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Call Center Filipinisms


Date Posted: 2011-09-20



Have you ever stopped to think if what you're saying in English meant any sense to people who speak English as their native language like, oh, the Americans? The reason why I ask is because I remember calling our cable TV provider's customer service center to complain about a reception issue. The rep told me that she was going to make a technical issue report and therefore asked me to wait while she made it. She said, "For a while ma'am, thank you".

Instead of getting irritated, I just shook my head and smiled because even though I knew exactly what she meant, I can already imagine how annoyed an American or Brit caller would become after hearing what she just said. For native English speakers, "for a while" means "for a long time". Since I am a Filipino, I understood that what the lady meant was "it won't be long" or "just a minute".

This is a perfect example of Filipinism. Filipinisms are English phrases or clauses that are grammatically incorrect because most of them result from transliteration. It means thinking in Tagalog and then translating every word into English. For example, a Pinoy would usually say in Tagalog "Ang trapik ngayong umaga." When asked to translate such sentence into English, some might say "It's so traffic this morning" when the correct English translation should be "Traffic was very heavy this morning".

One of the Filipinisms I find very funny is the "tuck in / tucked in" phrase. When Filipinos would like to refer to the opposite, some Pinoys would say, "Tuck out your shirt" when it should be "Untuck your shirt".

Another classically funny example is the use of "hold". I've heard one customer service rep say to her caller "May I hold you please". That statement is wrong in every way. I mean, why would you like to hold your caller? First of all, it sounded very inappropriate. And second of all, how can you hold your caller when you can't even see him? But, since I understand Filipinisms, I knew that what the rep meant was "May I place you on hold".

Another Filipinism is the "come again" phrase. Some Filipinos, when asking a person to repeat what was just said, would say, "Come again?" when it should be "I beg your pardon?" or "Would you repeat that please".

Although we hear Filipinisms on a day to day basis, it doesn't make them okay. Since call centers have become our country's "sunshine industry", don't you think it's only right that we use correct and proper English?

LWS Media is a worldwide leader in call center services, offering clients with a diverse line up of services that promise to increase client branding and market performance. Through collaborative efforts with its customers, the company is committed in bringing innovation to its customer's operations.


Call Center Filipinisms
By Digi-Ana Walit






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