Verbal Focus in Tagalog

One of my goals in this blog is to share my knowledge of the Tagalog grammar and, in the process, study it again, as I studied it many years ago and never revisited it.

I am publishing (and rivisiting and updating) posts about the Tagalog grammar in Tagalog, English and Italian because I want to master the Tagalog grammar terminology in these 3 languages.

Tagalog is an agglutinative language.

An agglutinative language is a type of language that uses agglutination.

Agglutination means that words are formed by stringing together morphemes (the smallest meaningful unit in a language) without changing them in spelling or phonetics.

As I have said in my first post about the Tagalog grammar, in Tagalog agglutination happens by combining one or more affixes with a root-word.

There are 3 main categories of affixes in Tagalog being:

Maka-uri: to form adjectives like maganda=beautiful

Maka-ngalan: related to nouns like mag-kapatid or mag-asawa

Maka-diwa: used to form verbs and to indicate verbal focus

Maka-diwa affixes and verbal focus in Tagalog

in Tagalog you have to use the right affix to form a verb, depending on the focal point of the sentence, and there are many verbal affixes in Tagalog like -um-, mag-, maka-, makapag-, ma-, magpa-, i-, -in, -an.

You also need to use the right marker (something like what we call an article in Western languages) like ang, ng, sa (or si, ni and kay if you are talking about a person).

The focus of the sentence also determines which personal pronouns you are going to use.

The actor focus personal pronouns are:

Ako=I

Ikaw (or ka)=you

Siya=he or she

Kami or tayo=we (I’ll talk about the difference in another article)

Kayo=You

Sila=they

The object focus personal pronouns are :

Ko

Mo

Niya

Namin or natin

Ninyo

Nila

To illustrate how all of this works, let’s take the root word basa, which conveys the idea of reading and let’s say that we want to say something like “I (or you, he/she, we, You, they) read a book”

In this sentence we’ve got:

A personal pronoun (I)

A verb (to read)

A marker (or article being “a”)

In this sentence I can basically emphasize two elements:

The one who is reading thereby answering the question “who reads the book?”

The object or the thing being read which answers the question “what is being read?”

ACTOR FOCUS

The first type of focus is the actor focus type of sentence:

In this kind of sentence I am going to use such verbal affixes like -um- (that goes between the first consonant and the first vowel of the root word) or mag-.

The markers I am going to use in connection with the actor are ang or si (if the actor is a personal name, like “si Eduardo”).

And the personal pronouns are ako, ikaw etc.

MAG- VERBS

Let’s make a few examples:

“The man is reading a book”

In Tagalog that would be: “Ang tao ay nagbabasa (present “tense” or, more accurately “incompleted aspect” of magbasa) ng isang aklat”. Notice that I am using the “ay” which inverts the order of the sentence that could also be rendered as “nagbabasa ang tao ng aklat”.

“Eduardo is reading the book”

“Si Eduardo ay nagbabasa ng aklat” (or “nagbabasa si Eduardo….”).

“I am reading the book”

“Ako ay nagbabasa ng aklat”

In the examples above I have used the verbal affix “mag” which turns the root word basa into a mag- verb, which is only one type of actor focus verb.

The completed aspect of magbasa is nagbasa (mag becomes nag)

The incompleted aspect is nagbabasa (mag becomes nag and I am doubling the first syllable)

The contemplated aspect (basically the “future tense”) is magbabasa.

The abilitative form (expressing the ability to do the action) of a mag- verb is makapag-, so to convey the idea that one has the ability or the possibility to read I say makapagbasa.

-UM- VERBS

The other common actor focus affix is -um- by using which with basa the verb is bumasa (past: bumasa, present: bumabasa, again I am doubling the first syllable, future: babasa, I am removing the um to form the future) and the corresponding abilitative form is maka-

MA- VERBS

Another actor focus affix is ma- for actor focus verbs like:

Matulog (to sleep)

Makinig (to listen)

Maligo (to take a bath)

Manood (to watch)

OBJECT FOCUS

The second type of focus is the object focus in which case I am answering the question “what is being read?”

-IN VERBS

Examples:

“The book is what the man is reading”

“Binabasa (present “tense” or incompleted aspect of basahin) ng tao ang aklat”

“The book is what Eduardo is reading”

“Binabasa ni Eduardo ang aklat”

“The book is what I am reading”

“Binabasa ko ang aklat”

In this case I have used a verb that ends in -in like basahin, inumin, ayusin etc. (Past: binasa, present: binabasa, future: basahin)

I- VERBS

Another common object focus verb is the one that begins with i- like ituro, idiin, itago etc. (past: itinuro, present: itinuturo, future: ituturo).

MA- VERBS

Some ma- verbs are actor focus like makinig while others are object focus like:

Makita (to see)

Marinig (to hear)

Mapansin (to pay attention)

-AN VERBS

Some object focus verbs end in -an like:

Buksan (to open)

Takpan (to cover)

LOCATION/DIRECTION VERBS

In Tagalog the affix -an is used to talk about a location, and this applies not just to verbs but also to nouns.

For example the word aklatan, which is formed by combining aklat (book) with -an means “library” or “the place or location where books can be found”.

The word basurahan, which is formed by adding -an to basura (garbage) is the place where people dispose of garbage.

Similarly verbs that end with -an generally refer to an action where the focus is either the location or the direction of the action.

For example if I am going to Juan’s house I can use the verb puntahan and the house of Juan is my pupuntahan.

If I do something in behalf of someone and this person is the receiver or the direction of my action, I also use an -an verb like bigyan where the verb (“to give”) is used to talk about the person to whom an object is given, like for instance bigyan ko ng bulaklak ang misis ko (“my wife is the one to whom I give the flowers”, so my action, the action of buying flowers is directed toward my wife).

Sometimes -an can also be used for object focus verbs (see part 2) or even beneficiary focus verbs, speaking of which let’s now talk about those

BENEFICIARY FOCUS VERBS

These verbs are used to talk about the beneficiary of an action like for example the verb bilhan (to buy for someone) ex. bilhan mo ang bata ng kendi (“buy the candy for the child”)

In addition to -an another beneficiary focus affix is ipag- like in the following sentence: ipagluto mo ng l ang mga bata ng fried chicken (“(you) cook some fried chicken for the children”), even though, to be honest, I don’t hear ipag- verbs very much in everyday speech (my wife never uses ipag- verbs but she does use -an beneficiary verbs)

An easy way to talk about the beneficiary of an action without having to learn the beneficiary focus is by simply using the expression para sa (“for something”) or para kay (“for someone”) in an actor focus or in a object focus sentence.

For example, instead of saying ipagluto mo ang mga bata ng fried chicken you could simply say magluto ka ng fried chicken para sa mga bata (or para kay Mario if you are using a personal name)

INSTRUMENTAL FOCUS

The last type of focus is the instrumental which talks about the tool or instrument one is using to do something.

The affix here is ipang- or ipan-

So I could say something like “I am using the walis tambo to sweep the floor” and, in this case I have to use ipanlinis ko ang walis tambo ng sahig

If I wanted to avoid using the instrumental focus I could simply use an actor or object focus verb + the expression sa pamamagitan (“by means of”) like nagwawalis ako ng sahig sa pamamagitan ng walis tambo and, in reality, I have never heard my wife using ipang- verbs, she always uses either an actor focus affix or an object focus affix followed by the expression sa pamamagitan.

Balarilang Tagalog-Bahagi 3: Pokus ng Pandiwa

Gaya ng sinabi ko sa dating mga post ko tungkol sa balarilang Tagalog ang aking layunin sa mga post na ito ay hindi upang ipakita kung gaano kahusay ako kundi ang layunin ko ay ibahagi lang ang aking personal na mga nota tungkol sa wikang Tagalog.

Nag-aaral ako ng balarilang Tagalog noong 2001-2006 at paminsan-minsan kailangan kong repasuhin ito.

Bukod dito ang pag-aaral na ginawa ko noon ay sa wikang Ingles samantala sa ngayon gusto kong maging pamilyar sa terminolohiyang Tagalog.

Kaya wala akong balak na ituro ang balarilang Tagalog sa mga Pilipino.

Pero, gaya ng sinabi ko na, ang aking impresyon ay na maraming mga Pilipino, kahit mas marunong magsalita ng Tagalog kaysa sa aming mga foreigner, ay hindi masyadong pamilyar sa balarila.

Tiyak na maraming mga Pilipino ay nag-aaral ng balarila sa paaralan pero habang lumalaki ang isang tao madaling nakakalimutan niya ang mga impormasyong ito.

Para sa akin mahalaga ang pag-aaral ng balarila ng sariling wika dahil napakaraming mga Pilipino ay nag-aabroad at kailangan nilang matuto ng ibang wika at di-hamak na mas madaling gawin ito kapag ang isa ay may kaalaman tungkol sa balangkas ng sariling wika.

Sa akin huling post binanggit ko ang aspekto ng pandiwa.

Ito ang madaling bahagi ng wikang Tagalog.

Ang mahirap para sa aming mga foreigner na nagnanais matuto ng Tagalog ay ang dami ng mga panlapi na ikinakabit sa salitang ugat para bumuo ng isang pandiwa.

Para sa aming mga foreigner ay talagang mahirap malaman kung kailan gamitin ang um, mag, -in,-an, magpa-, maka-, makapag- at iba pa.

At ang problema ay na kapag tinatanong namin ang mga Pilipino (tulad halimbawa ang asawa ko) hindi nila alam kung papaano ipaliwanag ang mga bagay na ito.

Kaya ginawa ko ang isang balangkas para maging maliwanag kung anu-anong mga panlapi ang dapat gamitin may kaugnayan sa mga pandiwa.

Bukod sa mga panlapi na ikinakabit sa mga pandiwa mayroon din ibang uri ng mga panlapi pero sa ngayon ang pinag-uusapan ko ay ang pokus ng pandiwa.

Ang uri ng panlapi na ginagamit sa bawat situwasyon ay nakadepende sa pokus.

Ano ba ang pokus?

Pokus ang tawag sa relasyong pansemantika (ang salitang semantika ay may kaugnayan sa kahulugan ng isang salita, parilala o pangungusap)
ng pandiwa sa simuno o paksa ng pangungusap.

  • Aktor-pokus o pokus sa tagaganap o sa isa na gumagawa ng kilos

Ang pokus dito ay nasa kung sino ang gumagawa ng isang bagay at ang mga panlapi ay
MAG, NAG, MA, NA at UM.

Halimbawa: sino ang bumabasa ng aklat? Sagot: “bumabasa si Mario (aktor) ng aklat”. Dito si Mario ang pokus

  • Pokus sa layon

Ito ay sumasagot sa tanong na “ano?”.

Dito ang mga panlapi ay IN, I, AN, NA.

Halimbawa: “ano ang binabasa ni Mario?” Sagot: “Binabasa ni Mario ang aklat“. Sa halimbawang ito ang aklat ang pokus.

  • Pokus sa ganapan o lokatibo

Ito ay sumasagot sa tanong na “saan?” o sa ibang salita ang pokus ay nasa lugar kung saan ginaganap ang isang kilos.

Ang mga panlapi ay: pag-/-an , -an/-han , ma-/-an , pang-/-an , mapag-/-an, pinag/an, in/an.

Halimbawa: “Ang bukiran ay pinagtaniman ng gulay”. Ang bukiran ay ang pokus ng pangungusap na ito.

  • Benepaktibong pokus o pokus sa tagatanggap

Ang pokus ay ang ang tumatanggap.

Ito ay sumasagot sa tanong na “para kanino?“. Ang mga panlaping i- , -in , ipang- , ipag- ang ginagamit.

Halimbawa: “ipinagbili ko ang bata ng kendi”. Bata ang tumatanggap kaya siya ang pokus.

  • Instrumentong pokus o pokus sa gamit

Ang pokus ay nasa bagay na ginagamit upang makagawa ng kilos. Ito ay sumasagot sa tanong na “sa pamamagitan ng ano?”

Ang ginagamit ay ang mga panlaping ipang- , maipang-

Halimbawa: “ipangluto ang kaldero ng pagkain”. Ang kaldero ay ang instrumento na ginagamit para magluto at siya ang pokus.

  • Kosatibong pokus o pokus sa sanhi

Ang pokus ay ang sanhi ng kilos. Ito ay sumasagot sa tanong na “bakit?” at ginagamit ang mga panlaping i- , ika- , ikina-

Halimbawa: “ikinalungkot ko ang kamatayan ng aso ko” (ang kamatayan ng aso ko ay ang sanhi kung bakit malungkot ako).

  • Pokus sa direksyon

Ang pokus ay ang direksyon ng kilos. Ito ay sumasagot sa tanong na “tungo saan/kanino?” at ang ginagamit ay ang mga panlaping –an , -han , -in , -hin.

Halimbawa: “sinulatan ko ang pinsan ko”. Ang pinsan ko ay ang pokus dahil siya ang direksyon ng aking pagsusulat.

Ito ang isang balangkas ng iba’t ibang mga panlapi na ginagamit sa bawat uri ng pokus at ito ang pinakamahirap para sa aming mga foreigner na nagnanais matuto ng Tagalog….

Introduction to Tagalog Grammar and Verbal Aspect in Tagalog

A Tagalog course in Italian based on the book “Conversational Tagalog” by Teresita Ramos
My journey with the Tagalog language started with this course…. the only material available here back in 2001

In this post I am going to cover the basics of the Tagalog grammar.

The reason why I am including this kind of posts in my blog is because from time to time I need to brush up my knowledge of the Tagalog grammar and, in so doing, I also share it with anyone who may be interested in learning this language, like some Western guy married to a Filipina for example.

I must give credit to a couple of sources that have greatly helped me to grasp the grammar of my wife’s native language: “Conversational Tagalog” by Teresita Ramos and the website http://www.seasite.niu.edu/tagalog/tagalog_mainpage.htm

  • HOW WORDS ARE FORMED IN TAGALOG

Learning Tagalog is almost like playing with Lego blocks, as the seemingly long words are, in reality, the result of the combination of a root word and one or more affixes: English speakers are already familiar with this concept because in English a number of words are formed by adding an affix to a root word. For example the root word beauty can be combined with ful to form the adjective beautiful. Take for example the Tagalog root word ganda (that conveys the idea of beauty): if you combine it with the affix ma– you form the adjective maganda or beautiful; if you combine it with –um– (between the first consonant and the first vowel) you form the verb gumanda and if you put the prefix ka– before the root word and the suffix –an after it you form the noun kagandahan. As I said, it is almost like playing with Legos and putting the pieces together: depending on the affix that you stick to the root word you can form an adjective, a verb or a noun A root word is simply a basic, core word that can be used to make other words. This is the starting point to understand the structure of the Tagalog language and what I can say is that I’ve found out that the structure of Tagalog is much easier than that of most Western languages, especially when you are learning verbs, speaking of which….

  • VERBAL ASPECT VS TENSES

Another aspect that made it relatively easy, at least for me, to learn Tagalog is that there is only one kind of past tense, present tense or future tense not many like in Italian for example. Technically those are not even called “tenses” but rather “verbal aspects” because they only convey the idea that a certain action has been accomplished, is being accomplished or is being “contemplated” but they give no clue as to “when” it has been accomplished or will be accomplished. For example the verb “bumasa” (to read) has the following aspects: Bumasa ako ng aklat=I have read the book (the action has been accomplished, it doesn’t tell you the when) Bumabasa ako ng aklat=I am (in the process of) reading the book Babasa ako ng aklat=I have the intention to read it, I am contemplating the idea of reading it but I am not communicating when in the future I will do it (unless I use a time expression like bukas=tomorrow etc).

A nice way to illustrate the difference between a tense and the verbal aspect is the example of the boss of a company and the secretary (which I’ve found on the Tagalog page of the official website of the department of Asian studies of the University of Illinois): the boss of a company is only concerned with whether his employee has done his job or not, the secretary is concerned with when the employee did his job because she has to calculate the amount of his paycheck. Similarly the verbal aspect only communicates if a certain action has been done or not while a tense communicates when the action has taken place or will take place.

If I say something like binasa ko ang aklat (I read the book) that expression simply tells me that I did the action of reading the book, it could have happened one moment ago, yesterday, one year ago, 20 years ago. If I say babasahin ko ang aklat I am stating my intention to read the book: it could happen in 5 minutes or 5 years. So, in order to give the listener a clue about the when Filipinos need time expressions like kanina (earlier), kahapon (yesterday), ngayon (today), mamaya (later), bukas (tomorrow) and many others. In my language (Italian) not only do we have tenses but we have plenty of them, 21 to be specific. We have 8 tenses in the indicative mode, 4 in the subjunctive, 2 in the conditional, one in the imperative, 2 in the infinitive, 2 in the participle and 2 in the gerund, imagine that!

  • LINKERS

Filipinos often use either ng or na to connect two words, usually an adjective and a noun. If the word that appears before the linker ends with a vowel they use ng, if it ends with a consonant they use na like in the following two examples: Masamang kalagayan (bad situation) Mahirap na kalagayan (difficult situation) So, in the first example, because masama ends with a vowel I used ng, while after mahirap that ends in a consonant, I used na. The same applies when you are linking two numbers like: Limang daan Apat na raan

  • NUMBERS

The first time I heard numbers like labingisa or isang daan at labindalawa etc. I wondered “how am I possibly going to learn this stuff”? In reality, if you are interested in learning numbers in Tagalog, all you really need to memorize are the numbers from one to ten being: isa dalawa tatlo apat lima anim pito walo siyam sampu. Then, the numbers from 11 to 19 are really easy because all you need to do is add labin to the numbers you’ve already learned: 11=labingisa 12=labindalawa and so on. Then, as for the numbers 20, 30, 40 etc. they all end like 10 or sampu: Dalawampu Tatlumpu and so on Between 20, 30, 40 etc. you just add ‘t isa, ‘t dalawa etc.: Example: 21=dalawampu’t isa 22=dalawampu’t dalawa ….. 51=limampu’t isa And so on As for the “hundreds” you just have to learn …ng daan (except for apat and other numbers that end in a consonant where you’ve got na raan) the pattern is: Isang daan Dalawang daan …. Apat na raan ….. Anim na raan Then for higher numbers you add: Libo=1000 Milyon Bilyon And so on.

  • PLURALS

Generally, in order to turn a singular noun into a plural, Filipinos add the word mga between the markers ang and ng and the noun like in the following examples: “Ang mga Pilipino ay umiinom ng gin” meaning “Filipinos drink gin” (which is true, by the way) and the focus is on the actors. “Iniinom ng mga Pilipino ang gin” meaning the same thing the focus being on the object So, when you find the little word “mga” between the marker and the noun that indicates that the noun is in the plural number. This means for example that if you go to a Filipino party don’t just bring ang isang bote (one bottle), rather always bring ang mga bote (ng gin)…..

  • THE “AY” INVERTER

In Tagalog there is no such thing as the verb to be. You will often come across expressions like: ako ay Pilipino. Well, that doesn’t literally translate as “I am Filipino”. That is just an inverted form of Pilipino ako where ay simply inverts the order in the sentence. Well, this blog is mainly about how to have a thriving marriage with a Filipina but, from time to time I also like to talk about the Tagalog language and grammar. I started doing it in the past a little randomly and so in some future articles I will cover this kind of material in a more systematic way….and in so doing I’ll review the Tagalog grammar myself since I haven’t been doing it for quite a while…

A Very Useful Website to Learn Tagalog

In this brief post I just want to mention a very interesting website that has immensely helped me to grasp the structure of the Tagalog language.

The link is http://www.seasite.niu.edu/Tagalog/Tagalog_mainpage.htm

I think this link can be very useful to Westerners who are trying to learn Tagalog

Why Should You Learn Tagalog if you are Married to a Filipina?

You can take buses alone and no one will try to rob you or harm you in any way if you speak Tagalog because, as Filipinos say “hindi ka maibebenta”

You can take tricycles alone

You can ask your wife’s relatives who are not that fluent in English to take you to the remotest corners of the province

You can hop on and off several buses and do that alone

You can talk to local children

You can approach Filipinos in a big Western city and startle them by talking to them in Tagalog

Many Filipinas who move abroad are fluent in English and so if you come from an English speaking country, or you are otherwise fluent in English, learning Tagalog is probably not that necessary to have quality communication with your Filipina.

I am not a native English speaker but, although my Filipino wife speaks Italian really well, I prefer to use the English language to communicate with her because she speaks English definitely better than she speaks Italian.

I can speak Tagalog but I find that the English language has a much wider vocabulary than Pilipino so it gives you more options to engage in meaningful communication with your Filipino spouse. Tagalog is a rather incomplete language and does not always give you the chance to express nuanced concepts and ideas and you need to use English to bridge the language gaps.

For example, if my wife hurts me, I can use words and expressions that convey the idea of a major hurt or a minor one if I speak in English. I could say something intense like “you stabbed me in the back” or something milder like “you peeved me”. In Tagalog I know of no other expression than “sinaktan mo ako” to express both more intense and milder hurt. The word tapat is used to express both the ideas of faithful and loyal (which are not quite the same thing) and these are just few examples.

So, if you come from an English-speaking country or you are otherwise fluent in English, learning Tagalog is probably not critical to the survival of your marriage and to the quality of your communication as a couple.

So why should you learn Tagalog?

  • One reason is that, when you marry a Filipina you marry (almost literally), the entire kin-group so you are going to have regular interactions with them and it is also likely that your Filipina might want her parents, or even her brothers or sisters, to live with you and all the more so if you move to the Philippines for good, chances are that you will live in the same compound where the entire extended family lives.

Even if your Filipina’s extended family members are fluent in English (like in my case) your effort to learn Tagalog will most certainly be viewed as an effort on your part to go the extra mile.

  • Another reason why you should learn Tagalog is because you are going to have 90% of your social intercourses with Filipinos only, especially if you live in a big Western city like Rome where there is a huge population of Pinoy immigrants. Filipinos hardly widen out and have social interactions with local people (at least here in Rome).
  • Another reason why you should learn Tagalog is this: I have noticed that, unlike Italians, who only like to gossip about other people when those people are not around, Filipinos like to whisper even in the presence of the person they are tsismising about, so if you can’t understand what they say you might find yourself in the awkward situation where you are not sure if they are talking about you or about somebody else.
  • You can startle Filipinos who live in your country by talking to them in Tagalog.
  • Being able to speak Tagalog will stand you in good stead even if you only visit the Philippines as a tourist.

I remember carrying way to much hand luggage when checking in at the Manila International Airport known as NAIA and I got away with it because I talked to the officer in Tagalog and he just smiled and let me go.

A friend of mine who spent several years in the Philippines once told me about one of his fellow countrymen who was held up by a band of robbers: he started talking to them in Tagalog kind of pretending that he was being given by the Holy Spirit the gift of “speaking in tongues” and that he was some kind of “pastor” at which the thieves dropped their weapons, apologized and run away saying “sori po pastor”. Well, I am not sure whether this is a true story or an exaggeration but I have a strong feeling that it is very likely true.

Because I speak Tagalog I was able to walk the streets of my wife’s village alone and even take buses alone to go to other towns pretending that I was a mestizo (a Filipino who has Western origins) so that nobody would rob me or hold me up.

Filipinos are by and large easygoing and I’ve noticed that if you are fluent in Tagalog they become even more relaxed so if you can learn Tagalog your trip to the Philippines can be much more interesting.

Pilipino vs Tagalog: What’s the Difference?

The Philippines has an “official” language being English and a “national” language known as Filipino or Pilipino.

As for the official language, many highly educated Filipinos speak it very well and my wife, who has college education, is one of those who speak it seamlessly and effortlessly but, like almost all Filipinos, cannot avoid replacing the letter v with b and the letter f with p.

Most Filipinos whom I know, especially the taga-probinsya (or the taga-bundok) who don’t have that much of a higher education, speak a rather barok na uri ng Taglish at best, especially if they have been working as domestic helpers in my country for many years and they haven’t been practicing the English they learned while in school in the Philippines for years.

What about the “national” language or Pilipino?

Pilipino is basically Tagalog but, as far as I can understand, it is supposed to be the Tagalog spoken in Metro Manila and in the close proximity of it.

The Tagalog I hear from my wife and her relatives and friends when they communicate in a formal setting is basically identical to the written Tagalog of books, magazines and newspapers and that is, I assume, what Pilipino is, namely formal Tagalog stripped of its regional variations.

What I noticed the first time I visited the Philippines (and what I also notice when I hear my wife and her relatives speak informally) is that, if you only travel like 50 km away from Manila, the Tagalog people speak is a bit different from the language spoken in Metro Manila and that is where Tagalog and Pilipino differ.

For example, in the Tagalog spoken in San Ildefonso Bulacan (my wife’s town), the word dito meaning here is dine. The word rito becomes rine.

The word ito or this becomes ire and ganito becomes ganire.

Magparoot-parito or to walk about becomes magparoot-parine.

What this tells me is that proper Tagalog and Pilipino are one and the same while the informal Tagalog spoken sa kabukiran in some neighboring provinces is something else.

It is more or less the same here in Italy: we have standard Italian, which derives from the dialect of Tuscany, and we have huge variations in other regions, and if a foreigner who studies Italian came dine sa Roma, he would notice that the gap between the Roman dialect and standard Italian is much bigger than the gap between the dito and the dine that you can hear when you go from one part of the Katagalugan (the Tagalog speaking area) to another.

So, based on what I have gathered, Pilipino and Tagalog (the real and standard form) are the same thing and they only differ when people introduce regional variations.

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Accents in Tagalog

As I mentioned in my previous posts about the Tagalog language, Tagalog has a relatively simple structure, mostly because there are only three verbal aspects to learn and not too many tenses like in many other languages.

One of the tricky parts is where to place accents in Tagalog, because, by misplacing the accent in a Tagalog word, one could convey an entirely different meaning.

Here are few examples of why learning to properly place accents in Tagalog matters:

Ba’ka (meaning “cow”) has nothing to do with baka‘ (“perhaps, maybe”)…..and much less with bak(l)a’….

Pu’no (meaning “tree”) has nothing to do with puno‘ (“full”). This means that a forest is puno’ ng mga pu’no and not puno’ ng mga puno’ or pu’no ng mga pu’no.

Makati’ (the adjective meaning “itchi”) is not to be confused with Maka’ti City in Metro Manila.

Buka’s (“open”) must not be confused with bu’kas (“tomorrow”), therefore if a shop is closed today and will open tomorrow you should say “bu’kas ay magbubuka’s ang tindahan” not “bu’kas ay magbubu’kas ang tindahan“.

So accents in tagalog are extremely important.

While Tagalog has a relatively simple structure, accents in Tagalog can make a huge difference and misplacing them can cause a Tagalog learner to convey a totally different meaning, even though Filipinos usually dismiss these blunders with a smile and just laugh away at them and, perhaps, will offer you a bottle of Red Horse (kabayong pula’……not pu’la) beer if you misplace the accent…..

Verbal Aspect in Tagalog vs Tenses in Other Languages

As I have already said, Tagalog verbs don’t have tenses but aspects, which make it quite easy for a Westerner like me, who speaks a language that has a tricky grammar, to learn the structure of the Tagalog language (what makes things a little harder though is the verbal focus).

A nice way to illustrate the difference between a tense and the verbal aspect is the example of the boss of a company and the secretary (which I’ve found on the Tagalog page of the official website of the department of Asian studies of the University of Illinois): the boss of a company is only concerned with whether his employee has done his job or not, the secretary is concerned with when the employee did his job because she has to calculate the amount of his paycheck. Similarly the verbal aspect only communicates if a certain action has been done or not while a tense communicates when the action has taken place or will take place.

If I say something like binasa ko ang aklat (I read the book) that expression simply tells me that I did the action of reading the book, it could have happened one moment ago, yesterday, one year ago, 20 years ago.

If I say babasahin ko ang aklat I am stating my intention to read the book: it could happen in 5 minutes or 5 years.

So, in order to give the listener a clue about the when Filipinos need time expressions like kanina (earlier), kahapon (yesterday), ngayon (today), mamaya (later), bukas (tomorrow) and many others.

In my language (Italian) not only do we have tenses but we have plenty of them, 21 to be specific.

We have 8 tenses in the indicative mode, 4 in the subjunctive, 2 in the conditional, one in the imperative, 2 in the infinitive, 2 in the participle and 2 in the gerund!

How the heck can a Filipino learn how to use Italian verbs?

An easy way (which is, by the way, what many Pinoy who speak barok Italian do) is by using the present infinitive only and by sticking a time expression to it!

It sounds terrible and very wrong but it works.

Ieri (yesterday) io (I) andare (to go)

Domani (tomorrow) io (I) andare

5 minuti fa (5 minutes ago) io andare

Prossimo anno (next year) io andare………..

……………

Barok na barok! But it works….

How Deep Is Tagalog: Talking About Science in Tagalog

A few months ago I wrote a post about how deep is Tagalog when it comes to science and technology. I want to share this topic once again because these days I am reading a Tagalog magazine that talks about galaxies.

Whenever I come across a book or a magazine, written in Tagalog, that talks about science I almost always find English terms that evidently are there to bridge some gaps in the language.

This is an example:

Ang kalawakan ay isang mapanganib na lugar dahil sa nakamamatay na radyasyon at mga meteoroid. Sa kalawakang ito dumaraan ang ating asul na planeta na waring sumusuong sa gitna ng “barilan,” gayunma’y hindi napupuruhan. Bakit? Dahil ang lupa ay protektado ng kamangha-manghang pananggalang—malakas na magnetic field at atmospera na sadyang dinisenyo para sumustine sa buhay.

This doesn’t mean though that it is impossible to write an entire scientific paragraph using (almost) Tagalog only.

An example is the laws of Thermodynamics:

  • Ika-0 (zeroth law) ng termodinamika: Kung ang dalawang mga sistema ay nasa termal na balanse na malaya sa isa’t isa kasama ang ikatlong sistema, kailangan nasa termal na balanse sila sa isa’t isa. Tumutulong ang batas na ito upang bigyan kahulugan ang pagkaunawa sa temperatura.
  • Unang batas ng termodinamika: Kapag dumaan ang enerhiya, bilang gawa, bilang init, o kasama ang materya, sa loob o sa labas mula sa isang sistema, nagbabago ang kanyang panloob na enerhiya na may kasunduan sa batas ng pagtitipid ng enerhiya. Sa kapantay na paraan, imposible ang mga makinang may walang-hanggang na mosyon ng unang uri.
  • Ikalawang batas ng termodinamika: Sa isang likas na prosesong termodinamika, dumaragdag ang kabuuang ng mga entropiya ng mga sistemang termodinamikang may interaksyon. Sa kapantay na paraan, imposible ang mga makinang may walang-hanggang na mosyon ng ikalawang uri.
  • Ikatlong batas ng termodinamika: Lumalapit sa isang halagang hindi nagbabago ang entropiya ng isang sistema habang lumalapit ang temperatura sa lubusang wala (o sero).[2] Maliban sa mga hindi mala-kristal ng mga solido (mga salamin), tipikal na malapit sa sero ang entropiya ng sistemang lubusang sero, at katumbas sa logaritmo ng multiplisidad ng mga pundamental na estadong quantum

So, in this case I have only bumped into two English expressions (even though there are several “loan words” borrowed from Spanish, so not pure “Austronesian” terms are being used here)

This seems to tell me that Tagalog Is probably more malalim than Filipinos themselves think and that, by constantly mixing Tagalog with English, many Filipinos are just being lazy.

These examples show that, with only very few borrowings from English, it is perfectly possibile to talk about science in Tagalog for hours on end.

Yet, given the tendency that Filipinos have to do halo-halo, chances are that the average Filipino student or teacher will keep using halo-halo language.

Maybe the only change that will happen in the near future is the replacement of English with Chinese and they will talk about science in Intsiklog…