LOOKING IN: A dialect soon to be extinct PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:48

BY ROD BALBON

 

 

If there’s anything that makes me proud to be a Zamboangueño is its dialect. Basically Spanish, with an admixture Portuguese and Malay languages, Chavacano, compared to the other dialects in various regions in the country, is unique, classy, and pleasing to the ears. It is the lingua franca in Zamboanga City and Isabela City, Basilan.

Some local historians relate that this dialect was brought here by Spanish soldiers from their naval base in Cavite. Unfortunately, after several centuries, the Tagalog dialect became the province’s dominant medium of communication that eventually led to the demise of Chavacano in Cavite.

Knowing the dialect is a great advantage, especially for those who travel and study in Europe or in the USA. It helps you to easily understand and grasp the meaning of foreign signages, instructions, directions, and food menus because of their familiarity to the dialect. Speaking the dialect also loosens our tongue and makes it easy for us to learn and speak foreign languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, and Bahasa compared to the Bisayans, Tagalogs, Ilocanos, or Kapampangans. Modesty aside, during my college days in Manila, nobody beats me in my Spanish and French classes.

But as the years go by, I’m greatly alarmed at the manner by which our beautiful dialect is being bastardized by the younger generation. Instead of preserving it by speaking it the way it was being spoken centuries ago, they now use and mix it with some Bisayan, English, or alien words when talking to each other. “Donde ikaw anda?”; “Where man you?”; “Tiene con ikaw ta busca.”  Very awful and lamentable.

Added to this threatening scenario, salesgirls, waiters and waitresses, and cashiers in almost all department stores, groceries, pharmacies, restaurants, and bars speak to you in Tagalog, Bisaya, or Tausog dialects.Unless serious efforts are exerted to preserve the Chavacano dialect, it won’t be long when it will become extinct.

Several years ago, I‘ve heard that a group from the academe was formed for the purpose of reviving and preserving the dialect but nothing has been heard of it. But in our own little way, we can help preserve it by telling those misguided souls and out-of-towners to learn and speak it correctly.

Last Tuesday night, while taking beers and having a casual talk with a friend in a cool and cozy resto bar in the city, I heard a customer in one table loudly complaining to the owner of the establishment why the waiter serving them was talking in Tagalog. He was with three visiting engineers from Manila and was somewhat embarrassed when his guests jokingly asked him why the waiters here speak Tagalog instead of Chavacano. We’re in Zamboanga City and not in Manila, they said.

I’m sure that customer, a true Zamboangueño, was not only embarrassed but was also very mad. Just like me, I too get mad hearing people bastardizing and making a mockery of our King’s dialect. But I just keep it to myself.

MISCELLANEOUS: The National Geographic Channel reported that the “Bermuda Triangle” is now found in the Philippines. It is located between the areas of Malacañang, the Senate, and House of Representatives where multibillions pesos of government money were miraculously siphoned and got lost.