Filipino: Paalam!

So long, Tagalog! Er … whoops! I mean Filipino, right?

Maybe. I feel like I should have done Tagalog instead, considering how much I had to read about it. But you’ll see for yourself from my observations below.

SUMMARY: Filipino was established as a national language in the Philippines in 1987 upon the introduction of a new constitution. It is spoken by over 90 million around the world, a first language by 25 million. It is primarily based on Tagalog, an Austronesian language, and has borrowed vocabulary from Spanish and English, due to the Philippines’ history with Spain and the United States.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS: Yeah, I probably should have focused on Tagalog instead of Filipino. As I mentioned before, Filipino is primarily based on Tagalog anyway. (It also doesn’t help that I dismissed Spanish.)

Tagalog grammar is interesting. The language uses a marker feature to differentiate between types of nouns. There are three different types of markers, which indicate the focus of a sentence: ang and si/sina, the simplest form that just show a noun is the main subject; ng and ni/nina, which indicate whether a noun is possessive or an object and sa and kay/kina, which is mostly used to show a noun’s location.

Here are some examples on how they work. All of the examples and explanations I used are provided by SEASite’s Tagalog Web site.

ang libro – the book (ang is makes the noun definite)
si Keith – Keith (si is used for single proper nouns)
sina Keith – Keith and company (sina is used for plural proper nouns)

bahay ng Keith – Keith’s house (ng comes before thing being possessed)
Nagbasa ako ng libro sa bahay – I read a book at home. (ng comes before the direct object, book)
libro ni Keith – Keith’s book (ni shows possession for single proper nouns)
libro nina Keith – Keith and other’s book (nina shows possession for plural proper nouns)


sa bahay – at the house (sa indicates location of improper nouns)
kay Keith – to/at Keith (kay indicates location for single proper nouns)
kina Keith at Juan – to/at Keith and Juan (kay indicates location for plural proper nouns)

Forming verbs takes a little more work. In Tagalog, verbs have roots with affixes, which are inserted in the middle of the verb or as prefixes or suffixes. There are …

-um, mag- and ma- verbs, for when the main subject of the sentence is the focus.

takbo (go/run) —> Tumakbo ang Keith. (Keith runs.)
luto (cook) —> Magluto ang Keith. (Keith cooks.)
tulog (sleep) —> Matulog ang Keith. (Keith sleeps.)

-in, -i, -an and ma- verbs, for when the object is the focus.

luto —> Lutuin mo ang isda sa kusina. – [You] cook the fish in the kitchen (the fish receives the action of the verb and is the direct object).
luto —> Iluto mo ang isda sa kusina. – [You] cook the fish in the kitchen (the fish receives the action of the verb and is the direct object — this is form not as common).
bukas (open) —> Buksan mo ang bintana. – [You] open the window (the window receives the action of the verb and is the direct object).
kita —> Makita ang libro ng Keith. – [You] see the book by Keith (the book receives the action of the verb and is the direct object).

-an is also used to indicate that the focus of the sentence is a location of the action (example: Lagyan mo ng bulaklak ang mesa, [You] put flowers on the table). Ipag- and -an (again) is also used when the direct object is the focus and ipang- is used when the focus is an instrument of the action.

Confused yet? That seems to be the gist, know what the focus is and what marker to use, which will indicate what verb to use. Sentences are negated with hindi and wala, which are always before the predicate. Hindi is the most common, wala is used for existential (no one is there/nothing is there type phrases) or prepositional sentences.

If you notice, some of the vocabulary is similar to Spanish. Libro means book in Spanish and Tagalog/Filipino. I also noticed para, which means for, and it seems to work the same in all three languages.

Listening to Filipino was kind of confusing. It’s like Tagalog, Spanish and English all mixed together and when listening to it, it sort of threw me off.

I’ll pass on this one. I didn’t want to go with Spanish and hearing English numbers every other time on Filipino radio sort of turned me off. The Tagalog words I heard seemed hard to distinguish as well.


Intelligibility: 2
Complexity: 2
Resonance: 2
Continuation: 1


Tagalog at NIU


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