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10 Words in Tagalog & Bisaya that draws confusions to both

Tagalog (Filipino) and Bisaya are just two of the 120 to 187 dialects spoken in the Philippines. Tagalog or Filipino is the national language of the country while Bisaya is widely spoken in Visayas and Mindanao. Although the two dialects are different, there are also words that from both dialects that have the same meaning.

Most dialects shares words and have same meaning. For instance “tubig” or water, in Tagalog and Bisaya they mean the same. There may be a lot of those words but here I’ll be sharing words that both use in Tagalog and Bisaya but means or use differently.

1. Langgam. In Tagalog langgam is an “ant” while bird in Bisaya. This is based on my experience, from our place we use Tagalog as our main dialect. Two of my friends and I were talking of cartoons back in the 90’s. While in the middle of conversations, one asked what was the cartoon that characters were black “langgam”. Two of us (who mainly use Tagalog) got so confused and have no cartoon show to say. He described that the two black “langgam” were so irritating or annoying but so funny. Can’t remember how long took our conversation until he mean “langgam” as bird. When he said it was a bird, we immediately said Heckle and Jeckle.

2. Taas. Taas in Tagalog means “up” or “top” while in Bisaya means “long”. Back in high school I would insist to a Bisayan speaking classmate the he is “taas” wrong. He was describing that my hair was “long” by saying taas, I said it should be “haba” short for “mahaba” which means long in Tagalog. I said to him, “taas” means “up”, how can my hair goes up? Since I’m new to Bisayan dialect, I would think it’s a wrong grammar to say “Taas iyang buhok”. In my understanding that time, it means His/her hair is up or on top.

3. Lagi. In Tagalog Lagi means “always” while in Bisaya uses the word to agree or confirm a statement. In Bisayan conversation.

Person 1 : Pirmi lang na sya late. “He/she’s always late”.
Person 2 : Lagi oi. “Indeed”.

4. Palit. I was working in grocery store back in my high school days. As a Tagalog speaking person, “palit” means to me as “replace”, “change” or “exchange”. But in Bisaya it means or use in sentence as “buy”. So in my first day of, can you imagine when I would entertain a Bisayan person to “palit” from us? A person would ask, “Papalit daw ug toyo?” and I would interpret the person would just like to exchange for something without paying. Of course you’ll learn it later that the person is simply buying something.

5. Dukot. In Tagalog dukot means pull while in Bisaya it means burnt rice at the bottom.

6. Habol. – In Tagalog habol means chase while in Bisaya it’s a blanket or a bed sheet.

7. Libang. I can’t hardly forget this word when used by our teacher as joke. Libang in Tagalog means joy or having fun while in Bisaya it’s taking a poop.

Here’s the joke of my teacher back then.

The story goes around to a Bisayan house helper and her new employer or master. The helper is new to the house and doesn’t know her way around to the house so she asked her master. “Sir, san po pwede mag-libang dito?” (Sir, where can I poop). The master replied, “Dyan sa labas, kahit dyan. Pwede ka mag libang-libang dyan.” (At the frontyard. Anywhere there. You can you enjoy there. And so the maid poops and buried it. She was carrying a shovel and was asked by the master, “Oh, naglibang ka na ba?”. Helper : “Opo, tinabunan ko na rin po gamit ang pala”. (Yes, I already buried it using the shovel).

8. Mahal. For a foreigner and fell in love with a Tagalog speaking Filipina/Filipino “Mahal” is one of the words they first learned to express their feelings to the person because it means “Love” in Tagalog. Mahal kita is translated into English as I love you. While in Bisaya, you’ll hear this more often at the market or stores because it means “Expensive”.

9. Suko. If you’re a Tagalog and have a fight with a Bisaya you heard that “Suko siya”, don’t ever thought that he already yielded to you because “Suko” in Bisaya means “angry” and not “surrender” in Tagalog.

10. Libog. Wow and What the! At least the word libog has been popular in mainstream media such as television. Libog in Bisaya simply means confuse or baffle while in Tagalog it means lust or  a strong desire (often in bad sense) according to Tagalog dictionary.

That’s it for now and I’m sure there are more than 10 words that are both in Bisaya and Tagalog but with different meanings out there. You can share here by hitting the comment area below so that other readers will know.

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