How to Deal with Filipinisms

By Abigail Mier | Sep 06, 2015


Ever heard of the word Filipinism? Even if you haven’t, chances are that you’ve said a few phrases or words that can be considered a form of Filipinism. This refers to English words or phrases that are poor translations of common Tagalog expressions. Here are a few examples and what they mean:

Hold your line – You’re talking to someone over the phone, and you want to put him or her on hold.
Open or close (an appliance) – You basically want to turn it on or off.
Come again? – You want someone to repeat what he or she said because you didn’t understand it the first time.

What to say instead

For us Filipinos, these phrases don’t sound weird. But for native English speakers, they might not understand you when you say these phrases. Instead of saying the phrases above, here are the correct translations:

Hold your line – Can I put you on hold?
Open or close (an appliance) – Turn it on or off. Or, switch it on or off.
Come again? – Could you repeat what you said?/ Could you say that again?

Because these Filipinisms are commonly used in casual conversation and have become part of our English-speaking habit, it’s kind of hard to get rid of them even if you’re talking to a native English-speaking customer, boss, or client. To prevent miscommunication especially at work, you need to recognize Filipinisms and learn how to correct them.

Practice makes perfect


What better way to improve your English speaking skills than to keep on practicing? Learning a language requires you to frequently speak it in order to master grammar and pronunciation. This is especially important if you have English-speaking co-workers, clients, or customers. Undergoing basic training is also a good idea if you really need to work on your Filipinisms. Reading books and watching movies in English are also effective tips to expose yourself to proper English phrases and words. With improved English-speaking skills, you’re sure to make a good impression during a job interview and communicate better with co-workers, your boss, and customers over the phone.

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