‘Bongga,’ ‘kilig’ among Filipino words added to Oxford dictionary

Several Filipino words have been added to the third and current edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) this month. 

The latest additions include loanwords like bongga (extravagant, flamboyant; impressive, stylish), halo-halo (a dessert made of mixed fruits, sweet beans, milk and shaved ice) and kilig (exhilaration or elation caused by an exciting or romantic experience). 

There are also new senses of existing English words like gimmick (a night out with friends), viand (meat, seafood or vegetable dish that accompanies rice in a typical Filipino meal), and high blood (angry, agitated).

Pancit (noodles), adopted from Chinese, and Spanish loanwords, pandesal (bread roll) and despedida (going-away party), were also included. 

Additionally, there are some words that are classified as English but are only used in the Philippines: kikay kit (cosmetics case), comfort room (toilet), overseas Filipino worker (OFW) for Filipinos who work abroad, and trapo (traditional politician perceived as belonging to a corrupt ruling class).

The OED, aside from being a dictionary, is a long-running language research project constantly evolving through its mission to expand the English language. It recognizes that the language has different varieties from all over the world — which is why it has been continuously adopting words from localized versions of English, one of which is Philippine English.

An event was recently held at the Philippine embassy in the United Kingdom, hosted by the recently inaugurated Sentro Rizal London, to celebrate the uniqueness and creativity of Philippine English, as seen through the lens of the OED.

“Filipinos have enriched the English vocabulary since the language was first introduced to the country on a wide scale at the turn of the 19th century. Since then, Filipinos have not only contributed new words but have also expanded the meanings of existing ones,” said Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio Lagdameo, who opened the signing and turnover ceremony of the latest edition of the dictionary.

Representing the OED in the event were John Simpson, its former chief editor, who spoke about how Philippine vocabulary has been covered by earlier editions of the dictionary, and Danica Salazar, the dictionary’s World English Editor, who promised they would persist in diversifying the English language.

“The OED is pleased to have this opportunity to collaborate with Sentro Rizal and to present its work on Philippine English to a Filipino audience in London,” Salazar said. 

She added, “The dictionary is committed to making space for words from the Philippines, as by doing so, we recognize how its Filipino speakers contribute to the richness and diversity of English.” (Ritchel Mendiola/AJPress)

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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