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Tagalog words with no English counterpart?


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Hey there guys, I'm tried to think of some Tagalog words with no English counterpart and here they are:

  • Tilapia and Galunggong - a kind of fish eaten here in the Philippines
  • Patis, Bagoong, Alamang - these three are different but they are often just referred to as fish sauce or fish paste
  • Halo-Halo - a variant of a shake/ice cream, Filipino style

What else can you think of?

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Well my Tagalog is quite rusty but I remember there is a word to show politeness that they tag on to almost every sentence; "po" or "ho", when speaking with strangers or with their elders. It really does not have an English translation and Filipino speakers often use "Sir/Madam" when they speak English in order to replace "po/ho" but it sounds a bit stilted and just unnatural in English!

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Oh yeah, never thought of that. Pretty clever. Speaking of courtesy, I think some words that are not really well translated in English is Ate and Kuya. These words actually mean elder sister and elder brother respectively but in Tagalog, they are usually used before saying the name of a person as a show of respect like "Ate Jennifer" or "Kuya Hector". If translated in English it would sound like this - elder sister Jennifer and elder brother Hector. It does not sound that good in English.  :wink:

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Well my Tagalog is quite rusty but I remember there is a word to show politeness that they tag on to almost every sentence; "po" or "ho", when speaking with strangers or with their elders. It really does not have an English translation and Filipino speakers often use "Sir/Madam" when they speak English in order to replace "po/ho" but it sounds a bit stilted and just unnatural in English!

I experienced that thing. During my first few weeks in my work in the US, I call my co workers sir/ma'am and they find it really wierd. They are used in calling by names only, but in the philippines we call ma'am /sir to our co workers as a sign of respect.

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  • 1 month later...
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I can only think of Filipino food like "Adobo", "Sinigang" and "Paksiw".  Does "Balot" have one?  How about "Chicharon"?  I guess fictional creatures like "Kapre" and "Manananggal" also has no English counterparts?  :grin:

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I just remembered the word "tiktik".  It's also a fictional creature that eats unborn babies.  I'm sure that "Tiktik" has no English counterpart as it was featured in the U.S. TV series Grimm and they also refer to it as "tiktik".  :grin:

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Actually the word "welcome" has many Filipino counterparts depending on usage. It can be any of the following:

"Walang anuman" - is the phrase we use when we replied to someone who said thank you.

"Mabuhay" - is the term we use when we greet a foreigner to let them know they are welcome in our country.

and

"Tuloy po kayo" - is the phrase we use when we are welcoming a visitor to our homes.

:smile:

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OK, here's my contribution to the list. I think the word "kita" particularly when used in the phrases such as  "mahal kita" or "Hindi kita iiwan" does not have a literal translation.

"Kita" is also a translation of the English word "seen" but the above paragraph using the same word spelling is totally unrelated to "seen."

It pertains to a reference to a second person as spoken from a first person point of view. Therefore the word "kita" on the first paragraph has no literal and equivalent translation. Rather, it stems from a more cultural usage adopted by Filipinos.

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Oops! I made a new thread about this exact same topic too! Sorry, I didn't notice this thread. (If you want to see that post, it's here: http://linguaholic.com/study-tagalog/tagalog-words-with-no-direct-translation-to-english/)

Anyway, I can think of tons of words actually. I won't say the word kulit anymore since that's what I posted in the other thread. How about the word sayang? It means to feel remorse for something that almost happened but didn't. I don't think there's a direct translation for that. :)

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Oh I have another one! Pang-ilan . Isn't it annoying that it's so difficult to translate a Filipino sentence that contains the word "Pang-ilan"? Pang-ilan is used when you want to know the order of a person when it comes to rank or chronology. Like if you want to ask a person if he/she is the eldest, or second, or youngest among siblings, you can simply ask "Pang-ilan ka sa magkakapatid?" It's a very handy word but unfortunately, it doesn't have an English equivalent.

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Hmmn. When we reviewed for our professional licensure exam, one classmate of mine asked what's the english word for 'santol'. I actually answered, 'Where, bro? (San, 'tol?)' but that's just me trying to joke. Haha. Anyway, if you know the english counterpart for that one, kindly post it here. :)

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I actually remembered this word now, and it definitely has no English counterpart: "Sampid". I think you can just explain what it means, like you're an "extra" that does not originally belong to a group, like if you move in to another family's home if you are adopted. There is no direct English translation for that word.

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