The Impact of English on Chabacano

Because there have been so many Latin American migrants in the US, it was inevitable that very soon, Spanglish would be born. Spanglish is either mixing Spanish and English (e.g. anyway, no me importa) or translating an English phrase word for word into Spanish (e.g. saying nos puede llamar atras instead of nos puede volver a llamar *this means: can you call us back).

This occurrence is also present in the Chabacano language. Chabacano has been infiltrated a lot by English that we sometimes utter words which we take from this foreign language and Chabacanize it.

A good example is the word factoria. I remember a few years back, my father and I were listening to a Chabacano radio news program. This radio announcer used the word factoria instead of fabrica. Obviously this guy relied on his English vocabulary when he forgot the Chabacano word for factory (or maybe he didn't know the word at all).

If you read Chabacano posts in online forums, you will see more people “Chabacanizing" or "Englishing" Chabacano. Here are some examples that I found:

Proposa- meaning to propose (the correct Chabacano word is propone)

Fontana- meaning fountain (the Spanish word is fuente although I haven’t really heard anyone use this word verbally in Chabacano). The Chabacano dictionary of Rolando Arquiza Santos however does translate the word fountain as fuente. Camins’ does not seem to have a Chabacano word for fountain. Most Chabacano speakers (I think) will result to code switching if they encounter the need to use this word and they will most probably use the English word fountain.

Experiencia- meaning to experience (in Spanish, the noun experiencia does exist, it is not however a verb (as in experienciar). In Rolando Arquiza Santos’ dictionary, the noun experiencia does exist however the verb experiencia doesn't. In Camins’ dictionary, the noun experiencia doesn’t exist either let alone the verb experiencia. This probably means that this word was coined very recently and is most probably a result of Anglicization. The Spanish word for to experience is experimentar, though I don't believe this is used in Chabacano.

Resolva- meaning to resolve (the correct Chabacano word is resolve *Spanish pronunciation).

Expecta- meaning to expect (this word doesn't really exist in Chabacano but also probably came about from the Anglicization of the Chabacano language)

Policia- meaning policy (this word actually means police and not policy.

Corecta- meaning to correct (the correct Chabacano word is corregi)

Locacion *pronounced by most as locashon- meaning location (this word doesn't exist and is also a result of Anglicization).

There are also words of this type which used to be popular but are not used too much anymore. Some examples are:

Actualmente- meaning actually (actualmente actually means currently and the way this is used in Chabacano is just a result of Anglicization)

Embarasa- meaning to embarrass someone (the word embarazar really means to get pregnant)

If you speak English and Chabacano, it is not hard to see how these words came about.

In Spanish, you would occasionally hear people say taxa (meaning tax), parquear (meaning to park and if you check a Spanish dictionary, these words do not exist but they are a result of the Anglicization of the Spanish language.

In Tagalog, I hear some people say prayoridad (priority), eksplanasyon (explanation) and layabilidad (liability). These words are all also a result of the Anglicization of the Tagalog language. They are coined words and they are a mixture of Spanish and English. Tagalog has most of the Spanish words ending in dad and ion and this makes the people assume that all English words ending in -tion and -bility can be made into Tagalog simply by changing -tion to -syon and -bility to -bilidad. Recently, these words have slowly been creeping in to the Chabacano vocabulary.

John M. Lipski has this to say about this phenomenon:

More recently, the predominant source of lexical borrowing has become English, as in all other Philippine languages; not only are individual words borrowed, but entire expressions may be introduced into Chabacano speech, and among those speakers reasonably fluent in English, code switching is common. Nouns and some verbs may simply be given a Chabacano form, much as occurs in bilingual Spanish/English speech in the United States: sacrificiá `sacrifice’ (Sp. sacrificar); compositá `compose’ (Sp. componer); dependable `dependable’ (Sp. confiable); dolyar `dollar’ (Sp. dólar); valuable `valuable’ (Sp. valioso); serioso `serious’ (Sp. serio); preliminario `preliminary’ (Sp. preliminar), etc.

I hope no one will get the idea that I look down on this manner of speaking. If you have been reading this blog a lot, you will know that I am very open-minded when it comes to the Chabacano evolution. I don’t possess any purist or preservationist ideas when it comes to speaking Chabacano. With this article, I only wish to enlighten fellow Chabacano speakers about this phenomenon that we don’t even realize exists. Ironically though, it is most often the purist Chabacano speakers or the hispanophiles who invent these words whenever they fail to find a Chabacano equivalent for an English word.


  1. Hola, Jerome!

    Yes, I agree with everything that you have written in the above article. Evolution is something inevitable because as long as a language is still spoken, it is always prone to outside influence. Though it is nice to be open-minded, it can also be alarming to note where the language is heading towards. That is why, in my humble opinion, philologists and linguists should also know how to set standards on language evolution and educate the people about it. Aside from the educators, it is the media people who must set the example on the correct usage of language because they are source of the youth for sound language use, be it in print or multimedia. As my friend Dr. Teresita Alcántara said, nowadays we are not only developing a Chabacano of Spanish but rather creating a new Chabacano--Chabacano English. What do you think? Your opinions are most welcome.

    Thank you very much. God bless you!

    César Jr.

  2. Un palabra que ya oi yo este mga dias amo "promese" en vez de "promete"...

  3. Si. Tiene mga gente ta habla promese en vez de promete. :D

  4. no hay pa tambien yo puede oi ta habla "promese" ni usa ese palabra sino "promete" gayot yo ta usa.
    jendeh yo tan camali el "promete" es Verbo y el promesa es nombre?

    ya promete yo que hay atende yo tu casamiento.
    acorda tu que tiene kita promesa a uno otros porque si ya cae yo na rio, hay salta tambien tu na rio. ^_^ jejejejeje

    yo? cosa ba yo? purista o preservationist? ^_^
    este mi situación Jerome>>>

    Nunca yo acepta con estos mana palabras (pronombre):
    ka, ikaw, de ikaw de carabao bao. haaay que bien duele gat se na mis ojos y orejas... dol aquel ba quiere tu derepente corregi canila.

    este pa. . . el original palabra del :de aton, con amon, con aton," >>> kanamon, kanaton, aton, amo y kanila pero no quiere yo deleatra con esos como ansina sino ta escribi ya yo como ansina "con aton, con amon, canila, masquen el kanun ta deleatra tambien yo como "canon" o Morisqueta, el Breakfast ta llama ya gayot yo ahora como Desayuno mientras el Lunch ta llama ya yo Almuerzo, etcétera.

    no quiere tambien yo usa palabra "ulan" sino "aguacero y Lluvia", no queire tambien yo escribi "kirlat" sino querlat o quirlat o rayo.

    no quiere tambien yo escribi "kay" sino "cay", no queire tambien yo escribi "porke y por ke" sino porque y por que (because and why).

    Haaay . . Dios ya lang cuidao conmigo pero para conmigo, puede yo habla que yo ambos Purist y Preservationist.