Philippine English is Legit. Oxford English Dictionary Says So


Zoom Call Philippine Embassy Spain & Dr Salazar Oxford English Dictionary Aug 2020

Zoom Call with Philippine Embassy Spain and Dr. Danica Salazar of Oxford English Dictionary (August 2020)

Major portion of this blog post comes from ABS-CBN News “Philippine English is Legitimate, Says Oxford English Dictionary Editor” August 2020

It’s official. Philippine English accent is a legitimate variety of the English language, according to Dr. Danica Salazar, world English editor for the Oxford English Dictionary, the principal historical dictionary of the English language.

“The Philippine English is not slang. It is not wrong. It is not carabao English, or any other derogatory word that’s been used over the years,” Dr. Salazar said during a Zoom call with the Philippine Embassy Spain celebrating “buwan ng wika” (Language Month) last August 2020.

Dr. Salazar said that just like British, American, Australian, and Singaporean variants, Philippine English plays an important role in the historical development of the language, which the Oxford English Dictionary seeks to document.

“Philippine English, just like American English or British English, or Indian English or Singapore English, are all part of the same story,” she added. “We all have a role to play in this. Philippine English has as much of a place in the history in the lexicon of the English language as all these other varieties,” Dr. Salazar said (Philippine English is Legitimate, ABS-CBN News August 2020).

PHILIPPINE ENGLISH ACCENT Is Acceptable Like British English

Salazar also pointed out how Filipinos have their own unique way of speaking in English, and that this is something that should be embraced and not be ashamed of.  She noted how some people try to sound American or British, under the impression that this is the “right” way to communicate using the English language.

“I’ve been living in the UK for seven years now, and nobody’s ever told me, ‘I don’t understand you.’ And I speak with a totally Philippine English accent,” Dr. Salazar said.

“The accent and the words that we use, these are a reflection of our identity, of our culture,” she explained. “And adapting languages to suit a communicative means is something that everyone does. Americans adapted British English, Australians did the same, people in New Zealand do the same. So why can’t we do the same?”

I’ve grew up thinking that Philippine English accent is not acceptable and that we always have to sound ‘American’, or even better sound ‘British’. Years ago, some of my younger relatives were trying to correct the accent of my mother who was clearly speaking with a totally Philippine English accent. Not anymore! Philippine English accent is legit. Speakers of the Philippine English accent, rejoice. “Hindi na ito ikanakakahiya” (we should not be ashamed) of this accent. This hiya (shame) of speaking with an accent is part our long-term colonial mentality; if we can only sound like our colonial masters.

Philippine English – “Hindi na ito ikanakakahiya” (we should be ashamed) of this accent 

Dr. Salazar went on to share that the Philippine accent is “one of the most understandable accents in the world. This is one of the reasons why our call center industry in the Philippines is so successful,” she said.

“We don’t need to sound American to speak English correctly,” she stressed, adding, “We don’t have to waste our time in the classroom trying to twist our students’ tongues in shapes that they can’t make.”



About daleasis

President of the Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide
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