Okay, the title of this post is Barok English. Now that I have gotten your attention, stay around and hear me out.
There are many Pinoy magicians and mentalists who speak good, fluent English. Lou Hilario, Chubster Flores, Kel Fabie, Nomer Lasala, Justin Pinon come quickly to mind.
The rest speak passable English.
Some struggle with it.
And there are those who belong to the “I have a coins” group.
I don’t have the empirical number, but I hope this is the smallest group of the English-speaking magicians in the country.
Still, this group sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. “I have a coins” indicates the struggle of Filipinos to master the singular/plural form of nouns in the English language.
I’ve worked at parties with professional party hosts who say, without fear and hesitation, “Kids, do you want to win a prizes?”
Upon hearing this butchery of their language, native English speakers don’t react. At least not outwardly to be observable.
But the snobbish Pinoys in the audience are quick to snicker. Often, their reactions lack subtlety so everyone notices they caught the mistake.
Pinoys in general, not just magicians, would love to master the English language. Alas, to some, it’s just a hard nut to crack.
In all this, here’s the awful dynamic: those who have mastered it (and even those who have not) invariably find malapropisms funny. Grammatical errors comical. And mispronunciations hilarious.
I am exhibit number one. I am a native Bisaya speaker and so my thick English accent is thicker than thick. Every now and then, I mispronounce English words that make the audience laugh. I’m just fortunate that I’m doing a comedy act, and so instead of being embarrassed, I note those mispronounced words. I then use them deliberately in my next shows and get more laughs.
Imagine the mental trauma of a performer doing a serious act and unwittingly getting a roar of laughter when he declares, “I will now call a dead spirits to communicate with a members of the audience who is wearing a red dresses.”
With so many singular/plural mix-ups in that sentence, the dead spirits (if they were Pinoys) would not heed the call, the members of the audience would die laughing and the red dresses would turn redder.