Wednesday, 6 April 2011


by Earlie Doriman
Many Filipinos learn the English language as early as when they learn to speak a single word. We learn to say words like dog, cat, moon, even before we understand what these words really mean. We even know how to say ‘apple’ and not bothered how it looked like and whether or not we grow them in our farm. English is not strange to us at least, and it doesn’t matter if we become at times too literal in translating Filipino terms to its English equivalent, as long as we are able to convey ourselves in this crazy language, that’s quite an achievement.

When the Spaniards sold the Philippine islands to the Americans during the early 1900’s, English was introduced and in fact enforced to be the official language spoken in the entire archipelago. There began the familiarity of Filipinos to the language of the ‘whites’, and eventually some learned to become good speakers and writers of it. Most of the daily newspapers in the Philippines nowadays are written in English, the constitution is in English, medium of instruction in schools is English, and business correspondence is English, amongst others. Practically, we hear English everyday.

I am not really confident with my English skills, I maybe able to write fairly well, but to speak the language is not simple for me. It appears these two faculties do not go along at the same wavelength. I honestly find writing easier because I own my time and I can chose a topic that suits my leaning. On the other hand, speaking requires quickness of thoughts and tongue that deliver phrases using appropriate terms.

We learned English in schools the American way, which is relatively dissimilar from the British English. They modestly differ at essential features, like pronunciation, accent, vocabulary, some tenses of verb, prepositions, and spelling and British people could discriminate American English straightforwardly. Living in England would mean to live their way of life and to speak their language. But in view of the distinctions between the two popular English languages, it would undoubtedly affect my desire to converse or maybe my confidence to speak before a British person.

There were many instances where I was not understood right away because of the terms that I used. You need to find another word to get across the conversation. It’s not very difficult though, but at some point you would feel unintelligent and doubt if you were good enough to carry a level-headed discussion. Consider these examples to figure out how important it is to know some mind teasers of American against British English.

In American English the word ‘mean’ denotes ‘angry or bad humoured’, while in British English, it would mean ‘not generous’

Words like ‘labor, color, and favor’ in American English are spelled in British English as ‘labour, colour, and favour’ respectively.

‘Rubber’ in British, is an eraser to a pencil markings while it means ‘condom’ in American English. When you say ‘hood’ in American English that means ‘bonnet’ in British English. ‘Truck’ in American is ‘lorry’ in British. Words ending in ‘ize’ in American English, ends with ‘ise’ in British English, like recognize – recognise, patronize – patronise, organize – organise.

These are just few of the differences that could definitely affect both the faculties of speaking and writing in English when you are in front of an American or before a British.


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