Dinner at Pinoy Home

(In Tagalong) “Kain lang kayo ng kain, walanghiya kayo, pakiramdam nyo bahay nyo to!”

(First Translation) “Eat all you can, don’t be shy, and you’ll feel at home!”

(Second Translation) “Eat, eat, eat you old son of a gun, you think this your house!”

This is probably one of the most common sayings that is given during a feast at a Filipino home. The informant was born in the northern part of the Philippines on a small province known as Ilocos Norte. He remembers that near the end of each month, he would wake up early in the morning to gather all the vegetables, meats, poultry, and rice to cook for the feast that would take a complete week to prepare. People, including family and strangers, would come to his home, because his family was notable for providing the largest feasts and the best entertainment. And one of the first few greetings they would tell their guests was this phrase. He found this greeting particularly interesting and comical, because it is somewhat an offensive statement when translated correctly, but it is meant to be a statement of hospitality. His family brought this tradition to the United States, which is frequently used whenever they have parties and/or big feasts.

My informant provided the saying in tagalog, as well as two English translations. The First Translation is the intended meaning, and the Second Translation is the actual interpretation.

My review of this piece is to interpret it as both a saying and as a joke. As the informant had indicated, the greeting’s intended meaning is different from its literal meaning. And from my own experience with hearing and using the saying myself, I can agree that many use it as a sign of kindness. I also found this to be very interesting after learning the two translations, because it teaches a lesson that we shouldn’t take things for their face value. For example, this saying can be seen as a joke rather than an insult as suggested by the literal interpretation. Those who can interpret the phrase correctly usually respond by laughing. It is not to be taken as if outsiders are perceived as taking advantage of other’s generosity. Further, one’s interpretation can depend on how someone says it through their tone and physical gestures. Together, these considerations can lead us to believe that statements should not be understood by looking at translations in their literal sense. And there are additional aspects that need to be considered in order to fully understand the meaning of spoken words and phrases.