Monday, February 13, 2012

When different languages conflict

Just one funny language dilemma we have in our household…

Ok… to Filipinos, I know you are all familiar with the word that spells P – as in Philippines, U – as in umbrella, T – as in tango, and A – as in apple. To non-Filipinos and non-Spanish, this word means W – as in water, H – as in house, O - as in octopus, R - as in ribbon and E – as in elephant. In Spain and in the Philippines, it’s a curse word… a strong one at that.

Then here in Spain of course, it has male equivalent… which is formed by just changing that last word A to O – so it becomes puto. Quite vulgar. I wrote this word without batting my eyes because for me, it‘s not a foul word at all. Here’s the dilemma… in the Philippines, the male equivalent is not a curse word at all. On the contrary… it pertains to something really sweet and yummy delicacy. It’s rice cake basically. So in the Philippines, we say the male version of THE word all the time – without malice or malevolence or insult or anything negative.

So why is this Filipino delicacy named like that? Beats me.

The thing is, we brought this puto mix from the Philippines. I love this Filipino delicacy and have been trying to make one here from scratch using normal flour – because we don’t have glutinous rice flour here… but I haven’t been successful at all. So I took advantage of our Philippine vacation and brought home some of these babies.

Spanish speaking people, you are free to laugh and gasp and gawk ;-)

You know how everyone knows how I love to share my culture with our Little Spanish Pinay. My culture is her culture and I like her to know that she is not just Spanish but also Filipina – and most of all, I’d like to be proud about that. I talk to her in my native language, I tell her Filipiino stories, I teach her Filipino nursery rhymes and games and of course, I introduce her to Filipino cuisine. Puto is not going to be an exception of course.

beautiful, aren't they?

But I have to admit that she can’t just learn this word… not right now. She’s very young and she doesn’t know how to choose the words to use in front of certain people. She doesn’t differentiate yet her Filipino and Spanish words and I can’t just imagine her saying “Mami, quiero puto!” (like as if saying mami, I want male-wh**re!”) – That is just NOT going to be funny in front of non-Filipino speakers and would be hard to explain to judging looks of people who would hear this.

I didn’t realize this until few minutes of mentioning the word when I suggested hubby for us to have this for merienda/dinner. Hubby didn’t realize either. He’s already used to many Filipino terminologies – he’s already half Filipino, I tell you. When I realized this, I suddenly gasped and told hubby we can’t use this word in front of LSP because she’s too quick on picking up words. I told her, she might use the word in front of other people and it is going to be a disaster. He totally agreed.


Hubby also agrees that these are delectables. I made puto-pao for dinner one day.  He absolutely loved them especially that he also adores Filipino corned beef!

We agreed on using the word rice cake but then both of us kept on slipping on the word puto a lot of times so it’s a lot of ooops-cover-the-mouth-eyes-wide moments.

I really do hope though that LSP won’t pick this word.

Language differences can be very interesting.

20 comments:

  1. mukhang naghoard ka na naman ng filipino products. =) i love rice cakes.

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    1. Can't blame a Filipina living too far away from her source of food comfort :-D

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  2. As soon as I saw this picture, I gasped. And kept thinking oh my goodness what is she teaching LSP :( But as soon as I started reading your post I realized that's a Filipino food. But oh my, the coincidence here. That's definitely not a word to teach your kid right now. But yeah I had to laugh at this.

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    1. I can't believe you actually thought of me that way, Barb! :-P

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  3. Oh no! I can see the dilemma sis =)
    Siguro nga it's best to use rice cake for now. Meron dito ng mix na yan so just let me know if ur craving them & ill send you some =)
    Naalala ko tuloy yung friend ko na German gusto nung bago pa sya dito, may sinabihan sya ng "you irritate me" though ang gusto nyang sabihin ay "you confuse me". Kasi sa German confuse is 'irritieren' . Ayun syembre badtrip tuloy sa kanya.... Hayz

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    1. haha! natawa ako sa you irritate me! poor german :) naku, daming ganyang case dito... minsan nga natatamaan na ang english ko eh haha... so don't hesitate to correct me pag may napansin kang ganyan sa post ko :-D

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  4. That's a tough one! I know Spanish too and as soon as I saw it I knew it was a bad word. I think It's so cool that you are teaching her more than one language at this age.

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    1. It's fun that she understands me in my language... later on when she's older, it'll be our secret language becuase no one else here will understand us - then we can talk about people around us without them understanding us (haha just kidding)

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  5. imagining LSP saying "puto" in the middle of spanish-speaking people is a hilarious picture in my mind:-).

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    1. it is hilarious! haha but it wouldn't be hilarious in front of non-Filipino speakers and my parenting skills will surely be judged :-D

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  6. That's funny! I never knew puto meant that! Thanks for the enlightenment :). Oh yes, I hope LSP doesn't make that her mantra...

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    1. ay naku and bad-mouthed people here often use that to curse :(

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  7. INteresting. It never crossed my mind that the P*** term could have a male equivalent in Spanish. But then again, don't almost all Spanish words use a male and female derivatives depending on the subject? Hehehe! =)

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    1. yeah! yeah, most nouns have mascular and femminine form - some are good to refer both though like "medico" for doctor - there's n0 medica hehe or "modelo" for model - there's no modela :-D

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  8. What an interesting story!! I agree with you and your hubby. Children will repeat everything that they hear!

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    1. and they seem to pick bad words the easiest! :-O

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  9. Funny how word can mean different things in other languages :) and I love puto especially with lots of cheese on top!

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    1. we love puto with lots of cheese too! :-D

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  10. I totally get it with the cross language mix-ups. I figure any 2 languages will have this, but weird how it's usually something bad don't you think?
    You and hubby have your work cut out for you.

    I guess, if LSP says the words then it's easier to forgive because she doesn't understand, or have the comprehension (at this time) of the differences, but I agree...not yet, lol.

    We have the same thing with a food that I love. In English not a problem, but If I said to to an Arab, they probably wouldn't even look me in the eye, lol.

    MMMM, I love the look of your sweet treat...so delish.

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  11. haha. this is one funny post! indeed, culture is serious thing in raising a child. visiting you from anney's site :)

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