Origins of the Chabacano Calavera

In the Spanish language, the word calavera means skull. In my language, however, it means skeleton. You may be wondering how the meaning of this word got changed in the Chabacano de Zamboanga language.

Most historians say that Chabacano is a parroted language. As time goes by, words in a parroted language will have a high tendency to be misinterpreted. The word for clouds may be misinterpreted for wind or rain and the word for plate may be misinterpreted for food or abundance.

Here are some examples of how we use the word calavera in the Chabacano de Zamboanga language.

Chabacano: Bien flaco ya gayod tu. Caray calavera ya tu.
English: You’re so thin. You look like a skeleton already.

Situation: Group of people eating. Someone arrives and there is no chicken left anymore.

Chabacano:  Calavera ya man el manok? No hay kamo conmigo deja manok?
English: Is chicken bone all that is left? You didn’t leave me any chicken (meat)?

The same word also exists in the Chavacano de Ternate. It is spelled as kalabera and is defined as 'skull' in the book titled The Ternateños by Esteban A De Ocampo. The Chabacano dictionary of Camins defines this word as skull and skeleton. For old Chabacano speakers and for some people, the original meaning (skull) is probably not yet lost.

No comments:

Post a Comment