Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sorry We’re Close

I always see signs on shops around town that say, “Sorry We’re Close.” Sigh. What is that? Sorry we’re close to what— close to me, close to you, close to death? If I had a permanent marker with me every time I went to town and there were no police in sight, I wouldn’t hesitate to put a “d” at the end of each of these grammatically offensive signs. Yes, my dear shop owners, the sign should read, “Sorry We’re Closed,” and “Keep the Door Closed.”

The above phrases are not the only examples of a different kind of English that a lot of Filipinos are very fond of using. I don’t claim to be an expert and neither do I wish to criticize. I do think though that it is about time that we stop abusing some poor helpless, defenseless words.

1.) I can’t report for work today. I’m suffering from overfatigue.

Yup, we have heard a lot of people say that their momentary lapse in energy, common sense and moral judgment is the result of overfatigue. One of my favorite writers, Conrad De Quiros once wrote about this word in his newspaper column. According to De Quiros, “overfatigue” is a Filipinism (something coined by Filipinos). Well, I’m sorry to say that the word will not soon find its way into the dictionary because there is no such word. In fact, try typing it on a word document and it will definitely color red.

The worst kind of tiredness that you can ever feel is called fatigue and anything that is “over” that would probably be death. Next time you’re too lazy to report for work, tell your boss you suffered from fatigue only. More than that and he might have to prepare a funeral wreath.

2.) Come see our collection of jewelries.

One big mall in our city has a sign that says, “Jewelries For Sale.” Since the sign is made of foam, I promise to one day steal the last three letters. You cannot make “jewelry” plural by adding “ies” to it. The plural form of the word is the same as the singular.

3.) Let me offer you some advices about your furnitures and equipments.

Three words are incorrectly used in the sentence. You cannot give a lot of advice on lots of furniture and equipment by putting an “s” at the end of each word. You can use the phrase “pieces of” before each of the three words to make the words plural.

4.) Do you have a cellphone?

Okay, so even Americans use this word but the proper term for the device is “mobile phone.” My engineer husband says the term “cell” actually refers to the cell site.

5.) Let’s eat barbecue.

In the Philippines “barbecue” means meat on a stick. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Americans use the term to mean a gathering at some open space where they cook meat on a grill.

By the way, some linguistic experts claim that there is now a growing acceptance for Filipinisms or words used in the Philippine context and that they should not automatically be regarded as incorrect. The English language is not solely owned by any one country and any country or nation using it may perhaps reasonably contribute to it.

The problem though is determining when something is an acceptable Filipinism and when it is simply wrong. Perhaps "overfatigue" and the use of "barbecue" in the Philippine context may soon become internationally acceptable but I doubt if "jewelries" and "furnitures" will ever be seen as correct.


  1. Dear Grace :

    You write pretty well & your command of English is good too. Are you going to correct my English too? ;)

    Healthy Oral Sex

  2. haha. no sally. i am not perfect myself and i have my own errors. :) thanks for dropping by

  3. well im not good in english thats why our thesis doc got a lot of comments from our panels...kaya nga idol kita eh, galing u magsulat in english medium!

  4. hehe. thanks bunso. don't worry. malalagpasan mo rin yan. :)

  5. I found your site because I was looking for Filipinism. I totally agree with what you have posted. I want to add the word "batch" in to your list.

    Schools would always say... Graduating Batch of... when it should be graduating class of.

    batch is a term used for paper clips and the likes not people though. when you have a group of people then it is a class... :D

  6. thank you for dropping by anonymous. yes, that's a good addition. not many people know that :)


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