‘Conyo’ language: The practice of code-switching

Why so magaling? Let’s go uwi na! Let’s make tusok-tusok the fish balls.

Will you divert your attention if you hear these words from friends, or, let’s say, from someone you don’t know? Probably, yes.

Those who adopt such a linguistic style are commonly dubbed “conyo,” a term embedded in the country’s colonial 19th century. Originally denoting the affluent strata of Filipino society, it has evolved to encompass a speech pattern (Reyes, 2017) characterized by the fusion of languages, likely observed in the interplay between English and Filipino. This phenomenon illustrates the practice of code-switching.

Undoubtedly, the Philippines has such a rich cultural and linguistic variety that it is conventional to encounter individuals who are bilinguals or are at least aware of more than one language. Moreover, many Filipinos speak three languages—their native tongue, Filipino, and English. However, most prefer their native language, leading to frequent code-switching, where speakers blend dialects or English in the same context (Pontillas et al., 2022).

Likewise, dynamic exposure to diverse backgrounds enables Filipinos to seamlessly transition between languages based on context and their communication needs. The nature of this behavior is influenced by social and psychological factors, wherein Filipinos switch codes for reasons like convenience, emotional expression, and collective identity, among others. This practice can also mirror cultural heritage and history, as well as play a role in preserving native languages.

With code-switching being prevalent, it is important to have pragmatic knowledge at all times.

Jhon Steven C. Espenido, Surigao City