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

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My Japanese student, who i consider to be an exceptional learner, texted me one day to ask a language question.  One that is...

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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?


Sometimes 'kuan' is used as a euphemism for something that you don't want to mention, especially if it has a sexual meaning or if the word is very strong.

For example:

She is such a flirt.
Kuan kaayo siya.

I hope I explained 'kuan' clearly.  If you have anything to add to this topic, do leave a comment.   Until next topic guys.  Kita ta sunod. 

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Cebuano Teacher: How to use the filler "Kuan" or "Koan"
How to use the filler "Kuan" or "Koan"
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