A Filipino creator is discussing the “two different kinds of English” spoken by Filipinos, which they believe is reflective of socioeconomic status.
“Weird take, but I think there’s two different kinds of English in Filipinos,” Angel says. “So we have rich-people English and then we have self-taught English.”
Self-taught English, according to Angel, refers to the Filipinos who learn the language by the consumption of American or British media, for instance.
“Self-taught English is from the people who actually, like, consume that media,” they explain. Those who taught themselves how to speak English, says Angel, either still maintain their Filipino accents or they’re entirely untraceable.
“It sounds like you’re from a different country and they’ve lost an accent [because of] social media,” they add.
The loss of accent when learning English by way of media like English-language films or television shows may be, in part, due to the fact that they’re mimicking exactly what they’re hearing. In doing this, any trace of their first language may be hidden.
“Rich-people English,” on the other hand, Angel says, “sounds like people being conyo.”
‘I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like when they speak in English, that’s how I know if they are rich or not.’
In the Philippines, conyo is used to describe the combination of English and Filipino languages, otherwise known as Taglish (Tagalog and English), which is commonly associated with Filipinos who have lighter skin and are of higher socioeconomic status.
the conyo in me is acting up
— shan ia : school 💢 (@seungrkives) August 24, 2023
“Conyo is regarded as a contemporary iteration of the Taglish-speaking Philippine mestizo elite, one that enjoys the usual advantages of wealth, but one that is also youthful, consumerist, and vapid,” Angela Reyes, a professor at Hunter College, City University of New York’s English department, writes in her paper Inventing Postcolonial Elites: Race, Language, Mix, Excess. “In contemporary Philippines, the term ‘conyo’ can be multivalent. Conyo (also spelled: konyo, cono, cono, or conio) is often recognized as deriving from the Spanish word coño, a term for female genitalia that is also a popular curse word.”
This “elite” hybrid of English and Tagalog is commonly spoken among Filipinos who’ve attended private schools.
“Particularly in urban areas like Manila and among private school-educated youth, conyo also refers to both a type of person and a type of speech: wealthy, status-conscious, empty-headed youth, who attend or recently attended private schools and who speak a supposedly distinct form of Taglish. In addition to these linguistic and class markers, conyo are often identified in racial terms: ‘mestizo’ and ‘light-skinned,'” Reyes adds.
For Angel, the way a Filipino speaks English is a major indicator of their wealth.
“They talk with an accent. When they speak in straight English it sounds like they’re trying to be conyo,” they say before doing some impressions. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like when they speak in English, that’s how I know if they are rich or not. Rich people English is English with a conyo accent.”
‘It’s harder for me to copy the rich Filipino conyo accent than it is to talk in an American accent’
With more than 1.2 million views and 239,500 likes, it seems Angel’s video has reached and resonated with a substantial amount of creators on TikTok, many of whom are also Filipino. While some creators “use” the conyo accent to reap its alleged benefits, others find “copying it” to be more difficult.
“As a filam i use a conyo accent to get into clubs and bars in the US because they’re less strict with foreigners,” @sirraulo wrote.
“Private school taglish fr,” @ashkelatt replied.
“I noticed this tooo!! idk but it’s harder for me to copy the rich filipino conyo accent than it is to talk in an american accent,” @dj_saturn commented.
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