Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Use of linkers in Philippine languages

Happy New Year!

Since I am on Christmas vacation, just thought I'd get a major entry in before I return to work and school on Wednesday, then I'll be too busy to write in this blog. That's my new resolution - to write in here more often. Anyway, I will be taking astronomy, logic, and argumentation and research at school for the winter quarter - so I'm in for a challenging quarter.

Y'know, what I had in mind a few days ago was just to repeat last year's post where I wished you all a Happy New Year in 10 Philippine languages. But as I was "admiring" the translations, I was looking at the linkers that each of the Philippine languages used. So I thought, why don't I talk about how linkers are used in different Philippine languages?

Before I go on, I thought I'd explain what linkers are and use an example in Tagalog (linkers are in bold). In many Philippine languages, linkers (also called ligatures) are used to "link" (duh!) words together. They may link an adjective and noun (malaking bahay), verb and adverb (mabilis na tumakbo), clauses (sabi niya na hindi raw siya aalis), pseudo-verb and verb (gustong umuwi), number and noun (tatlong hari), prepositioned possessive pronouns and nouns (ang kaniyang asawa) and others.

Here are the uses and general guidelines in case there is more than one linker (which is usually the case). Any native speaker comment, correction, and clarifications are welcome. And if you speak a language not represented here, then by all means contribute to the list by leaving me a comment! :-)

Tagalog and Northern Bikol

  1. -ng: In Tagalog, this is suffixed to words ending in a vowel and glottal stop while it replaces /n/ in words that end with that. In Bikol, the same rules seem to apply except in the case of words ending in /n/, either that or there is a variation. Examples: bagong taon (Tag., new year), ba-gong taon (Bik. Naga, new year).

  2. na: This is used after words ending in a consonant (not a glottal stop or /n/) or a diphthong. Examples: itim na aso (Tag., black dog), itom na ayam (Bik. Naga, black dog)

Cebuano and Hiligaynon

  1. -ng: This is suffixed to words ending in a vowel, glottal stop, and even diphthongs (this is a departure from Tagalog & Bikol usage). Examples: bag-ong tuig (Ceb. & Hil., new year).

  2. nga: Used after words ending in a consonant. Sometimes this is used even after words ending in a vowel. Examples: itom nga iro (Ceb., black dog), itom nga ido (Hil., black dog).

  3. ka: This is a special linker used with numbers. Examples: tulo ka adlaw (Ceb., three days), tatlo ka adlaw (Hil., three days)

Note: The rules also ably to Romblomanon and Masbateño. However, with Masbateño, some speakers use -ng and nga while others use -n and na.


nga is the sole linker. bag-o nga tuig (new year).


  1. nga: Used after words, regardless of ending. However, this is prefered before words that begin with a vowel. Example: nangisit nga aso (black dog).

  2. a: Same as above, but usually prefered, though not obligatory, before words beginning with a consonant. Example: baro a tawen (new year)


  1. -ng: Same as Tagalog. Example: bayung banwa (new year)

  2. a: Equivalent of Tagalog na used after words ending in consonants. Example: anam a aldo (six days). A special note, before /a/ there is no glottal stop; there is a /y/ inserted between them so mayap a abak sounds like mayap a yabak.


  1. -n: Suffixed to words ending in vowels. Example: balon taon (new year).

  2. ya: Used before words beginning in a vowel. Example: sakey ya agew (one day).

  3. a: Used everywhere else, namely after words ending in a consonant and before words beginning in a vowel. Example: andeket a sira (black fish).


  1. -n: Suffixed to words ending in vowels. Example: ba-yon taon (new year)

  2. a: Used after words ending in consonants. Example: maabig a awro (good day [greeting]).

Sambal Botolan

  1. ya: Used everywhere, and sometimes after vowels. malake ya alahas (a lot of jewelry), katowa ya papwak.

  2. -y: Suffixed to words ending in vowels, but seems as if it is interchangeable with "ya". tatloy mipapatel (three siblings), pitoy olo (seven heads).


  1. -ng: Suffixed to words ending in vowels. Example: bag-ong tuig (new year).

  2. nak: Elsewhere. Example: itom nak isra (black fish).


a is the sole marker. Example: mala' a seda' (big fish).

Central Tagbwana

a is the sole marker. Example: bayo a taon (new year).


Wayruun (There is none)! Simply putting the words next to each other suffices. Example: baru tahun (new year).

And to end this post, here are the words "new" and "year" in a number of Philippine languages. Unfortunately, I don't know the linkers for all of them.


bago - Tagalog, Butuanon, Maranao, Buhid Mangyan, Cuyonon, Southern Bikol
ba-go - Northern Bikol
bag-o - Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kinaray-a, Aklanon, Masbateño, Romblomanon, Asi, Onhan, Cagayanon, Mamanwa, Surigaonon, Hanunoo
bagu - Agta, Pamplona Atta, Isneg, Kalagan, Mansaka, Ibanag, Maguindanao
ba-gu - Tausug, Palawan Batak, Aborlan Tagbanwa
bag-u - Binukid, Kinamigin, Tigwa Manobo
bag-ew - Agusan Manobo
begu - Sindangan Subanun, Western Bukidnod Manobo, Kakidugen Ilongot
bigu' - Casiguran Dumagat
bogu - Siocon Subanon
baha'u - Samal
bahu - Itawis
behu - Ilianen Manobo
buhu - Sangir
bado - Inibaloy
balo - Pangasinan, Guinaang Bontoc, Northern Kankanaey, Bayninan Ifugao, Kallahan
baklu - Kalamian Tagbanwa
baro - Ilokano
vuru - Sarangani Sangil
bawu - Gaddang
baya - Dibabawon Manobo
bayo - Sambal Botolan, Alangan Mangyan
bayu - Kapampangan, Iraya Mangyan
ba-yu - Tagalog Sinauna (Tagarug)
va-yo - Ivatan
va-yu - Itbayat
pa''ala - Amganad Ifugao
lomih - Tboli
lami - Obo Manobo
falami - Blaan
lafus lomi - Ubo Manobo
manto - Tiruray, Tagabawa Manobo
'iam - Ata Manobo, Tigwa Manobo
kaling - Sarangani Manobo
magtu - Ata Manobo, Tigwa Manobo, Tasaday Manobo
milalaw - Tadyawan Mangyan
nuevo - Chabacano


taon - Tagalog, Northern Bikol, Southern Bikol, Pangasinan, Sambal Botolan, Batak, Casiguran Dumagat, Cagayano, Kakidugen Ilongot, Sinauna Tagalog, Aborlan Tagbanwa
taen - Tadyawan Mangyan
taung - Sarangani Sangil, Sangir
tawen - Ilokano, Guinaang Bontoc, Balangaw, Binongan Itneg,
taw-en - Inibaloy, Kayapa Kallahan, Northern Kankanaey
tew-en - Northern Kankanaey
tawon - Ifugao, Guinaang Kalinga
tahun - Tausug, Samal
takun - Kalamian Tagbanwa
tuun - Keley-i Kallahan
toon - Sindangan Subanon
ton - Siocon Subanon
dagon - Cuyonon, Alangan Mangyan
dagun - Ibanag, Isneg, Atta
dag-on - Aklanon, Hanunoo
dag-un - Iraya
dawun - Gaddang
lagun - Maguindanao
ragon - Maranao
lahon - Obo Manobo
dahun - Itawis
rahun - Ilianen Manobo
tuig - Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kinaray-a, Masbateño, Asi, Onhan, Romblomanon, Butuanon, Surigaonon, Manobo, Mansaka, Binukid, Mamanwa
tuid - Kinamigin, Ata Manobo, Tigwa Manobo
awaan - Ivatan
hawan - Itbayat
fali - Sarangani Blaan
foli - Koronadal Blaan
omay - Sarangani Manobo
umay - Kalagan
halay - Tboli
segefalay OR gefalay - Kalamansig Cotabato Manobo
banwa - Kapampangan
bialun - Tagabawa Manobo
belintuwa' - Tiruray
fangaraw - Buhid
timpo - Hanunoo
año - Chabacano


Anonymous said...

Keep it up,Chris!


sam-akv said...

Ah, lovely. Manami gid. Encountered your name on wikipedia about hiligaynon. Was curious on the classification of Hiligaynon as under Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian Western Malayo-Polynesian ...

In present Polynesia, are there words with similar sounds and meanings? I have encountered the word "jalan" in Malaysia which is similar in sound and meaning as "dalan" (I speak Hiligaynon). Better yet, please email me at samakv@gmail.com. Of course, when you can set aside time, no rush.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Sundita.
I'd like to know more about the 'purismo' movement during the 1950s (?) which proposed to introduce coined words to replace Pilipino words borrowed from other languages. The most amusing (and thus most popular) examples are 'salipawpaw' for 'eroplano' and 'salumpuwit' for 'silya.' But I can't find more examples of this sort. Would you help me find a list of said 'purista' words. I understand that some of them are, in fact, quite sane and acceptable and have become part of the laguage.

Thanks in advance.


magno@cooper.edu said...

I'm an avid reader of your blog, and I just wanted to drop a hello and say "keep up the good work"!

I'm originally from Davao City, now going to school in NYC. Ganahan jud ko sa imong blog!

Alberto Vida said...

Hi, Chris.

Thanks for this post, very informative.

As of now, in Bikol, that -ng is appended to words that ends in a vowel is incontrovertible. All other words ending in other consonants uses na as a linking word. Examples in Bikol: gadan na ayam “dead dog”, bulong na mahal “expensive medicine”. For the words ending in a glottal stop, I have a theory that originally, the na particle was also used after words ending in glottal stop, (kinô na dakula “big rat” instead of kinong dakula). I am a native speaker of Bikol (I was born in Pasacao) and the first phrase sounds more natural to me than the second one, which sounds stilted though acceptable, and its acceptance is a direct result of Tagalog influence. The widening acceptance of -ng to link words ending in glottal stop will definitely go on, Tagalog being the “national” language and is spoken on TV, radios, movies, and Bikolano bakasyonistas & balikbayans from the most cosmopolitan megacity in the Philippines. After all, Tagalog is the more “prestigious” language, eh.

By the way, I chanced upon your blog. I am Abet Vida (nonadnavgatr@gmail.com), a language enthusiast also, now living in New Zealand and would like to create a conlang within 2-3 years, my hobby. Thanks and more blogs to come.

LordBrain said...

Hi nice post!

Question, if you get around to it..

for Cebuano and Hiligaynon, you have that "ka" is used to connect the number to that which it is a number of..

tatlo ka adlaw (3 days) - Hiligaynon

Does it change with plurality or anything like that? For example, can I say

isa ka adlaw (1 day)

Thanks for the great blog!

radical zeitgeist said...

i've seen this entry a long long time ago. just to add something on cebuano... i think "ug" is also a linker..not just the "and". heres an example.

puti ug pamanit - white skin.
dako ug sapatos - big shoes.
taas ug kasway - long limbs.

Anonymous said...

for cebuano, hiligaynon and tagalog.. if a word ends with 'n', can't you just add 'g' to it instead of 'nga' or 'na' respectively??