The Chabacano Vez

While most people in Zamboanga city pronounce the spanish word vez as bes, most of us still spell it with a v at the beginning and a z at the end.

What is more curious though is the fact that there are some phrases using this word that conforms with Spanish grammar and there are those that don’t. First, let us enumerate these phrases:

Otra vez (again)

Una vez (once)

Dos veces (twice)

Primera Vez (first time)

Ultimo Vez (last time)

Cuanto veces (how many times…)

As you may see in the list above, the phrase otra vez (again) conforms to Spanish grammar. We can see that instead of otro, we use otra as vez is a feminine noun. This goes the same for Una vez, dos veces, primera vez. However this is not true in ultimo vez and cuanto veces.

So why this linguistic anomaly? Are the vez phrases conforming to Spanish grammar **borrowed from Spanish and implanted in Chabacano without any adulterations? One evidence that points to these vez  phrases (conforming to Spanish grammar) being **borrowed from Spanish is the fact that when we place an article at the beginning of primera vez, we use el and not la. However, we have to take into consideration that most of us know that these words are two separate words (_____+ vez), so wouldn’t we spell these as single words if indeed we just caught these phrases from Spanish? It’s like que tal que modo, and por que; almost all Chabacano speakers will spell these phrases as one word (quetal, quemodo, and porque respectively).

Here now are some sentences using the vez phrases listed above:

Chabacano: Ya olvida yo otra vez mi llave na casa
English: I forgot my keys at home

Chabacano: Una vez pa lang yo ya puede anda na Manila
English: I have only been to Manila once

Chabacano: Dos veces ya tu ‘se ya habla conmigo
English: You’ve told me that twice already.

Chabacano: Este ba el primera vez tuyo na Manila?
English: Is this your first time in Manila?

Chabacano: Cuando el ultimo vez tu ya visita conmigo?
English: When was the last time you visited me?

Chabacano: Cuanto veces bay o necesita habla contigo…
English: How many time do I have to tell you…

** ”Borrowed from Spanish” refers to the further hispanization of the Chabacano de Zamboanga during the 19th century. This is a theory of John M. Lipski.