Due to the influence of the UK and the USA, the English language has spread all over the world, including the Philippines. In the Philippines, the English language first came here due to the 19th century British and American trading houses (which is why Andres Bonifacio knew English, since he was a worker for a British trading company). However, it became part of our culture due to the American system of public education. As a result, we Filipinos ended up developing our own variety of English. So, what sets Philippine English apart?

Philippine English is based on American English

American English is the basis for Philippine English

Even though British English and American English arrived in the Philippines at the same time, American English became the basis of Philippine English for the Philippine Islands was an American colony. Due to this, the grammatical rules of Philippine English follow those of American English.

But, Philippine English Also Has Plenty of Spanish Terms

A lot of words in Philippine English came from Spanish

What sets Philippine English apart from American English is that it also has many terms that came from the Spanish language, especially its Philippine dialect. Some of these terms include legal terminologies like estafa (fraud), and reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment). Other terms that came from Philippine Spanish are salvage (from Spanish salvaje) , which means killing, and fiscal (prosecutor). These words are a legacy of 333 years of Spanish colonization, and they must have entered into Philippine English because the Americans retained Spanish as an official language. Spanish was only removed as an official language in the Philippines in 1987, so there must have been plenty of intermixing between the languages.

Trains Run on Railways, not Railroads

The Manila-Dagupan Railway is why trains don’t run on railroads

Even though Philippine English mostly uses American English terms and grammatical structures, when it comes to trains, it is a different story. In the United States, trains run on railroads, but in the Philippines, trains run on railways, just like in the former British Empire. This preference for British terminology came about because the first major Philippine rail line, the Manila-Dagupan Railway, was built by a British company. So, even though American terms are used for all other train terminologies, the British term railway stuck, due to the British involvement in our railway system.

Philippine English is Close to Old-Style American English

Even though Philippine English is based on American English, it is closer to early 20th century American English due to Filipinos using longer sentences. For example, in English, one can say, I will go, but Filipinos would say, I will be the one who will go. This may seem redundant, but Filipinos have gotten used to this style of speaking because it shows American English as it was during the early 1900s, since that was the beginning of American colonization. However, this is more common among older Filipinos, for their teachers learned English directly from the Thomasites.

Philippine English Borrowed a lot From the Philippine Languages

Also, the most unique thing about Philippine English is that a lot of its terms are borrowed from Philippine languages like Tagalog/Filipino, Bisaya, etc. Most of these are terms referring to plants and animals, like balimbing (starfruit), ampalaya (bitter gourd), and terms unique to the Philippines (ex. bongga, trapo, patong, carinderia) . Thus, Philippine English is set apart from other Englishes, especially its American English ancestor, because it reflects the context of the Filipino.

In the end, Philippine English may seem confusing to foreigners due to its unique terms, but these are special to the Filipino dialect of English because they are based on the Philippine context. However, for times when English-speakers need to communicate, Neutral English is there, so everyone speaking the English language will be able to exchange ideas on equal footing.