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Funny English: It's More Fun in the Philippines

Updated on May 31, 2020

Speaking English as a second language isn't easy. But we try anyway. The result: It's sometimes full of unexpected errors that either make you go, "Huh?" or "Haha!" From pronunciation confusion to spelling blunders, you'll find them all in the Philippines. Are you ready to laugh?

I've had quite a few misadventures trying to communicate with people who may not have had as much exposure to the English language as I have, but none of them will ever beat that time when I was riding a taxi:

Me: Sa Dynamic Minds ko, nong. (Please take me to Dynamic Minds.)
Taxi Driver: Unsa na siya? (What is that?)
Me: Preschool sa Banawa. (A preschool in Banawa.)
Taxi Driver: Ah, wala diay na siyay bayad? (Oh, so there's no payment [to study there]?)

Uh, did I say free school?!

Laughing Kitty is amused.
Laughing Kitty is amused. | Source

Oh, and there was that time I was buying cosmetics at the mall:

Me: Naa moy ing-ani nga naka seal pa? (Do you have one of these that's still sealed?)
Saleslady: Naa pa na siyay 10% discount, ma'am. (That still has a 10% discount, ma'am.)

Took me a moment to realize she thought I meant sale.

Butchering the English Language

Because of our native language, a lot of Filipinos interchange letter sounds, especially p and f, b and v, and all vowels, among a few others. For example:

  • prench pries (french fries)
  • bery good (very good)
  • igg (egg)
  • sop (soap, soup, or soft for that matter)

All is good though, we can still understand each other - except when you ask for soap and they give you soup. Just add one igg! Ha!

(Note: "Just add one egg" is a famous line from an old instant soup commercial in the Philippines.)

Funny Signage Fails

Of course, pronunciation errors inevitably lead to misspelling fiascos. You've probably seen a few of these unintentionally hilarious signages in the Philippines, but I thought I'd compile them for future reference. You know, just in case you need a good laugh. To the anonymous people who took these photos, I thank you 3000!

Those bedsheets should be priced lower, in my opinion, considering…
Those bedsheets should be priced lower, in my opinion, considering…
Christmas is the time to spread love and… threats? What a treat that will be for the Grinch.
Christmas is the time to spread love and… threats? What a treat that will be for the Grinch.
Note to self: Use curfew hours to brush up on spelling.
Note to self: Use curfew hours to brush up on spelling.
I just need ice, but maybe the hospital might be interested in what you're selling.
I just need ice, but maybe the hospital might be interested in what you're selling.
Oh, what shall I order? A proofreader, maybe?!
Oh, what shall I order? A proofreader, maybe?!
Wow, free pork with the spoon? Good thing you don't need a fork to eat the items in the putlong menu above.
Wow, free pork with the spoon? Good thing you don't need a fork to eat the items in the putlong menu above.
I’m afraid to pay the minimum fare in this jeepney. (Note: A jeepney is a public utility vehicle in the Philippines.)
I’m afraid to pay the minimum fare in this jeepney. (Note: A jeepney is a public utility vehicle in the Philippines.)
Sweatshirts for people who have a sweet tooth?
Sweatshirts for people who have a sweet tooth?
Beware of these violet eggplants – they have anger management issues.
Beware of these violet eggplants – they have anger management issues.
Wait, the paint is wet!
Wait, the paint is wet!

Which signage fail did you find the funniest?

See results

© 2020 Susan Ng Yu

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