As I was about to go to college, my mother and I had “the talk.” No, not what you think.
We talked about the possibility that I might adopt the gay lingo so pervasive in my college. As a self-professed grammar geek, and as someone who, as a kid, was told by her teacher that “gonna” and “wanna” were unacceptable in class, I thought that my mom really had no reason to worry.
I told her I didn’t even think I would be speaking it by the time I graduated.
Turned out, I broke that “promise,” along with my promise not to drink, and not to stay up late. But I don’t feel apologetic at all.
It started when I was a sophomore. I was applying in an organization, and had started to learn some of the lingo of the resident members.
I came home one time, my mom had this confused look when I used “grepa” in a sentence (It means “PG,” or “patay gutom,” or simply “hungry”). “Grepa” could be said as a joke or as a serious accusation. I forgot I was home and who I was talking to, so I had to explain, but by then I knew that I had reneged on my word.
My friends and I picked up a few terms, like “PAK!”, yes, that’s in all-caps, to convey the proper emotion, which succinctly defined a “perfect” moment, and its superlative, “PAK na PAK!”
Then there’s “tamuhhh,” which signified absolute agreement.
There’s also “Ikaw na!” or its English version, “You already!” which could mean anything, from honest admiration to thinly veiled envy, depending on who said that to you.
We managed to use all three expressions in our university graduation, for whenever a summa cum laude graduate was introduced, with the graduates from other colleges looking at us in a mixture of mild confusion and unabashed amusement.
In college, I realized a lot of people could get ridiculously prissy about language. People saw language as this definite thing, like a brand of clothing, or that fast food chain in the corner. It felt like a mark, exposing you for who you supposedly were.
Think about it. The girl or guy who speaks broken Filipino and straight English, with an accent is called “conyo,” or branded as elitist. The guy who texts “30WwzZ ph0w$zzZZ” is tagged a “jejemon.” That woman in glasses who uses terms like “ship” or “OTP” probably sleeps with her computer and has no life. We react to people in different ways, based on how they choose to communicate.
But language has always been more than writing and speaking. Had we dismissed the hieroglyphics as frivolity, we never would have scratched the surface of thousands of years of Egyptian history and culture.
Had Star Trek and Star Wars fans decided against using the language in the material, there would probably be no Comic-Con. Had no one enjoyed sending text messages that used letters and characters to create pictures, I don’t think texting would have caught on in this country.
Had people not used emoticons or expressions like “LOL” and “ROFL”, mIRC or Yahoo! Messenger would not have taken off. Actually, I think Tumblr as a website would be worse off, or dead, even, without its own lingo.
So much is lost by placing language in neat little boxes with their own rules. Telling people that you can only write and speak in one language is like telling kids that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. It’s outdated, and it’s ridiculous.
Let us choose our own color, as we should be able to choose the way we communicate with you. And don’t worry, we won’t suddenly go asdfghjkl;’ and *twitch* on our papers, in the same way that we won’t orate a Shakespearean monologue in front of our peers.
Unless required, of course.
There is magic in the way “keme” says things without spelling them out, and how it can be a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb, all at once, in the same way that the word “indefatigable” so summarizes a person who never gets tired. You and your grammar teacher can disagree, but that’s the way the world rolls today. Now excuse me as I keme from my keyboard and go om nom nom nom. BRB.
The author is a magna cum laude graduate of BA Broadcast Communication from the College of Mass Communication, UP Diliman.