Origins of the Chabacano Onde

Onde tu anda? Onde tu estaba? These are questions that you would hear in everyday Chabacano conversations. I have always found it curious that we (Chabacano speakers) use the word onde instead of donde at times. I thought that maybe our ancestors may have misheard the Spanish Conquistadores, but my recent discovery seems to prove otherwise. It looks like onde is a word that has been present even before Chabacano came into existence.

Is it Spanish or Portuguese?

One of the things that I love about Chabacano is the many mysteries surrounding it. I have recently found out that onde is actually a Portuguese word for where. However, it is a word that can also be found in the Spanish of certain groups of people such as rural folk in Latin America. In fact, it can be found in the Diccionario de la Academia Real de la Lengua Española which is like the official Spanish dictionary.

One Spanish student in the WordReference Language Forums asked about the word onde. She heard her coworkers from Guatemala ask her, "onde estaba?" Of course, being a non-native speaker, she didn't understand this and went to the WordReference Language Forums to seek the meaning of this word. Some people pointed out that onde is Portuguese. Others said that onde also exists in Spanish, even suggesting the possibility that it is old Spanish like the word ansina.

Here is an example of how it is used in Spanish and Portuguese along with their Chabacano translations::

Spanish: ¿Ónde podrá estar?
Chabacano: Onde man gaha aquel?
English: Where could (it) be?

Spanish: No sé ónde lo dejé.
Chabacano: No sabe yo onde yo conaquel ya deja.
English: I don't know where I left it.

Portuguese: Onde você escutou esse boato?
Chabacano: Donde tu ya oi ese chismis?
English: Where did you hear that rumour?

Upon doing further research, this word also is Galician. Galician is a language spoken in Northwestern Spain. Here is a Galician sentence using this word: onde estabas onte pola noite? (where were you last night?)

So is it Spanish, Portuguese or Galician?

What amazes me is the possibility that the language that I speak has such rich and colorful roots. I honestly could not care less if it came from Spanish, Portuguese, Galician or even if our ancestors just misheard it. Oh, but what I would give to go back in time to know...


  1. "Oh, but what I would give to go back in time to know..."

    Marty McFly is coming in few months, know? So, try to spot him and ask him a ride back to this period that you want to visit. xD

  2. Amo ba gat este sentence,"Donde tu ay anda?". Ya lee yo con este na wikipedia kaya.

    1. Yes, donde tu ay anda is definitely correct. :)

  3. It's very comon in Mexico to hear "onde" and even "on". It's colloquial Spanish, some hate it, some don't even realize it's existense but it's very spread in colloquial environments. I normaly say "On tas?" (Dónde estás?), "Onde andas?" (Dónde andas?). But in a classroom unless chatting, I wouldn't say it.