The Mispronounced “R” and the
Abused “kung saan”, and “di ba?”
by Apolinario Villalobos
I learned since my days in elementary school the basics of the English and Filipino alphabets, their proper usage and most especially, their correct pronunciation. Part of my learning is knowing the difference between the two, the English pronunciation being “soft” and that of the Filipino being “rolling” as in pronouncing the “R”, the way it should be pronounced. But to my dismay, everywhere I go today, I hear conversations among Filipinos, especially, the younger generation, with the “R” pronounced as if they are Americans. It irritates the ear, especially, because those concerned are trying to give an impression that they are “Americanized”, hence, should talk in Filipino just like an American.
What is sad about this is that even the influential broadcasters who are looked up to by their viewers and listeners are guilty of the same practice. It is unfortunate to note that foreign talents who appear on TV talk in Filipino better with correct pronunciation than their local counterparts, especially, with the “R”, pronounced properly.
Add to that mispronunciation the abused use of “kung saan” and “di ba”. I do not know how it started, but I just noticed its proliferation in the broadcast media and among the students lately. The “kung saan” has an equivalent in English, the “in which”. So I cannot understand how broadcasters say for example, “Nagkasunog sa isang lugar sa Tondo subali’t makipot ang daan at hindi makadaan ang mga bumbero kung saan ay tumuluy-tuloy ang sunog kaya maraming nasaktan”, instead of saying a clearer statement: “Nagkasunog sa isang lugar sa Tondo subali’t makipot ang daan at hindi makadaan ang mga bumbero kaya tumuluy-tuloy ang sunog at maraming nasaktan”. Why can’t they just avoid using the “kung saan” if they do not know its proper use?
Then, there’s the “di ba?” (isn’t it?) which I find as an improper part of statements because you seem to force the person you are conversing with to accept what you said. The more improper it becomes when used by broadcasters, especially, when doing interviews. There is a danger on the part of the guy who is fond of using the “di ba” to be embarrassed with the retort, “ewan ko” (I don’t know) from the person he is conversing with. So, the safest way to avoid getting embarrassed is by taking the “di ba” from your vocabulary.
Filipino as a language has evolved into a richer one with the addition of new words, but let us not put it down with improper use of what are already its integral part. Let us speak in Filipino the way it should be spoken, and speak in English the way it should be spoken. Let us be what we are.