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tambok

Should you even bother learning Cebuano or Tagalog?

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tambok

I think that unless you are a missionary who works with the "grass root" population, it's desirable to just speak English. What do you think?

 

In my 24 years of living in Asia ( Thailand, Philippines, the Middle East and Japan) I've noticed that most monolingual "Anglo-Saxons" ( I mean in the cultural sense, not ethnic sense) such as Brits, Americans, Aussies, etc. never ever make the effort to learn the local language.

 

But unlike in their Anglo Saxon countries where the attitude is often "Speak English or Die!" most Asians do not expect you to speak the local language because they almost never see a white man who does.  To them, it's like seeing a horse talk. They are shocked, then they almost invariably reply in English.

 

I am pretty fluent in Tagalog, Thai, Japanese, Arabic and can speak conversational Cebuano Ok, but often I regret that I'd studied them. Particularly in the Philippines, I see all these dignified Americans stepping proud, speaking English and the local just melt and serve on them hand and foot. A beautiful wife/GF is by their side, crisp money in their pocket, and they seem to get all this respect and admiration. Not an iota of disadvantage is apparent because they don't speak the local language.

 

 Fast forward 15-20 years, and they still don't speak it and nothing changes. They are still high class, totally confident and living a life full of respect to them from the local population. They walk around proud as peacocks.

 

And here I am, a linguist. So many hours spent, so much money. What are the reactions from the locals? 'Some' like it, and respond in Cebuano, most just answer in English, some make fun of my accent by mimicking it with a grimace, and laugh. Some just guffaw. Some are in shock... and reply in English.

 

Ditto for Tagalog although not as much.

 

I am white but my friend is Taiwanese. Now, people talk to him in Tagalog, but he does not understand a word, I do, but they speak back to me in English. It's annoying but it does not change. As in 'never'.

 

In the mind of a ruthlessly colonized Filipino, a brown or a yellow man speaks a Philippine language, a white man speaks English. It's been like this for over 100 years. Learning Visaya and speaking it goes against history. You will be rubbing society against the grain.

 

Recently, a very unpleasant incident happened to me-- I almost got into a fight, even. I was in front of the KFC on Osmena circle, and I asked the man standing by the side of the store if it was open.  I asked in Visaya. He glared at me and went "Whaaaaaaat?" I asked him why he was not speaking in Visaya, he turned very angry and started yelling ( in English) "Why must I speak in Visaya to you? Are you a Filipino? "

 

He then walked up to me very belligerently and told me that this was not my country and that people here spoke English. He angrily barked " I'm in my own country and I speak any language I want." He was almost drawing fists to attack me. I then quickly ran into KFC- yes it was open.

 

Also, on a bus, I hear people discuss me and how long my nose is. Also, they talk shyt about my girlfriend saying that she is a woman for sale because she is with a "porinarh"

 

Now, nothing like this would happen had I not been able to speak or understand the language, and when I spoke only English I really loved the people and they loved me. There was no mockery, no wild shock like them seeing a ghost speak, no idiotic reactions and no laughter and mocking mimickry. Also, if they were saying bad things, it would just sound like "tra-bra- tra-tatatata" and not affect me.

 

Even in Manila or Pampanga, this happens although not as often.

 

What does everybody think. Is it really worth the time/money? Or should I just do like all the other porinarhs do? Speak English and carry a big dollar. Even the girls want to meet a white guy to practice English with and go live in the States or stay in the Philippines and raise English-speaking kids with big noses. But when you do try to assimilate like this, you go against their porinarh dream.

 

So, what do you guys think?

Edited by tambok
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spydoo

First, just because something has become a cultural norm doesn't mean it's right. Second, if you didn't understand the comments about your gf you wouldn't understand what she goes through. Third, the Filipino had a point: he was entitled to speak to you in English. It's only your mind and language you can control. Of course I don't mean to imply his belligerence was acceptable.

 

Finally, in the long run knowledge and understanding will benefit you far, far more than those whose ignorance is bliss now. I'm a Tagalog novice and I admire where you are at. I hope to one day have your problems.

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contraman

I have a French / English background so being multilingual is nothing new to me.

Over the past two decades I have worked in the Asia Pacific Region.

When I first started in this region, I thought that I needed to learn the local language.

I duely enrolled in classes such as Mandarin for Business, Thai for business etc.

What a waste of time and effort that was.

Because, ALL my clients wanted to speak to me in English.

No exceptions, every one of them.

 

However, having some knowledge of the local language does have its advantages.

In places like Taiwan being able to read street signs etc is a blessing.

Even now in Hong Kong I have found a lot of signage has reverted back to Mandarin since the British handed it back.

Doing business in Malaysia, Thailand, cambodia, laos and Vietnam, it is all done in English, or at least my type of business is.

But again, knowing a little local language can assist.

Especially if you are alone on a train or bus and the locals start talking about you and they think you don't know.

A few phrases in the local language usually settles that down and is often the start of an interesting conversation.

So to sum up. I agree, I dont think you need to stress learning the local language, especially if you are a regular in a neighborhood.

Edited by contraman

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Skywalker

What language?

 

I see a lot of pursing of lips and the eye brow thing going on!

 

As an Englishman I never have a problem with the Johnie Foreigners, I simply raise or lower my voice, and adopt a superior stance.

 

Always works for me, the natives often feel overwhelmed with my sheer majesty, but that is only to be expected.  As a white skinned, blue blooded aristocrat, I command respect and admiration from all.

 

Ho Ho Ho

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RogerDuMond

I think it is worth the time. Maybe it would be different living in the city, but out here I get only positive feed back. I am not talking the feed back they give me, but what they say to relatives.

 

It is the foreigners out here that isolate themselves who are made fun of. Locals here have no respect for foreigners who act like they are better than them because they have a few more pesos.

 

If someone made the comment that my wife was for sale so that she could here it, they would be eating through a straw and not because of anything I would do.

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mikewright

 

 

Recently, a very unpleasant incident happened to me-- I almost got into a fight, even. I was in front of the KFC on Osmena circle, and I asked the man standing by the side of the store if it was open. I asked in Visaya. He glared at me and went "Whaaaaaaat?" I asked him why he was not speaking in Visaya, he turned very angry and started yelling ( in English) "Why must I speak in Visaya to you? Are you a Filipino? "

 

Just wondering if the guy you asked was a Tagalog speaker and speaking to him in Bisaya caused the problem? Some people get very touchy about things like this. I once asked for a Turkish coffee in Greece, learnt very quickly never to do that again.

 

Personally would love to speak the language fluently, or even a bit, but am not motivated enough at this point in time  to put in the effort. 

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ironmaiden666

Every time I show people I can speak Tagalog they love to get into a conversation with me, and even when I switch back to english they immediately tell me to continue in Tagalog. I also notice I get more respect from people when they see I did the effort to learn their language. As a non native english speaker I do not have an accent though when speaking Tagalog. So for me it is definately worth it.

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tambok

What language?

 

I see a lot of pursing of lips and the eye brow thing going on!

 

As an Englishman I never have a problem with the Johnie Foreigners, I simply raise or lower my voice, and adopt a superior stance.

 

Always works for me, the natives often feel overwhelmed with my sheer majesty, but that is only to be expected.  As a white skinned, blue blooded aristocrat, I command respect and admiration from all.

 

Ho Ho Ho

And if they still balk at giving you admiration, out comes your ivory cane and they get some sound thrashing. That should teach the miserable w-gs a lesson.

 

The American variation on the theme is beating one's chest as a gorilla would while thundering and braying" I'm an Ameeeeeeeeerican! We saved your a--es from the J-ps in World War Two so speak English you mother......er and be grateful that you don't have to speak Japanese!" Also works like magic and the locals stand at attention and snap "Yes, Sir!"

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tambok

Every time I show people I can speak Tagalog they love to get into a conversation with me, and even when I switch back to english they immediately tell me to continue in Tagalog. I also notice I get more respect from people when they see I did the effort to learn their language. As a non native english speaker I do not have an accent though when speaking Tagalog. So for me it is definately worth it.

Oh, you're in Dau? It's different there. Most people are not Tagalogs and not Kapampangans either, but a mixture of so many ethnic groups; and Tagalog is the lingua franca there which is not native to almost anyone there. Things become touchy with Tagalogs in Batangas and other such areas.

 

and even when I switch back to english they immediately tell me to continue in Tagalog

 

This is probably the case with very poor people who had no chance to go to school, am I right? The "educated" ones are not as open.

Edited by tambok

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Paul

Regarding the guy in front of the KFC, he could have been a Tagalog who did not not speak Cebuano, perhaps? If not, then he was a very rude Cebuano. 

 

<Gotta go for a bit. Will try to reply with  more a bit later.>

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tambok

Regarding the guy in front of the KFC, he could have been a Tagalog who did not not speak Cebuano, perhaps? If not, then he was a very rude Cebuano. 

 

<Gotta go for a bit. Will try to reply with  more a bit later.>

I don't think he was a Tagalog. He didn't "look" it. Short, round-faced, and very comfortable leaning against the jam. Even if he were, he probably would not have reacted like this if it had been a ' brown' man speaking to him. You can get smacked for the ' Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?' pdq.

 

I've noticed that Luzonians, Tagalogs included, are not friendly, but polite, but many Visayans, Cebuanos included, are friendly, but often very impolite. Many act like hicks and boors. This is why I often prefer Luzon. You would never see, say, an Ilocano act like this.

Edited by tambok

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ironmaiden666

 

 

This is probably the case with very poor people who had no chance to go to school, am I right? The "educated" ones are not as open.

 

Does it matter? The "educated" ones are maybe 5 % of this country, and some of them are OFW's who speak perfect english - so no need to speak Tagalog to them - and are more foreigner friendly because they work around foreigners all the time. As long as 95 % of people around me appreciate the fact that I speak their language I do think it is worth the effort.

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NOSOCALPINOY

I don't understand anything in Cebuano, Ilocano or any other dialects, but where ever I go, everyone seems to understand and speak Tagalog! It took me over 10 years to speak and write the Tagalog language fluently, which I forgot living in the U.S. since I was 7 yrs old! 

I'm glad to have learned the Tagalog language again instead of another dialect, because it isn't very universal in certain regions of the Philippines, except for Tagalog! 

We were in a restaurant in Cebu and the guy taking our orders was speaking in Cebuano and our friend told him we were from Luzon and he immediately switched over to speaking Tagalog and understood our order from the menu that was in English and it's not just the waiters in restaurants, but the majority of Cebuanos can speak Tagalog and English!

Tagalog is the basic language in the Philippines! It's spoken in Filipino politics, movies, TV and radio stations nation wide and English is also taught in all levels of education from kindergarten up to college!

In our neighborhood, most of the kids here speaks English with some Tagalog, which is required in most intermediate schools and at the college level for some foreign students taking Philippine history as an elective!         

Edited by NOSOCALPINOY

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lamoe

There is a very simple explanation for why Americans don't need to learn another language. Not being sarcastic or snarky.

 

"I want your money so I'll speak your language"

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ROCO22

We (wife & I) were on a RoRo from Suiagao to Siargao.

 

We watched as a young kano  (20's) was surrounded by people of all ages because he was conversing in Bisayan.

 

The younger girls looked at him like a rock star and the older folks with respect.

 

I think if I resided there (RP/PI) I would make the effort.

 

I would like to know what they are saying.

 

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