Gay Talk

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Gay language
Have you experienced being near two gays who were talking in quite a different language altogether? And were you not surprised that you could understand some of the words they were saying?
Yes. It is gayspeak, that wonderful lingo, argot, or jargon, which Filipino gays in general seamlessly switch into when they are gathered together or most immediately when they are around other people in order perhaps to “cloak” their intimate conversations, the better to protect the “virgin” ears of those around them. Historically though, it is known as swardspeak, a word coinage in the 1970s attributed by Jose Javier Reyes to columnist and movie critic Nestor Torre. Reyes himself devoted a book on the subject titled Swardspeak: A Preliminary Study. No other term has replaced swardspeak in local usage since the 70s but Ronald Baytan (in his essay “Language, Sex, and Insults: Notes on Garcia and Remoto’s The Gay Dict”) opines that the term sward these days has become anachronistic, making it improper to call the language of the gay people as “swardspeak” preferring instead to term it gayspeak.
Consciously or unconsciously, even straights or heterosexuals have peppered their vocabulary with words traceable to gayspeak. Mention the word anech (from “ano” or “what” in English with anesh, anik, anikla as varieties) to anyone in the metropolitan area and in all likelihood, the person being spoken to will reply as casually. There are also the familiar words chika, chuva, and lafang. Thanks or no thanks to media (depending on which side you’re in), gayspeak has come into public usage. In 2004, the first gay show on TV history, GMA-7’s Out, devoted a section of its show to gayspeak, threshing out a word like purita (meaning poor) and explaining its context to the largely entertained and “enlightened” audience. Such a section, of course, had its predecessor in Giovanni…...

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