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Tagalog beat: Oo, bababa, oo

week 30, Episode 60

Tagalog is a language of the specific audio pattern—that ng (nung) sound won't leave your side. But besides the ubiquitous ng, there are words and phrases that spawn curiosity. And it all starts with simple "Yes" and "No."

The moment I saw these two words in Tagalog, I knew I wanted to learn that language: you say "Oo" (Oh-oh) for a positive answer and "Hindi" (Hin-dee) for a negative one. I mean, you basically sing for "Yes" and use the name of the language—Hindi—as a "No"!

As the speakers of Tagalog—Filipinos—value respect and politeness, especially to those who are older or have a higher status, they often use a special little word to magically fill any sentence with it, just like the particle जी (jee) in Hindi (coincidence?) does the same kind of magic. For Tagalog this word is po (poh) or ho (hoh). Now, this word turns "Oo" into courteous "Opo" (or "Oho") and "Hindi" into amiable "Hindi po."

Funny to realize that even interjections go foreign in different languages. For example, instead of habitual "Ouch!", when hurt you're expected to say "Aray!" (Ah-rye) in Tagalog. Or, say, you're surprised, "Wow!" won't do if you want to stay true to Tagalog—the word you're searching for is "Naku!" (Nah-koo). This one can be also used to express disbelief.

Embrace yourself as you're about to meet the word that will become one of your most favorite Tagalog words. It is the Japanese-sound-like word "Totoó" (Toh-toh-oh) which means "true, real." As an expression it is used to say "True?", "Really?" and as an affirmative statement may even replace "Oo."

Naku! Totoó ba? (Is it true?)

Totoó. Totoong totoó. (Yes. Very true.)

Some words and phrases in Tagalog do sound Japanese-y to me. Take, for example, this common question of "Where do you live?""Saan kayo nakatira?" (Sah-un kah-yo nah-kah-tee-rah)—or the way to say "It is annoying""Nakayayamot!" (Nah-kah-ya-ya-mot). Don't you agree... po? :)

Others feel more Chinese-like: "magandang binibini" (mah-gun-dung bee-nee-bee-nee) translated as "beautiful lady". And some feel gong-y (?): "Manigong bagong taon!" (Mah-nee-gong bah-gong tah-on) for "Happy New Year!" Say it and feel the need to hit a gong and celebrate!

Adding to the collection of one syllable conversations, like Portuguese "Pó pô pó?Pó pô!", or German Na? — Na!", or Finnish "Kokko, kokoo kokoon koko kokko.— Koko kokkoko?— Koko kokko", meet the elevator conversation in Tagalog: "Bababa ba?—Bababa." (Is it going down?—It is going down.) where the short "ba" indicates that the question is made. What else can you add to this monosyllabic exchange? The topic has been exhausted :)

Some more Tagalog useful and wondeful words:

  • Salamat. (Sah-lah-mut) — Thank you.
  • Mabuhay! (Mah-boo-hy) — Welcome! (literally: May you live long!)
  • Mahal kita. (Mah-khal kee-tah) — I love you.
  • Marahil. (Mah-rah-heel) — Maybe. (offers no ambiguity as Siguro does)
  • Mamaya. (Mah-mah-ya) — Later. (as an aswer to "When?")
  • Kataka-taka! (Kah-tah-kah tah-kah) — It seems incredible!
  • Maaari. (Mah-ah-ah-ree) — It is possible.

This last one gives a blanket of doubt to the word that follows or can be a stand-alone response.

Naku! Totoó ba? (Is it true?)

Marahil. Maaaring totoó. (Maybe. It can be true.)

Seems like this Langventure into Tagalog has reached its end. I hope you enjoed it and learned a lot of cool stuff—I certainly did. This amaziNG language has so much to offer and kind of fun to acquire, oo ba? :) And if you feel especially impish, you can always go speak its fusion versions.

Paalam (Pah-ah-lum)—Goodbye—, my friends! I am off for a new language trip—to Vietnamese!

Ba-bay! (Buh-bye!) Bye!

" What an article! Kataka-taka! Comment and share! "

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