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Introduction of Conyo
In the age of colonialization, not only did the Spanish bring the name of their
empire religion and culture to our beloved country, they also brought about their language,
and along with it, although less commonly discussed, a brand-new mentality which would
shape the way on how Filipinos would interact and envision themselves, now developed
today as the word “conyo”. It is said that the adopted language of a colony (typically that
of the ruling Empire’s) would progress slower than that of the original country. A word or
a phrase may take on a different meaning among the locals which vary drastically from
the original due to steady linguistic influences which result from contacts with other
cultures or people, where “a meeting of cultures in the intercultural sphere results in
irreversible intracultural changes”. The term “conyo” is this case is no exception, whose
original meaning actually is “cunt” or collo, a term for the female genitalia, often used as
a curse word. However, Filipinos picked up the Spanish exclamation and utilized it to
signify a fair-skinned person who belongs to the upper middle class residing in an affluent
neighborhood (Garvida, 2012).

The epidemic of conyospeak we’re familiar with today, however, has its origins
elsewhere. One theory states that amid English made the standard medium of instruction
in various academia and a demand from upper class families to be more “worldly”, conyo
kids are required to speak English to their parents and forbidden to speak in Tagalog (the
“vernacular” for those in Non-Tagalog cities and provinces). Another theory is that yayas
or nannies and even relatives that aren’t fluent in English (typically of older generation)
who rear these conyo kids could only speak to them in fractured English with mix of
Tagalog or their respective dialect spoken at home. Either way, kids who grew up in these
households would inevitably be associated with this modern sociolect of Philippine
English. Since that its speakers mostly reign from upper class, therefore coñotic Taglish
became destined to be the new lexicon of status, wealth, prestige, power, and everything
it implies. It has become the new standard by which those of lower social strata have
come to measure themselves against. Thus, it is here to stay (Avelino, 2014).
A term which was originally used to describe how Spaniards and Americans would
speak with the locals by mixing their language with a hint of Filipino or vernacular terms,
it now not only refers to Western-looking foreigners or Filipino, but also has become an
attitude, lifestyle and association with the elite and educated upper class (Garvida, 2012).
Nowadays, a whole new identity has sprung from this mere pattern of linguistics. It also
has created a breed of Filipinos who, while born in the Philippines or unto a Filipino Family,
struggle to speak their own native language. Moreover, English has been favored upon
as the preferable medium of instruction, prompting cosmopolitan families and those living
in Non-Tagalog provinces to prioritize the Anglo language and their own respective
vernacular more than the national language. (Mangahas, 2016) This epidemic seems to
be exacerbating as the rise of the Middle Class as well as the cultural impacts of Western
centrism via the easily-accessible Global Village that still plague our country seem to
accelerate this unfortunate pattern (Hernandez, Serohijos, & Yañez, 2016).

While the conyo culture and Englishero epidemic may not be a new topic, it is
important to be scrutinized and studied upon as it further explains other deeper cultural,
psychological and mental aspects that can be found within the Social Sciences of the
Philippines. It can explain the intertwinement of multilingual tendencies unique toward the
Filipino people upon the studies of Linguistics (Ang, 1978). It further elaborates the social
views and stereotypes on different classes of society, especially distinguishing how the
elite and the less fortunate are looked upon and certain groups of people in the Philippines
(Garvida, 2012). It may be connected to why the Philippines has been regarded as the
most Westernized nation in Southeast Asia, our preference for foreign products than
local and why our attitude varies drastically compared with the Oriental centric practices
of our neighboring countries (Serrano, 2015) as well as explain the mentality of Filipinos
to put foreigners, half-breeds or half-Filipino and half-Foreigners (typically half-Western
nationality) on a pedestal, them being our preferred cast for acting or vlogging in the
media and influencer industry as well as whitening beauty products that still remain
prevalent in the skincare industry. (Alojipan, 2016)
This topic also shows the vulnerability of our culture towards the increasing
gentrification of societies around the world. On one hand, Philippine English culture has
helped Filipinos become more economically viable in the world market as laborers,
otherwise known as OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and allowed Filipinos to be more
active internationally, with researchers, teachers, laborers or other professionals from our
country invited to conduct their respective profession as contribution towards a certain
foreign establishment (Fry, 2012). However, along with it comes the threat of our sense
of Nationalism and pride for country. The Conyo and Englishero culture may also reflect
the attitude of Filipinos preferring to pursue their careers and aspirations abroad rather
than their own country, which shows that not only Conyo and Englishero Culture has
become an attitude, lifestyle or class of people, it has become a precursor to our
resignation of our passion to embrace our own national culture, language and identity.

Differentiation of Terms:

Colonial Mentality – attitude of ethnic or cultural inferiority impacting a people as a result

of colonialization. It is also known as an attitude characterizing values of the colonizer
more superior than their own.

Conyo – specific term for people who speak and mix half-native Filipino language, half
English as well as associated with a specific set of unique elitist traits and characteristics.
Review Of Related Literature
Conyo Culture: Origins and Manifestations in our Psyche

An article by Militar and Sierras (2015) states that despite having no clear origins,
conyo has since set its foundation upon contemporary Filipino language and continues to
be utilized by millennials and Gen-Zs alike today. However, it has become something
more than just the result of the multilingualism of Filipinos or speaking in a specific,
peculiar way. According to Dr. Borlongan, a professor in the English and Applied
Linguistics Department of DLSU Manila, it is fazed unto how exactly the “Taglish” hybrid
emerged. He does state that Philippine English may have begun sometime the Americans
occupied the Philippines, in accordance with the idea of Br. Andrew Gonzales, when
Filipino teachers started taking the place of American teachers (Thomasites) stationed in
the country. With this, he also hypothesizes that during the 1940s to 1950s, spoken conyo
may have evolved from Philippine English, around the time when English had become
the country’s second language. Whilst interviewing students in DLSU Manila, many
students would denote conyo as an idea not merely referring to manner of speech, but
also a set of specific characteristics. Such common physiognomies included having
expensive designer clothes, consciousness about one’s social status, having a rich family
and, most important of all, higher literacy in English than the average Filipino.

Borlongan (n.d.) defines Conyo English as a Philippine English sociolect, an

English-Tagalog code-switching typically correlated with people of high socioeconomic
strata in Philippine Society. It is characterized as having more frequent and less smooth
switching than typical English-Tagalog switching, leading it to be stereotyped as an
expression of exaggerated playfulness. The study shows that attitudes toward this were
that while income does not predict the acceptability of conyo English, it does predict that
of pure English and that responders, though accepting of the sociolect, would rather not
have it promoted at home, school, media, or everyday communication, with its dominance
found among friends and school, and the lowest among newspapers or interacting with
one’s boss. In an article by the LaSallian, he is enthused by the emergence and evolution
by Conyo English stating that “It is always possible to develop new words, new sociolects,
new dialects, new languages — that is a normal process in language evolution”. (Militar
& Sierras, 2015)

Lopez (n.d.) calls for Filipinos to address the origin/roots of why conyo culture still
permeates through society rather than for the masses to merely criticize it as face value.
The author calls for Filipinos to embrace the hybrid culture that have resulted from our
history and society, rather than long for a Philippines that has slipped through our fingers
decades ago, in order for the country to truly flourish. Instead of criticizing the current
state of our national language, the author points out that the mere result of multilingualism
and intertwining of our traditional language and foreign sociolects should be celebrated
as it is how our language has evolved (borrowing words from Spanish and Chinese
language) and will evolve in the upcoming future.

Theory of Linguistic Relativity

Lewis (2014) describes the meaning of linguistic relativity as a theory wherein the
language you speak affects broadly or even determines the way you view the world from
the way you perceive, categorize, and synthesize it. This radical proposal, known as the
Sapir-Whorf thesis, is often associated with the early-to-mid 20th Century linguistic
anthropologists Eric Sapir and Benjamin Whorf. Meanwhile, a strong form of such is
known as linguistic determinism which is the idea that language and structures beneath
it even limit and determine human knowledge or thought along with thought processes
such as perception, memory, and categorization

Institutional Bias

According to Lucas (n.d.), institutionalized bias are scripts, procedures or practices

that systematically give advantage to specific groups or agendas over others. It is built
into the fabric of institutions. This form of institutionalization is categorized under neo-
institutionalism which focuses more on how institutions are influenced by their broader
environments. It argues that leaders in these specific entities perceive pressure to
incorporate such practices clarified by dominating concepts of organization fabricated in

Cognitive-Behavioral Theory
Lumen Learning (n.d.) defines Cognitive-Behavioral theory as a hypothesis that
the way a person synthesizes and perceives the world has great impact upon what he or
she says and does. Proposed by Aaron T. Beck, this thought discusses interplay among
language, behavior, emotion, and thought. As internal dialogue is a mode of language,
the way we converse to ourselves also have impact on our daily lives. Cognitive
distortions or problems with such internal dialogue, can result to negative behaviors and
grave emotional problems.

Impact on Perception of World

An article by Erwin (2013) states that cognitive scientists and rhetoricians have
found repeatedly via thorough and unimpeachable research that language not only
shapes our thinking but also have profound effect on our perceptions of the world, citing
multiple studies and cases that agree otherwise. The language we utilize either enhances
or limits the way we view our interactions and events that we encounter on a daily basis.
The study cites a Stanford cognitive psychologist who focuses research on how language
impacts our cognition. In this test, she asks an aboriginal girl from Australia to point north
with the girl aiming her fingers with absolute precision when tested via a compass.
However, while asking academe in Stanford to accomplish the same task (some
participants of which have been in the same room for 40 years), they point in all sorts of
direction with no accuracy whatsoever. The findings show that the talent of the 5-year old
girl merely relies on language. Different languages were shown to have different cognitive
skills built into their respective lexicon. The research also found that language shapes
even the most basic of human experiences such as time, space, causality and
relationships to others.

Biases derived from language

Boroditsky (2001) conducted experiments on the differences on how English

speakers and Mandarin speakers experience time. The former predominantly talks about
time in a horizontal manner while the latter talks about such in a vertical manner. The
results were that native speakers in each respective language showed bias for their type
of cognition when asked to express about time in the other’s spatial terms. Findings from
this study were that language is a powerful tool in formidifying thought about abstract
domains and one’s language plays a vital role in shaping habitual thought, however it
does not completely determine one’s cognition in the dominant Whorfian sense.

Summarization and Limitations of the Literature

From the aforementioned studies and articles cited, it can be concluded although
our modern day Conyo culture and language (such as taglish) has rather indistinct roots
that came along with Spanish and American colonialism or factors that cause such, there
is no doubt that it has evolved into its own distinct consciousness, attitude, and an entire
social class in Filipino society. While most nationalists are wary of the epidemic, other
experts label it a natural evolution of the Filipino people’s multilingualism and could be
the birth of a new local dialect/sociolect due to environmental factors and globalization.
No research or discourse has been conducted on how Conyo Culture can be correlated
to modern Filipino psychology and sociology (interactions with others). Despite this,
language can be tied towards a person’s intellect, behavior, attitude and consciousness
by means of Theory of Linguistic Relativity, although it yet must be tested with colloquial
language and if it encompasses perception based on society and norms. Cognitive-
Behavioral Theory however supports the idea that thoughts can affect one’s attitude and
behavior, such as biases perpetuated by Conyo Culture, which is further strengthened
through institutionalized bias brought about by the institution of colonial mentality. Several
researches have also found that the tongue we speak also affects our perceptions of the
world and can create peripheral biases in our daily activities. However, studies have not
yet been conducted whether these biases or perceptions can be applied towards
materialist and non-linguistic related subjects (such as preference for Western shows or
choice of food)
Analysis and Diagnosis of the Thought

Filipinos, like other past colonies in the Southeast Asia region, have come to
develop a unique blend of local Oriental practices, traditions and customs mixed with
Anglo Influences that shape the way we interact, function and think up until today. One of
such influences was colonial mentality, more specifically, “conyo”. However, a unique
affinity of this specific Colonial Mentality has become evident now more than ever,
especially with the rise of a new form of cultural imperialism, Globalization, thanks to
advent of instant connectivity. The internet and mass media have played a key role in
promoting Westernization and homogenization of culture. This in turn tempts
demographics from developing countries, especially the youth to look unto these attitudes
and ideas as more quintessential than their own culture (Firouzeh, 2018).

Here in the Philippines, this homogenization of culture brought about by

globalization also perpetuates the long-standing colonial mentality brought about by the
Spaniards and Americans via biases for Western culture and ideas that is very evident
upon our society today. Be it the fact that our favorite sport in the country is basketball
(De La Cruz, 2017), fast food chains and foreign restaurants are doing progressively
better (Chen, Chen, & Liu, 2010) and being chained out more quickly, or the fact that
most of our business and transactions are conducted in English and not Filipino
(Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2012), Western cultural influences have impacted the
psychology and sociology of how Filipinos function on a daily basis. Therefore, it is no
doubt that this epidemic too has further strengthened the presence of Conyo Culture not
only in Filipino society, but as well as in the Filipino Psyche.

From the research stated above, it can also be concluded that aside from this
rampant homogenization of culture and our embedded Colonial Mentality, the mere
institutionalism of our medium of instruction, educational system, and attitudes toward our
own language. Institutionalization can be defined as establishment of a conventional norm
in an organization or culture (Oxford Living Dictionaries). The fact that English is one of
our medium of instruction tempts institutions, be it educational or of business to choose
the Anglo language “for convenience of interacting with foreigners in various transactions”
and for Filipinos to be more “economically viable” in the World Market today. However,
this reasoning and logic not only encourages the masses, most especially those living in
non-Tagalog regions (Mangahas, 2016), to prioritize English over Filipino, it also views
Filipino as incapable and unsuitable to be a language for academe and professional use,
instilling the ages long colonial attitude that our language is less superior than theirs. This,
in too, also further affects the psyche of the Filipino to look highly unto not only the
language of English, but its Western and Anglicized origins as more refined than ours, a
defining feature of Conyo Culture.

Institutionalization does not only stop with the written law, however, even private
decisions of distinguished academe and biases of families, most especially those of
affluent and cosmopolitan backgrounds. Families belonging to the higher economic strata
prefer to have their kids educated in English first rather than the native tongue for the
“sake of convenience” in learning not only because most of our subjects are taught in
English (especially in private institutions) but for business and various transactional
purposes as most of these kids go on to foreign academe or institutions or become
involved in the highly-English speaking economic environment of the Philippines.
(Garvida, 2012) These also have become part of the rationale for CHED to remove
mandatory Filipino in colleges as even lawmakers and politicians, supposed
ambassadors for Filipino nationalism, have also fallen privy to the assumption that
learning English is undoubtedly more beneficial than learning our own national language
in the long run (Tomacruz, 2018). This also explains the epidemic of increased
Englisheros, the majority demographic of “conyos” in the country, as they have grown to
become such not because of choice, but because of the environment they were born into
and forced to be integrated in. Thus, it is unfair for critics to disparage young Englisheros
of today for not “being nationalistic enough” and not speaking their native language
fluently without criticizing the institutions that constricts them from such. (Lopez, 2015)

Sapir-Whorf’s Linguistic Relativity provides an explanation on how language

affects the general psyche of people in reaction to their environment, particularly their
perceptions, synthesis and reactions of their thoughts towards their surroundings (Lewis,
2014). It is within this concept paper that we theorize Linguistic Relativity of also having
the ability to impact perceptions in terms of sociological and psychological basisIn this
case, due to constant intrusion of English into our native language, Linguistic Relativity,
in terms of sociology and psychology, would make frequent users of the language (most
especially those in higher economic stata and high academe professions) render English
as a more convenient and favorable mode of language due its plurality within our society
despite living in the Philippines as it offers easier semantics and syntax in synthesizing
information, especially that of complex intellectual matters and topics, thus further
supporting the idea of bias in linguistics when thinking in a certain order and manner be
it from mere order of words to actual meanings of concepts that are more defined in
English rather than Filipino, most especially in fields of Mathematics and Science. A report
by Gripaldo (2015) upon the making of a Filipino Philosopher describes that Filipino is still
a young language that still has yet to be utilized more frequently by academics and
professionals in their respective fields. However, due to the impending phenomenon of
globalization and threatened even more rapidly by the global village of social media,
conyo will constantly remain persistent in its usage in order to connect more ideas
between our raw native language and the universally utilized one (English). To look into
a more structural functionalist approach, it is rather conyo that is bridging and maintaining
the usage of Filipino, even in just minute amounts of words or phrases while faced with a
world today where English could easily vanquish an obsolete language.
From the information processed by this theoretical concept of language, Cognitive-
Behavioral Theory provides a platform for these thoughts collected via language into
behavior, emotions and actions toward a certain entity (Lumen Learning). The biggest
manifestation of this in reaction to the latter mentioned is the establishment of English as
one of the two official languages of the country as mentioned in our 1987 Constitution,
Article XIV, Section VII for purposes of communication and instruction. It is also what
comes as the driving force as to why most people who have been educated and raised in
English-speaking households and those who go to prestigious institutions that prioritize
the universal language, work in cosmopolitan and academic professions such as
business, medicine, and at times, education, etc., or from higher economic strata speak
this hybrid of Tagalog (or the native Filipino dialect) and English whenever they converse.
It’s what drives families, especially those in upper social classes, to have their children
and family fluent in English before their own local dialect or national language. (Militar &
Sierras, 2015) It is from these synthesized information and concepts that have come from
language, specifically concepts wherein the user cannot properly expound him/herself
either due to his/her lack of knowledge for the native vocabulary or the lack thereof such
concept that cannot be found either in English or in Filipino. This concept is what bridges
this peculiar mannerism of speech form such institutionalization most evident in people
of these specified backgrounds.

However, this concept does not merely restrict itself upon linguistics alone. It also
penetrates daily life activities, social cues and standings, and overall impression of the
Filipino people unto others and unto themselves. There is a correlation with those of high
economic strata who view themselves more superior than their less fortunate
counterparts not solely because of his/her economic fortunes and property, but rather
upon his/her ability to express his/herself more fluently in English rather than Filipino. It
creates discrimination versus local literates and professionals, especially those in the
educational field, who choose to continue nurturing our national language as of lower
breed and not as refined. It also gives members of the conyo demographic a false sense
of entitlement due to this specific characteristic of theirs, viewing themselves as more
literate, informed, and educated than their less wealthy counterparts. Thus, it can be said
that conyo culture affects the Filipino Psyche in creating a greater riff among different
economic classes in the already great divide between the rich and the poor (Pedrosa,
2014), and disconnecting those in the conyo demographic from their humble Filipino roots

The institutionalized bias we have that places English on a higher pedestal, both
in the professional field and even in daily leisure interactions of the Filipinos. An example
of such would be the growing trend of utilizing more English phrases compared to before
in Filipino telserye and cinema (Dayag & Danilo, 2004) versus the usage of
“pampanitikang” (literary) or deep Filipino, which would otherwise be look upon with favor
in other cultures and societies. An example of such would be American/English Broadway
productions and plays wherein highfaluting and deep words in their local language are
rather praised and preferred rather than speaking a foreign tongue. This would explain
the increased hiring as well of half Western and half Filipino personalities, most especially
those who are natives of the English language compared to purely local talent. (Alojipan,
2016) The Cognitiive-Behavior theory in this scenario has equated English and the Conyo
Culture with prestige affecting the Filipino Psyche as it views professionals and wealthier
classes who prefer to utilize such for whatever reason as more sophisticated and
advanced, that the aforementioned are more suitable for classy interactions and those
who speak it (celebrities, icons, etc.) or descend from such background are what the
masses should aspire to be.

The repercussions of Conyo Culture do not stop at social classes and perceptions
in society either. It also ingrains itself upon the habits of Filipinos physically. A key factor
of members of the conyo demographic is said to be their preference for branded clothing,
designer products, and imported goods. They are also said to not know how to commute
via jeep, bus, tricycle, and these days, even regular white taxis, and prefer to take Grab
for reasons of “safety” and “convenience” (Militar & Sierras, 2015). Another key
characteristics of conyo demographic, especially among the youthful millennials and Gen
Zs, is that they are more up-to-date and akin with Western trends such as the latest
technological product, games, fashion line drop, or knowledge of movies and TV shows
along with the country’s (mostly America) latest mass media gossip and information
(Banzon, 2015). It even reaches a point wherein certain conyo people are more informed
about events that go on in other countries and internationally, rather than those in their
own country. The Cognitive-Behavior Theory at play here is that since English is
institutionally favored upon, most especially across the internet and in medium of
instruction, it affects the behavior and creates a psychological equation that those of
Western Origin and Culture must also be more well-versed, of higher quality, or of better
content rather than of one’s native country. Linguistic Relativity is also evident here
wherein conyo people would prefer content and products relayed and discoursed in
English (or even foreign origin) compared to those being done in Filipino, which can be
seen why they not only interact with more media in English but may also explain their
minute use of commute as it demands more Filipino or local dialect.

However, in spite of all this, a positive aspect may also come from the epidemic of
Conyo Cutlure. Borlongan (n.d.) says that a result of the various conditional factors and
circumstances that revolve around the conyo language today, a dialect of its own may
come about as a result of its constant use, and even specifies in his research various
samples of syntax and semantics of our present day Conyo English and English Sociolect.
He claims that these creations of new words and new phrases come about with natural
language evolution. Lopez (2015) also reiterates in her research that this sociolect hybrid
of Filipino and English are a natural spawn of various institutionalism present in modern-
day Filipino society and that Filipinos should embrace this new colloquial/pidgin rather
than suppress it. Despite critics stating that this is a threat to our own local national
language and culture, an example of such kind of dialect has already been emplaced in
the regions of west Africa. Guinea Coast Creole English (known more commonly as West
African Pidgin) is an example of such result of blending local syntax, semantics, and even
morphology with the English language which were also an aftermath of vast British
colonization in that part of the continent. It also is characterized to be a spoken language
(as it is barely written, much similar to our conyo English) and various local varieties exist
such as Nigerian Pidgin, Ghanaian Pidgin English, Liberian Pidgin, Liberian Pidgin
English, Sierra Leone Krio and Pichilings (Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications, 1975).
As of 2017, 75 million people were recorded to have utilized the language in places such
as Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and Equatorial Guinea. Despite this, it remains a
legitimately recognized language, even the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has
a website that reports its news in the local West African Pidgin (BBC, n.d.). As Conyo
English is characterized by its own distinct exaggerated accent of blended with sabotaged
Filipino pronunciation, West African Pidgin also preserves its own distinct African accent
and remains uncompromising towards Anglicized accents. This proves that we, as a
people, need not to be swayed and altered merely because of an intrusion of language,
rather we can adapt it to suit our own terms, language (syntax, semantics, morphology
and phonology), and culture thereby preserving the Filipino identity. Below are examples
of West African Pidgin and its parallels toward our own Conyo English.

(Borlongan, n.d.)

Conyo English: “Let’s make pasok to our class!”

Standard English: “Let’s go attend our class!”

Conyo English: “Like, it’s so init naman!”

Standard English: “It’s extremely hot!” (weather)

Conyo English: “Kakainis naman in the LRT!”

Standard English: “It’s really bothersome in the LRT!” (weather)

(Adams, 2018)

West African Pidgin: “Where the bathroom dey?” (dey - similar to “ba” in Filipino)
Standard English: “Where is the bathroom?”

West African Pidgin: “E don do” (similar to the English words: hey, don’t do)
Standard English: Stop

West African Pidgin: Wetin dey happen?

Standard English: What’s going on? /What’s happening?
Generalization and Summarization:

Conyo Culture can be described as not only a specific linguistic hybrid of English
and Filipino (or local dialect), it has also evolved to define a certain set of traits, attitudes,
and a separate social class. Due to institutions that have plagued the country’s identity,
tconyo culture has flourished and grows even more dominant with the trend of
globalization and mass media. This results unto institutional biases as well as misguided
actions, habits, and mentality which puts our national language at a disadvantage, with
deteriorating appreciation for our mother tongue. It can be characterized to affect the
Filipino Psyche in various manners, be it sociolinguistically, psychologically, and overall
behavior in various interactions and transactions among peers with the theories of
Linguistic Relativity and Cognitive-Behavior, in linguistic and non-linguistic habits.
However, it can also have the potential to become a dialect of its own that is serving as a
bridge between our native linguistics and the vastly dominating universal language, with
its own distinct rules and characteristics, showing the linguistic evolution occurring in the
Philippines as a result of the institutions that fortify such.

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