My sons often tease me about the way I repeatedly mispronounce certain English words. Growing up in the big city, I don’t have a provincial accent. My English isn’t bad, but it is still somewhat “Filipinized”. I try to get away with it by saying, “Filipino English is American.” Or, “That’s British pronunciation.” But they aren’t falling for it.
I sometimes challenge my sons to check the dictionary. Or I discreetly check it myself. When they ganged up on the way I said HYOO-ricane instead of HÜR-ricane, I looked it up in the Canadian, English and American dictionaries hoping to get vindicated. I did not find my vindication, not from the dictionary anyway. I was at a Bible study with some fellow Filipino immigrants when I heard a guy say, “My life is a HYOOricane.” I knew it! That’s how we said it in the Philippines. I couldn’t wait to tell my sons. It didn’t make me right, but at least I could say I was not the only one wrong. There are many of us who are better off saying typhoon.
The word vehicle is my other pitfall. I keep saying VE-hicle instead of VEE-hicle. Gino is quick to point that out every time. So I have to consciously and deliberately say vee-hicle if I am to avoid being run over by these speech patrols. Maybe I should just stick to cars and S-U-VEEs.
Here’s another one: excitement. I say ig-zitement instead of ik-sitement. My kids find it really funny the way I say excitement with a g. My tongue finds it hard to unlearn this faulty pronunciation --- until this afternoon. I was driving with Markus to Home Depot and we were chatting back and forth when I said, “It’s going to be exciting when you join the youth group in September!” I was referring to the church group he will move up to when he turns Grade 6.
Markus tapped my right shoulder and very calmly said, “Mom, you’re on the road to recovery.” His response caught me by surprise and I laughed, the hi-hi-hi kind of snicker.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Mom, you said iksiting! Before, you always said igziting. You’re on the road to recovery, Mom. Now you just have to work on your laugh.” He then mimicked my shrill akward laughter.
I guffawed, and let out a hearty ha-ha-ha.
“That’s better,” he said in a dry but comical way. Ahhh, so now I have to check my laughter too?
I must say my spoken English has improved a lot since we migrated to Canada. I still don’t have the twang but I have more confidence in speaking with just about anyone. Occasionally, I run out of English or a Tagalog word comes out of my mouth as I’m speaking with a non-Filipino, but hey, I’m on the road to recovery!