George Bernard Shaw has been widely quoted as having said “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” The quote has also been attributed to Oscar Wilde, but it is more widely attributed to Shaw.
I don’t know if you could really say that English is a common language between England, the USA and also the Philippines. English is indeed one of the Official Languages of the Philippines, but is not the most commonly used language in any part of the country. English is very widely used for things like Court Records, Government Documents and Business Documents. But, the general public does not go around speaking English to each other in most cases.
If you could argue, though, that English is a common language here, and is common with other English speaking countries, it could definitely be said that the Philippines is “separated” from the other countries by this common language. I don’t think that there could be any doubt. English is just used differently here than what we native English speakers are used to.
Yes, there are differences in the language between the USA and Great Britain. Just as there are between every other English speaking country… Canada, Australia, New Zealand and on and on.. English is spoken a bit differently in each of the countries that share the language.
But, in the Philippines it goes to a completely new level, in my view.
Now, let me say, I don’t write this article in any way disparaging Filipinos for their English skills. No, not at all. One time I wrote an article similar to this and a close friend of mine told me that I should not write so negatively about Filipinos. But, I did not feel it was negative. It is just a matter that I am pointing out that they use English in a different way. No different than Americans using English a bit differently than the Brits do, or the Australians, Canadians and so on. Nothing wrong with that, it is just different.
A week or two ago, I was down in General Santos City and went and visited Feyma’s sister. We were talking about something, and Sally mentioned “Last the other day,” and it all flooded back to me.
In the United States, if we are talking about something in the recent past, we might refer to:
- Yesterday: happened the day preceding today.
- The day before yesterday: it happened 2 days ago.
- The other day: happened several days ago, but “the other day” does not denote any specific day, just within the past week or so.
In the Philippines, at least in this part of the Philippines where I live, they say it a bit different:
- Yesterday: Same usage as in USA
- The other day: what we would say at the “day before yesterday”
- Last the other day: Two days ago.
I find the saying “last the other day” kind of cute… but it is most certainly different, don’t you think?
I was thinking this over last the other day, in fact! LOL