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“Conyo Talk”: The Affirmation Of Hybrid Identity And Power In Contemporary Philippine Discource Essay

This study is conducted to find out the current status of the “conyo” talk in the Philippines. The study specifically answers and defines the following questions:
1. Origin and history of “conyo” talk in the Philippines
2. How does “conyo” talk affects the Filipino society?
3. Is “conyo” talk a part of our culture or not?
4. Why is “conyo” being discriminated?
5. Why do Filipinos love to mix languages?

No stated hypothesis in the study.
The researcher used historical research method to examine the past events in order to identify the origin and definition of unfamiliar terms. This method also helped the researcher to broaden their experiences. It aims to determine the past eents in making the research possible.

Acoording to Good and Scates (1972), the divisions of sources of historical research are the documents which report of events which are composed of impressions made on some human brain by past events and the remains of relics which are physical objects or written materials of historical value and produced without deliberately aiming to impact information. With these divisions of sources, the researcher were able to know more about the subjects past conditions that can be used for the study.


‘Conyo’ talk is a cultural identification where its speakers can be described as having a profound cultural ambivalence. ‘Conyo’ speakers use it not spontaneously, like in situations of code switching, but intentionally to demarcate their own space. This type of discourse is clearly used as a strategy to give the impression of being privileged socially and economically. The switching between languages clearly conveys the multiple and complementary identities its speakers create for themselves. They have created a ‘social community’ taking on the role of stereotype images of Spaniards or Americans that exist in the Philippine popular imagination adding “local color” to their everyday discourse. They communicate with other ‘conyo’ speakers directly, without the need of explanations. Discussions on why ‘conyo’ talk exists have gone beyond face-to-face everyday conversation. ‘Conyo’ speakers have created an effective space through the help of Internet where anyone from anywhere can join in. And “space is fundamental in any form of power of communal life” (Foucault 2000, p. 361).

The Philippine linguistic and cultural phenomenon “coño talk” (a mix of predominantly Spanish and English with tagalog) is a type of discourse that purportedly identifies and differentiates people of ‘power’ from the common masses, and arose from the impact of Spanish and American colonization. Due to steady linguistic influences, resulting from contacts with different peoples and cultures, a word or a phrase may take on another meaning among a given group of people, entirely different from its original significance, where “a meeting of cultures in the intercultural sphere results in irreversible intra-cultural changes” (Mey 2007, p. 171). In the last decade, it has become the solution to problems of intercommunication where some Filipinos draw on the languages they know and tailor them for their specific shifting communicative needs.

‘Conyo’ talk became an emulation of how English and/or Spanish speakers talked to native Filipinos: a sentence in English and/or Spanish with some Filipino words. In time, it has become a stance among the middle class and the preferred means of communicating with others and establishing potential relationships. In conclusion, this study reflects the contradictory and shifting positions and boundaries of some Filipinos due to lack of confidence in their language fluency, social and economic status. The participants of the web discussions analyzed are searching for a comfortable position to show societal identification. On one hand, they want to affirm their right to be different and highlight their individuality, and on the other hand, they criticize everything that separates them from other individuals or threaten their individuality. Philippines is a hybridized society, and many Filipinos want to preserve the double cultural standard, maintaining the dominance of English and Spanish as languages of power, but embracing as well their complex identities manifesting openly the hybridity of their identity as Filipino, Hispanic and Anglophone.“Conyo talk”: the affirmation of hybrid identity and power in contemporary Philippine discourse.

The common ground that unites all ‘conyo’ speakers is their cultural peculiarity and historical memory. In the Philippines, despite being a colony of Spain for more than 300 years (1521-1898), Spanish has remained an exclusive language. It continues to be reserved only for the upper/middle class and university-educated people. Later, when the islands as a nation was transferred to the Americans through the Treaty of Paris in 1898, English – spoken by the educated, upper/middle class – was accorded the same privileged status. Social structures are the determining factors on how speakers behave, their particular ways of speaking, choices of words and rules for conversing. Filipinos who speak fluently Spanish and/or English are perceived to be from upper/middle class and are treated with more respect. On the other hand, Philippine languages are considered inferior and the languages of the poor and illiterates. And because of the continuous disregard for Philippine languages and the high esteem held for Spanish and English, some Filipinos who have not come to terms with their perception of themselves as the ‘other’ created a hybrid language where they persistently identify with their former colonizers.

Consequently, ‘conyo’ talk has become the response for many Filipinos who, constrained by their background and having been deprived, at one point, of ‘power’ -economic as well as social – , are constantly subjected to the idea of being ‘the other’. ‘Conyo’ talk has become a metaphor of what they have been denied – the Spanish language, and an affirmation of their existence and the power that should be theirs and should continually flow to them. Its representation, as Blumenberg (2010) aptly wrote, “indicates the fundamental certainties, conjectures, and judgments in relation to which the attitudes and expectations, actions and inactions, longings and disappointments, interests and indifferences, of an epoch” (p. 14). ‘Conyo’ talk has become a social-cultural default for many who want to be perceived as coming from upper-middle class, or simply an individual with ‘power’. The advent of Internet and Web discussions has opened new venues for people to discuss matters that affect society without being prejudiced. The opening threads of “What is conyo ba?”, “Why do Filipinos love to mix languages?” and “Why are conyos discriminated?” shed light on the need to comprehend how this discourse came into being, why speakers have chosen to speak it, what it represents to them.

Participants facilitate, and even guide the flow of conversations – from discussing its possible origins, their position towards its speakers or the discourse itself to expressing themselves in ‘conyo’. It is evident, from the examples cited, that its speakers endeavor to assert their identity as Filipino, Hispanic and Anglophone. They have created among themselves a type of jargon that is textually mediated where norms and rules are flexible, subject to interlocutors’ interpretations, and as in many social practices, they facilitate “perceived anomalies to pass, in order to make sense of the rules and make the coding categories ‘fit’ the data” (Firth 2009, p. 69).

Thus, when two participants wrote in Spanish: “?porque hay conyo? para el pene puede lo entre.” and “exactamente, Una mujer tiene un conyo así que puedo utilizar mi pene será malo que una mujer tenga”, no one seemed to mind the faulty grammar; on the contrary, the intention was accurately understood by some and were amused by these remarks. ‘Conyo’ talk’s unwritten rules of conduct aremultifunctional and reflexively relate to its context of use. It is like a language game where the interactants position themselves intersubjectively. Thus, when one reads “Yu-uck, that’s sooo s-q-H2o!” or “OMGeesshh dude pare bro labuyo!”, only a person familiar with this type of discourse can understand and infer the utterances’ meanings and allow themselves to be subjected to it. In this case, comprehension is achieved “procedurally and contextually in what is said is invariably assessed in a particular, local context, by particular persons, at particular moment” (Ibid., p. 71)

Just like English and Tagalog, “conyo” talk is just another way of Filipinos, especially the teens, to express and to communicate. Despite being referred to as the way of the “rich kids” to talk, “conyo” talk can be heard almost all around the Philippines, especially, in conversations in almost all of the universities in the Metro Manila. Students from private schools and universities are more likely to be heard talking in a “conyo” way. English and Tagalog words are combined to make a sentence or phrase. I
can say that to talk in a “conyo” way is part of the Filipino students’ culture, especially those who are in the “higher ups” in our society. But looking on the brighter side of it, I noticed that this “conyo” talk shows how intelligent the Filipinos are. It may sound annoying, but only the Filipinos can do that to talk with each other using a combination of two languages. They can position themselves more easily without fear of retaliation or ridicule as well as express solidarity, difference and/or power similar to everyday interactions or the hybridity-of-the-everyday.

Participants use a more informal language, colloquial forms and other features that are usually associated with spoken language. In this case, hybridity occurs in the responses to the threads posted in reaction to positioning within the ambiguity of what is a Filipino. Are Filipinos only Asians, Hispanics, or Anglophones, or all of these? At the same time, in their continual accommodations of positions and power differences the idea of otherness may haunt the possibility of identification, for in many multiethnic societies such as the Philippines, “discourse is bounded by the essentialism of social status” (Tate 2007). Factors independent of specific speakers and circumstances, such as economic forces, power relation as well as factors directly related to speakers’ social networks and relationships, their attitudes and their self-perception and perception of others, influence their use of one or another language, or both. In virtual interactions, due to anonymity, member participants have more freedom to create identities to reflect their thoughts and belief.

http://siba-ese.unisalento.it/index.php/linguelinguaggi/article/viewFile/12641/11252 Blumenberg, H. 2010, Paradigms for a Metaphorology, Cornell University Press, U. S. Bhabha, H. 1990, Dissemination, in Bhabha, H. (ed.), Nation and Narration, Routledge, New York, pp. 291-323.

Firth, A. 2009, Ethnomethodology, in D’hondt, S., Ostman, J.O. and Verscheren, J. (eds.), The Pragmatics of Interaction, John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam, pp. 66-78 Mey, J. 2007, Developing pragmatics interculturally, in Kecskes, I and Horn, L (eds.),Exploration in Pragmatics, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 165-189.

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