Tagalog Dialects and Affixes
A Glimpse of Pinoy Culture 

Awareness of Tagalog dialects and affixes adds to confidence in translation. In Batangas (Southern Province two hours away from Manila), nabagyo, literally translates to "a storm rages [right now]". But Manilenos will say "bumabagyo" to mean the same. 

Pinoy Greeting and Hospitality

In the Tagalog regions, casual talk rarely begins or dwells on the weather condition. The usual nonchalant Tagalog greeting is not "how are you?" but "Sa'n ka pupunta?" (Where are you going?). To this, one can answer, "D'yan lang" ("Going there" - that is, "anywhere"). If this will encourage small talk, the next rhetorical sentence is "Stop by my place and eat" or "Daan muna, at makain," as they say in Mindoro (An Island-province off the Southern Coast of Luzon). In other Tagalog provinces, if you talk this way, people might think you mean, "Stop by my place, and I will eat you." For those dialect groups, the prefix ma, is incorrect. It has to be maka, so, makakain

In some locations, this invitation becomes specific as in Daan muna't mag-kape (have coffee). But there will be some variation: in other Tagalog dialects instead of magkape, the locals use makapag-kape

(Coffee isn't always the food offered to visitors. Sometimes, it's salabat or ginger tea with sugar. Other hosts offer pancit, pande-agua or monay, or the local suman or kalamay). 

"Kita sa amin at tayo'y maglulupak," is already deep Tagalog for those who come from Manila. Two aspects makes this sentence difficult to understand. First, "Kita" (let us) is rarely used in Manila. The usual "Tayo" is preferred. Second, not all places can offer nilupak (cassava pounded in peanut butter, brown sugar, and some milk).

Kita in this language combination is spoken with the stress on the second syllable. But kita, a word meaning seen, or wage or earning, is spoken with the stress on the first syllable. Kita or Tayo sounds less rhetorical in most contexts, rather, it is intimate and sincere. a variation is Kata, as in "Kata manood ng sine,"  or "Let you and I watch a movie". 

Pinoy Curiosity

While asking where a person is going can be rhetorical, the Tagalog may also be honestly demanding an answer to a personal question. But only the asker's facial expression can tell. The question, "Sa'n ka galing?" which is the same as "Sa'n ka nagpunta?" (Where did you go or where were you?) may not often require a definite answer. This is not the case with the question "Taga-saan ka?" (Where do you come from?). In asking the last question, the Tagalog is being nosy, and maybe more curious than necessary.

The Tagalog asks the same rhetorical, intentional, and curious question and only talks about the weather when it becomes too nasty. But weather talk is often on one specific element of nature. Tagalog dialects and affixes in place, many will rather talk about the wind alone: "Kababa ng hangin or Mababa ang hangin" dialect literally meaning "the wind is so low"; or "Kataas ng hangin" or "Mataas naman ang hangin" meaning, that 'the wind does not touch the ground, anyway,' and it's therefore safe to walk outside even if a storm rages. Or they will talk about the tide: "Mataas ang tubig or taog," high tide, and "kati", low tide. 

Tagalog dialects and affixes is one main reason for variations in translations. In general, they are dictated by tense and number, (nagbababagyo (verb), kababagyo (adverb) literally means series of typhoons); versus binagyo (catastrophic one huge storm raged). The comparative and superlative degrees of similar root words as used in different regions (bagyung-bagyo, ga-bagyo) also comprise the dialect differences. It's best to be sensitive that one main distinctive of a culture is heard in how Tagalog dialects and affixes function in the regions.

Mulling Over Tagalog Dialects and Affixes? Talk to Us at Wordhouse.