Origins of the Chabacano Bisia

I was looking for the Portuguese translation of the verb "to watch" because I was trying to impress a Brazilian friend with my non-existent Portuguese skills when I came across the Portuguese word vigiar. I listened to how this word is pronounced and it struck me that it is pronounced so much like the Chabacano word bisia. The meaning of vigiar is also almost the same as the Chabacano bisia. The Portuguese g, before an e or an i has a soft s sound like in pleasure, The Chabacano bisia is most often pronounced and spelled today as bisha.

The reason all this interested me a lot was because I have been for some time trying to figure out the origins of the Chabacano word bisia and I think that the Portuguese vigiar is a possible candidate.

Bisia is also found in the 1901 Chabacano transcript which I featured in this post. They spelled this word as bisia and this was the spelling that I followed in this article.

According to this dictionary, the Portuguese vigiar means to watch, keep an eye on, to spy on, to keep watch over, to guard, to be on the lookout. Below are sentences in Chabacano using the word bisia and you will notice that the Chabacano bisia and the Portuguese vigiar are almost the same.

Chabacano: Bisia con el casa.
English: Watch over the house.

Chabacano: Puede tu bisia con el perro mio un rato?
English: Can you keep an eye on my dog for a while?

Chabacano: Quien ta bisia con el tienda?
English: Who is watching over (manning) the store?

Chabacano: Puede tu bisia con el coche mio?
English: Can you keep watch over my car?

Bisia also means to make critical comments about someone. An example is telling someone that a common female acquaintance looks fat in her dress.

1 comment:

  1. I guess (it's just my own assumption) that the Chabacano language adopted this way to write the word "vigiar" because the sound of g letter in the Portuguese language sounds like a "j" letter, which also consequently resembles a soft s or sh. It's not uncommon to see people writing these words with a "j" letter instead of "g" letter. There have some Portuguese creoles or languages who suffered influence from the language that have this way to write that I mentioned above, like for example the word "jerasaun" in Tetum language, language spoken in Timor-Leste and which is a kind of cousin of Tagalog and of the other Filipino languages.