Spanish influence in Filipino language and culture

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by boadicea7, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. boadicea7 Member

    Recently I've come to learn that Philipino language has some Spanish words, which at first came as a schock to me, but not after being reminded that Philippines was a Spanish colony.

    Do you have any insight as to to what extend Spanish influenced the Tagalog language?

    I know they use the words 'gusto' and 'pero' which are Hispanic.
    Any Philipinos in here that can shed some light into this?

    And also, how big of an impact does Hispanic culture have in Philippino culture?

    ps: I tried posting this in the cultural discussion board but couldnt...I don't know why.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2009
  2. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    Here is one for starters - in the Philippine Martial Arts (PMA some call it) there is a type of knife and stick fighting known as "eskrima" - and yes, spelled with a "k". It is not a particular style - it is a generic word. There are lots of terms in PMA that are obviously derived from Spanish words. Like "largo mano" which means the opposite of infighting.

    The history of PMA is not that it was something they learned from the Spanish, rather than something they used to make them leave.
  3. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Spanish has lost its prestige in the Philippines long ago; in the 19th century it was even a prestige language there (and official till 1973) but this isn't of course the case anymore (it seems that few Spanish speakers are left). There's also Chabacano, a Spanish-based Creole which is still spoken.

    I don't know what traces of Spanish are still left in Tagalog but they should be negligible as compared to English ones.
  4. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    There are about 4,000 lexical items in Tagalog of Spanish origin, according to the wiki entry. That's not negligible in my opinion, but it is small. Apparently some other Philippine languages retain more. From personal experience, Spanish is preserved in both expressions and individual vocabulary (although often with meaning changes). For example, the greeting "Kumusta" (from cómo está(s)), "amigo" (friend), "syempre" (T. "of course," S. "always"), and even in the numerals ("onse" eleven), although, Tagalog alternates between native Philippine numbers and Spanish-derived numbers.

    There is no effect I'm aware of on syntax and morphology.
  5. Fray Luis Senior Member

    They may not be many but most of them are basic and common words, and they also count and tell the time in Spanish.
  6. sean de lier

    sean de lier Member

    Manila, the Philippines
    Philippines (Tagalog, English)
    There are a lot of Spanish-derived words in the Filipino language, mostly for the technical terms, though it has supplemented the common words as well. Spanish is an accepted language from which we can borrow words if it is not present in Tagalog. Examples of which are "onion" (sibuyas, from Sp. cebollas), foreign concepts such as "empire" (imperyo, from Sp. imperio), and many abstract/technical terms such as "academy" (akademya, from Sp. academia), "economy" (ekonomiya, from Sp. economia), and "communism" (komunismo, from Sp. comunismo).

    We do have words for most basic and common words (such as parts of the body, numbers, colors). Some of them aren't used as much, probably because it's longer or it's what they were accustomed to. Take for example the color words "blue" (asul from Sp. azul versus the native term bughaw), and "green" (berde vs. luntian); the number words "eleven" (onse vs. labing-isa) and "twenty" (bente vs. dalawampu); and even the common conjunction "but" (pero vs. ngunit). In many cases, speakers would often prefer the borrowed term. The borrowing is more intense in more abstract/technical terms, even if there is a Tagalog/Filipino term for it - probably because the borrowed term exists in both English and Spanish, two languages we are also familiar with. Examples include "responsibility" (responsibilidad vs. pananagutan), "religion" (relihiyon vs. pananampalataya), and "province" (probinsya vs. lalawigan). Admittedly, for these three cases, I would use the borrowed terms in casual conversation.

    Spanish and Filipino/Tagalog also share words which are both derived from indigenous Mexican languages (mostly relating to food and agriculture), which came through the Galleon trade (the Philippines was governed through Mexico until the Mexico declared independence). Examples of which are kalabasa (Sp. calabaza), mais (Sp. maíz), sinigwelas (Sp. ciruela), and paminta (Sp. pimienta).

    In short, vocabulary-wise, Spanish left a deep impact on the Filipino/Tagalog language, but the grammar and syntax is still very much Malayo-Polynesian/Austronesian. The Austronesian alignment is still present, words still do not have gender, plurals are not formed like in Spanish, and nouns are not declined. It's like Maltese - a native language swamped by a large mass of loanwords, with the loanwords treated like native words. Take sibuyas, for example. The borrowed term is the Spanish plural for "onion", but sibuyas in Filipino/Tagalog is in its singular form. If you would like to speak of "onions", it would be mga sibuyas. "Respect" can be respeto (from Sp.) or (pag)galang, and when we use these words as verbs they are inflected the same way:

    "respecting" (present tense, progressive aspect, patient trigger) rinerespeto, ginagalang
    "I respect you." = Rinerespeto kita. = Ginagalang kita.

    And yes, we do tell time in Spanish, probably because the concept of "one o'clock" is absent in Tagalog. We do have time words: umaga ("morning"), tanghali ("midday"/"noon"), hapon ("afternoon"), gabi ("evening"), hatinggabi ("midnight"), and madaling-araw (the wee hours of the morning). But if we want the exact time, we'd use the Spanish system, or the English one. :)
  7. boadicea7 Member

    Sean de lier:

    Thanks a lot for the insight, that was a very interesting read.

    One thing, can you give me an example of how you guys tell the time in spanish?
    I mean do you actually say ' cinco y cuarto. ocho y media etc'?
    And also, the word 'merienda' I've noticed Pinoys use it a lot too.
    What meal does it refer too? In spanish it's used as 'supper'. How about over there?

    Sorry for the questions but I find Philippines to be a very interesting country and the hispanic-Filipino conection is quite fascinating.

  8. niernier

    niernier Senior Member

    Manila, Philippines
    Bicol & Filipino
    merienda in the Philippines is an afternoon snack but it can also refer to any light snack eaten between the three main meals.

    There are a number of ways to tell the time in Filipino. You can choose between English, Spanish or native Tagalog numbers. It is more common to hear Filipinos use the Spanish-based counting numbers in telling time but in formal situations(TV shows, conferences, radio) Tagalog numbers are employed.

    In Filipino, we say ala-una(1:00), alas dos(2:00), alas tres(3:00) and so on.

    We also say alas dos diyes(2:10), alas dos kinse(2:15), alas kuwatro y medya(4:30)

    In TV or in radio, they would occasionally tell the time in Tagalog, like sampung minuto bago sumapit ang ika-pito ng umaga(10 minutes before 7:00 in the morning)

    In Bicol(a neighboring regional language next to Tagalog), we also say something like pocomas o menos alas siyete nin banggi (around 7 o'clock in the evening). I am not sure if this poco mas o menos is correct Spanish but that's how I hear it. It means "more or less". But the concept of poco mas o menos is not employed in telling the time in Filipino.

    Filipino is created using the "amalgating" approach of selecting a vocabulary that is representative of all the major languages spoken in the country. Using this approach, Spanish words which are more common in the regional languages than in Tagalog are employed in Filipino. For example, Tagalog term for 'decoration' is palamuti, but dekorasyon is Filipino. Pamahalaan is Tagalog, but gobyerno is Filipino.

    Spanish loan words often mutated and took on a slightly different pronunciation. An example is bandila (flag) and litrato (picture).
    And sometimes, Spanish loan words have altered meaning completely: seguro means "sure" in Spanish but in Filipino, it means "maybe".
  9. sean de lier

    sean de lier Member

    Manila, the Philippines
    Philippines (Tagalog, English)
    Merienda is a snack; can occur in the morning, the afternoon, or anytime between the three main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner). Dinner/Supper is hapunan.

    As with niernier, I have heard my grandmother (who is Tagalog, not in any way Spanish) tell time in Spanish. "2:50" can be rendered as alas tres menos diyes, "a few minutes past four o'clock" may be alas kwatro pasado. There is indeed a morning show that is titled "Alas Singko Y Medya" (which used to start at 5:30 AM); we could also tell time that way: "7:30", alas siyete y medya. Note that the spelling is different from Spanish, as people use phonetic spelling, like in Filipino and Tagalog.

    Uncommonly, dates can be expressed in Spanish. Tessie Tomas, the host of the show Teysi ng Tahanan, was one of those telling dates (partially, especially the year) in Spanish. She says, "Ngayon ay araw ng Martes, ika-pito ng Setyembre, taong mil nuwebe syentos nobenta y dos", or something like that (I was a child that time! :D)

    Speaking of dates, we use the Spanish words for the days of the week (except Sunday) and the months.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2009
  10. joselito_09 New Member


    Hi, im from Philippines, specifically from Negros Occidental, my dialect is Ilonggo or hiligaynon. I think there's more Spanish words used in ilonggo compared to tagalog. Ill just give you some examples,(based only for what i can recall).....the words like.... Pasar=passed, Usar=to use, Abre=to open, rueda=wheel, buscar=seek, preparar=prepare, atrasado=belated/slow, semana=weeks, Otro=another one, tonto=silly, pensar=think, mantener=maintain and so on.....

    ill use is it on a sentence:

    waay ko ka "pasar" sa exam namon.=i did not passed the exam
    waay ko gid gin "Usar" akon libro = i did not use my book
    "abre"hi ang "puerta"han= open the door
    ang "rueda" sang akon kalesa =the wheel of my kalesa
    waay ko na "buscar" akon libro= i havnt searched on my book
    ga "preparar" pa lang ko = im still just preparing
    ka "atrasado sa imo" = your so slow
    "pensar"a bala= try to think of it.
    pila ka "semana" na lang = few more weeks to go."

    and so on.......

    I think spanish words in ilonngo is around 4,000 to 6,000 words or maybe more. Some dialect may also have more spanish words especially Chavacano.
  11. boadicea7 Member


    Thnkas a lot for your post.

    I'm surprised that Spanish influence in Philippines goes way beyond Tagalog, up to other languages and dialects.

    I'm just very interested about this all.
  12. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    There are spanish words that are incorporated in Tagalog and other Philippine dialects.The name Philippines was based on the name of King Phillip.The words (pero,gusto,maskara,biyahe,kuarto,kastigo,pueblo,santo/santa,Republika etc. are spanish origin. Fiestas and other type of celebrations are from Spanish culture.check the dictionary compiled by australian missionary it is (Tagalog-English dictionary) and you will see many spanish words there that become part of Tagalog language.

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