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Good vs. Better Place? Linguistic expert, Nadine Lustre weigh in

By SAAB LARIOSA Published Apr 25, 2022 8:31 pm Updated Apr 25, 2022 8:42 pm

Days after vice president Leni Robredo's birthday greeting for Kim Chiu, the "good place" versus "better place" debate is still all over the place, as some well-meaning insights aimed to put this non-issue to its final resting place have seemingly failed to fall into place.

Actress Nadine Lustre has likewise chimed in on the curious issue with a tongue-in-cheek tweet.

On Twitter, Lustre referenced the misinterpretation, saying "di nila alam ibig sabihin ng 'in a good place'" along with an amused .GIF reaction.

Good or better?

The "good place" and "better place" discussion started with Vice President Leni Robredo's birthday video greeting for Kim Chiu for her 32nd birthday on April 19.

"I want to wish you a very happy birthday. I know you’re in a good place now," Robredo said before thanking Chiu for her support on the campaign trail.

Critics harped on the statement saying that Robredo misused the term "in a good place" to mean that Kim Chiu is now dead.

The term "in a good place," however, refers to being of sound mental and emotional state, while "in a better place" is the euphemism most associated with those that have died.

Kim herself has taken to Twitter to defend Robredo.

In an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe,  De La Salle University associate professor of Applied Linguistics, Dr. Shirley Dita, said that Robredo had indeed used the correct term for the greeting, and information literacy plays a huge part in being aware of such English idioms.

"I firmly hold on to the fact that VP Robredo used the idiom correctly," Dita said. "Filipinos are not very familiar with English idioms. As a matter of fact, that's not taught formally in English classes. Though it used to be taught in the English language during my time."

In 2021, Dr. Dita published an investigative study citing the top idioms used by Asian Englishes such as Indian English, Singapore English, Malaysian English, Hong Kong English, and Philippine English. "In a good place" was not one of them. 

"In a good place is not one of the very familiar idioms that Filipinos are aware of. Even in the use of idioms in general, ang mga Pinoys hindi mahilig gumamit ng idioms," she said.

To broaden one's vocabulary, Dita said doing basic research could now be done through the internet.

"Actually, Google is free. If we have doubts, we can always Google everything."

"This is just one case, but there will be other situations wherein people misinterpret messages because they are not familiar with idioms," Dr. Dita added.