideokeKaraoke or a karaoke box. First coined in the 1990s as a portmanteau of video and karaoke
  • Adidas- the term used to refer to a Filipino street food. These are grilled chicken feet that are marinated in barbecue sauce or special mixture of herbs and spices like calamansi and brown sugar.

A cotton swab is rather called a cotton bud in Philippine English.

There are also genericized trademarks often associated with or unique to Philippine English:

Food and drink

A banana cue is a common street food using saba (cooking bananas, similar to plantain), rolled in brown sugar then deep fried and skewered. The hot oil caramelizes the sugar giving the banana cue a crunchy texture. The name is thought to have come about because the bananas prepared are served skewered, in a manner similar to Philippine barbecue.[25] Camote cue is skewered sweet potato cooked similarly to banana cue.

A boodle fight often means a gathering where food (usually pansít, or steamed rice and sardines) is served on old newspapers or banana leaves spread over a table and eaten with bare hands by a group of people. This way of eating was devised by PMA cadets, and does not represent authentic Philippine culture, but instead symbolizes fraternity and equality among PMA members by their sharing the same food without regard to rank. The term is taken from pre-World War Two West Point slang meaning "any party at which boodle (candy, cake, ice cream, etc.) is served."[26]

  • Generic ice cream sold by street peddlers are called dirty ice cream.
  • All-you-can-eat is generally written as eat-all-you-can, though usage is not exclusive to the Philippines.
  • A kitchen dedicated for household workers is called a dirty kitchen
  • A McDonald's is often called McDo, pronounced with a final glottal stop, as opposed to McD's as used elsewhere in the English-speaking world.


  • Casual clothes are often called civilian clothes, mostly in a context where one is not required to wear a uniform. This term derives from police terminology.
  • A duster can also mean a light sundress, often worn at home.
  • Track pants or sweatpants are often called jogging pants
  • Sneakers, athletic shoes, or gym shoes are often called rubber shoes.
  • A graduation gown is generally called a toga.


A jeepney refers to purpose-built public transport vehicles originally made from US military jeeps.[27] An owner (or owner-type jeep) can also mean a smaller jeepney built for private, non-common use, with a body similar to the civilian versions of the original Jeep. The World War II-era jeeps where the jeepney are derived are informally called Eisenhower jeeps. A multicab is another vehicle based on the jeepney, but utilizes a microvan chassis and is smaller. Share taxis using passenger vans are called UV Express, or formerly FX (after the Toyota Tamaraw FX vehicles used for the service). In Cavite, colorfully painted minibuses that ply the western coastal areas from Kawit to Ternate are called baby buses. A bus or jeepney driver takes home or pays a boundary, a commission paid to a transport operator daily for taking passengers, and also the excess collected fares taken home as daily wage.

Philippine rail terminology follows American practice (e.g. switch for points, car for carriage), but a railroad is often referred as railway (as in Philippine National Railways). A level crossing can either be a railroad crossing (American English) or railway crossing (British and Commonwealth usage). A makeshift handcar used as an informal mode of rail transport is called a trolley (especially in Metro Manila) or a skate (in Bicol Region).

A tricycle often refers to a auto rickshaw utilizing a motorcycle and an attached passenger sidecar, but can also mean a foot-powered rickshaw in parts of the Visayas. Sidecar can also mean a pedicab or bicycle rickshaw.

An expressway refers to a controlled-access highway, often tolled. A major non-tolled highway maintained by the national government is called a national road, often used generically for a highway section with no formal name. Road terminology generally follow American practice, but some British/Commonwealth usages can be found as well from the use of Australian engineering design documents, such as dual carriageway for a divided highway. A median barrier lined with trees and plant boxes is called a center island. An overpass either refers to a grade-separated road crossing using a bridge or a footbridge across a busy road or intersection. A flyover often means an elevated bypass of a road over a congested intersection. A roundabout or traffic circle is commonly called a rotunda, borrowing from Spanish via native languages.

Carry-on baggage in air transport are often referred to as hand-carry baggage.


  • Budget hotels based in apartments are called apartelles, a portmanteau of apartment and hotel. A similar business based in condominiums is called condotel.
  • A public toilet is often called a comfort room, often shortened to "C.R." in speech.".[24]
  • An Internet café is generally called a computer shop. Pisonet refers to any Internet café using a business model where computers can only be used by dropping a ₱1 or ₱5 coin into a slot and use is limited to a five or fifteen-minute interval.
  • A drive-in generally means a motel or motor inn, while a motel is often understood as a no-tell motel or love hotel, distinguished by hourly rates; "short-time" is used as well, usually in conjunction.
  • A junk shop refers to a scrap dealer, usually one which incorporates a yard for storage of sold scrap and recyclable materials.
  • A pension house refers to a family-owned guest house
  • A subdivision often means a gated community but also means an openly accessible residential area with a distinctive name and flavor. Village is also used for the same denotation (as in Ayala Alabang Village)
  • A transient (or transient home) also means a homestay.


Terminology related to education in the Philippines follow American usage, but there are also terms that are more or less unique to the Philippines

  • A minor subject is any elective or extra-curricular subject
  • A practicumer refers to a student who participates in a course of study that involves the supervised practical application of previously studied theory or an intern (which is frequently preferred). The word is coined from practicum, which means internship.

Law and crime

The Philippine legal system incorporates concepts of Spanish and American law, as well as terminology. Philippine legal terminology follows American usage, but also borrows some words from Spanish.

Carjacking or motor vehicle theft is called carnapping,[27] a portmanteau of car and kidnapping. Fraud in legal terminology is called estafa, like in "syndicated estafa". A perpetrator of a hold-up robbery is called a holdupper.

A public prosecutor is called fiscal and a public prosecutor's office is called a fiscal office, after Spanish terminology. Lawyers are often called attorneys following American usage.

An injunction sent to a suspect to prevent departure from the country is called a hold departure order. Life imprisonment is often synonymous with the Spanish legal concept of reclusio perpetua.

The word salvage often refers to a summary execution, usually involving a person being killed by a gang in some locations and the cadaver thrown onto a large space such as a river, roadside or vacant land. The word is often understood to have came from the mainstream English verb, but is rather a derivative of the Spanish word "salvaje" (via Tagalog "salbahe").[24]

A middle name in a Filipino name refers to a maternal surname, or the maiden name of a married woman. This reflects Spanish naming customs that were rearranged to the Portuguese style during the American period. In comparison, given name[s] have parts that are distinctly referred in Philippine English. The most common is the first name, and the Western middle name might be called by some speakers as a second name. The term Christian name is also used.

Politics and government

The suffix -able is also used as a productive suffix to form terms for candidates for a political position, so the terms presidentiable or senatoriable. Politicians are often addressed with their political position as a title.

Pornography, prostitution and sexuality

Television, music and film


  • Chicken — Something which is easy or easily accomplished in contrast to the American slang term meaning a coward. The final exam was chicken "The final exam was easy." This is derived from the expression "chicken feed". Whereas in the latter's case, the phrase Run like a chicken Often, the American slang term is used by younger speakers.


  • Aggrupation — A political group. From the Spanish word agrupación.[28] (Usually used in insurance.)
  • American — A white Westerner, regardless of origin. Correlates with English below.
  • Blank tape — (sometimes tape) refers to any blank magnetic or optical media storage
  • Blue seal — An imported version of a locally produced cigarette, usually untaxed.[24]
  • Bringhouse — Act of taking home food from fiestas, used in the Visayas region. See also
  • By and by — Later.[24]
  • Cadette — A female cadet.
  • Calling card — A business card.
  • Certain — An emphasis marker suggesting ambiguity or anonymity.[29]
  • Chit — A restaurant bill or a card. Now dated.
  • Chocolate man or crocodileTraffic police, from the brown uniforms of the old Philippine Constabulary. Chocolate man has been obsolete and the term crocodile evolved to refer to corrupt politicians.
  • Coast Guardian — A member of the Philippine Coast Guard.
  • Combo — Referred to jazz bands or smaller marching bands. Largely replaced by the word band.
  • Comedy — A practical joke.
  • Cong. — An abbreviation for congressman. This abbreviation is normally used for the terms "congress" and "congressional".
  • Coupon bond (/ˈkʌpɔːnbɒnd/) — Bond paper, with the "coupon" diverging in meaning from accepted uses of the word, e.g. "a stub". The word "coupon" may also refer to a stub in Philippine English.
  • Cowboy — An American; rarely in use today. Nowadays, cowboy refers to the attitude of being brave or willing to do a dirty or blue-collar job.
  • Dialect — A regional language, instead of a regional version of a language in Standard English. This rather erroneous redefinition of the term was coined by the Commission on the Filipino Language after declaring regional languages in the country as "dialects" to the standard Filipino language.[30] To most Anglophone Filipino purists, especially linguists, the proper and accurate term is "regional language".
  • Dine-in — "Eat in", "for here" (opposite of "take-out"). This is commonly used by fast food attendants who have to ask whether a customer's order is a take-out or a "dine-in" one (e.g. to eat within the establishment). "Dining in" means something else in the United States.
  • Dollar-speaking — Someone who usually speaks in English in public. Another term is "speaking dollar" (slang).
  • DOM — dirty (i.e. lecherous) old man.
  • Dormmate — Someone's roommate.[24] A dormer is a dormitory occupant.
  • Double deck or double bed — A bunk bed.
  • Eisenhower jeep — Largely obsolete, an M38A1 jeep.
  • English — An English-speaking, white person. Related with the terms American and slang.
  • EntertainAssist or help in a corporate sense.
  • Ex. — The abbreviation of the phrase "for example.", supplementary to e.g. This is used only in writing, and is read as "Example...". Some people use E.g. instead.
  • Feeling... — A term most commonly used by youths to call someone who one thinks is trying to act or be something they're not. Usually preceded by a noun or adjective, for example "feeling close" (or "F.C."), someone who acts like they're close to another when the other person hardly knows them or doesn't know them at all.
  • Filipino time (or Pinoy time) — The habit of Filipinos not being on time. However, the now-mandatory and enforced Philippine Standard Time aims to turn Filipino time into "Juan Time" which is the habit of being exactly on time.
  • Final answer - A final decision. Derived from the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.
  • Fiscalize — To serve as a check and balance; commonly used by politicians.[24]
  • Five-six — Borrowing or lending money with 20% interest.[24]
  • For a while — Used on the telephone to mean "please wait" or "hold on". Tagalog translation: Sandalî lang, which correctly means "Just a moment".
  • Game — A slang term which refers to a readiness, as in "I'm ready, let's do it", usually before playing a game or carrying out a proposed activity. If being asked, "Game ka na ba?", it literally means "Are you ready (to play)?"
  • Get down / go down (a vehicle) — "Get off." Derived from Tagalog context (Bumabâ ka, literally meaning "(you) get down").
  • Grotto — A garden or roadside shrine simulating a cave, containing a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (mostly Our Lady of Lourdes), and sometimes paired with a water feature. Derived from the English word meaning "cave" as well as the holy cave in Lourdes, France.
  • Haggard — A Visayan and Mindanao English for motorcycle cop.
  • Hand carry — Refers to carry-on luggage when flying on commercial aircraft.
  • Holdupper — A holdup man, or stickup man.[24][31]
  • Hollow blockCement, concrete, or foundation block (technically a brick).
  • Hostess/GRO — A female waiter in a bar. The same word is used to denote a prostitute, although the very word "prostitute" denotes people who ply the streets for customers. It is from the bar practice of asking a female waiter out, in exchange for money, to have sex with her. GRO is an abbreviation for the euphemism "Guest Relations Officer", which has the same source.
  • Ice water - Cold tap / purified drinking water in a long, plastic bag.
  • Intro boy(s) - from the word "intro" and "boys", a loanword from a band "Introvoys", usually used as internet cafe or college slang, especially in playing DotA, that an individual, a player or group of players have great skills and performance at first, then eventually went downhill or getting nervous. Sometimes being used as any other situations other than playing DotA, such as class reporting.
  • Jingle — To urinate. It is not clear whether the now-defunct Jingle Chordbook magazine popular in the 1970s–1980s used the urinating Cupid on its masthead logo before the slang term came into circulation, thus inspiring the slang term's conception and street usage, or whether the image was inspired by the slang term.
  • Kennedy jeep — A 1960 M151 MUTT jeep.
  • Kidnapable — A person who, because of his or her high social standing or considerable wealth is a likely target for kidnapping for ransom. While this could be heard and can be considered part of Philippine street English, it is usually used tongue-in-cheek. Additionally, Filipinos would just about join any English or Philippine English or Tagalog verb with the suffix '-able', but all with a certain amount of humor understood in the usage.
  • KJ — Abbreviated term for the noun killjoy.
  • Low-bat (or lowbatt / low batt) — A blend of the words "low" and "battery", the term is often used when the battery power of an electronic device (such as a mobile phone) is running low and about to die, or has already died.
  • Malicious — Refers to sexually perverted speech or actions, such as sexual innuendo. Distinguishable from standard English usage which refers to harmful intent, without sexual connotations. Persons who use such speech or actions may be referred to as malicious-minded.
  • Maniac (or "manyak" / "manyakis") — Refers to a pervert. Likely short for "sex maniac".
  • MacArthur jeep — A Willys MB.
  • Marine tank — A tracked APC, specifically an LVTP-5.
  • Masteral/sUniversity studies required to obtain a Master's degree. The word is obviously adapted for the master's degree program from the modifier "doctoral" used in the doctorate program.[24] The proper term "masters" is also in use.
  • Meat house — A small house where meat is stored for drying or a smokehouse for curing meat or fish, through a smoking and drying process.
  • Metro aide — Refers to public street cleaners or broom sweepers employed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
  • Mickey Mouse money — Refers to obsolete WWII Japanese occupation paper currency in the Philippines.
  • Mistah — A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy. From the non-rhotic pronunciation of "mister."
  • MTV — A music video, genericized from MTV.
  • Napkin — A female sanitary napkin or cloth napkin.
  • Necrological service — While "necrological" is often used in standard English to refer to military records or listing of casualties and the dead, in the Philippines "necrological service" is used by funeral homes to refer to a pre-burial event consisting of eulogies and songs, especially over a deceased celebrity or public figure. Outside this page, this Philippine English phrase as such may have been first noted in writing in the Taglish elegy of Filipino poet V.I.S. de Veyra for English-language Filipino poet Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta titled Requiem Para Kay Ophie (Dimalanta)---Makata, Kritiko ng Wika which mentions "necrological service" among other Philippine English words and phrases.[32] The phrase is also understood to mean "memorial service".
  • Nightclub — Used to refer exclusively to strip clubs, especially among the older generation. To avoid confusion, real nightclubs are instead referred to as "dance clubs", "discos" or simply as "clubs".
  • Nosebleed — A hyperbolic reaction that happens when a non-native speaker encounters technical or incomprehensible terms usually in Standard English.
  • Number two — A mistress.[24]
  • O.A. — Abbreviated term for "overacting" or overreacting.
  • Ocular inspection — Although a familiar phrase in ophthalmology, this is widely used in Philippine business and government to refer to a necessary inspection of a location for such purposes as a (near-)future event or project or for an assessment by an investigative body. Some purists call this term redundant and insist on the word "inspection" alone or with an appropriate adjective.
  • OfficemateCo-worker.
  • Owner-type (or Owner jeep) — A customized jeepney-derived vehicle for private, non-commercial use. Usually constructed in bright stainless steel.[24]
  • PX goods — Any import-restricted imported grocery item. From Base Exchange, due to the illegal but lucrative business in then-US military bases in the Philippines in exchanging such goods for cash. Sold in so-called PX stores. Prized for their quality and variety. The stores (and goods) died out when trade was later liberalized, probably in the 1990s, opening the door for the availability of imported goods in the Philippines.[24]
  • Pack up — Often used instead of "wrap up" when referring to movie sets, presentations, or long trips and vacations.
  • Parlor or Salon — Refers to a hair/beauty salon. "Salon" originally meant a place to gather.
  • Pension house — A family-owned guest house or boarding house.
  • Perfume — Any scent used by women or men. No distinction is made between perfume and cologne.
  • Polo — Used in the Philippines to mean the dress shirt. Contrasts with "polo shirt", or golf or tennis shirt in the US and the UK.
  • Pershing cap — A service cap.
  • Pistolized — An adjective to describe a long gun with its shoulder stock removed and replaced with a pistol grip. Obsolete.
  • Presidentiable — A Presidential candidate. From president + -able.
  • Recollection - A spiritual retreat. (E.g. A class of high schoolers had underwent a spiritual recollection with a pastor.)
  • Red egg - Salted eggs. This is a reference to its magenta appearance and the Filipino term Itlog na pula
  • Redemptorist Church — Simply Redemptorist, refers to the Baclaran Church.
  • Ref or FrigiderRefrigerator, as opposed to the American English "fridge", which was derived from the early 20th century, American refrigerators made by Frigidaire. Some Anglophones also use fridge. In sports, it is used as a short-hand for Referee.
  • Remembrance — A souvenir or memento.
  • Rotonda or rotunda — A roundabout or traffic circle. From Spanish.
  • Rhum — This French word listed in Webster's Third New International Dictionary is the preferred spelling of rum and the spelling used by Tanduay, similar to "whiskey" (U.S. and Ireland) and "whisky" (Scotland and Canada) in which the Philippines uses the latter.
  • RugbyRubber cement. A genericized trademark from the Rugby brand of wood glue.
  • Sala — Refers to either a courtroom or the living room. In international English, sala would mean a large hall or reception room, or specifically in architecture, it would otherwise refer to sala Thai. From Spanish.
  • Sari-sari store — Refers to a small, neighborhood convenience store or booth. From the Tagalog term "sari-sari" meaning "mixed" or "sundry". Sometimes called a "variety store" in the Canadian sense.
  • Scandal - Amateur pornography, originating from celebrity sex tapes. The correct usage of scandal is also used, but only common in political or juridical usage.
  • Scotch tape — Transparent adhesive tape. A genericized trademark.[24]
  • See-through fence — A chain link fence. Also cyclone wire fence, a term used even in government specifications.
  • Senatoriable — A Senatorial candidate. From senator + -able.
  • Singer — refers to a musical artist or performer, regardless of what musical genre, including rap and noise. Also used as a genericized trademark for sewing machine, its accessories and franchises.
  • Slang — Refers to strong foreign accents or pronunciation. For instance, the sentence "Your English is very slang", implies that someone has unaccented English, that the "slangy" person is hard to understand. Distinguishable from standard English usage which refers to very informal usage of vocabulary and idioms, rather than pronunciation alone.
  • SnowballSnow cone.
  • Solon — A legislator, either a Senator or a Congressman.
  • Sounds — Referring to music, especially when heard through earphones or loud car or home audio systems.
  • Space wagon — A minivan.
  • Sponsor — A college or high school honorary cadet colonel. Rarely used.
  • Squatter's area — A shantytown.
  • Step-in — Stylish ladies' sandals minus the strap. It can also referred to as slippers.
  • Stick — An individually-sold cigarette in the Philippines versus a sold sealed pack of cigarettes.
  • Stolen shotcandid image.
  • Technical sergeant — A non-commissioned officer grade just below master sergeant and just above staff sergeant in the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, and Philippine Marine Corps. The defunct Philippine Constabulary also had this grade. Derived from the U.S. Army grade used during World War II. Presently, only the U.S. Air Force uses this grade.
  • Third lieutenant — The lowest commissioned officer grade of the American colonial gendarmerie, an organization which existed from 1901 through 1942. The American colonial army also had this grade from 1935 through 1942. Similar to the American colonial army, the Spanish army in 1898 had a rank structure with four company grade officer ranks: captain; first lieutenant; second lieutenant; and ensign (alférez). In contrast, the Philippine army in July 1898, like the present Philippine army, had three company grade officer ranks: captain, first lieutenant, and second lieutenant.
  • Time bombFart/flatulence. The proper meaning (as in a bomb that detonates when time runs out) is also used.
  • Tissue — A paper napkin or bathroom tissue/toilet paper.
  • Topdown — A convertible car.
  • Trolley — A loanword from British English, which is a cart or baby stroller. Now in use for the open wooden rail vehicles that run illegally along the PNR Metro Commuter Line.
  • Turbo broiler — The term used by Philippine manufacturers and the Philippine market to refer to the tabletop convection oven.
  • TurcoCarpenter term for an anti-rust paint used in roofs. A genericized trademark from the Turco brand.
  • Unli — shorthand for "unlimited". Usually used as prefix, such as "Unli-calls", "unli-texts"[33] or "unli-rice[34]".
  • Vendo or vendo machine — A vending machine. The slang term is originally from the American Vendo Company operating in the Philippines.
  • Vetsin - refers to Monosodium glutamate. It is a genericized trademark.
  • Washday — A work day where an employee or student can wear casual clothes, as uniforms are usually laundered that day (see Civilian). Used by older people or college students.


Philippine English is a rhotic accent mainly due to the influence of Philippine languages, which are the first language of most of its speakers. Another influence is the rhotic characteristic of General American English, which became the longstanding standard in the archipelago since Americans introduced the language in public education.[35][36][37] This is contrary to most Commonwealth English variants spoken in neighboring countries such as Malaysia or Singapore. The only exception to this rule is the word Marlboro, which is frequently read as Malboro. Therefore, /r/ phonemes are pronounced in all positions.[38] However, some children of Overseas Filipinos who are educated in Commonwealth countries (such as Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom) may speak in a non-rhotic accent unless taught otherwise. Native and well-educated speakers (also called acrolectal speakers[35]) may also feature flapping and vowel sounds resembling the California vowel shift due to the influence of Hollywood movies and call center culture mostly pegged towards the American market.[39]

For non-native speakers, Philippine English phonological features are heavily dependent on the speaker's mother tongue, although foreign languages such as Spanish also influenced many Filipinos on the way of pronouncing English words. This is why approximations are very common and so are hypercorrections. The most distinguishable feature is the lack of fricative consonants, particularly /f/, /v/ and /z/. Another feature is the general absence of the schwa /ə/, and therefore pronounced by its respective full equivalent vowel although the r-colored variant [ɚ] is increasingly popular in recent years.


The following consonant changes apply for most non-native speakers of the language:[38]

  • The rhotic consonant /r/ may vary between a trill [r], a flap [ɾ] and an approximant [ɹ]. The English approximant [ɹ] is pronounced by many speakers in the final letters of the word or before consonants, while the standard dialect prefers to pronounce the approximant in all positions of /r/.
  • The fricatives /f/ and /v/ are approximated into the stop consonants [p] and [b], respectively.
  • Th-stopping: The dental fricatives /θ/ and /ð/ becomes into the alveolar stop consonants /t/ and /d/, respectively. This can be also observed from speakers of Hiberno-English dialects and a number of American English speakers.
  • Yod-coalescence: Like most Commonwealth English variants, the [dj], [tj] and [sj] clusters becomes into [dʒ], [tʃ] and [ʃ] respectively. This makes the words dew, tune and pharmaceutical are pronounced as /ˈ/, /ˈn/ and [pärmɐˈʃuːtikäl], respectively. For some cases, the use of yod-coalescence is another case of approximation for aspirated consonants which Philippine languages lack in general in words such as twelve.
  • The fricative [ʒ] may be devoiced into [ʃ] in words such as measure or affricated into [dʒ] in words such as beige.
  • The /z/ phoneme is devoiced into an /s/. This also includes intervocalic /s/ which is usually pronounced as a [z] in most other accents of English.
  • Older speakers tend to add an i or e sound to the cluster st- due to Spanish influence, so the words star and lipstick sounds like (i/e)star and lipistick respectively.
  • Like most non-native speakers of English elsewhere, the "dark l" ([ɫ]) is merged into the usual "light" /l/ equivalent.
  • The compound ll is pronounced as a palatal lateral approximant [ʎ] in between vowels (e.g. gorilla), especially to those who were exposed to Spanish orthography. This is negligible among younger well-educated speakers.
  • The letter "z" is usually pronounced (and sometimes spelled) as a "zey" /z/ like in Jamaican English. However, in standard Philippine English, it is pronounced as the American "zee".


Vowels in Philippine English are pronounced according to the letter representing each, so that a, e, i, o, u are generally pronounced as [a, ɛ, i, o, u], respectively.[36][38] The schwa /ə/—although a phonological feature across numerous Philippine languages such as Kinaray-a, Meranao, or the Abagatan (Southern) dialect of Ilokano—is absent.[37][40]

  • The following are the various approximations of the schwa:
    • Words that end in -le that succeeds a consonant (such as Google) are generally pronounced with an [ɛl], except for words that end -ple, -fle or -ble (apple, waffle and humble), which are pronounced with an [ol].
    • The /ɪ/ in words such as knowledge or college, it is pronounced as a diphthong /eɪ/, making it rhyme with age.
    • The rhotic vowels /ər/ and /ɜːr/ may be pronounced as an [ɛr] (commander), [ir] (circle) or an [or] (doctor), usually by non-native speakers outside urban areas or the elderly.
  • The a pronunciations /æ, ʌ, ɑ/ are pronounced as central vowels [ä] and [ɐ]. In the standard dialect, the open front [a] may be pronounced as an allophone of /æ/.
  • The /ɪ/ phoneme may be merged or replaced by the longer /i/ for some speakers. The words peel and pill might sound the same.
  • The /ɒ/ may be pronounced as an [o] (color) or an [ɐ] (not).
  • The u sound from the digraph qu may be dropped before e and i in some words such as conquest and liquidity.

Other features

  • Non-standard emphasis or stress is common. For example, the words ceremony and Arabic are pronounced on the second syllable as another result of Spanish influence. The words mentioned above are pronounced as [sɛˈɾɛmoni] and [aˈɾabik] respectively.

Non-native pronunciation

Many Filipinos often have a non-standard pronunciation, and many fall under different lectal variations (i.e. basilectal, mesolectal, acrolectal).[35] Some Philippine languages (e.g. Ibanag, Itawis, Surigaonon, Tausug) feature certain unique phonemes such as [dʒ], [f], [v], and [z], which are also present in English. However, Filipinos' first languages have generally different phonological repertoires (if not more simplified compared to English), and this leads to mis- or distinct pronunciations particularly among basilectal and to some extent mesolectal speakers.

Some examples of non-native pronunciation include:

  • Awry = [ˈari]
  • Filipino = [piliˈpino]
  • Victor = [bikˈtor]
  • Family = [ˈpɐmili] or [ˈpamili]
  • Varnish = [ˈbarniʃ]
  • Fun = [ˈpɐn] or [ˈpan]
  • Vehicle = [ˈbɛhikɛl] or [ˈbɛhikol]
  • Lover = [ˈlɐbɛr]
  • Find = [ˈpajnd]
  • Official = [oˈpisʲɐl] or [oˈpiʃɐl]
  • Very = [ˈbɛri] or [ˈbejri]
  • Guidon = [ɡiˈdon]
  • Hamburger = [ˈhɐmburɡɛr]
  • High-tech = [ˈhajtɛk]
  • Hubcap = [ˈhabkab]
  • Margarine = [mɐrɡɐˈrin]
  • Seattle = [ˈsʲatɛl]
  • Shako = [sʲaˈko] or [ʃaˈko]
  • Daniel/Danielle = [ˈdejnjɛl] or [ˈdanjɛl]
  • February = [(f/p)ebˈwari] or [(f/p)ebˈrari]
  • Janice = [dʒaˈnis]
  • January = [dʒanˈwari]
  • Rachel/Rachelle = [ˈrejʃɛl]
  • Stephen, Stephen- in Stephens, Stephenson = [(i/ɛ)ˈstifɛn] or [(i/ɛ)ˈstipɛn]
    (the ph digraph has an eff sound rather than a vee, even in standard Philippine English)
  • Special (some speakers) = [(i/ɛ)ˈspejʃal] or [ˈspejʃal] rhymes with spatial
  • Twenty- (one, two, etc.) (many speakers) = [ˈtwejnti]
  • -ator in senator, predator = [ˈejtor] (by analogy with -ate)

See also


  1. . Ethnologue Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. Bautista, Ma. Lourdes (2004). "Tagalog-English code-switching as a mode of discourse" (PDF). Asia-Pacific Education Review. 5 (2): 225–233.
  3. Bautista, Ma. Lourdes (1998). "Tagalog-English code-switching and the lexicon of Philippine English". Asian Englishes. 1 (1): 51–67. doi:10.1080/13488678.1998.10800994.
  4. Erwin-Billones, Clark (2012). Code-switching in Filipino newspapers: Expansion of language, culture and identity (PDF) (Master's). Colorado State University. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  5. Dayag, Danilo (2002). "Code-switching in Philippine print ads: A syntactic-pragmatic description". Philippine Journal of Linguistics. 33 (1): 34–52.
  6. Bernardo, Andrew (2005). "Bilingual code-switching as a resource for learning and teaching: Alternative reflections on the language and education issue in the Philippines". In Dayag, Danilo; Quakenbush, J. Stephen (eds.). Linguistics and Language Education in the Philippines and Beyond: A Festschrift in Honor of Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista. Linguistic Society of the Philippines. pp. 151–169.
  7. Cook, Erin (26 March 2018). "How the Philippine media's use of code switching stands apart in Asia". Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  8. Gonzalez, Andrew (1998). "The language planning situation in the Philippines". Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 5: 487–525. doi:10.1080/01434639808666365.
  9. Llamzon, Teodoro (1968). "On Tagalog as a dominant language". Philippine Studies. 16 (4): 729–749.
  10. Sibayan, Bonifacio (2000). "Resulting patterns of sociolinguistic, socioeconomic, and cultural practice and behavior after more than four hundred years of language policy and practice in the Philippines". In Bautista, Ma. Lourdes; Llamzon, Teodoro; Sibayan, Bonifacio (eds.). Parangal cang Brother Andrew: Festschrift for Andrew Gonazlez on his sixtieth birthday. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines. pp. 247–261.
  11. Dayag, Danilo (2008). "English-language media in the Philippines". In Bautista, Ma. Lourdes; Bolton, Kingsley (eds.). Philippine English: Linguistic and Literary Perspectives. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. pp. 49–66.
  12. Kachru, Braj; Kachru, Yamuna; Nelson, Cecil (2009). The Handbook of World Englishes : Volume 48 of Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-4051-8831-9.
  13. Carl Marc Ramota (2004). "Economic Woes Drive Bright Graduates to Call Centers". Bulatlat. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  14. Diana G Mendoza (October 1, 2010). "Philippines: Call Centre Boom Breeds New Culture – and Risky Behaviour". Global Geopolitics & Political Economy. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  15. Carlos H. Conde (August 13, 2007). "English getting lost in translation in Philippines". The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  16. Jonathan M. Hicap (September 13, 2009). "Koreans Flock to the Philippines to Learn English". Korea Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  17. "Korean students to study English in Bacolod schools". Manila Bulletin. May 3, 2017. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  18. Author David Crystal remarks that English is used in technical contexts for intelligibility, and Taglish and Bislish are used in social contexts for identity, noting that similar situations exist in other countries (e.g., as with Singlish). See Crystal, David (2003). English as a Global Language (2, illustrated, revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 189. ISBN 0-521-53032-6.
  19. Espinosa, Doray (1997). "English in the Philippines". Global Issues in Language Education. Language Institute of Japan (26): 9. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  20. Rowthorn, Chris; Bloom, Greg (2006). Philippines. Lonely Planet Country Guide (9th ed.). Lonely Planet. ISBN 978-1-74104-289-4.
  21. "Tagalized Movie Channel on SKY". The Philippine Star. 23 November 2014.
  22. Isabel Pefianco Martin (April 12, 2008). "Fearing English in the Philippines". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  23. Examples: . "So if they see policemen about to conduct a security survey, they should ask me first because I will be the one who will know about it. They will have to talk to me,", "Security survey for Lapu banks suggested". Philippine daily Inquirer, citing Cebu Daily News. March 17, 2008. Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved 2008-09-03 Cite journal requires |journal= (help); . "If I will be the one who will talk and explain, that will be self-serving,", Anselmo Roque (January 18, 2007). "Ecija school faculty bares university exec's mess". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on March 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-03 Cite journal requires |journal= (help); . "Whoever wins on the issue of secret balloting will be the one who will win the speakership,", Norman Bordadora (July 22, 2007). "Arroyo can deliver SONA sans Speaker—Salonga". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on August 9, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-03 Cite journal requires |journal= (help).
  24. Roger B. Rueda. "Philippine English (I)". The News Today :: Online Iloilo News and Panay News. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  25. Overseas Pinoy Cooking.Net website accessed on 6 November 2010
  26. "Glossary of Army Slang". American Speech. Duke University Press. 16 (3): 163–169. October 1941. doi:10.2307/486883. ISSN 0003-1283. JSTOR 486883.
  27. "Philippine English". MSN Encarta Dictionary, Retrieved March 13, 2011. External link in |publisher= (help)
  28. "aggrupation". MSN Encarta Dictionary, Retrieved March 13, 2011. External link in |publisher= (help)
  29. Jeannette Andrade (August 28, 2007). "Hazing eyed in death of graduating UP student". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-09-03. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) Doris Dumlao (August 17, 2008). "Mutual funds for P1,000 a month". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-09-03. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) Michael Lim Ubac (April 24, 2008). "Suspected smugglers, Customs, LTO officials charged". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-09-03. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  30. Andrew Gonzalez (1998). "The Language Planning Situation in the Philippines" (PDF). Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 19 (5, 6): 487–525. doi:10.1080/01434639808666365. Retrieved 2007-03-24.
  31. Borlongan, Ariane Macalinga (2007). "Innovations in Standard Philippine English". Current Research on English and Applied Linguistics.
  32. V.I.S. de Veyra's poem "Requiem Para Kay Ophie"
  33. "Unli Call & Text 25 - Smart Communications".
  34. "mang Inasal BBq with unlimited rice & free sinigang sour soup! - Review of Mang Inasal, Manila, Philippines - TripAdvisor".
  35. Tayao, Ma. Lourdes (2004). "The evolving study of Philippine English phonology". Asian Englishes. 23 (1): 77–90. doi:10.1111/j.1467-971X.2004.00336.x.
  36. Llamzon, T. A. (1997). "The phonology of Philippine English". In Bautista, Ma. Lourdes (ed.). English is an Asian Language: The Philippine Context. The Macquarie Library Pty. Ltd. pp. 41–48.
  37. Bautista, Ma. Lourdes; Gonzalez, Andrew (2009). "Southeast Asian Englishes". In Kachru, Braj; Kachru, Yamuna; Nelson, Cecil (eds.). English is an Asian Language: The Philippine Context. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 130–144.
  38. Tayao, Ma. Lourdes (2008). "A lectal description of the phonological features of Philippine English". In Bautista, Ma. Lourdes; Bolton, Kingsley (eds.). Philippine English: Linguistic and Literary. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 157–174.
  39. Lee, Don (2015-02-01). "The Philippines has become the call-center capital of the world". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  40. Tayao, Ma. Lourdes (2008). "Philippine English: Phonology". In Mesthrie, R. (ed.). Varieties of English 4: Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 292–306.

Further reading

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