mga awit ug yawit sa kasingkasing bisaya

Planted, giplantiran, pantaplat

( You need to be familiar with the nuances of the Cebuano language to appreciate what I’m talking about here. In any case, I have a friend, a priest, who once insisted that the Cebuano term for “to urinate” should be “manghingutin.”  To use it in a sentence: Excuse kadiyot bay ha, manghingutin sa ko.)

LAST WEEK, a strange word made it to the front pages of local newspapers and would have stayed there for weeks if not for the arrival of other equally exciting words like Sulpa and Japanese pornography. “Sulpa” sounds a lot sexier, and “pornography” is more sinfully attractive.

“Mamlantiray” looks ugly on paper. It looks scandalous beside newsworthy English words like “policewoman” and “lawyer.” It is unfriendly to the tongue, which has other uses for calisthenics. The Cebuano tongue has distaste for words that have an M and another M and an L close to each other. I know a friend who hates the word “mamlantsahay.” She prefers doing the laundry.

Its place of origin will make the word even more repugnant to the morally upright reader: the underground world of drug lords and gangsters. Though the person it refers to is feared and loathed in slum areas and dark street corners, the word finds home in the mouths of those who coined it in the first place and kept it alive.

“Mamlantiray” becomes lovely only when you strip it of its dirty-cop connotation and look at it as it is – a Cebuano word, a lively derivation from the English “plant” and born of Cebuano ingenuity. Viewed from this angle, “mamlantiray,” to the lover of the Cebuano language, was the freshest word that saw print last week.

The word mocks Cebuano writers who sneer at how some of us “Cebuanize” foreign words using local affixes. How else do we treat words whose concepts are alien to our native consciousness? These writers want us to use “tangkilipono” (tangkil + telepono) when “silpon” is the one used and understood by everybody. I don’t actually mind if someone sends me a text message saying, “Teksi lang unya ko bay.” My reply: “Sige bay, teksan lang tika.”

A language is alive only when it is imperfect. The Latin language was so perfect that it left no room for new concepts coming in from an ever-expanding world outside. While the world’s other languages fed on it and grew, Latin died a slow death. And now the Catholic Church wants it resurrected. But that’s another story.

The Cebuano language is an imperfect language. It assimilates words whose concepts are basically alien to Cebuanos. As foreign words take on distinctly Cebuano sound and meaning, and find a place in popular usage, some Cebuano words have to die. If it were a military campaign, these words are called collateral damage. The damage is unintended, even tragic. We mourn the loss, but we have to move on.

The analogy is stretched, but you got my point.

There’s this joke about a Cebuano writer who suggested coining a Cebuano term for every English word. The writer, who seemed to have an issue with underwear, suggested “pantapwas” (panapton tapot sa lawas) for undershirt, and “pantaptoy” (panapton tapot sa totoy) for bra.

I can only imagine a friend – who keeps losing her favorite pair of panties to a pervert next door – shouting: “Hoy George, iuli akong pantaplat!”

(, 2007)


4 Responses to “Planted, giplantiran, pantaplat”

  1. Surpassingly good! Flawless. ‘Wateber’! If I insist to use “manghingutin” for “to urinate”, I wonder how a female speaker would say the female equivalent. Would that be “mangh……? That may sound gruesome. lol

    How do I sound if I am a radio reporter, using ‘giplanteran’ and ‘pantaplat’ in my report:

    (I don’t think this sounds good. LOL)
    Gireklamo sa usa ka ulitawo ang usa ka byuda sa kwerpo sa kapolisan. Matod pa sa ‘reklamador’, siya ‘giplanteran’ kuno og pula nga ‘pantaplat’ aron mapugos siya sa pagpakasal sa gireklamong byuda.

    Ang detalye sa maong taho mabati human lang sa pipila ka pahinumdum.

    It seems I’m spreading my virus here. hahaha. my apologies…

  2. reminds me of max surban and yoyoy villame who wouldn’t think twice using “maniniyot” and “kodaker” in their songs. makes the language more alive and colorful (literally).

  3. Funnier, others would say, “tekski ko ha.” or “tekstan taka ha?” Haha! Whatever!

  4. or this, “‘miscoli’ ko ha.” “o sige, miscolan tika.” =)

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