You’ve moved to Australia and you’re thankful that English is your second language or your other first language. You, however, have noticed that there are some words that, even if they’re in English, aren’t understood by native English speakers. (I used to say ‘open line’ until I found out that it’s not a term used in Australia. Ha!) Read the list of confusing Filipino-English phrases that Aussies may not understand, so you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Top 1 Confusing Filipino-English phrase: Comfort room, more specifically C.R.
In other countries, a comfort room or C.R. is called public toilet, restroom, bathroom, or washroom. If you say ‘C.R.’, there’s a 1% chance Aussies will understand you. You have a better chance of getting directions to the nearest toilets if you say ‘comfort room’.
Top 2 Confusing Filipino-English phrase: Open the light or open the computer
Instead of ‘open’, say ‘turn on’ or ‘switch on’ the light or the computer. I understand that the confusion stems from the translation into Tagalog or Filipino of ‘turn on’, ‘switch on’ and ‘open’ which is ‘bukas’. Because ‘open’ is a more common word, it’s so easy for us Filipinos to make the mistake of saying ‘open’ even if we mean ‘turn on’ or ‘switch on’. If you say ‘open the light or computer’, you’ll be understood anywhere in the world, but it’s best to use the correct verb phrase to be a better communicator.
Top 3 Confusing Filipino-English phrase: Open line
I remember going to a mobile phone and accessories shop telling a sales assistant I’d like to get an ‘open line’ phone, so I can change telecommunications service providers and not worry. I’ll never forget the look of confusion on the poor guy’s face. Thankfully, my friend managed to decipher the code and feed me the correct terminology — unlocked phone. Haha! She said the guy probably thought I wanted help setting up a phone dating account.
Top 4 Confusing Filipino-English phrase: Copy furnish
Copy furnish sounds so professional but archaic. Aussies will understand you, but you’ll be noticed in a way that people who come in with a portable CD player get noticed. Instead of saying ‘copy furnish me’, say ‘carbon copy or CC me’ or ‘copy me in’.
Top 5 Confusing Filipino-English phrase: State of calamity
According to The Lawyers Post, a State of Calamity is defined under Section 3 of RA 10121, known as the “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010,” as “a condition involving mass casualty and/or major damages to property, disruption of means of livelihoods, roads and normal way of life of people in the affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazard.” Only Filipinos use this term, so don’t be surprised if Aussies give you a questioning look if this term slips out. The rest of the world refers to a state of a country after being struck by a natural or human-triggered disaster as a state of emergency, no matter how extremely calamitous it is.
The longer you live in Australia or any country with English as its native language, the better you’ll be at picking up real world English, and this will help you avoid using English terms that are only understood by Filipinos. I hope this list of confusing Filipino-English phrases will help you adapt quicker in the Land Down Under. Oi! Oi!
If you know a confusing Filipino-English term similar to the words above, please share it here. Thanks! 🙂