Friday, January 30, 2009

The Easter Who?

We have already talked a little about the struggle to learn another langauge. But we have been looking at it from only one side. Tonight at Fun Night with the SSM, we had an insight into the language and cultural gap from the Filipino side. We played Picture This as a group. Each team took turns trying to guess what their representative was drawing. The artist had a card with 5 terms or items on it. Within the allotted time, they were to try to get their team to say as many of the items as they could. But we found that the students were not familiar with a number of the terms they were asked to illustrate.

They had no idea who the Easter Bunny was. (Imagine growing up thinking that Jesus was the purpose of the holiday?) I grew up with the Easter Bunny and have colored my share of eggs. But it was clear that they did not get it as I tried to describe that cultural tradition.

I had not thought of it until tonight, but I can't recall seeing a Frisbee since we have been here. When I described what it was, they did recognize it by description. But it is obviously not a popular toy here.

There are parking meters in Manila and someone said they have seen them in Baguio, but most of the students here have not traveled much out of Mountain Province. They certainly have never had their own car to park. So it took a little describing with some of them about the purpose of such a thing.

Since there are no Chinese take-out restaurants in the region, it only makes sense that they would have no idea what a fortune cookie is. (I have been told before that fortune cookies are an American invention anyway.)

When I saw the word teepee on the list, I knew I would have a little explaining to do. This one I am not sure if the Australian staff were even familiar with.

We have discovered that some Ilocano words will be a little easier to learn than we thought...kind of. You see, there are some things for which there is no Ilocano word. In our language lessons this week, we discovered that there is no Ilocano word for ballpoint pen, stapler, marker, paint, or eraser. They just use the English words you just read. The same word is used to describe tape, glue, and glue sticks. (Can you tell we studied school/office supplies?) In line with our experience, we also found that they have no word for butter knife. (We also studied kitchen/dining utensils.) I mention this because when we were getting things when we first moved here, we could only find sharp knives. We now treasure the 6 butter knives we found at the bottom of a bin at some store. Since they don't have them, there is no need for a word for them.

So until next time, See ya later alligator! (I guess that might need some explaining, too.)


  1. I love reading these posts and learning/thinking more about the culture differences and picture you guys trying to explain such things.

  2. Very good post! I already know some of their language ~ tape, stapler, ballpoint pen, etc. YIPPEE! :~)

    Holly W.

  3. Holly W.,

    Do you know what the primary language is of the people you will be serving? The are hundreds of languages here. Even in our little part of the island, I know there are at least 5.