7 Ways To Tell If Somebody Is A Native Chabacano Speaker

Most people (even native Chabacano speakers) fail to realize that there is a distinct Chabacano accent. This accent is more pronounced among people who live in the rural areas of Zamboanga city who speak with a drawl. These people are mostly referred to as de monte (from the mountains), de arriba or de alla-alla.

The Chabacano accent is a telltale sign of a native speaker of the Chabacano language. You know you're a native Chabacano speaker when you do the following things:

1. You drop the 's' in certain Chabacano words

The hallmark of the Chabacano accent is the dropping of the letter 's'. When you hear somebody pronounce words like escuelapescaofiestados, and tres as eh-cuelapeh-caofieh-tadoh, and treh respectively, that is a native Chabacano speaker! This feature of the Chabacano accent might come from Spanish where they also sometimes drop their 's'. At work, there was a time when a Spanish customer asked me to look for an account using his name. When he gave me his last name, I was perplexed because he said his last name was de lo rios (which is grammatically impossible). I thought and thought about it until I realized that he was saying de los rios! šŸ˜’ Most people who speak like this though, are already old.

2. You pronounce the letter 'g' as a 'k' (or a hard 'c')

It might sound funny, but many native Chabacano speakers pronounce the letter 'g' as a 'k' (or a hard 'c') so that words like itlogbag, and ilog tend to sound like itlokbak, and ilok. This feature of the Chabacano accent might also come from Spanish where they also sometimes pronounce the letter 'g' as a 'k' (or a hard 'c'). One time, I heard a Spanish speaker pronounce the word jet lag as jet lahk. This primarily happens because, in Spanish, there are no words that end in the letter 'g'.

3. You sometimes pronounce the word yo as jo or cho

Have you ever noticed that whenever we say the word yo after gayod or gad, we sometimes pronounce it as jo or cho? For example no hay gad jo gusta con el comida. While there are also some Spanish-speaking countries like Argentina which pronounces the letter y as a j, I don't think that this feature of the Chabacano accent comes from that regional accent. This feature of the Chabacano accent simply comes as a result of what they call in the world of linguistics, relaxed pronunciation. This also occurs in other Philippine languages. For example, in Manila, you will often hear bus conductors pronounce Buendia as Buenja. In the English language, you will see this in instances where they pronounce 'don't you' as doncha or 'got you' as gotcha.

4. You pronounce words like cancion as canshon

In Chabacano, words that end in -cion, like cancion, recio, and nacion are pronounced as canshon, resho, and nashon respectively. This characteristic of the Chabacano accent comes from what they call in the world of linguistics, palatalization.

5. Your 'n' sometimes becomes an 'ng'

The 'n' in certain Chabacano words are sometimes pronounced as 'ng'. Words like tranca, trinca, cinco, and ronca (pronounced by most as runca) are pronounced as trangca, tringca, cingco, rungca. These words are pronounced in the same manner in the Spanish language. Sometimes, when a Chabacano word ends with an 'n', some people pronounce it as 'ng' (especially if the word that comes after begins with the letter 'c'). A good example is the word bien which sometimes is pronounced as bieng (e.g. bieng corre). Other examples are en caso and con quien which are sometimes pronounced as eng caso and cong quien respectively. This happens because of something they call velarization in the world of linguistics.

6. You pronounce the letter 'd' as a 't'

This can be heard in words like watawad which sort of becomes watawat. Other examples are pungod (pimples from Hiligaynon punggod), gayod (very), sumod (to be wary from Hiligaynon sum-od) which are pronounced normally in Chabacano as pungut, gayot, and sumut respectively.

7. Your 'n' sometimes becomes an 'm'

In Chabacano, we sometimes pronounce the letter 'n' as 'm'. Some examples are un vaso and un poco which are pronounced as um vaso and um poco respectively. According to this discussion, this also happens in Spanish and mostly occurs if un comes before a word that begins with the letter 'p' or 'b'. This also occurs because of velarization. Another good example is when we say conversa which tend to sound like combersa.

The Chabacano accent along with the Chabacano language are two precious legacies from our past and I hope that we, especially the youth, learn to treasure and be proud of them.