Sunday, April 23, 2006

Why I Think I'm Still in the Philippines #2

[If you missed it, Why I Think I'm Still in the Philippines #1 is here.]

5. In the Philippines, complex archipelago of 7,000-plus islands, we have 13 major languages. One of them is Kapampangan, whose most famous characteristic, at least to non-speakers, is its lack of the phoneme "h." When my parents Gerry and Priscilla met my then-boyfriend Pierre, and for the first time for real were exposed to a Franchophone accent, they began to wonder if maybe people go "Me keni" beyond Central Luzon.

One of their conversations was about a trip to Europe my parents planned to take. "You can go to Olland, and stay in a otel." Pierre offered. Priscilla looked at him, raised an eyebrow, puffed on her eternal cigarette, then looked at me and mouthed, "Saan daw?" ("Where, did he say?").

Soon enough they were discussing France, where my parents of course had to visit Pierre's village. My urbanite mom worried. "You live in the country, maybe there will be many snakes?" Pierre assured her, "Don't worry, they are armless." Priscilla again raised an eyebrow.

She replied, "Of course, snakes crawl, diba?" The Frenchman tried again. "Armless... armless... you know..." Not at all being the supportive girlfriend, I clipped my arms to my sides and began to wiggle my trunk left and right. "Armless like this, honey?" I asked. Flustered, Pierre managed to blurt out, "Armless! The snakes are armless. They have no poison!" And of course, despite his guffaws, my dad just had to ask, "Are you sure you're not Filipino? You're speaking Kapampangan eh."

Epilogue: Sufficiently traumatized, Pierre now adds an "h" to any and all English words he has to speak that begins with the letter "a," so that, for example, the crevice under the arm he calls "harmpit." (Not so off the mark, when he hasn't showered for a couple of days.) Meanwhile, my parents still have doubts, wondering if their youngest daughter really isn't just married to a local guy and living somewhere in Pampanga or Nueva Ecija.

8 comments:

tommpouce said...

And one more traumatized french :P I do that when I'm stressed, either cutting h off or adding some...
I recommend Olland, great country, especially during the tulips season!! Very nice people, very friendly :D I plan to spend a few days there anytime soon actually :)

mcsister said...

Hahaha! Being half-Kapampangan, I can relate. I remember how my mom, who's from Pampanga, was asking the tindera in Nepo Mart in Angeles for "anghers". She meant hangers. Still with an "h" but misplaced.

Anonymous said...

LOOOOOOL!
Kala

Misis14 said...

Funny! My FrenchCharming speaks English the same thing. :-)

apol said...

TOM, MAYA, KALA, MISIS14, here's a new one. Yesterday I came in from gardening and told Pierre, "I really love all this digging and planting. God I'm old, aren't I?" "No," he replied, "it is a very good O.B." I looked at him. "O.B." he repeated. I looked at him some more. "I don't mean the brand of tampon," he deadpanned. "Oh," I finally got it. "Hobby."

Misis14 said...

another classic from my FrenchCharming...in the middle of an argument, he emphasized 'I am your my husband (spoken minus the H sound)' to raise a point. i couldn't agree more..:-)

shawicortez said...

this is such a ilarious post! i had to keep myself from falling off the chair!

never thought france would have those too!

--ANA-- said...

Hey there! I can surely relate to this post .. mon fiance is French .. he sorts of leaves out the "H" on some words .. but i find it SOOOO cute!!!