Mahal Kita - structural meaning

Discussion in 'Tagalog and Filipino Languages' started by ChampagneBrut, May 11, 2009.

  1. ChampagneBrut Senior Member

    American & Canadian English

    Is there a native Filipino/ linguist who can explain the structural meaning behind the expression "I love you?"

    Why is the personal pronoun "we" used as in "We love (one another)." instead of "I love you" (subject-verb-object).

    Does this grammatical difference reflect a distinct Filipino way of "seeing the world" versus the English world view?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. annely

    annely Member

    English, Cebuano, Tagalog
    I`m no linguist, but I thought that I might as well give in my 2 cents on the subject.

    "I love you" in Tagalog is "Mahal kita" with mahal being the verb (to love) and kita being the subject and object at the same time. Kita roughly translates into something like "I ... you" the ... being any verb placed before kita. It`s specifically used to say that the speaker is the one doing the action, and the person being spoken to is the receiver (or direct object) of the said action. Examples include:

    Turuin kita - I will teach you
    Tulungan kita - I will help you
    Nakikita kita! - I see you!

    So "Kita" doesn`t at all mean "we" in Tagalog. "We" in tagalog would either be "Tayo" or "Kami" depending on whether or not the person being spoken to is included in that "we". I`m not sure whether or not it reflects a distinct "Filipino world view" that`s out of my sphere of competence for now. :)
  3. ChampagneBrut Senior Member

    American & Canadian English
    Hi Annely,

    Thank you. Your explanation is very well articulated and helpful. It says in my Encyclopaedia Britannica that in Malay (origin of Filipino?), kita means "we", including the person addressed, as distinct from kami, a form for "we" that includes the speaker and a third person(s) but excludes the person addressed.

    Essentially, I'm trying to find certain structural differences between Filipino and English/French in order to show how word meanings are language and culture bound, i.e., represent a unique reality and way of seeing/ordering and evaluating the world.

    I was hoping that Mahal kita might provide an enlightening example since it's such a radically different grammatical construction!

    Thank you again,

  4. annely

    annely Member

    English, Cebuano, Tagalog
    Oops sorry about that repeat post. My Safari is acting up on WR :(

    Haha, you`re from Toronto? That`s where I am right now. I`ve also been studying French for some time now, so maybe I can help you if you have more questions. Good luck! :)
  5. ChampagneBrut Senior Member

    American & Canadian English
    Avec plaisir!

    Actually, I'm a Cebuano-born Canadian doing a master's in linguistics in France! (I'm living/studying in the Loire Valley.)

    I have a huge comparative linguistics exam tomorrow and I'm just trying to collect a few examples of some grammatical structures or even words/expressions from "exotic" languages that are culture-specific, thus not easily translatable in French or English. For example, honorifics in Filipino, e.g., the use of po and ho to mark politeness, Até and Kuya, that sort of thing.

    As you know, nouns in French (as in all Romance languages) are preceded by either a masculine or feminine gender, which although arbitrary and devoid of lexical meaning may indicate a certain world view. Titles such as Madame le maire arguably reflects a sexist or male-domineering society, etc...

    MERCI encore,

    Feel free to PM me although this week is exam week so I may be late getting back to you!

    Last edited: May 11, 2009
  6. niernier

    niernier Senior Member

    Manila, Philippines
    Bicol & Filipino
    Hello to both of you! :)

    Mahal kita and I love you are just the same. Kita is like an 'I' and 'you' combined together, and like what annely said, kita is both the subject and the object at the same time.

    However, it is also true that in other Philippine languages, 'kita' is 'we'. So your Encyclopaedia Britannica is not entirely wrong. Like for instance, in my native language, kita is 'we' including the person addressed.

    Perhaps, you can find structural differences between Tagalog and English by looking at the enclitic particles used in Tagalog. It offers nuances that are not easily translatable. They express hope,uncertainty, wonder, new realizations and other emotions that are not apparrently seen in regular English expressions.

    I'm no linguist so I don't know if this reflects a distinct Filipino world view but I just want to see if it helps. And by the way, good luck on your linguistic exams.:)
  7. annely

    annely Member

    English, Cebuano, Tagalog
    So true! Other commons words would be:

    "Kaya" - expressing a state/feeling of wonder or questioning
    "Sana" - expressing a feeling of hopefulness


    "Kailan siya babalik?" - When is he/she coming back?
    "Kailan kaya siya babalik?" - I wonder when he/she is going to come back?

    "Hindi uuwan bukas." - It`s not going to rain tomorrow.
    "Sana hindi uuwan bukas." - I hope it doesn`t rain tomorrow. or Hopefully it doesn`t rain tomorrow.
  8. sean de lier

    sean de lier Member

    Manila, the Philippines
    Philippines (Tagalog, English)
    If this is Tagalog, the correct word is uulan.

    As a native Tagalog speaker, I would more likely use "Sana hindi umulan bukas," though your sentence is also intelligible. I don't know if it's a dialectal difference, I'm from Cavite, a province with known deviations from 'standard' Tagalog.

    Adding to the discussion, one difference I saw with Tagalog as opposed to English would be the relative absence of gender in Tagalog. For example, the third-person singular personal pronoun he/she (English) translates to siya in Tagalog - no differentiation between genders. I'd like to think that Filipino culture, at least native pre-colonial culture, was less patriarchal than European societies, but then, I'm no linguist nor sociologist. :D

    Two particles I particularly like are na and pa. Example: Mahal mo na, o mahal mo pa?
  9. annely

    annely Member

    English, Cebuano, Tagalog
    Haha oops! You`re right about the "uuwan" part. I kind of mixed up the Cebuano and Tagalog form for "rain" ("uwan" & "ulan") I tend to mix them up a lot :p

    Personally, I think the fact that European languages place so much emphasis on gender is what makes them even harder to learn. Every noun has a gender, and knowledge of that gender is required for proper verb conjugation, verb-object agreement, other grammar aspects, etc. Thank goodness for the simplicity of Tagalog, with respect to that part of the language :)
  10. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    Hi Champagne,

    you're right, Tagalog and Austronesian languages in general follow a very different grammar than Indo-European languages.

    The kami vs kita distinction is true. Although in the informal spoken language, kami seems to be falling out of use, being replaced by kita for both "me/we + you" and "we without you".

    Mahal in Indonesian/Malay means "expensive", and I won't be surprised if there's actually a connection to "love". Remember that English "dear" used to mean "expensive" too. Or French "cher" = dear, expensive.

    Other than that, there are some words that are recognizable for Indonesians/Malaysians, like tulung (=help), balik (=return), siya = in Indonesian/Malay dia, pronounced like diya (=he, she, him, her, his)

    Also so true for Indonesian:

    "Kapan dia balik?" - When is s/he coming back?
    "Kapan ya dia balik?" - I wonder when s/he's gonna come back.

    "Besok tak akan hujan." - It's not gonna rain tomorrow.
    "Semoga besok tak (akan) hujan." - Hopefully it won't rain tomorrow.

    As we often don't pronounce the H, hujan is usually pronounced as ujan, which bears similarity to uwan or ulan.

    And it goes on and on. :)
  11. niernier

    niernier Senior Member

    Manila, Philippines
    Bicol & Filipino
    Hello MarX :) I just learned that Indonesians/Malaysians recognize some words coming from Tagalog. Perhaps in other Philippine languages too.

  12. AskLang Senior Member

    Hi! ChampagneBrut

    Your Encyclopaedia Britannica is correct in saying that "we" has this form in Malay which includes the person addressed when spoken, though it is not currently commonly used in everyday Filipino.

    Examples with its English equivalents include:

    1. Let us pray - Manalangin kita (more commonly "manalangin tayo")
    2. We will go home now - Uuwi na kita (more commonly "uuwi na tayo")

    I hope this helped.
  13. rockjon Senior Member

    According to my tagalog books, kita as a pronoun is more or less the combination of ko + ikaw. I think it's considered to be a merged Tagalog pronoun. My books also say that the there used to be another one used in tagalog in the past called "kata" which stood for the two of us. However, this is no longer used anymore. I think Kampampangan still uses a lot of merged pronouns according to this website,
  14. Ajura Senior Member

    Batanggenyo and the transitional dialects between tagalog and bikolano uses kita for we as well....

    Batanggenyo tagalog does not use those pronouns actually and very ,the reason why standard and northern tagalog dialects and kapampangan share lots of similarities other than being philippine languages is that the speakers of northern and standard tagalog languages used to speak kapampangan before the spanish came.....

    the reason why those kapampangans shifted their language is because of shame that is associated with the macabebe scouts and also because they are the favorite in being drafted in galleon trade.....
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  15. ChampagneBrut Senior Member

    American & Canadian English
    Goodness, I can see it's going to take a while to sift through these nuggets.

    For now, I'd like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all who contributed to this fascinating discussion: annely, sean de lier (interesting Filipino name), MarX (our cousin from Indonesia!), niernier, AskLang, rockjon (thank you for taking the time to check your grammar books!) & Ajura.

    I admit I wasn't able to follow up and digest the information on this thread following my exams (annely & niernier, thanks for your good wishes! I'll get my marks this week). In the end, I was asked about the similarities between Latin and English so I didn't have to come up with "exotic" examples of comparative linguistic structures. But it's something I should ultimately have as part of my repertoire.

    There appear to be a multitude of enlightening stories behind the various Philippines languages. I'm very interested in contact linguistics and would like to research one day the history and dynamics of Filipino languages from the perspective of contact and competition.

    A warm thanks again to everybody!

    Cheers from The Land of Wine

  16. Ajura Senior Member

    The same can be said for chinese/sinitic languages...
    philippine languages sometimes can be sometimes exagerated in using pronouns and stress,consonants can be lengthened instead of vowels in stress,words can mean different on context like kumain na! which sometimes means I ate,those kind of word usage causes semantic shift....

    In the philippine languages the definite pronouns are
    Tayo/Kita/Tam(u) normally means Us for example Tayong dalawa lang,Just the two of us if you add na it becomes let's like Kain na tayo,if you use the word kita for we in central luzon,in manila area,rizal area for example Let's eat=Kain na kita you will be mistaken for a cannibal.
    Kami means We for example Kami'y narito,We are here.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2009
  17. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    Mahal Kita= I love you is a translation that mean both of you love each other.The usage of "We" or "Kami" in the sentence clearly states that both of them love each other. In case Only one felt the loving and caring, or not so sure if the one he/she likes like him/her. it is appropriate to say in Tagalog= Mahal ko ikaw.(I love you) and if he/she replied I love you too. then it is the time to say "Mahal kita"!

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