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OFW, ‘trapo’, ‘bongga’, listed in Oxford English Dictionary’s latest edition


By Roy Mabasa

Philippine originated words like OFW (overseas Filipino worker), trapo (‘a politician perceived as belonging to a conventional and corrupt ruling class) and bongga (extravagant, flamboyant; impressive, stylish) were just some of the new additions to the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

These new Filipino contributions were unveiled in an event hosted by Sentro Rizal on June 14 at the Philippine Embassy in London in celebration of the uniqueness and creativity of Philippine English, as seen through the lens of the OED.

OED representatives led the presentation of its latest and current edition containing a large number of words and senses from emerging varieties of English from across the globe, one of which is Philippine English.

The OED’s third edition also sees the inclusion of several words originating in the Philippines and new senses of existing English words like gimmick (meaning a night out with friends) and viand (a meat, seafood, or vegetable dish that accompanies rice in a typical Filipino meal).

Likewise added in the OED are loanwords from Filipino like halo-halo (a dessert made of mixed fruits, sweet beans, milk, and shaved ice), and kilig (exhilaration or elation caused by an exciting or romantic experience), from Chinese, like pancit (‘noodles’), and from Spanish, like pan de sal (‘a bread roll’) and despedida (‘a going-away party’); and formations in English that are only used in the Philippines, like kikay kit (‘a cosmetics case’) and comfort room (‘a toilet’).

“The OED is pleased to have this opportunity to collaborate with Sentro Rizal and to present its work on Philippine English to a Filipino audience in London,’ said Dr. Danica Salazar, the dictionary’s World English Editor.

She added that OED is “committed to making space for words from the Philippines, as by doing so, we recognize how its Filipino speakers contribute to the richness and diversity of English.”

Former OED chief editor John Simpson spoke about how Philippine vocabulary has been covered by earlier editions of the OED while Dr. Salazar talked about more recent Philippine additions.

Also participating in the event was Dr. Ariane Borlongan of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, editor of a handbook on Philippine English soon to be published by Routledge, shared his thoughts on the current state of Philippine English research.

“Filipinos have enriched the English vocabulary since the language was first introduced to the country on a wide scale at the turn of the 19th century. Since then, Filipinos have not only contributed new words but have also expanded the meanings of existing ones,” Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo said in a statement, adding that the Embassy through Sentro Rizal London is proud to work with OED in sharing how Philippine English has evolved over the years.

The Oxford English Dictionary is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, featuring 600000 words, three million quotations, and over 1000 years of English.

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