Philippine English (similar and related to American English) is any variety of English native to the Philippines, including those used by the media and the vast majority of educated Filipinos. English is taught in schools as one of the two official languages of the country, the other being Filipino (Tagalog). Due to the highly multilingual nature of the Philippines, code-switching such as Taglish (Tagalog-infused English) and Bislish (English infused with any of the Bisayan languages) is prevalent across domains from casual settings to formal situations.


Filipinos were first introduced to English when the British invaded Manila and Cavite in 1762, but this occupation had no lasting effect on English in the country. A national variety called Philippine English evolved eventually, as a result of the American colonization, and was arguably one of the fastest to develop in the postcolonial world. Its origins as an English language spoken by a large segment of the Philippine population can be traced to the American introduction of public education, taught in the English medium of instruction. This was marked by the arrival of the Thomasites in 1901, immediately during re-colonization after the Philippine Revolution in the late 19th century up to the early 1900. After a tumultuous period of colonial transition, Filipino leaders and elites, and the American colonial government alike begun discussing the formation of a Philippine national language. The retained high ethnolinguistic diversity of the new colony was due to low penetration of Spanish under Spain's rule. Spanish was limited to a medium of instruction for the landed elites and gentry. At the end of Spanish colonization, only 3-5% of the colonial population could speak Spanish. The lingering effects of Spanish amongst the general population nevertheless had notable effects on the lexical development of many Philippine languages, and even Philippine English, in the form of hispanisms. Tagalog was selected to be the basis for a national language in 1937, and has since remained so. It was re-labelled as ''Pilipino'' in 1959, and ''Filipino'' in 1987. With the successful establishment of American-style public education having English as a consequential medium, more than 20% of the Philippine population were reported to be able to understand and speak English just before the turn of mid-20th century. This meteoric growth was sustained post-World War II, much further through Philippine mass media (e.g. newsprint, radio, television) where English also became the dominant language, and by the ratification into the current Philippine Constitution in 1987, both Filipino and English were declared co-official languages. Today a certain Philippine English, as formally called based on the World Englishes framework of renowned linguist Braj Kachru, is a recognized variety of English with its distinct lexical, phonological, and grammatical features (with considerable variations across socioeconomic groups and level of education being predictors of English proficiency in the Philippines). As English language became highly embedded in Philippine society, it was only a matter of time before the language was indigenized to the point that it became differentiated from English varieties found in the United States, United Kingdom, or elsewhere. This, along with the formal introduction of the World Englishes (WE) framework to English language scholars in the Philippines opened the floodgates to research on this new emerging English, which has since been branded as such as Philippine English.

Philippine English in the services sector

The abundant supply of English speakers and competitive labor costs have enabled the Philippines to become a choice destination for foreign companies wishing to establish call centers and other outsourcing. English proficiency sustains a major call center industry and in 2005, America Online had 1,000 people in what used to be the US Air Force's Clark Air Base in Angeles City answering ninety percent of their global e-mail inquiries. Citibank does its global ATM programming in the country, and Procter & Gamble has over 400 employees in Makati, a central Manila neighborhood, doing back office work for their Asian operations including finance, accounting, Human Resources and payments processing. An influx of foreign students, principally from South Korea, has also led to growth in the number of English language learning centers, especially in Metro Manila, Baguio, Metro Cebu and Metro Bacolod.

Orthography and grammar

Philippine laws and court decisions, with extremely rare exceptions, are written solely in English. English is also used in higher education, religious affairs, print and broadcast media, and business. Most educated Filipinos are bilinguals and speak English as one of their languages. For highly technical subjects such as nursing, medicine, computing and calculus, English is the preferred medium for textbooks, communication, etc. Very few would prefer highly technical books in either Filipino or the regional language. Movies and TV shows in English are usually not dubbed in most cable channels except a few such as Tagalized Movie Channel. Because English is part of the curricula from primary to secondary education, many Filipinos write and speak in fluent Philippine English, although there might be differences in pronunciation. Most schools in the Philippines, however, are staffed by teachers who are speakers of Philippine English and hence notable differences from the American English from which it was derived are observable. Philippine English traditionally follows American English spelling and grammar (with little to no similarity to Commonwealth English) except when it comes to punctuation as well as date notations. For example, a comma almost never precedes the final item in an enumeration (much like the ''AP Stylebook'' and other style guides in English-language journalism generally). Except for some very fluent speakers (like news anchors), even in English-language media, dates are also often read with a cardinal instead of an ordinal number (e.g. "January one" rather than "January first" or "January the first") even if the written form is the same. This is mostly because educated Filipinos were taught to count English numbers cardinally, thus it carried over to their style of reading dates. In reading the day-month-year date notation used by some areas in the government (e.g. 1 January), it may be pronounced as "one January" rather than "the first of January" or rearranged to the month-first reading "January one". Foreign nationals of Filipino descent, however, may have continued to read dates in English based on the conventions of their birth countries. Tautologies like redundancy and pleonasm are common despite the emphasis on avoiding them, stressing brevity and simplicity in making sentences; they are common to many speakers, especially among the older generations. The possible explanation is that the English language teachers who came to the Philippines were taught old-fashioned grammar, thus they spread that style to the students they served. Examples are "At this point in time" and ".. will be the one ..." (or "... will be the one who will ...") instead of "now" and "... will ..." respectively - e.g., "I will be the one who will go ...", rather than "I will go ...".Examples: Citing ''Cebu Daily News'', "So if they see policemen about to conduct a security survey, they should ask me first because I will be the one who will know about it. They will have to talk to me,", ; "If I will be the one who will talk and explain, that will be self-serving," ; "Whoever wins on the issue of secret balloting will be the one who will win the speakership,", . Levels of primary pupils and secondary students are usually referred to as ''grade one'', ''grade two'', and so on, similar to Canadian English, rather than American ''first grade'', ''second grade'', etc.


As a historical colony of the United States, the Philippine English lexicon shares most of its vocabulary from American English, but also has loanwords from native languages and Spanish, as well as some usages, coinages, and slang peculiar to the Philippines. Due to the influence of the Spanish languages, Philippine English also contains Spanish-derived terms, including Anglicizations, some resulting in false friends, such as "salvage". Philippine English also borrowed words from Philippine languages, especially native plant and animal names (e.g. "ampalaya", balimbing"), and cultural concepts with no exact English equivalents (e.g. kilig); some borrowings from Philippine languages have entered mainstream English, such as abaca and ylang-ylang. Some terms are only used in some regions. Examples are ''bringhouse'' (bringing food home from fiestas), which is only used in the Visayas, and ''haggard'' (police on motorcycles), which is used only in Visayas and Mindanao.

Words with meanings differing from standard English

Words, expressions, or usages peculiar to Philippine English


Abbreviations are often punctuated in Philippine English when they are usually not, and some abbreviations are unique to Philippine usage.


Philippine English is a rhotic accent mainly due to the influence of Philippine languages, which are the first language of most of its speakers. Another influence is the rhotic characteristic of General American English, which became the longstanding standard in the archipelago since Americans introduced the language in public education. This is contrary to most Commonwealth English variants spoken in neighboring countries such as Malaysia or Singapore. The only exception to this rule is the word ''Marlboro'', which is frequently read as ''Malboro''. Therefore, phonemes are pronounced in all positions. However, some children of Overseas Filipinos who are educated in Commonwealth countries (such as Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom) may speak in a non-rhotic accent unless taught otherwise. Native and well-educated speakers (also called acrolectal speakers) may also feature flapping and vowel sounds resembling the California vowel shift due to the influence of Hollywood movies and call center culture mostly pegged towards the American market. For non-native speakers, Philippine English phonological features are heavily dependent on the speaker's mother tongue, although foreign languages such as Spanish also influenced many Filipinos on the way of pronouncing English words. This is why approximations are very common and so are hypercorrections and hyperforeignisms. The most distinguishable feature is the lack of fricative consonants, particularly , and . Another feature is the general absence of the schwa , and therefore pronounced by its respective full equivalent vowel although the r-colored variant is increasingly popular in recent years.


The following consonant changes apply for most non-native speakers of the language: *The rhotic consonant may vary between a trill , a flap and an approximant . The English approximant is pronounced by many speakers in the final letters of the word or before consonants, while the standard dialect prefers to pronounce the approximant in all positions of . *The fricatives and are approximated into the stop consonants and , respectively. *Th-stopping: The dental fricatives and become the alveolar stop consonants and , respectively. This can be also observed from speakers of Hiberno-English dialects and a number of American English speakers. Thus, ''Anthony'' is pronounced with a T like in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Conversely, ''Thomas'' and ''Thai(land)'' are often pronounced with a hyperforeign . *Yod-coalescence: Like most Commonwealth English variants outside Canada and sometimes in Irish English, the , and clusters become , and respectively. This makes the words ''dew'', ''tune'' and ''pharmaceutical'' are pronounced as , and , respectively. Yod-coalescence also occurs in some other words where other English variants either resist it or do not call for it, e.g. ''calcium'' and ''Celsius'' are respectively and . For these reasons, the use of yod-coalescence is another case of approximation for aspirated consonants which Philippine languages lack in general in words such as ''twelve''. *Yod-retention is usually practiced selectively, similar to the historical mid-Atlantic accent in the U.S., Irish or British and Commonwealth English, and to a lesser extent, some speakers of English in Canada, in certain words such as ''new(s)'' but not ''student''. For that reason, ''maneuver'' is mainly pronounced also with a yod, somewhat in a hyperforeign manner, whereas all other accents drop it intrisically. However, yod-dropping is often common due to influence of modern General American. The yod as retained in many words is sometimes coalesced; see "Yod-coalescence" above. *The fricative may be devoiced into in words such as ''measure'' or affricated into in words such as ''beige''. *The phoneme is devoiced into an . This also includes intervocalic which is usually pronounced as a in most other accents of English. *Older speakers tend to add an ''i'' or ''e'' sound to the clusters ''sl'', ''sm'', ''sn'', ''sp'' and ''st-'' due to Spanish influence, so the words ''star'' and ''lipstick'' sounds like ''(i/e)star'' and ''lipistick'' respectively. *Like most non-native speakers of English elsewhere, the "dark ''l''" () is merged into the usual "light" equivalent. *The compound is pronounced as a palatal lateral approximant in between vowels (e.g. ''gorilla''), especially to those who were exposed to Spanish orthography. This is negligible among younger well-educated speakers. *The letter "z" is usually pronounced (and sometimes spelled) as a "zey" like in Jamaican English. However, in standard Philippine English, it is pronounced as the American "zee".


Vowels in Philippine English are pronounced according to the letter representing each, so that are generally pronounced as , respectively. The schwa —although a phonological feature across numerous Philippine languages such as Kinaray-a, Meranao, or the ''Abagatan'' (Southern) dialect of Ilokano—is absent. *The following are the various approximations of the schwa: **Words that end in ''-le'' that succeeds a consonant (such as ''Google'') are generally pronounced with an , except for words that end ''-ple'', ''-fle'' or ''-ble'' (''apple'', ''waffle'' and ''humble''), which are pronounced with an . **The in words such as ''knowledge'' or ''college'', it is pronounced as a diphthong , making it rhyme with ''age''. **The rhotic vowels and may be pronounced as an (command''er''), (c''ir''cle) or an (doct''or''), usually by non-native speakers outside urban areas or the elderly. *The pronunciations are pronounced as central vowels and . In the standard dialect, the open front may be pronounced as an allophone of . **The first in some words such as ''patronage'', ''patriot(ic/ism)'', ''(ex/re)patriate(d/s)'', and ''(ex/re)patriation'' usually have the sound of either , like in British/non-Canadian Commonwealth or Irish English, or sometimes , rather than in the United States and Canada. *The phoneme may be merged or replaced by the longer for some speakers. The words ''peel'' and ''pill'' might sound the same, mostly like in Australian English. *The may be enunciated as an (''color'' or even ''tomorrow'', ''sorry'', ''sorrow'', etc. like in Canada) or an (''not''). *The ''u'' sound from the digraph ''qu'' may be dropped before ''e'' and ''i'' in some words such as ''tranquilize(r)'' and ''colloquial''. *The in namely ''couple'' and ''double'' may also be enunciated as an or, rarely, as an . *The in namely ''culture'' and ''ultimate'' is sometimes enunciated as an , partly similar to accents in England and Wales without the ''foot–strut'' split.


* Distinct non-native emphasis or stress is common. For example, the words ''ceremony'' and ''Arabic'' are emphasized on the second syllable (as and respectively) as another result of indirect Spanish influence.


Many Filipinos often have distinct non-native English pronunciation, and many fall under different ''lectal'' variations (i.e. basilectal, mesolectal, acrolectal). Some Philippine languages (e.g. Ibanag, Itawis, Surigaonon, Tausug) feature certain unique phonemes such as , , , and , which are also present in English. However, Filipinos' first languages have generally different phonological repertoires (if not more simplified compared to English), and this leads to mis- or distinct pronunciations particularly among basilectal and to some extent mesolectal speakers. Some examples of non-native pronunciation include: *Awry = *Filipino = *Victor = *Family = or *Varnish = *Fun = or *Vehicle = or *Lover = *Find = *Official = or *Very = or *Guidon = *Hamburger = *High-tech = *Hubcap = *Margarine = *Seattle = *Shako = or *Daniel/Danielle = or *February = or *Eunice = *Janice = *January = *Ombudsman = *Rachel/Rachelle = *Stephen, Stephen- in ''Stephens'', ''Stephenson'' = or *Special (some speakers) = or ; rhymes with ''spatial'' *Twenty- (one, two, etc.) (many speakers) = *-ator in some words like ''predator'' = (by analogy with ''-ate'') *-mentary (e.g. elementary) = (hyperforeignism, from ''-mentaria''/''-mentarya'') **Note on "Stephen" and its derivatives: The ''ph'' digraph has an F sound rather than a V, even among most speakers of standard Philippine English; i.e. irregularly spelled names like these are pronounced intuitively or according to spelling rather than like "Steven".

See also

* International English * English as a second or foreign language * Formal written English * List of dialects of the English language * List of English words of Philippine origin * Regional accents of English speakers * Special English * Philippine literature in English * List of loanwords in Tagalog * Englog (Konyo English), English-Tagalog code-switching based on English * Taglish, Tagalog-English codeswitching based on Tagalog * Hokaglish, Hokkien-Tagalog-English contact language in the Philippines


Further reading

* Acar, A.
Models, Norms and Goals for English as an International Language Pedagogy and Task Based Language Teaching and Learning."
''The Asian EFL Journal'', Volume 8. Issue 3, Article 9, (2006). * Manarpaac, Danilo
''"When I was a child I spoke as a child": Reflecting on the Limits of a Nationalist Language Policy''
In: Christian Mair.
The politics of English as a world language: new horizons in postcolonial cultural studies
'. Rodopi; 2003 ited 18 February 2011 . p. 479–492. * Lerner, Ted. ''Hey, Joe, a slice of the city - an American in Manila''. Book of Dreams: Verlag, Germany. 1999. *

External links

The Language Planning Situation in the Philippines
by Andrew Gonzalez, FSC, with sections on Philippine English

by Tom McArthur.
American or Philippine English? (video)
{{English dialects by continent * Category:English language Category:Dialects of English