Origins of the Chabacano Tormenta

According to the DRAE (Spanish dictionary), the word tormentar (same as atormentar) means 'to torment' or 'to plague'. In his Chabacano dictionary, Camins’ defines the verb tormenta as to suffer much. Santos’ Chabacano dictionary meanwhile defines this word as 'to torment', 'to torture', and 'to have a hard time'.

In my opinion, Santos’ dictionary is more contemporary and updated than that of Camins’ because in modern Chabacano, the word tormenta is largely used to mean to have a hard time or to experience difficulty in doing something. This usage though may be colloquial and might be considered incorrect if you ask old Chabacano speakers. To most young Chabacano speakers though, this meaning of tormenta is the only one they would know. The rest of the meanings of tormenta (to suffer much, to torment, and to torture) would likely be unknown to them.

Here are sentences using the word tormenta (using the definition 'to have difficulty in doing something'):

Chabacano: Ta tormenta yo levanta cada sabado y domingo.
English: I have a hard time getting up on weekends.

Chabacano: Ya tormenta ba tu busca el de amon casa?
English: Was it difficult finding our house?

If you noticed, you could also substitute the word tormenta in both sentences above for the Chabacano word dificil. In the context used above, you will be able to use either tormenta or dificil no matter what sentence you construct. Don’t forget though that you will have to place man after the words ta and ya when using the word dificil instead of tormenta. This is because tormenta is a verb while dificil is an adjective turned into a verb. For more on this, click here.

Another word that is connected to tormenta is the Chabacano tormento. Camins defines the noun tormento as sufferings and difficulties. Santos meanwhile curiously does not list this word in his dictionary. I am not sure if there are still people who use this word as a noun (we’ll have to ask old people who speak Chabacano). Presently though, (as far as I know) this word is used as an adjective similar to the word dificil.

Here are some sentences using the word tormento.

Chabacano: Tormento man gayod este exam!
English: This exam is so difficult.

Chabacano:  Bien tormento saca taxi si rush hour.
English: It is so difficult to get a taxi during rush hour.

You can also substitute the word tormento for the word dificil in the sentences above without changing its meaning.