Can your Filipino Wife Teach you Tagalog?

As I already mentioned in a previous post, learning the native language of your Filipino spouse is, in most cases, unnecessary. She is highly likely fluent in English so you can keep communicating in English, and all the more so because English has a much larger vocabulary than Tagalog and, therefore, it gives you more options, if you are trying to express your innermost feelings and emotions.

Let me give you an example: a few years ago I was trying to convey the idea that being faithful is not the same as being loyal, and it seems like the only word available in Tagalog for both concepts is tapat. So it seems to me that when you try to dig deeper and convey not just a meaning but rather a nuance, you can find yourself in a position where you are short of words, if you speak Tagalog.

Nevertheless, being able to speak Tagalog could help you to build better rapport with the kin-group and could be a massive opportunity for you to show personal interest.

But can Filipinas teach you Tagalog?

I tried to get my wife to teach me Tagalog but, after a while, I ended up learning it myself. Why?

Well, my wife has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting like most highly educated Filipinas who, by and large, only graduate in “technical” subjects and, therefore, hardly get very well acquainted with the Tagalog grammar.

Usually a native speaker who knows nothing about the grammar, let’s say an English native speaker, can, at least, teach a foreigner new vocabulary.

This doesn’t seem to be the case with Tagalog, because words are generally created by combining a root word with an affix and, depending on the affix you use, you can form a noun, an adjective or a verb.

For example, the root word ganda, that conveys the idea of beauty, can be a verb if you use the –um- affix (gumanda), an adjective if you use the ma- affix (maganda) or a noun, if you use the affixes ka- and –an (kagandahan).

You need somebody who can teach you the relationship between root words and suffixes and prefixes, as well as a bunch of other things, like verbal aspect and focus that are absolutely necessary to convey the right meaning.

Seems like most native Filipinos have a hard time teaching the grammar. Living with my wife doesn’t help me so I study Tagalog myself.

Nowdays there is a lot of information available on the web about the Tagalog grammar and if you have any questions about where to find the material to learn it, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section, and I will be willing to help you out.

So, to wrap it up, unless your wife has a degree in languages, chances are she won’t be of much help if you decide to learn Tagalog.

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