December 10, 2022

WHEN THE KIDS were yet small, we rented the second floor Mr. and Mrs. Pichay’s house at Honeymoon Road, Baguio City. The first floor was rented by students who were related to each other by blood or putatively.
ONLY THE FLOORS and rooms were separate; the bathroom, kitchen, and dining room were common, which means: we had face-to-face encounters with the other renters, every day almost – especially during school days.
MY FAMILY NUCLEAR spoke that variety of Ikuko known as ‘Baguio Ilokano’- like many or most do in Baguio – even up to this time.
BUT SOMETHING REALLY unique with us, we used the Nabaloi EXPRESSION/EXPR Sha! – instead of the regular Iluko EXPRs: Ania ka metten! or, Ania, apay gamin?, and other related (longer) Iluko constructions – to express: displeasure, cautioning, ire, what have you.
ONE DAY, ONE of our co-renters (first-floor) told me, as we were to eat breakfast with the kids – while she, was washing their dishes – as they just finished their breakfast:
“SIR, MAY WE speak with you later, or tonight – about something not really big?” And I answered pronto: ‘Yes hija, no problem. Let’s do it after Dinner?’ And she agreed.
EVENING CAME, AND we were ready to talk. Their eldest one began:
“SIR, WE JUST want to ask: what’s that word.. or expression we usually hear from you.. it begins with sh~?’ I replied:
‘WHAT WORD OR expression? Can you say it now please? I want to hear it so I can give you an answer! [They laughed.. then, silence.. then smiles. Meanwhile, I was thinking by myself: ‘beginning with sh~’]. Ah-ha!
‘YOU MEAN, SHA!?’ And they were looking at each other. Then, one said: “maybe Sir. Sometimes, you connect it with Ilokano, like: Sh~, bay-am kadi! (Transl: “EXPR, let it be!”); or with English like: Sh~, don’t do that! – to your children. We’re frightened some sudden times.. sounds like that four-letter English word ending in –t, Sir?” [I thought a second, then burst into laughter, as I said to explain]:
‘NOW, I GET or understood your Question. You are referring to our expression Sha! That’s Ibaloi, it’s not English – and it expresses a lot of things – a three-letter word or Expression which can substitute for a lot of longer EXPRs’ [I gave some samples, including Supra. earlier cited.. Some minutes later, and they were laughing too].
“SIR, WE THOUGHT all along, you were saying the English..” [but I said:]
‘NO, NOT THE four-lettered word you were saying; rather, it is Sha! and it is three-lettered, see? You can say now: “Sha! now I got it!” And the Sha! in that instance could substitute for – or translate as: “Okay~” or “So, okay~” or even: why yes, [I got it now!].’


OUR CITED EXAMPLE is a case of ‘False cognates’: Nabaloi Sha! vs. the Englsh Sh~t!
THE INITIAL SH~ sound seemed – or was often heard by the other renters – like the English four-letter word, since or because:
THERE IS NO Sh- sound in Iluko which they spoke; nor in Zambal (They say they were from Zambales); which could dispel their fright of my expression Sha!
JUST CONJECTURING NOW: perhaps the Nabaloi Sha! –when heard by a speaker of a language with the sh, shall not be mistaken for another word or meaning like: in
CHINESE e.g. Shyau, small; or Japanese e.g. Shizuka, quiet; even Kalinga (Balbalasang) e.g. Shovenan, right (hand). What will they do perhaps – upon hearing the Nabaloi EXPR sha!? Our answer: maybe they’ll just ask: “What did you say glease?” Or, “what’s that again?” Or, “Could you repeat your sh~?” et cetera. They have – and are familiar with that sh~ sound in their own languages respective; and


IN THE PHILIPPINES where 130 languages are spoken, the problem – or tickle, of “False cognates” can frequently obtain. The Iluko word for “rat” is not as ordinary in another Philippine language; same with its word for “string beans”, when rendered in Tagalog. Even the Cordi Iluko word piman is often humourous to the Lowland Iluko cognate: pimpiman! Ayuhh Kha, Sha!