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Tagalog words with no direct translation to english

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Have you noticed how some Tagalog words just cannot be translated to English? Take the word kulit for example. You can't really use just one word to translate it. For those that don't know what kulit means, it's trying to get your way by being annoying or repetitive. Think of the annoying orange that keeps on asking the same question over and over. That's what we Filipinos would call makulit. Can you think of other examples?

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Yes you're right, I can't think of a one word to describe "kulit".  :grin:

How about "taray" and "kikay"?  Several meanings are attached to both words but I can't think of any one word to describe each.  :smile:

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I think 'kilig', should be added to the list. I remember that this word was featured once in Word Porn, a language page in Facebook, and most people thought it was 'killing'. Haha. Anyway, on topic, I don't know if there's a direct English translation for this one.

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I googled the word "ningas kugon" and Google Translate says it's "flame heath", lol.

I also couldn't find the direct English translation of the word "maangas".

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That is the beauty of different languages, there are always words that are unique to that particular language, which maybe undefinable or require more than one word to describe it. There have been a couple of times, when my friends have said that they don't have an the exact translation for a tagalog word in english.

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I can totally understand! Part of my work is to translate news articles and speeches from English to Filipino and vice versa. There are really some words you can't translate directly.

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I can totally understand! Part of my work is to translate news articles and speeches from English to Filipino and vice versa. There are really some words you can't translate directly.

Ooh, interesting! How do you handle those situation? Are you allowed to change the sentence a bit so that the sentence would make more sense? Or are you forced to substitute words that are similar even though they don't really mean the same thing?

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I agree that there are Tagalog or Filipino words that you cannot just translate directly.

I have tried translating a Filipino article to English and vice versa as part of our school project and I really had a hard time that time. It took me long hours to make it near to its meaning and structure.

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One of the most used Filipino words in everyday life, "basta", can't really be translated. I can't really explain it in English but it's close to "whatever". I tried using Google Translate but it translated to "packing".

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One of the most used Filipino words in everyday life, "basta", can't really be translated. I can't really explain it in English but it's close to "whatever". I tried using Google Translate but it translated to "packing".

So, it's more like when someone says 'meh' or 'eh' and are being all chilled out about something? If that's the case, this is my new favorite word in Tagalog.

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So, it's more like when someone says 'meh' or 'eh' and are being all chilled out about something? If that's the case, this is my new favorite word in Tagalog.

Yes, but it still depends on how the word is used. It can also mean "just because." For example:

Basta mahal kita. = I love you just because.

Not the best example but whatever. Lol!

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Yes, but it still depends on how the word is used. It can also mean "just because." For example:

Basta mahal kita. = I love you just because.

Not the best example but whatever. Lol!

Yeah, it depends on how it's used in a sentence. So it has a loose translation if that's how you can call it. Like in the sentence - "Basta ite-text kita," 'basta' can be translated as just. So the whole translation is "I'll just text you."

Another Filipino word with no direct English translation is balat-kayo or balat kayo. It is translated in Google Translate as skin you. Lol! It means fake or pretentious.

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Another Filipino word I find irritatingly impossible to translate is "pang-ilan". I mean, it's such an easy word if you think about it, but there is no direct translation to English. I don't even know how to describe it properly, the best I can do is that it's a question used to ask the ranking of something, for example when someone asks "pangilan ka sa magkakapatid" they are asking about your birth rank among your siblings (eldest, youngest, third child etc...)

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One of the most used Filipino words in everyday life, "basta", can't really be translated. I can't really explain it in English but it's close to "whatever". I tried using Google Translate but it translated to "packing".

I've been using the word basta for a bit as a friendly term. Like something along the lines of "eh, it's all good" because I forgot it was basically saying something akin to "whatever". Thankfully, both seem to be somewhat along the lines of the same meaning in general.

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I saw one video that translated cheers in Tagalog as pagpupunyagi. Is that the right term for it? Is there a better translation for pagpupunyagi this word is kind of odd to me because I do not use it

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One of the most used Filipino words in everyday life, "basta", can't really be translated. I can't really explain it in English but it's close to "whatever". I tried using Google Translate but it translated to "packing".

You use Basta to mark finality in your decision or statement. If it had been said with a basta then no one can do anything about it. That word does not translate in English as far as I am aware.

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How about the word sulit? It usually means worth your money. It doesn't really have an english counterpart that is not a sentence.

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Yes, you are right, sulit doesn't have an equal English term. One must use a phrase in order to express its meaning in English. Also, the Tagalog word taray. But among the teens these days, it kind of becoming like the English word mean, right? 

How about the Tagalog words epal and tampo?

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There's also the word hiya and its many forms: nakakahiya (embarrassing), "wala ka bang hiya?" (shame), nahihiya (shy), etc. It can be used multiple ways, and while yes, technically, these words all have translations, there's no one meaning/translation of just "hiya."

Also, something I remembered from grade school: palay, bigas, kanin--all different words, one translation: rice.

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I use naughty for kulit. For balat-kayo I'd probably use pretentious or two-faced. The others are tricky though, especially pang-ilan. I remember that being a trick question in a HS quiz but our teacher never revealed the answer :lol:

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I use naughty for kulit. For balat-kayo I'd probably use pretentious or two-faced. The others are tricky though, especially pang-ilan. I remember that being a trick question in a HS quiz but our teacher never revealed the answer :lol:

haha, funny story :=)

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The others are tricky though, especially pang-ilan. I remember that being a trick question in a HS quiz but our teacher never revealed the answer :lol:

I still don't know what would be the proper translation for a question with "pang-ilan". I mean, if the question was "Pang-ilan ka sa magkakapatid?" I guess one could translate that to "What is your birth rank?" but that isn't really the same. Another translation would probably to just ask whether the person is the eldest, 2nd, 3rd etc. among his siblings. It's tricky things like this that makes me glad I'm not a translator. :laugh:  

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One of the first Tagalog words I learned was "Sayang!". The same word also exists in Malay and Indonesian, with a similar meaning. My aunts in Malaysia like to say, "The neighbour's daughter is so young and pretty, and she's got a good job too, sayang she doesn't want to get married!". The English equivalent "It's a pity / It's a shame" doesn't quite capture the nuance :)

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'Sayang' is more like describing a situation where there is a missed opportunity, wasted effort or wasted chance. At least that's what I think the closest translations are.

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"Kilig," which is now in Oxford English Dictionary, did not seem to have a direct translation before. But now, Oxford described it as "thrill." But then, it is not just some kind of thrill, as kilig is much related to love matters.

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