Showbiz lengua

The re­turn of re­verse

YES! (Philippines) - - News - By jose f. La­caBa

YOUR LENGUADOR’S last col­umn, ti­tled “Pet­malu, Lodi!,” put to­gether “a new batch of Pi­noy slang terms ap­par­ently coined by mil­len­ni­als and spread­ing on so­cial me­dia,” most of them be­long­ing to the cat­e­gory known as re­verse slang, “where you re­verse the ar­range­ment of a word’s let­ters (from idol to lodi) or its syl­la­bles (from

malupit to pit­malu or pet­malu).” One of those terms, de­scribed in the last col­umn as “new to El Lenguador,” was repa, from pare, short for kum­pare. Ma­jor-ma­jor se­nior mo­ment! My se­nior-cit­i­zen mem­ory be­lat­edly re­minded me of some­thing I had writ­ten for “Carabeef Lengua,” an ear­lier col­umn that I used to write for the Manila Times. In a par­tic­u­lar col­umn ti­tled “It Pays to Erap Your Word Power” and pub­lished in July 1995, I wrote: “As we all know, erap is re­verse-Ta­ga­log for pare, which is a short­ened form of kum­pare or com­padre. Back in the Six­ties, such vari­ants of pare as repa, reps, repatits, and p’re made sep­a­rate bids for recog­ni­tion.”

So repa was al­ready in use “back in the Six­ties”! That’s nearly half a cen­tury ago!

Re­cent In­ter­net posts and tele­vi­sion news re­ports also seem to think that re­verse slang be­gan in our bayang

mag­iliw in the 1970s, dur­ing the hip­pie or pe­hips era. I have news for them. We al­ready had re­verse slang as far back as the 1930s.

That’s ac­cord­ing to Qui­jano de Manila, aka Na­tional Artist Nick Joaquin. In his ar­ti­cle “The Lan­guage of the Street,” first pub­lished in a Jan­uary 1963 is­sue of the

Philip­pines Free Press weekly mag­a­zine, Qui­jano wrote: “The ’30s and ’40s showed a healthy dis­re­spect for pu­ri­tanism in lan­guage. Here be­gan the prac­tice of creat­ing new words by re­vers­ing old ones:

damatan (from matanda), alaw na alaw (from walang-wala), er­mat and er­pat (from mother and fa­ther).”

I was a col­lege sopho­more when that ar­ti­cle came out, and on Jan­uary 12, 1963, in a note­book di­ary that I kept at that time, I wrote the draft of a letter that I never sent, ad­dressed to my lodi Qui­jano.

“Yeba there, I say, for a fine ar­ti­cle,” I wrote in pen and ink. “It cer­tainly is a com­pre­hen­sive re­port, but you missed some of the lat­est: Ge­dra is the lat­est vari­a­tion of rugged, tede­cens (ac­cent on the first syl­la­ble) of de­cente… Wangbu which comes from buwang which comes from I know not where is a more af­fec­tion­ate term than its synonym

sira. Ma­tinik has been trans­formed into nekti… Also, pan­git is now ngetspa.” The sopho­moric me went on to list a few other re­verse-slang words that my gen­er­a­tion was fa­mil­iar with: tipars (party), ples­imps ( nekti but not pasikat),

bangya (boast­ful), san­pits and yotits (cousin and un­cle), er­mats and er­pats (mother and fa­ther), bowgli (lust­ful),

osla (ob­so­lete, passé), sen­glot (drunk). As you can see, ba­lik­tad-Ta­ga­log, to bor­row the term used by GMA news reporter Dano Ting­cungco on the

Bal­i­tang­hali news program, or tad­ba­lik, to bor­row the term used by Univer­sity of the Philip­pines lin­guis­tics pro­fes­sor Jay-ar Igno, has been around for quite some time.

More on this next time around.

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