However, like most ESL peoples, Filipinos use English words in ways that native speakers don't. Just as Singaporeans use "catch no ball" to mean "don't understand," and the Japanese use "salaryman" to refer to male white-collar workers, Filipinos say:
Considering how often typhoons hit the Philippines, it's no surprise that the locals experience frequent "blackouts."
2. "Come again?"
This phrase is used when Filipinos can't hear you over the phone. They can also say "I beg your pardon?" or "Sorry, I didn't catch that," but "come again" sounds more convenient.
Hey friend, want to have a Cutex session with me? Just as "Colgate" means "toothpaste," and "Xerox" means "photocopy," "Cutex" means "nail polish."
4. "Fill up the form, please"
Instead of "fill out," Filipinos use "fill up," even though the latter is more appropriate for liquids than paperwork.
5. "For a while, please"
You can tell if a call center agent is Filipino when they use this instead of "Please hold the line" or "Wait a moment, please."
6. Hand carry luggage
This is the Filipino version of "carry-on luggage."
7. "I do (insert verb here)"
A native English speaker will omit the "do," but Filipinos keep it in for the sake of emphasis.
8. "I was under (name of teacher)"
If you ask a Filipino who their teacher is, they'll say "I was under Mr./Ms. Reyes." This is one of the odder transliterations, since the Tagalog phrase for "My teacher was…" is "Guro ko si…" instead of "Nasa ilalim ako ni…".
9. "I'll fetch you at (insert time here)"
"Fetch" may sound insulting to a native English speaker, but Filipinos think it's a perfectly acceptable alternative to "I'll pick you up at (insert time here)."
10. "I'm taking up (insert college major here)"
Filipinos say this in place of "I'm studying…" or "I major in …"
11. "It's so traffic!"
Philippine roads are notoriously congested, to the point that locals feel the need to use "traffic" as an adjective as well as a noun. If a Filipino says "It's so traffic!" or just "Traffic!" with feeling, it's the same as "The traffic is heavy!" or "My goodness, this traffic!"
12. Interchanging "he" and "she"
Tagalog is a mostly gender-neutral language, where the third-person pronoun "siya" can be used for both men and women. So when a Filipino says "he" or "she," make sure you ask: "Are you referring to a man or a woman?"
13. No parking on both sides
A native English speaker may be confused by this common road sign in the Philippines. "Both sides of what?," you might think. But when Filipinos see that sign, they understand it to mean "Don't park on either side of the road." Not that it would stop them from doing so anyway…
14. "Open/Close the lights"
In Tagalog, "switch on/off the lights" translates to "buksan/isara ang ilaw." Since "buksan" can also mean "open" and "isara" can also mean "close," you can see why Filipinos transliterate this common phrase the way they do.
In Filipino speak, "ref" is shorthand for "refrigerator," just as "aircon" is shorthand for "air conditioner."
Mention this one word within a Filipino's earshot, and you'll send shivers up their spine. Where Americans use "salvage" to mean "rescue," Filipinos use it to mean "murdering a person discreetly."
17. To avail of
You usually hear this on the radio and TV commercials. When Filipino companies say things along the lines of "If you do this, you can 'avail of' that," they mean "If you buy x packs of our product, you can take advantage of/enjoy/win these perks and privileges!"
18. Tuck out
If you say "untuck" instead of this, Filipinos will narrow their eyes at you.
19. Use of Prepositions
This is a particularly egregious form of Filipinism. For example:
- "This will result in…" becomes "This will result to…"
- "Free subscription to…" becomes "Free subscription of…"
- "I was fired from…" becomes "I was fired out…"
20. "What's your course?"
Native English speakers might scratch their heads at this question, since "course" can mean anything from "path of travel" to "a set of dishes." Filipinos, on the other hand, use this when they want to know a person's college major.
21. "Where do you study?"
Before you give a smart-aleck answer like "At my desk" or "In the study hall," know that Filipinos use this to mean "Where do you go to school?" or "What school do you attend?" That's because, in Tagalog, this question is phrased as "Saan ka nag-aaral?," which is literally translated as "Where do you study?"
22. "You're so OA!"
If a person overreacts to a situation, that person is considered "OA" in the Philippines.
We're sure there's plenty more where these Filipinisms came from. If you can name any that haven't been mentioned in this post, or here, mention them in the comments!