It has been said that the English language has been enriched by the addition of loanwords from other foreign tongues over the passing of centuries. Among those other languages that have made their mark on the third-most spoken native tongue in the world is over very own Filipino, and its base dialect of Tagalog. It has been influencing English since the 20th Century, with the introduction in the 1940s of “boondocks” (rural area) from the Tagalog “bundok”, shortened in later years to “boonies”. Even today, more Filipino loanwords are getting added to official English dictionaries. A new batch of them just got in this week.
CNN Philippines reports that Oxford English Dictionary has just included several Filipino loanwords to their massive historical dictionary of the entire English language as it is written and spoken around the world. One particular new addition is being cited by local commentators as being appropriate due to, of all things, the approaching campaign period for the 2019 Senatorial Elections.
The word is “trapo”, long understood by Filipinos as a contraction of “traditional politician”, or one who runs for and serves public office as a lifetime career for himself and his family. It also happens to sound like the Tagalog word for “rag”, itself a loanword of the dialect and Filipino from Spanish, courtesy of the country’s colonial past. The Oxford definition identifies “trapo” as a derogatory or negatively connoting term.
One other new Filipino loanword on the Oxford database that is getting attention is “bongga”, which they define as “extravagant, flamboyant, impressive, stylish, or (more generally) excellent.” Its use is described as informal, so it seems OED has tactfully not described it as something of a frequently-used term in Filipino “gay-speak”. Not that it is important; after all, English has more Filipino in it now.
The rest of the new additions from Tagalog have a common theme separate from “trapo” and “bongga”: they are food names and culinary terms. Filipinos who have an eye on the loanwords in English dictionary databases would not be surprised at that trend. Anyway, those words (with Oxford definitions) are the following: bihon (long thin rice flour noodles), carinderia (food stall), ensaimada (spiral-shaped pastry bread topped with sugar and cheese), palay (un-husked rice), panciteria (noodle restaurant), sorbetes (coco-milk ice cream) and turon (deep-fried pastry rolls of sliced banana and fruits).
Oxford English Dictionary is a historical dictionary of the language, its first edition printed through 1884–1928 and second in 1989. A printed third edition is no longer feasible due to the exponential expansion of modern English, and thus the most up-to-date database can only be seen on their website. The dictionary has over 600,000 words, surpassing 40 book volumes.
Image from Oxford English Dictionary