My Filipino friend (known him since college days), S., says, while I was chatting with him and I quote, “You have this quaint diction”.
Before I can react, he says, “It gives you a European sense.”
I don’t know how to react to that one. What does that mean?
Being the geek that I am, I look up what quaint means. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary online, comes from Middle English, meaning “queinte, cointe”, also from Anglo-French, meaning “clever”, “expert”, and ultimately from Latin cognitus, of which the past participle is “cognoscere“, to know, a cousin of “cognition”. Merriam Webster (m-w.com) says quaint means “1) obsolete : expert, skilled a: marked by skillful design b: marked by beauty or elegance3 a: unusual or different in character or appearance : odd <figures of fun, quaint people — Herman Wouk> b: pleasingly or strikingly old-fashioned or unfamiliar”.
And now “diction”, according to Merriam Webster comes from Latin meaning “dictio“, “speaking”, “style”, which is derived from “dicere”, “to say”; which in turn is “akin to Old English tēon to accuse, Latin dicare to proclaim, dedicate, Greek deiknynai to show, dikē judgment, right”. As defined, diction would mean, according to m-w.com,”1obsolete : verbal description2: choice of words especially with regard to correctness, clearness, or effectiveness3 a: vocal expression : enunciation b: pronunciation and enunciation of words in singing”.
Hmmm.. So, if this is what it means, what my friend is saying is that my choice of words (he has not heard me speak since last I saw him, which was ages ago, before I left for London) and/or verbal description, is either a) skilled, b) odd or unusual or c) pleasingly or strikingly familiar or (horrors!) d) obsolete.
I have been here a year. Although I am surprised it takes only a year for me to start sounding different.
Strangely enough people here still mistake me for American since they think I have an American accent. When I tell them I am from the Philippines, they draw a blank, then ask me, “Is that in America?”
I seem to be an anomaly. ^_^