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:

Bien bonita si Maria
Maria is very pretty

Bien grande el casa
The house is very big

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 by one of our regular commenters below.

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 becomes 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 (Andrés) 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 Chabacano 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

Note that Chabacano also uses

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 concretizes Zamboanga city's claim to being Asia's latin city!

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".