Arts & Culture


No, not that highly addictive online game ‘Wordplay’, but rather, the actual brand of Pinoy puns. From jeprokssakalam, to the Pinoy coño slang RUG (are you game?), we are not just a code-switching nation; we are also truly a nation that knows how to play with words. Okay, we’re punny

But first, where did we even get our unique way of using words? For starters, the Filipino language is spelt the same way they are spoken—including the curious and often hilarious case of “Bababa ba? Bababa”. With this language feature, mixing or combining words becomes extremely exciting—oh, kapag nagpagupit ang dati mong jowa, extreme! Get it? 

Fair warning, we’ll try our best to be funny in this article, but if not, well, at least we are punny, nonetheless! Where were we? Oh, extreme! As in, ex trim. But what would they say when their hair grows long and they need to tie it? Metallica. Or since barbershops are now operating at 30% capacity, what do you tell your friend when you are already near the shuttle station to get a haircut? Nirvana!

All right, but what about that letter of your son? Liam Neeson. Or when they say you have to drink vinegar so you won’t develop symptoms, Asim to matic. If you enjoy this kind of clever wordplay, we highly recommend you check out @wansapunataym on Twitter and Facebook. Get that well-deserved laugh, especially if you are a mom because it’s not a laughing mother! 

Photo from Nylon Manila

Some people would consider this way of speaking as ‘jologs’, but wherever this trend came from, it serves its purpose of sending the message across. What better way to express something than making your listener smile? Oh, speaking of which, the term jologs is rooted in the poor man’s meal dilis (di) + tuyo (yo) + itlog (log) = Diyolog. In the ‘90s, thanks to our resident jologs, Jolina Magdangal, this term evolved into Jolog (also what Jolens fans call themselves), which we now use to describe something we consider baduy.

The lexical trend of backward speech

We mentioned earlier the words jeproks and sakalam. These two words represent the old and new Pinoy slang. We love to switch the syllables of a word, whether in English or Filipino. Some examples are dehins (old), deins (new) for hindi, and lodi or lods, for idol, petmalu for malupit, and werpa for power. There is even a song with those last three Pinoy slangs as the first line of the chorus. 

The trend of backward speech isn’t entirely new, though. The earliest recorded use of backward speech in the country was in the ‘60s. Then Mike Hanapol, through Juan de la Cruz Band, popularized the term ‘jeproks’ in the 70s. For all we know, backward speech may have already been used by our national heroes. Imagine General Luna saying “petmalu”.

There is currently a long list of Pinoy slang heavily used by pretty much anyone in the country. Yes, even the expats use these words too. It is important to note that while these words were mostly pulled out of the belly for comedic relief, they serve as a language for certain groups and classes. Just like how jeproks describes a spoiled kid or jologs, which came from a mixture of words describing a poor man’s meal, these words came from a place where linguistic prejudices thrive.

You would hear people discriminate others by their choice of words or by how often they use colloquial words or slangs to communicate. Sometimes, people would also use the very same way of speaking to gauge a person’s status, educational background, and other things that language, alone, should not be the basis of.

For the second part of Pinoy Clever Wordplay, we will talk about the Philippine Gay Lingo



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