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Quora Digest: Quirks of Filipino language

Quora Digest: What are the quirks of Filipino language?

Children in Gawad Kalinga project

BY Philip Banks, in Asia.

One thing is how you can make a whole sentence with one syllable “Bababa ba?” is going down? Another thing that definitely sets it apart from English and some other Romance languages is the fact that instead of just prefixes and suffixes changing meaning of a word, you can have “infixes.” For instance kain is eat, pagkain (prefix), (infix) kumain, kainin (suffix) are all different words related to “eat.”

Another interesting thing is how poetic and musical the language sounds. It makes it challenging to learn in a way because it’s like a tongue twister. Compare “Nice to meet you” and “ikinigagalak kong makilala ka” even some Filipinos admit to me after 3 or 4 beers it is easier just to say “nice to meet you” than the Tagalog equivalent. One way it differs from English and many other languages.

Commments: Simon Rafael de Pecho – Alternative version for “ikinagagalak kong makilala ka” is “nagagalak akong makilala ka”

The former version literally means “Having able to meet you makes me happy.” The latter version means “I’m happy to meet you.”

Alcin Atienza – Some clarification: Baba has several meanings based on the pronunciation: Bába (BAH-bah) = father (in some regions) Bábà (BAH-bahʔ) = Chin (yeah, that’s a glottal stop) Babâ (bah-BAHʔ) = to go down Bababa ba? (bah-bah-BAH bah?) = (Is it) Going down?

The glottal stop vanishes since its in the middle of the sentence. Ba is an inclitik word that appears at the end of the sentence and used to turn it into a question. Bababa is actually future tense. There are many ways to conjugate a word to future tense. In this case, it’s repeating the first syllable of the verb.

Peter Blackmore – They will say “the other one” implies beforehand. Like last week. But meaning for them next time. Next week. Genders are often reversed etc etc. It will keep you guessing.

Wormy Boi – A lot of Tagalog words are dying and being replaced with English and Spanish- I’ve never heard anyone say “nice to meet you” in Tagalog it’s always English, there’s also words like “hapag” outshines by the commonly used “lamesa” so when learning the language you’re gonna have to include some English and Spanish.

Philip Fairbanks – You’re right, that’s really sad and Tagalog is actually in better shape than most other Filipino languages. In addition to that some of the hundreds of indigenous languages of the Philippines are even more endangered. I interviewed Manuel Lino Faelnar of the Defenders of Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago about that. If you’re interested in the subject of Filipino languages, especially endangered Filipino languages you might find it interesting.