Pinoy Man vs Wild (in workingclass Wellington)

Looking southwest towards Cook Strait and the ...

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Dear kabatch schoolmates brods kabayan Huttmates and friends :

WE GREW up with Tagalog English and a bit of Bicolano at home, and all these at school, plus some Fukienese with classmates, and stiff Mandarin to the teachers. So we have a bit of experience on what sometimes gets lost in translation and the nuances that fall between the cracks, dialect to dialect.

What we can’t comprehend is the same thing happening, getting signals crossed we mean, among English speakers who spout plain speech among themselves. Same basic nouns, verbs and adjectives, same rudimentary grammar, and same subject-predicate construction. Somewhere, the message gets lost, but we are supposed to use the same lingo. Que pasa Kuya Eddie ?

The key word here is basic, cuz while apple isn’t banana, dogs chase cats and boy goes with girl, everything else is subject to however a word, figure of speech or idiom is used. We found this out in the course of our workday adventures with mostly blue-collar tradesmen and factory lifers in working-class Wellington, not only demographically a world apart from our office-bound job descriptions in Manila but also less homogenously diverse, i.e. we are the only rank-and-file Asian in the exclusively male workplace.

Because of various shades of meaning, the different ways words are accepted in different environments, and the wide spectrum of euphemisms associated with even the simplest terms, there is no black and white when you talk to people you haven’t been with for too long, and our Kiwi experience is no exception.

We have here only five examples of how bewildered we get when we hear Kiwi-isms, despite the fact that we’ve been here more than three years, we talk to the natives every day of our lives, and we keep the exchange of words and phrases as simple as can be. Do any of these sound familiar to you ?

Your turn to shout – To be fair, everybody at work gets a chance to treat everyone to lunch / dinner, be it due to a birthday, a won bet at rugby, or a tax refund. But some blokes need to be reminded, and others conveniently forget its their turn to shell out the cash, and they need to be told, it’s your turn to shout, shout being the Kiwi word for buy everyone a free lunch or meal. Etymologically and euphemistically, there is little to connect the word with how we imagine buying a foodie treat for your friends and colleagues, and this is why we’re mystified as to why shout is used as such. When our bisor told us, “NOel, don’t bother bringing lunch tomorrow, Dave won big at the races and is shouting lunch for all of us,” we couldn’t make the connection between winning and shouting, but now we do. And we work up an appetite in the process.

Bloody crazy, bloody hard, or bloody good – This is less in used among Maoris and Kiwis than UK transplants and second generation Brits here. They seem to liberally use the term bloody in place of any and all adverbs when they run out of normal superlatives, especially the males in describing aspects of work, sports and females with superior physical attributes.

On Pinoy sensibilities, this naturally has unsettling and indelicate effects, given that the literal translation (madugo) conjures unsavory images totally unrelated to the supposedly positive and invigorating connotations of the said modifier.

[ NOte : a certain word in next item, represented by similar f-words is used in the demonstrative or ironic sense only and is not intended to offend or outrage.]

liberal use of the F-word – Very similar to previous item, for example the effin’ rain ruined the fishing, when are we gonna get some effin overtime, or how about those freaking Hurricanes ey? It is used to generate a variety of picturesque feelings and emotions, usually intense, about manly ( or even not-so-manly ) interests. It might also be used to convey mild anger or frustration, as in when the eff is that delivery truck coming, or what the eff is he doing in the toilet so long ???

Where we come from, the use of that word signifies three things : you’re spoiling for a fight, you’re extremely angry, or you are quite drunk. It took a bit of paradigm shifting to get accustomed to this, as we didn’t know whether to defend ourself, get into a frisky debate, or prepare some strong coffee or some sobering substance. Turns out that we don’t need to do any of that as the typical Kiwi worker is bred with a tongue as salty as the nearby Cook Strait, and this quite ironically contrasts with his good nature and even termper.

You have to do it / boss sez do it – The surest way to rouse resistance and lip from the staff, in our experience, is to phrase the request as an order, even if in reality it IS one. This our Sri Lankan manager knows too well, and never fails to assign even the most important and basic tasks to lowest peons like ourself in the most courteous and disarming way.

It’s probably the most precious lesson he’s learned, something that’s still lost from time to time on our supervisors, who earn a lot of grief and B.S. even if they assign the most routine and elementary chores that the assignees would’ve ended up doing in the normal course of duties anyway. It’s even worse when the boss’s name is dropped, as in boss sez you should do this, or boss asked me to tell you to do that, when in fact the Big Guy had no idea. This is probably due to the fact that most Kiwis are wary of authority, love their independence and bristle at having to be told what they do all their professional lives.

F-off or bugger off – We fittingly thought of this last as it’s what our workmates love to say when the end of the workday draws near or a wearying shift is at hand. Time to bugger off, mate is both an amusing and heartfelt goodbye issued us by the person coming in to replace us on the next shift, Why aren’t you f-ing off yet, get out of here is the rough but friendly way of getting rid of us by others. Which all goes to show that the gruffest guys can still retain their good spirits and charm, using the code of machospeak and good-work-now-get-rest-for-tomorrow-is-another-day mentality.

Thanks for reading !


3 thoughts on “Pinoy Man vs Wild (in workingclass Wellington)

  1. Pingback: Nakadungaw sa Lindol ng Christchurch « YLBnoel's Blog

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  3. Pingback: From cheesy to sublime : How Kiwis perceive Pinoys « YLBnoel's Blog

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