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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Chavacano: The Spanish-based Creole of The Philippines

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hello everyone welcome to the Laing

focused Channel and my name is Paul

today's topic is the chavacano language

a Spanish Creole in fact the only

spanish-based creole language in asia

the name of the language comes from the

spanish word chavacano meaning vulgar or

in poor taste

that's because chavacano was originally

considered incorrect or corrupted

spanish chavacano is spoken in the

Philippines and is a direct result of

the Philippines history as a Spanish

colony it's not spoken by the majority

of Filipinos but by a minority living in

specific areas it's spoken in different

varieties in Cavite a province just

south of Metro Manila in Cotabato on the

island of Mindanao Basilan island to the

south of Mindanao and it's spoken by the

largest number of speakers in Zamboanga

especially Zamboanga City on Mindanao

it's notoriously difficult to find

consistent statistics about the number

of chavacano speakers but according to

the United Nations statistics division

in 2005 there were four hundred and

thirty-one thousand native speakers

including around three hundred and

eleven thousand in Zamboanga but those

numbers underestimate the number of

people who speak chavacano Zamboanga

City a city with over a million people

is a very diverse place with migrants

from all over the Philippines and

chavacano serves as the most common

lingua franca so hundreds of thousands

more people speak it as a second or

third language so what is it exactly is

it Spanish well not exactly

it's a spanish-based creole meaning that

Spanish is the LexA fire language the

language that supplied most of the

vocabulary while the grammar is largely

based on Filipino languages like the

Scientology and Heilig I know the

Spanish colonial period in the

Philippines began in 1521 and beginning

in 1565 the Philippine Islands began to

be administered from the Viceroyalty of

New Spain which was based in Mexico City

this continued until Mexico's

independence in 1821 after which the

Philippines were administered directly

by Spain but for those 256 years

Philippines had significant interaction

with New Spain and its people during

this time the Philippines and New Spain

were connected by the galleon trade

large trading ship voyages that made the

journey between Manila and Acapulco once

or twice a year

this brought Filipinos in contact with

spanish-speaking workers from New Spain

while soldiers and settlers from Spain

were present soldiers and settlers from

New Spain also arrived in significant

numbers one place where many newcomers

settled was in Zamboanga which the

Spanish seized in 1635 in an attempt to

stop attacks by Moro pirates they

established a fortress called

at A&F where'sa de san jose royal fort

of st. joseph the population of this

fort had a direct impact on the

development of the chavacano spoken in

Zamboanga there were Visayan warriors

from Cebu and other areas Spanish

soldiers including those from Spain

Mexico as well as Peru and Jesuit

priests who served as Spanish Visayan

translators and might have taught the

others how to communicate resulting in a

pidgin language that would become the

chavacano creole this fort was

eventually abandoned but some of the

population remained and continued to

interact with locals while the Jesuit

priests continued their conversion

efforts this both spread chavacano and

brought additional influences to the

language making it a little more

Filipino and a little less Spanish this

is the kind of contact that resulted in

the creation of other forms of chavacano

as well but the exact influences were

somewhat different for example the

chavacano spoken and coveted has more

Castilian Spanish influence and less

Mexican Spanish influence and has more

Tagalog influence rather than recited

now let's look at some features of

chavacano and see how it differs from

Spanish I'm focusing mainly on Zamboanga

newel the chavacano Creole spoken in

Zamboanga we'll start by focusing on the

syntax and I'll introduce additional

elements as we go while Spanish is

generally SVO chavacano is generally VSO

like Tagalog or Visayan here's the

sentence meaning the man looked at Jose

in Spanish el hombre Mito Jose and in


yo mira el hombre con Jose in Spanish

the subject el hombre comes first but in

chavacano it comes after the verb there

are some other important things we can

notice about this sentence the verb

middle from me rod

means look in Spanish while in chavacano

it means both look and see so depending

on the intended meaning the Spanish

translation might be illuminate be a

HOSA using a different verb to mean see

also notice that the verb forms are

slightly different the Spanish verb is

conjugated for the third person singular

conjugation in the preterite or passed

historic tense but chavacano verbs are

not conjugated at all the verb Mira will

be the same for any subject the only

thing that can change is this extra

little piece right here which is a pre

verb that shows tents yaw indicates past

top indicates present and eye indicates

future these are not always used but can

be used for clarity and for emphasis

also notice that chavacano uses cone

instead of a cone comes from the Spanish

word cone meaning with but in chavacano

it's used as the object or accusative

marker so already we can see a number of

differences between Spanish and

chavacano another example here's a

sentence meaning you teach children you

being the plural form in Spanish ustedes

encinia and English and in chavacano the

encino stayed Islamic about that again

in Spanish the subject comes first in in

chavacano it comes after the verb and

you'll notice the present tense pre verb

top before the verb na is allocative

particle or preposition which shows

direction or location

apparently it comes from asturian and

note the difference in vocabulary for

the words meaning children in chavacano

you'll see the phrase mana bata maja is

a plural marker found in Tagalog Visayan

and Hiligaynon in chavacano this is

sometimes used as the plural marker and

the Spanish plural form with S or ES is

sometimes used another example here's a

sentence meaning I love you in Spanish

yo te amo or te amo

and a chavacano a Mayo contigo or mayo

bond eagle this time the Spanish

sentence is sov not SVO because when the

object is a pronoun it usually comes

before the verb but in Spanish the

subject pronoun can be dropped because

the person and number are clear from the

conjugation of the verb in chavacano



not conjugated so the subject pronoun is

necessary and notice that the prover

is optional earlier we saw that cone

meaning with in Spanish is used as the

object marker in chavacano here Contego

which means with you in spanish is used

as the object pronoun all of the subject

pronouns of Spanish origin have an

object pronoun equivalent like this that

begins with cone there are other subject

pronouns of Filipino origin and their

corresponding object pronouns are also a

Filipino origin some pronouns might come

from Filipino languages because they

communicate something that the Spanish

pronouns couldn't communicate notice for

example the first person plural pronouns

Khmer and Gita which come from Visayan

some Austronesian languages including

some languages of the Philippines

distinguished between the first person

plural inclusive of the listener and

exclusive of the listener another

example here's a sentence meaning this

is Pablo in Spanish este es Pablo and in

chavacano see Pablo stay again in

Spanish the subject comes first

it's the demonstrative pronoun este in

chavacano it comes after the predicate

and you can see that the pronoun is

abbreviated but it's not always so

there's actually no verb in this

sentence because chavacano has no copula

so the word order is really predicate

subject the word see is a subject marker

for personal names which is also found

in Tagalog Visayan and Hiligaynon in

spanish demonstrative pronouns have

gender but chavacano has no grammatical

gender so for a female name in Spanish

it would be like this

esta is Trisha with a change in the

pronoun while in chavacano it would be

this situation este with no change in

the pronoun another element of the word

order that is different is that

adjectives come before nouns in

chavacano not after in Spanish we have

aa deliberative meaning free time and a

chavacano we have libre hora another

sentence here's a sentence meaning I

love their house in Spanish yo amo su

casa mo Tsukasa and in chavacano mayor

de la casa again notice that in the

Spanish sentence you can drop the


but in chavacano you can't the third

in plural possessive pronoun in

chavacano is deala the possessive

pronouns typically consist of D prefixed

to the beginning of the Spanish subject

pronouns or to filipino clinic pronouns

another sentence here's a sentence

meaning wanna or Jane bought a second

dog in Spanish wanna accomplish mundo

better and in chavacano comprar one

Godot sparrow again we see the SVO

versus VSO we see the subject marker C

and a pre verb in chavacano and we see

the word for dog there's one new thing

to notice here the ordinal number in

Spanish is Segundo but in chavacano it's

Iike DOS the cardinal numbers of

chavacano like those are all basically

the same as in Spanish but with slightly

different spelling but while Spanish has

different forms for ordinal numbers

chavacano prefixes Iike two cardinal

numbers notice that the Spanish ordinal

number primero is used and other Spanish

ones can be used in place of the

chavacano forms too Segundo for example

now let's look at a couple more

sentences and see what we find

here's a sentence meaning the book will

be published in five languages in

Spanish and Libre said a publicado and

think I do mas word-for-word it's the

book will be published in five languages

and in chavacano le bromance Elena sing

: go ahead word-for-word it's the book

verbal prefix come out in five language

in this sentence we see that the subject

comes first in both sentences in

chavacano SVO word order is possible for

example it's often found in news stories

that are translated from Spanish media

keeping the text as similar to the

Spanish version as possible another

thing is that in chavacano there's no

passive form so passive meaning is

understood from context or the action

can be paraphrased in Spanish the

sentence is explicitly future but the

chavacano sentence doesn't have the

future pre verb I it can have it but

here it doesn't we see here that the

verb is preceded by Mon Mon is a prefix

that makes a verb distributive meaning

that the action is performed by several

subjects or on several objects

separately here the book will be


five different times in five different

versions so Mun is used to show the

distribution of the action among the

different releases of the book Mun is

also a prefix that can be attached to

nouns and English loanwords to turn them

into chavacano verbs Hmong translate Mon

picnic Mon reply etc there's a similar

prefix mug in Tagalog and Visayan and

noticed that the word for languages in

Spanish is idiomas while in chavacano

it's lenguaje in chavacano and other

languages of the philippines lenguaje is

used to refer to languages that are

spoken by communities of people while in

spanish language a refers more to the

general concept of language so to refer

to a specific human language in spanish

idioma is the typical word and one last

sentence this sentence means they left

without paying for the drink

in Spanish say foreign chimp at la Vida

word-for-word it's reflexive particle

they went without pay the drink in

chavacano es le salon way back opponent

Hamada word for word it's past tense pre

verb leave they without pay object

marker definite article alcoholic drink

this last sentence is fairly different

from its Spanish equivalent first notice

that the verbs are different in Spanish

we see the reflexive form of the verb

eared meaning to go the reflexive form

is used to mean leave chavacano doesn't

have this construction so another verb

is used instead it's a derivative of the

Spanish word salir meaning to go out

Cielo is the third-person plural subject

pronoun which comes from Tagalog and

Visayan in Y is a negative pre verb for

the past tense

Cannell is a combination of cone the

object marker plus L the definite

article finally we have the word tamada

which means alcoholic drink in chavacano

while in Spanish it's baby de chavacano

also has a similar word baby but that is

a general word for a drink not

specifically an alcoholic drink before I

mentioned that chavacano was influenced

by Mexican Spanish there was undoubtedly

some influence on the pronunciation of


in chavacano also contains some

vocabulary that clearly came from

Mexican Spanish for example

meaning grass this is originally a word

from Nahuatl an indigenous language of


it entered Mexican Spanish as a loanword

and then entered chavacano via Mexican

Spanish these words are also from

Nahuatl shangay meaning market which

comes from yungay chongo meaning monkey

from Django and camote meaning sweet

potato there are other words and

expressions that don't come from Nahuatl

words but are common to Mexico and maybe

have special usage in Mexico in Mexico

when you want someone to repeat

something because you didn't catch what

they said you asked Monday this is also

used in chavacano I also hear that a lot

of chavacano swear words are of

specifically Mexican origin but I'll

skip those for now so are chavacano and

Spanish mutually intelligible well yes

and no some chavacano speakers have told

me that they can understand around 60%

or more of certain varieties of Spanish

in particular European Spanish and

Mexican Spanish but this is not

necessarily true for Spanish speakers

who hear chavacano while most chavacano

speakers are familiar with the word

order of English and maybe the word

order of Spanish itself Spanish speakers

are generally not familiar with the word

order of Filipino languages like Tagalog

or Visayan so when they hear chavacano

they might just hear a mishmash of

Spanish words but be confused by how

they're being put together in sentences

this is especially true for informal

chavacano which has more influence from

Filipino languages whereas formal

chavacano is closer to Spanish but

probably with some basic exposure to the

grammar they could improve their

comprehension of it quite quickly some

people argue that chavacano really isn't

that different from other Filipino

languages like Tagalog or Visayan which

contain a lot of Spanish vocabulary

themselves chavacano just has a lot more

of it the question of the day for

Spanish speakers how well can you

understand chavacano I'll leave a link

to a chavacano video in the description

for you to see before commenting if you

want and for chavacano speakers how well

can you understand spanish does it

depend on the variety of Spanish or on

the context be sure to follow Lange

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The Description of Chavacano: The Spanish-based Creole of The Philippines