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Two friends are walking on a road. One is a Tagalog and one is a bisaya. As they were walking, the Bisaya looked up in the sky and saw a bird flying above them. He said...
"Uy! Tan-awa! Naay langam"
(Hey! Look there's a bird!)
The Tagalog looked down, looking for the ants.
Hello, world! This is John once again. August is the "Buwan Ng Wika" or "Language Month" in the Philippines. In schools all over the country, (at least before the pandemic), this is the month that we give honor and importance to our national language which is Filipino.
In this post, I will share with you the richness of the Filipino language. Not just the verbal language but the non-verbal as well.
I will also explain what happened in the story above.
I was planning to write something on this subject purely in Filipino, in honor of "Language Month". But, @JonicaBradley posted her writing prompt for the week, which is language. So I thought, I will share with the world the richness of the Filipino Language.
The Filipino language is based mainly on the Tagalog dialect. Which is the dialect of Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines. There is no apparent difference between the two, but the official National Language is called Filipino (or Pilipino).
In Filipino, the word 'You' is translated to 'ikaw' or 'ka' for a single person. But for a group of persons or in plural form, 'You' is translated as 'kayo'.
However, to convey respect to someone, the plural form is used.
"Who are you?"
If asking single person, the direct translation woukd be:
Instead, to convey respect you say 'Sino kayo?'
Or with 'po'
'Sino po sila?'
Or sometimes the third person 'sila' - which means 'they'.
'Sino po sila?'
Unfortunately, I noticed that some writers in many Filipino TV shows seemed to have forgotten the use of the plural form.
In one such show, I remembered this scene.
A fairy suddenly appeared in a puff of smoke in front of a group of young people.
One of them asked the fairy..
Which sounded like 'sinuka', which is Filipino for the word "vomit."
Even some of the non-verbal language of the Filipinos shows respect. An example is if you are about to walk in between two people talking, all you need to do is put one hand forward, angled down. It’s almost similar to offering a hand for a hand-shake. And lower your head. That is already understood as you are saying “Excuse me.” and you want to walk through. This is, of course, done only if there is no other way to walk through. This action is also done if you are walking in front of someone who is watching a TV or a movie.
Pointing With the Lips
This one is a bit different. When you ask a Filipino for directions ,and would reply with puckered lips, that person is not asking for a kiss before answering. That person is already pointing to the direction where you should go. The same thing if you are looking for something and the puckered lips are pointing to where you can find what you are looking for.
A joke in the provinces about this action is. If you ask for a direction and the hand is used to point the direction, then it's just close.
But if the person points with his/her lips and especially towards a hill then you probably need to cross that hill or valley to get to where you want to.
Going back to the story above, at the mention of the word ‘langgam’, the Bisaya looks up to the sky and the Tagalog looks down to the ground why? That single word has a different meaning in different parts of the country.
The Philippines is an Archipelago with more than 7,000 islands. Thus different parts of the country have different dialects. Tagalog and Bisaya are just two of the major dialects in the country, we have the Ilonggo, Chabakano, Waray, Ilocano, Karay-a and many more.Even within a single province, some municipalities have some distinct difference from their neighboring towns.
And some of words have different meanings in different regions. Here are some examples.
Pating means shark to most, but a Karay-a will look to the skies and look for a pigeon.
Sili - is chilli pepper to most Filipinos but don’t say that in front of a Waray because it means something private. *grin*
Same thing with ‘Sabot’ which means ‘understand’ to a Bisaya or Cebuano, but say that to an Ilongga and you might get slapped in the face.
There are still lots of things to say about the Filipino language, but I have to stop here for now.
This is my post for @JonicaBradley’s writing prompt on Language.
If you want to join this writing ptompt, the rules are simple.
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