Cultural keywords in Philippine English

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Following Williams’s (1976) seminal work on cultural keywords in English, other language researchers have embraced the term, applying different methodologies (both qualitative and quantitative) to identifying them. They find sets of keywords (larger and smaller) in British, Australian, and South Asian Englishes, using synchronic rather than diachronic approaches to identifying them. This chapter uses diachronic evidence to demonstrate the durability of some Philippine cultural keywords through major historical and language changes in the speech community. It uses early and modern lexical records to document a set of 20 words that survive from the Spanish colonial regime, were taken up into Tagalog, and thence transferred into C20 Philippine English. These Spanish-derived keywords (e.g. poblacion, sala, mestizo, lola) are culture-specific in representing and reflecting profound social changes in the Philippines, as seen in their usage in data from the GloWbE corpus (Global Web-based English, 2012). They illustrate the legacy from Spanish colonialism present in C21 Philippine English: cultural keywords continuing in various socio-semantic fields.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDynamics of language changes
Subtitle of host publicationlooking within and across languages
EditorsKeith Allan
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9789811564307
ISBN (Print)9789811564291
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • cultural keywords
  • lexicographic evidence
  • Philippine English
  • semantic field
  • Spanish

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Cultural keywords in Philippine English'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Peters, P. (2020). Cultural keywords in Philippine English. In K. Allan (Ed.), Dynamics of language changes: looking within and across languages (pp. 201-215). Singapore: Springer, Springer Nature.