Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Monday, March 21, 2005

...Have you any wool?

Language is fascinating. I often find myself wondering how people came up with words; how we agreed that red was red and table was table (in our respective languages, of course!).

Tagalog, the dominant language of the Philippines, from which Pilipino, the national language is largely derived, is a particularly onomatopoeic language. Among its peculiarities is the pronunciation of 'ts' as 'ch'. So for example, 'tsinelas' is pronounced 'chee-neh-las' which means sandals. Or the popular spit-roast pig fiesta dish is called 'Litson', pronounced as 'Lit-chon'. Chinese people living in the Philippines are called Tsinoy... you guessed it, 'Chinoy'.

The other unusual thing for me was to see masses of vowels strung together and to have to pronounce each vowel separately. I know languages like Latin have this too but it is unusual when two or more of the same vowels are together and for one not to elide them.

'Yes' in Pilipino is 'Oo' and is not meant to sound like a gasp of awe but rather a staccato 'Oh-oh' (... you're in trouble!!?) Another one is 'Maaari' which basically means 'May I'. Each vowel is distinctly enunciated even if in quick staccatos...

Finally, a sentence that causes me no end of amusement: "Bababa ba?" which translates into 'Are you going down?". If one asked that of the lift operator in a mall, he could simply respond "Bababa!" and by the accent and inflexion of his voice indicate that he is taking the elevator down...

And all along, I thought the next line was "... have you any wool?"


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