A Western tourist was in a hotel elevator here in the Philippines. The doors opened and the following conversation ensued between a woman outside and the elevator operator:
Woman: Bababa ba?
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The tourist was sort of flabbergasted at the fact that a cohesive (mini) conversation took place through numerous repetitions of just one syllable. If I try putting myself in his shoes and pretend I didn't speak Tagalog I'd be a bit freaked out at that exchange of words, too.
Languages are fun, I like learning new languages. I have some pronunciation issues with some of them, though. But listening to foreign songs helps a lot.
Tagalog doesn't pose any such problem: it's phonetic: how you read it is how you speak it--not like some other languages where the words bear little or no resemblance at all to how they're pronounced. I mean, you see letters like T and S in the written form, but they disappear once the words are spoken. (Wendz and Doc, are you reading this? Haha!)And you don't have to subject your throat, tongue, and uvula to torture when speaking Tagalog either. But I'm not sure if the same holds true when it comes to other Philippine tongues: there are more than 100 dialects spoken here.
Of course, unspoken communication is widely used and recognized. A smile, a laugh, a frown, a hug...these are all pretty much universally understood. Then there's the bird, which I've been tempted to flip quite a few times...at arrogant Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike!