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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Cebuano Grammar: Back to the Basics: Use of the intensifier 'kaayo'

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One day, I received a text from a former student.  This student has a passable ability in language learning.  His English is decent, meaning, he has mastered survival English and can also converse spontaneously about familiar subjects.  His grasp on some scientific, technical and social sciences issues are still on the shallow side.  it could be for lack of useful vocabulary, or lack of interest that he did not bother reading beyond what is interesting to him, suffice it to say, he has a passable Binisaya or Cebuano skill.  In other words, to achieve more mastery, he needs to practice the language more often and increase his vocabulary.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

How to use the filler "Kuan" or "Koan"

Image result for whatchamacallit




My Japanese student, who i consider to be an exceptional learner, texted me one day to ask a language question.  One that is really difficult to answer for those who don't have any idea how to teach the Cebuano language.  You see, locals don't really control their speech when they talk to a new face in town.  And when you try to practice your Binisaya to them, the locals get so impressed and they start thinking you are conversant in Binisaya already.  They become very comfortable talking to you in Cebuano and that's when you start to encounter many other features that no one can explain what they mean and what they are.

Such was the experience of Mika, my student.  She asked me: "Mercy, what is 'kuan?  My colleagues here use it very often and they said it has a lot of meaning.  Can you explain it to me?"   Of course I was willing to answer any question pertaining to Cebuano or Binisaya.  

So what is 'Kuan" or "koan"?  

I will give examples and then tell me what you think it is:


Asa man ang pulang kuan?  Where is the red whatchamacallit?  Instead of saying, "Asa man ang pulang litrato?"  (Where is the red picture?)  The situation here is that the person looking for the litrato, (picture) has forgotten the word for "picture" in Binisaya, which is litrato.  And what does he use as a filler for the word "litrato"?  He used "kuan."

I will write down more examples and you can create your own.

Kinsa ang bag-ong kuan?   
Who is the new whatchamacallit?  

Gikaon nimo ang isdang kuan?
Did you eat the whatchamacallit fish?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Do you know these two Cebuano words? Kusog vs Isog

  Image result for strong coffee


Everybody loves a cup of strong coffee.  It keeps us awake if we need to be up all night and to some people, coffee is their best companion.  They need caffeine to survive.  We are a family of coffee drinkers.  I was introduced to coffee before the age of ten and I would say..when it comes to coffee, "the bitter the coffee, the better it is," if you catch my drift.  I like it strong, black and bitter.  

How do we say 'strong coffee' in Cebuano?

isog nga kapi  

Basically isog is used for intensity/strength.

Can I use isog to describe a 'strong man'?

In the case of men or humans, isog refers to bravery.  Therefore a 'brave man' is:

isog nga tawo.
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Monday, June 4, 2018

Mag-break ta: Gitik-Gitik Dyutay...(Let's have a break. A LittleTickling) A Short Visayan Joke


One of the tests that I do to see if the learner has enough knowledge and understanding of Cebuano is to give a simple joke in Visayan.  If he can appreciate the joke and find it funny, then I am confident that he can survive living in a Cebuano-speaking place.  

Some of the words need translation in this joke:  Here is the translation:

Grandfather:  Grandchild, go hide because your teacher is here.  You were absent from school.
Grandchild:  Grandpa, go hide too because I told her I was absent because you died.

In Bisaya, many grandparent-grandchild jokes have been created.  This shows a cultural side of Filipinos.  Filipinos generally have close family ties.  And grandparents generally watch over kids especially when parents are in absentia.  


Saturday, March 24, 2018

How do you say You Drive Me Crazy in Bisaya?


I always require my students to submit a homework after every lesson and it so happen that I asked one of my learner to create a journal of any particular day that she found interesting.   The next meeting, she was very eager to share her homework.  She did very well in the first paragraphs, (with a few minor errors which I can ignore).  However, I could not overlook one glaring error:  When she wrote:  Buang kining adlawa for This day was crazy,  I just had to correct her.  



We cannot say Buang kining adlawa because typically, in Binisaya, buang is only used to refer to a person who is crazy.  If you want to say This day was crazy. you can say:  Makabuang ning adlawa or Buanga ning adlawa, but not Buang kining adlawa. A literal translation is not applicable in this situation. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cebuano Language: A Morbid Topic


Simbako ka diha --  whenever death becomes a topic, you will hear this expression.   There is no real meaning to it; it is just used similar to the expression in English:  Heaven forbid.   
To Filipinos, the topic of death is considered morbid so they avoid talking about it.  It's just that people are afraid to let go of their loved ones to death.  

Here are some related vocabularies:   A dead person is called patay or minatay.  He is placed in a lungon (coffin).  People would attend his haya (wake) for roughly one week or could be less than 7 depending on the preference of the bereaved family.   The family prepares coffee and other snacks for those who would be in the haya (wake) and would bilar (stay up all night).