Saturday 13 April 2013

A to Z 2013: Language

For the month of April I will be blogging alphabetically with the theme of Winnipeg versus Davao City. Not to prove a winner but simply to explore the differences and similarities between my home town and my current location.

L is for Language!

Mix-mix is the common ad language here.

If you've been following along the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed that my last few posts have been a bit lite on the content. Not sure if this counts as irony or not but around the time I was writing the post on Health, my hubby and I were sick. Nothing life-threatening, but one of the worst stomach bugs either of us had ever had. I won't go into the disgusting details. Bennywho, this one should have a bit more depth to it...

This is not a language lesson post, but rather a look at the demographics of language in this tale of two cities. Language is a huge component to culture. Even within the English language, the different uses can suggest where you are from, your education level and what kind of people you hang out with. In North America, if you can speak more than one language you are considered to be pretty special. In many places around the world, people commonly speak four or five languages. This is definitely the case in the Philippines.

Canada has two official languages: English and French. All labelling must be in both and if you want to work for the federal government or Air Canada, you must be bilingual. (Although some politicians are pretty sketchy in their second language.) Manitoba has a significant French population so we definitely feel the Francophone influence in Winnipeg.

Not a great photo but it shows our bilingual signage.
The Philippines also has two official languages: Tagalog and English. In Davao, Cebuano or Visayan is the most commonly spoken language followed by English and then Tagalog. Most people will also speak a less common language specific to their people group. The Philippines has 181 indigenous languages. Crazy! (Canada has 87. Wow, that is more than I would have thought. You can check out more language info at if you're into that kind of thing.) 

Both Davao and Winnipeg have a lot of immigrants. Almost 6% of Winnipeg's population is Filipino and I know of at least two other Winnipeggers here in Davao. (Plus three up in Manila.) We have a good exchange system going. :) On a recent trip to Manila our Prime Minister mentioned that Tagalog is currently the fastest growing language in Canada. That's pretty cool, in my opinion.

English is so widely spoken here that we can get along pretty well anywhere we go. We are learning Cebuano, though, as it seems like the right thing to do and it is an adventure! My husband and I both know some French and a smattering of other Latin and Germanic based languages but this is completely different. Sure, it has a few words influenced by the Spanish but the grammar is unlike anything we are used to!

These are two multicultural cities with many languages to be overheard at the local coffee shop.


  1. Thanks for the link, right up my alley.

    I'm sorry you were sick:(

    I started out my school career in French immersion and its amazing how much of it I retained. The older I get, the more languages I want to learn.

    1. Immersion must be the best way to learn other languages. It's a lot harder when everyone wants to speak English to you!

  2. I had no idea we had that many indigenous languages in Canada! Nor did I realize that Tagalog is our fastest growing language--that IS very cool. Maybe that should be my next goal: learning Tagalog.

    Hope you're feeling better now.

    1. We are feeling better, thanks.

      I'm sure you could find a Filipino community in Van City to learn from!

  3. I think languages are so interesting. Thanks for the info!

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: