a new jargon

You'd say that after nine years of France, I would be fluent in French with my English in tow, and probably have an accent when speaking Tagalog. The bitter truth is that my French have stagnated at a little below the intermediate level. Then my English is deteriorating, and my Tagalog, my mother tongue, needs a little more effort of remembering words. In the end, with juggling three languages, my level of fluency has been questionable.

My written French still needs the dico & the Bescherelle (dictionary for verb conjugating), I speak using more familiar words like boulot instead of travail (work), using quoi at the end of sentences & still not always sure with the gender of things. So sometimes I can grope for words in the middle of conversations. My English is suffering with ocassional invented words. Just recently with the word submission, I just naturally spelled it submition. My business English needs ransacking. And no, I don't have an accent when speaking Tagalog. It's still intact although sometimes words take a little longer to come. I guess, the vocabulary is the most affected. One time, I had to ask my husband what the English word for trier (to sort) is.

I speak English with my husband, speak French with the rest & speak Tagalog with Filipino friends. I actively use three languages everytime. It feels more natural now than 5 years ago but when you start spelling submission as submition, like a whole new jargon, you really start to wonder if your brain is really getting old for such tasks. And it's not that I don't have practice. I guess it's really just a question of putting more effort.

And I wanted to learn Spanish.

*I had to also learn Italian during my training in hotellerie & the language never lingered after


From Manila to Paris, then to Marseille & to the Côte d'Azur, now in Singapore, clinging to a map of three worlds, where everything becomes all relative.


  1. I stopped talking in English to my husband the day I started learning French. Resulting to completely deteriorated English. So I think, one language will suffer except for our Mother tongue. Dali kayang mag Tagalog ala eh!

    At some point, although I had done some previous Spanish self-study I find it boring to study on my own. But I still keep my Spanish notes to keep exploring.

  2. My French and English are of equal level I would say for I have the opportunity to use them everyday: english on my job and french daily. But what I feel so sad is that my Japanese has completely suffered..."old age + less opportunity to use them" added up!! I guess I need to watch more Shinchan and Doraemon episodes in Youtube :-D

  3. Wow, 9 years! I'm always amazed though because I noticed you can converse with anyone in French easily, from the people manning the boulangeries to the makulit lolas!

  4. I think this is a natural phenomenon when you use two or more languages in everyday life. Well, I think this is at least true for many Filipinos. Even back home, English and Tagalog (or other Philippine languages) are always mixed in a sentence, especially in day-to-day conversations. One says, “Pakicheck naman ng title ng book. Sino ang author?” You don’t say “pakisiyasat naman ng pamagat/titulo ng aklat. Sino ang may akda?” unless you want others to look at you as if you suddenly grew two heads :).

    And since we are accustomed to be more vigilant with the “other” language (i.e., we are more conscious of our written and oral/spoken English than Filipino), it follows that when faced with another language, we tend to focus on it more. And when you have to use the third language at least 70% of the time, well… you see and experience the result :).

    I’m glad you still have the Tagalog accent. I don’t mind others saying they now speak English or Tagalog with a French accent. What I find hard to stand is when it’s not natural – like the “colegiala” accent that became a classic joke back in the 90’s.

    So don’t worry about misspelled or forgotten words. And if it makes you feel any better, we are in the same boat. The important thing is you are conscious about it and is doing something to correct it. And so far, I haven’t seen you use words incorrectly. Believe me, when someone says “eating vapour foods is good for your health” (“steamed” is cuit à la vapeur in French) or that “traffic is amazing because it took them 2 hours to reach their destination when the trip usually takes only 15 minutes (I’m not a translator but I think “amazing” is not the good translation for “incroyable” in this statement), it makes me wonder if I need to get a refresher course in English. *winks*

    p.s. sorry for the long comment :).

  5. Ooops! Please let me correct myself. I meant "somebody said" and not "someone says". I should really try to re-read and re-edit what i wrote before clicking the "publish" button :)

  6. So true, Haze, we cannot really forget our mother tongue. What happens is that we speak frentaglish already :)

    Hope you get to keep your learned Japanese, Hilda because it'll be really too bad :)

    Casual conversations are the easiest, Kala! Well after buying/shopping :)

    So funny your last paragraph, Loraine! I guess there are moments we do tend to speak french, english & tagalog in one sentence. And it's really funny! So during the flow of the sentence & we have a vocabulary memory hole, there'll always be one language to use. Sometimes, I even pronounce english words in french, only noticing how unnatural it is when I hear it. I guess it'll be difficult to really be fluent in all the languages you learn late in life. I guess a true polyglot is somewhat of a natural talent or skill for others :)

  7. Ooops, sorry, it's Lareine! Dyslectic!

  8. Makis: I envy you! I hope I can have your drive in learning other languages. I wish I know how to speak Arabic (as I'm in Saudi) or French (the sweetest of languages, sabi nila).

    I like Spanish because it sounds 'mayaman'. Hijo, señora, muy bien, por que, donde esta Santa Klaus?

    At least ikaw you have an excuse in misspelling words: you're using three languages. E ako, we use just one in the office: English pero I always misspell accommodation (or has it got one m?) pa rin.

    I agree with Lareine's comments.

    PS to Lareine: I thought 'when someone says' sounds better than 'when somebody said'.

  9. Makis, I really think it’s natural to use words from language X when talking in language Y when we have a vocabulary block. Or even mix the rules. I do that, too. The important thing is that we make sense. And if we are aware that we said something unnatural or that doesn’t’ sound right, I guess it means there’s still room for improvement. Being conscious of the mistake is a sign that we retained some of the vocabulary and grammatical rules we learned :).

    Isladenebz, I think you’re right! Thanks! I guess, I should have more confidence in my language skills :).