Sunday Essays: Melting dialects of Davao

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

DAVAO City is a melting pot of various cultures. Yearly, population of the city grows as immigrants from different parts of the country take advantage of the Davao’s industry opportunities. The funny thing from this diversity is the evolution of the dialect used in the city.

The Cebuano dialect is common in the city. According to Statistics Variable, Regional Quarterly Publication of the National Census & Statistics Office-Davao City, estimated 75 percent of the population in Davao City use Cebuano as their mother tongue.

Tagalog is the next dialect used in discourse. The medium of instructions in companies and educational institutions are English. These various dialects create an evolution of the language that used in discourse in the city.

Davao-Tagalog is widely used in the city. It is very different from the Tagalog that is taught in Filipino class. You could easily tell the difference. Davao Tagalog tends to mix Tagalog and Bisaya words with added prefixes and suffixes that do not belong to either.

For example, ‘Ano man yan ginasabi mo? (What are you saying?)’

The word ‘ginasabi’ is derived from the root word ‘sabi’ which means tell. Davao Tagalog added the prefix ‘gina’ from that root word to add distinction to the sentence.

In an article of Rene Lizada in his column Papa’s Table published in SunStar Davao, he wrote in humour how Tagalog is different here in Davao. An example of which is the overly used word ‘uy’ for every word or sentences that alter the meaning of each Tagalog words.

‘Uy’ is a suffix that is similar to the exclamation point to add more feeling or intensify expression. For example, ‘Umuulan uy! (It’s raining!)’, ‘Ang galing niya uy! (She/He is great!)’

Non-Davao native finds the Davao Tagalog very unique but annoying at first.

Since language is dynamic, another widely used slang is the Davao Conyo. It is a mixture of Tagalog, Bisaya and English. This is popularized also in social media. A twitter account hidden in the name Davao Conyo Boy (@DavaoConyo) is posting ranting tweets in his timeline.

In his tweet he said that ‘Social Climber ka man. Dili gud dapat ganyan. (You’re a social climber. You should not act that way.’) From that tweet we could say that it’s a Taglish statement in a Davao Conyo because of the Bisaya words in that sentence such as ‘gud’ (a bisaya expression) and ‘dili’ (not.)

Another popularized Davao Conyo is the ADDU Conyo (@ADDUConyo) twitter account. An alleged student of Ateneo de Davao tweets her experiences in a Davao Conyo way. A funny expression popularized by her is ‘kasad ng life oi!’ Her expression also depicts the mixture of the different languages used for being a conyo.

In the next few years, Davao might have another funny discourse in their local dialect. The possible dialect might be a mixture of Tagalog, Bisaya English and Korean. According to 2011 Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade statistics, around 2,700 Koreans reside in Davao City and it grows every year. Because of the growth of Koreans in the city, we might end up another dialect that could tell a Davao’s dialect.

Moreover, all accept that language is truly dynamic and sometimes it dies. The common people accept it as a way of life. The internet makes language expand and propagate. We might end up with a new language in Davao if this continues in the next years. (Joemar Ray V. Tuclaud)


Sunday Essays are articles written by Ateneo de Davao University students for their journalism class.

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