Ano ba kasi ang “dialect”?

Hanggang ngayon, malaking misconception pa rin na hindi language o wika ang Cebuano, Ilocano, Waray, Hiligaynon, at iba pang mga regional languages ng Pilipinas.

Filipino daw ang national language at “dialect” lang daw ang mga ito.

Para malinawan tayo, alamin muna natin: ano ba kasi ang dialect? Anong kinaibahan nito sa language? At ano ba ‘tong “Filipino” language na ‘to?

So totoo lang, walang clear-cut distinction ang language at dialect, pero usually may 3 criteria na ginagamit:
1. Mutual Intelligibility
2. Politics
3. Literature


Gamit ang Mutual Intelligibility na criteria, masasabing magkaibang language kapag hindi kayo magkakaintindihan. Kunwari, Kapampangan lang ang alam ni Elmira at Waray lang ang alam ni Carding, hindi sila magkakaintindihan dahil magkaibang wika ang dalawang ito.

Kung, halimbawa naman, ay mag-usap si Norman na taga-Batangas at si Juan na taga-Cavite, magkakaintindihan sila dahil regional variations lang ng iisang wika ang gamit nila: Batangas dialect of Tagalog at Cavite dialect of Tagalog. May mga pinagkaiba pero similar enough na magkakaintindihan pa rin sila.


Ngayon, meron ding political criteria. Halimbawa, ang Danish, Swedish at Norwegian ay mutually intelligible, pero tinuturing silang magkakaibang language at hindi dialects lang ng “Scandinavian”. Ang Mandarin at Cantonese, dalawang wika sa China, ay hindi mutually intelligible pero tinuturing silang dialect ng “Chinese” dahil yun ang naging policy ng kanilang bansa.

May mga cases din na tinuturing lang na language pag yun ang ginagamit ng elites ng isang society at nadedemote yung iba to “dialect”.

Sa case ng Pilipinas, nagkaroon ng executive order noong 1937 na magkakaroon ng isang national language na tinatawag na Pilipino base sa Tagalog. Nung 1973 constitution, pinalitan ng Filipino na fusion daw dapat ng mga native languages, parang halo halo. Supposedly.

Pero ang actual na nangyari, ang Filipino ay naging base lang sa Manila dialect of Tagalog, dahil capital ang Maynila at malaki ang naging impluwensiya nito sa bansa.

Sa 1987 constitution, tinatawag na “regional or auxiliary languages” ang ibang mga wika ng bansa kagaya ng Yakan o Maguindanaon, pero ang tinuturo pa rin sa mga school at textbook ay dialect lang ang mga ito.


May mga authors din na ginagamit ang pagkakaroon ng written literature bilang basehan para masabing wika at hindi dialect ang isang salita. Pero kahit gamitin natin ang criteria na ito, matituturing pa rin nating wika ang Cebuano, Hiligaynon, or Kapampangan dahil mayroon silang written works.

Ayan ha, yan ang mga criteria. Kung linguistics ang usapan, full-fledged languages ang ibang mga wika ng Pilipinas.

Ayon nga sa Ethnologue, mayroon tayong 187 unique languages. Next time may mag correct sa inyo na hindi language ang mga ito, meron na kayong maisasagot.

An English-Hokkien Dictionary – Alpha 0.1

Aside from Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese, I’m also quite interested in Hokkien (Min-Nan), especially the Philippine variety. Unfortunately, apart from a few phrase books here and there, I haven’t really found a good searchable dictionary that I can use, so I just decided to build my own. Not having done any serious coding for many years, I felt that my coding muscles had already atrophied. Nevertheless, I managed to cobble something together.

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Intermediate to Fluent Chinese in 30 Days: Final Post and Lessons Learned

While I failed the 30 day blogging challenge, the 30 day Chinese learning challenge has had some interesting results for me.

Main takeaways:

  • You need to put in the hours
  • There’s a lot of time in a day that can be used for language practice
  • The most important thing is to build a habit
  • Consistency is the name of the game
  • Replace Facebook time as language learning time

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Confusing Chinese Characters – How to Distinguish 更 and 便


Chinese characters can sometimes be confusing. In this post, we take a look at four similar looking characters and examine some ways to remember and distinguish them.

Character Pinyin Definition
gèng more / even more
gēng part of 更改 (gēnggǎi) change
便 biàn convenient
便 pián part of 便宜 (piányi) cheap

I chose these two characters with four meanings because they’re relatively common and I myself have been having problems remembering how to write them down due to the similarity of the forms and two of them having multiple readings. They also happen to be on the HSK vocabulary lists from level 3 onwards.

Let’s look at each of them in context to make it easier to remember, then devise some memory aids to easily distinguish them from each other.

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Numbers in Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Fookien and Tagalog


At the 3rd session of my Basic Korean class yesterday, we learned about numbers. And since I already know about numbers in Mandarin, Cantonese, Fookien and Tagalog, I thought of making this table as a memory aid.

Number Mandarin Cantonese Fookien Tagalog Korean
1 / 一 jat1 it isa 하나 (hana)
2 / 二 èr ji6 di dalawa 둘 (dul)
3 / 三 sān saam3 sa tatlo 셋 (set)
4 / 四 sei3 si apat 넷 (net)
5 / 五 ng5 go lima 다섯 (daseot)
6 / 六 lìu luk6 lak anim 여섯 (yeoseot)
7 / 七 cat1 chit pito 일곱 (ilgop)
8 / 八 baat3 pue walo 여덟 (yeodeol)
9 / 九 jiǔ gau2 kaw siyam 아홉 (ahop)
10 / 十 shí sap6 tsap sampu 열 (yeol)

Note: The Cantonese column uses Jyutping romanization. The Fookien column does not include tone information.

Learning Korean

Korean Characters

In last week’s post, I wrote that I’ve started learning Basic Korean at the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines and how it compares to my experiences in Ateneo Confucius institute. Today, I’ll discuss my thoughts on learning Korean with a specific emphasis on Korean phonology (sound system) and challenges of Filipinos and myself in learning it. 

As I wrote last week, a substitute teacher instructed our first session, so yesterday was our first proper lesson with our actual teacher. According to her, she’s been in the Philippines for 5 months and, to the surprise of the class, has only been seriously learning English for a year, having previously focused on Korean education for Koreans. English education in primary and secondary school in Korea “has problems,” she says, because it largely focuses on reading, writing, and grammar, so their speaking and listening skills are inadequate. Nevertheless, she’s able to give us basic instruction adequately in English, but it’s not surprising that she would have some difficulty.

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Korean Cultural Center Philippines vs. Ateneo Confucius Institute

Chinese & Korean

First off, a bit of background: one of my goals is to learn Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Yes, all three. Yes, I know it’s kinda crazy. Anyway, as part of this goal, I originally planned to start learning basic Korean or Japanese as soon as I attained an advanced level in Mandarin Chinese.

Actually, I will be re-taking Intermediate Level 6 (out of 6) at the Confucius Institute in Ateneo Professional Schools, Makati next week in order to further polish my skills before proceeding to the Advanced classes. So, not quite at the advanced level—yet.

Regardless of which, I decided, against sanity and the advice of some people, to enroll in a Basic Korean class at the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines. On the same day. Chinese in the morning and Korean in the afternoon. Saturday was the only schedule that was feasible for me due to my work schedule. I’m not yet sure if this would cause some linguistic confusion but I hypothesize that it would not due to the level disparity. Well, let’s see how it plays out.

For now, let’s just focus on these two government-supported institutes. Having attended classes at the Confucius Institute for over a year now, I’ve noticed some differences in their approaches, which I’ll talk about in this post. This is not about which one is better; I’m simply contrasting them should you be interested in learning Chinese or Korean from these institutions.

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