Although I’ve lived in the Philippines for nearly 17 years (off and on), there are some things I’ll never quite understand. Cooking is one of those things. Not just cooking, but everything surrounding it, like all the different words for rice. I understand a lot of the words are inherited from the Spanish language. It’s the ones that aren’t that tend to confuse me.
Cooking with the Kawali, the Kaldero and the Kasirola
Kawali is the Tagalog word for a frying pan or skillet. Kaldero is the Tagalog word for a pot, usually for soup-like dishes. Kasirola is the Tagalog word for a saucepan. These are the words my relatives use, and they may not be the same words used by other Tagalog speakers. I could write an essay on differences by location, within the same language.
Eating with the Kutsara, the Tinidor and the Kutsilyo
Kutsara is the Tagalog word for spoon, derived from the Spanish cuchara. Tinidor is the Tagalog word for fork, derived from the Spanish tenedor. Kutsilyo is the Tagalog word for knife, derived from the Spanish cuchillo. I’m not picking on Tagalog only when thinking about why a fork is so different from the others, as far as the words are concerned. I wonder what the Tagalog word for spork would be, if translated. Would it be something like “kutsidor”?
Americans are just as bad as Filipinos in some regards. Why do some people insist on calling eating utensils “silverware” when they’re not made of silver? “Flatware” or “tableware” would be much more accurate. I tend to call them by their individual names, just to keep from confusing people.
Other Tagalog Observations
I started with cooking because everyone can relate to it in one way or another. There are a lot of other Tagalog words that are more complicated than necessary. The number of syllables is one example I’ve noticed over and over.
We say cat, they say pusa. Two syllables instead of one. We say dog, they say aso. Again, two syllables instead of one. For the life of me, I cannot think of a single one-syllable word in Tagalog that isn’t a connecting or transition word. The list of connecting and transition words is probably as long as the English counterparts. Shortened words like “wag” instead of huwag do not count.
Speaking of shortened words, Filipinos shorten “McDonald’s” to “McDo” (pronounced “mak-doe”). Then why don’t they shorten “Jollibee”? The number of syllables is the same as “McDonald’s”. They’ll even turn a single syllable English word like “check” into a two syllable word like “cheneck”, and “charge” into a two syllable word like “chanarge”. Some things I will never understand.
Image by Mark Martins from Pixabay