I would like to start this post with this presupposition: It is not our fault.
As a nation, we Filipinos pride ourselves that we are an English-speaking people. Or at least we think we are. Even though English is not our primary language.
But I know when we speak, we Filipinos are misunderstood sometimes. Alright, many times. And we have even been mocked for our English diction. But hear us out first.
In our mother tongue, we enunciate our vowels in only one way. Like e is always eh, and no other way it is pronounced. We don’t differentiate into short e, or long e, or short i.
Though some regions in the Philippines tend to interchange the pronunciation of e and i, but that’s another subject of its own.
Of course there are other quirky mistakes that we Filipinos are prone to make when we talk in English, like interchanging he and she, or his and her. Sorry if we confuse you, and you wonder if the person we are talking about suddenly got a sex transplant. But this is due to the fact that in our language our pronoun has no gender. It is the same for male or female.
Regarding our queer pronunciation, not too long ago, a friend of ours told us that when she first arrived here in the US, while they were driving in the midst of hundreds of acres of Iowa farm lands, she commented:
“I did not know that there are sheep here.”
She got a funny look and was told, “Honey, we are in a land lot. The ocean is thousands of miles away. We don’t have ships here.”
Learning to distinctively pronounce between a short i and a long e as ee when we speak in English is something we need to familiarize with. There’s nothing akin to this in our native language.
Consider this example:
What we said: There are lots of beautiful beaches in the Philippines.
What they heard: There are lots of beautiful bitches in the Philippines.
Can you imagine the glaring stares we got and the misconceptions we caused, stating a fact that we are proud of. Or so we thought.
Back to our friend here in Iowa, one day while at home, shortly from her arrival from the Philippines, she asked, “Where can I find clean (bed) sheet.”
To this she was told that there was no such thing. That’s not clean at all!
They must have thought she has a foul mouth or just plain crazy. By now, you must have deduced what they thought they heard.
Holy clean sh*t!