Home » Opinion » Editorial » ‘Bayanihan’ in the English language

‘Bayanihan’ in the English language

A MOST welcome respite from the daily fare of news reports on drug killings, Senate exposes, foreign policy debates, and typhoon destruction was last week’s report that the Filipino language has made new contributions to the English language, increasingly the dominant lingua franca in the world today.

At least 14 Filipino words have been added in the September 2016 issue of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) which has been faithfully recording the growth of the English language since it was first published in 1884.

Six of the new Filipino contributions are delicacies – “lechon,” “pansit,” “puto,” “kare-kare,” “leche flan,” and “balut” – a testament to the growing world recognition of these dishes, spread in large part by our greatly increasing number of tourist visitors.

Certainly one big factor is the unabated spread of Filipino people themselves around the world so that they are found today in every corner of our planet where they live and work as doctors, teachers, engineers, seamen, domestic helpers, construction works, etc. and have come to be known to us as OFWs – overseas Filipino workers.

They have naturally brought with them their food – their “adobo,” their “sinigang,” and their “halo-halo.” They have brought with them their clothes – their “barong” and their “baro’t saya” – even if these get to be worn only at special Filipino community affairs. And they have brought with them their culture as Filipinos who use tactful euphemisms to camouflage some harsh realities – like “comfort room” where other people just say toilet.

These Filipino words in quotes are among the many which have now been added to the venerable English language of Shakespeare. After that first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary published in 1884, a second edition came out in 1989. English spread by leaps and bounds in the wake of the two world wars when American speech as spoken by millions of American soldiers enriched the language.

Periodic additions are now made on OED and work on a third edition is now underway and it is said to be about a third of the way complete. The 59 million words in the second edition continue to increase every day and the venerable OED recognizes our own contributions with our own Filipino words – not only with our food words, of which we are justly proud, but also with our “balikbayan,” our “barangay,” our “mabuhay,” and our ”bayanihan” which distinguish as Filipinos.