6 Ways to Sound Polite in Chabacano

In each culture, there is a distinct way to sound polite. In Tagalog, we always add the word po at the end of statements and requests. In English, we replace 'can' with 'could' and we say 'please'.

Here are six different ways to sound polite when speaking Chabacano.

1. Use que instead of cosa.

When asking people to repeat themselves, you would normally ask, cosa 'quel (aquel) or cosa? While this doesn’t seem very rude, using the word que is more polite.

Using cosa to ask somebody (older than you or with more authority than you ) to repeat his/herself would be considered rude. Here's an example:

Old woman: Ya come ya tu?
Kid: Que?

Old woman: Ya come ya tu?
Kid: Cosa?

2. Always say buenas when entering a home.

When entering a home, it is customary and polite to say buenas. This word is also used for checking if somebody is at home. It is the equivalent of the Tagalog tao po or the Bisaya ayu.

I remember back in high school when the Mayor was the late Maria Clara Lobregat, the late mayor campaigned very aggressively for the usage of Chabacano in institutions like offices and schools. One of my teachers (who was probably a Chabacanophile), enforced a new routine to start the class. Whereas before, the teacher comes in and the students stand up and say 'good morning', she would instead say buenas when she comes in and ask us to say buenas tambien (tamen). I also remember that during this period, offices like the city hall would answer the phone with buenas dias, buenas tardes, or buenas noches.

3. Say pasaje, favor inside the Jeepney.

In Jeepneys, we should say favor (pabor) or pasaje, favor to ask the one in front of us to pass the fare on to the driver at the front. This is the equivalent of the Tagalog pakisuyo or bayad po.

4. Always use si and never say oo.

I remember that as a kid, my mom would always remind me to use si (yes) whenever I speak to my grandmother. I was also taught to use si whenever I am speaking with someone who I don’t know or I am not very close with. Today, I use si whenever I am speaking with a relative who I don’t know very well, with someone who I just met, and with drivers, security guards, waiters, and store clerks.

5. To be safe, use tu and ustedes all the time.

Tu and uste (usted) are used to address somebody both formally and informally in Chabacano (this may vary from family to family. While vos (boh, bos) is exclusively used when being informal. Some families like my mom’s use uste when speaking with parents and when a younger sibling talks to an older one. Meanwhile, they use vos when an older sibling speaks to a younger one. They never use tu. In other families like my dad’s, they use tu for speaking to everybody and use vos when speaking to household employees. In my own family, usage of vos, is highly discouraged and is treated as a bad word. I grew up learning to use tu with everybody and never to use vos. Here's an example of the effect using vos can have on someone. Sometimes, I use vos when I make jokes but there was a time when the other person got really mad at me because I used vos on him.

When you look at offline and online materials on the Chabacano language, they will probably tell you that uste is used when being formal and tu/vos is used when being informal. I think, these days, however, it is already generally accepted that tu can also be used when being polite to someone. In fact, some people say the reason why some young people use ka nowadays is because they feel like they are being too polite when using tu. In other words, some people are now replacing vos with ka and uste with tu. That theory may be correct. If I try to recall the people who I know use ka, I don't think I have heard them use it with people like their parents or with teachers. They only use ka among peers.

Some young people nowadays, whose thinking are more aligned with Tagalog would use ustedes when speaking politely to only one person. This of course comes from the Tagalog kayo/sila. For example when speaking to a parent, one might ask in Tagalog, kumain na po ba kayo (have you eaten yet) instead of kumain ka na ba which sounds disrespectful. Come to think of it, I used to do this all the time when I was a nursing student in Zamboanga city. Whenever I speak with a patient, I would use ustedes all the time even though I was only speaking to one person.

I have a friend who learned Chabacano from her father but grew up in Manila. She speaks Chabacano only with her family and recently with me. She never uses the word ustedes and instead uses kamo. She explains that this is because she speaks Chabacano only with her family so she always uses kamo. However, some people prefer to use ustedes instead of kamo at all times. Take me for example, I almost always use ustedes. The only time that I use the word kamo is when I try to harden my statement. An example is "cosa kamo, mga gago" (what are you, stupid)? If I were to use ustedes in that statement, it would not have its intended effect.

You will find that the usage of ustedes/ kamo and de ustedes/ de inyo will vary from person to person. Some people use these words interchangeably. Some people choose which word to use depending on who they’re speaking with and/or the age and status of that person. Some, (like me) will choose which word to use depending on the kind of statement they will deliver (regardless of who they're speaking with).

6. Make sure to say cuidao to a person that is leaving.

Now when somebody says goodbye to you, it would be good manners to say cuidao. Cuidao is the equivalent of the English 'take care' and the Tagalog ingat. When somebody tells you cuidao, it is expected of you to say cuidao tambien (tamen) or tu tambien.

1 comment:

  1. Loco man tu... :-)
    no hay gat sabor....

    habla kita "¡Loco VOS! :-P hmmm.... clavao gayot na corazon.... y asegurao, sentimiento de gatito gayot.... neyajajajajaja