Cebuano Tuesday: Common Phrases

Cebuano Tuesday: Common Phrases

Cebuano, commonly known as Bisaya, is a widely spoken dialect in the Philippines. Over a fifth of the Filipino population are speakers of this dialect, making it the second-largest ethnolinguistic group in this country. A unique characteristic of this dialect is the adoption of foreign vocabulary from different languages like Arabic, Spanish, and Chinese. It also shares similarities with the Filipino language, although diction changes between the two. 

Cebuano is a very expressive dialect, with multiple different phrases and jargon for every single situation and feeling. There are phrases that can be used to express one’s frustration, affection, happiness, and gratitude. Essentially, there is always a Cebuano word or expression that can be used to describe what the speaker is feeling. The translations of some of these expressions run extremely deep and are oftentimes misunderstood by non-Bisaya speakers. But don’t worry! Understanding these expressions is relatively easy once you put them into practice or start using them in conversations with friends and family. To start off, here are 10 simple Cebuano phrases that you can start using in your daily life.

  1. Mangaon ta! (Ma-nga-un-ta)
  •  This is a commonly used phrase in Cebuano or Bisaya-speaking regions that translates to “Let us eat!”. If you ever want to express your excitement to eat with loved ones, “mangaon ta!” will soon be a favorite phrase for you to use.
  1. Hasula (Ha-su-la)
  •  Hasula is a word that literally translates to “hassle”. This word is used to demonstrate one’s tiredness and irritation with either an event, an object, or most especially a relationship.
  1. Buanga bai! (Bu-a-nga-bay)
  • The Cebuano equivalent of “That’s totally gnarly!”, “buanga bai” is used to express one’s surprise and dumbfoundedness in a certain situation. This phrase may be used upon discovering shocking information.
  1. Uyab (U-yab)
  • Uyab is the Cebuano term for someone’s “lover”. The word “uyab” is gender-neutral, and therefore can be used to refer to a male or a female partner.
  1. Amping! (Am-ping)
  • The word “amping” translates to “stay safe”, and is usually used after saying goodbye to your friends or loved ones. When you say “Amping!” to a person, you wish them safety or that they arrive at their destinations safe and sound.
  1. Puhon (Pu-hun)
  • “Maka uyab na unta ko, puhon”: Puhon is a positive and wholesome Cebuano word that exhibits a person’s hopefulness for the future. This word translates to “someday” and even “God willing” depending on the situation. When will I get a good grade? Puhon. When will I find a partner? Puhon.
  1. Daghang salamat (Dag-hang-sa-la-mat)
  • Arguably the most grateful phrase in the whole Cebuano dictionary, “Daghang salamat”, much thanks in English, is used to show your appreciation for someone.
  1. Purya buyag (Pur-ya-bu-yag)
  • The expression “purya buyag” is said after one is given a compliment to prevent any bad circumstances from happening to the person complimented. “Purya” comes from the Spanish word “fuera” which means “away”, while “buyag” is the Cebuano term for “curse”. The phrase is rooted in animistic and customary superstitions of the ancestral Visayans. “Ka cute ba sa imong anak oi!” “Purya buyag!”
  1. Simbako! (Sim-ba-ku)
  • Similar to “purya buyag”, the expression “simbako!” is said when we do not want bad things to happen in the future. However, the phrase is not limited to only compliments and can be used in a wider range of situations. “Simbako!” translates to “God forbid” or “knock on wood”.
  1. Kuan (Ku-an)
  • “Kuan” is the Cebuano’s universal pause word used when we cannot seem to find the right word for something, or it can also be used to avoid saying a taboo word. In theory, the word can mean anything you want it to in a sentence, and it would still make sense. So when in doubt, just say “kuan”.

Article by Anya C. (G12) & Patrick P. (G11); Feature Image by Renoa K. (G12)

The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.

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