Origins of the Chabacano Bien

I have always wondered how the Chabacano word bien came to be. In Chabacano, bien generally means 'very'. An example would be:

Chabacano: Bien bonita si Maria
English: Maria is very pretty

Chabacano: Bien grande el casa
English: The house is very big

I have long ago concluded that this might be the result of Chabacano being a parroted language (e.g. The word firme in Spanish means firm or steady; in Chabacano this word is spelled and pronounced as pirmi and it means 'always'. I have always thought that the word bien is another such anomaly in Chabacano, until recently...

I have just acquired a book called Spanish Demystified by Jenny Petrow and she explains that in Latin America, when speaking colloquially, people tend to use bien instead of muy. I asked a friend of mine in Mexico and he confirmed that people there actually do use it when speaking colloquially. He does say though that he does not use it often.

Here are some examples of how a Hispanoamericano and Zamboangueño would use this word.

Formal Spanish: El caldo está muy caliente.
Colloquial Latin American Spanish: El caldo está bien caliente.
Chabacano:Bien caliente el caldo.

Formal:Afuera está muy frio.
Colloquial Latin American Spanish: Afuera está bien frio.
Chabacano: Bien frio afuera.

Formal: Tu espanol es muy bueno.
Colloquial Latin American Spanish: Tu español es bien bueno.
Chabacano: Bien bueno tu español.

Formal: La casa es muy grande.
Colloquial Latin American Spanish: La casa es bien grande.
Chabacano: Bien grande el casa.

Did you note the difference in sentence structure and similarities in the vocabulary? More importantly, this manner of speaking in Spanish ONLY occurs in Latin American Spanish! That is a very significant piece of information which solidifies Zamboanga city's claim to being Asia's Latin city! 😀

Note that the word bien in Chabacano can also mean good, (eg. para na bien ese de tuyo *that is for your own good) as was pointed out in one of the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. We also use the word "bien" como ejemplo "Necesita kita créa el Academia de la lengua Chavacana para el bien de todo".

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