18 January 2012

Frequently Used Filipino Idioms

Idioms proliferate in the vocabulary of everyday Filipino conversation just like in other languages. You need to familiarize yourself with those most commonly used so you'll never get lost in following what others are talking about. Filipinos will very much appreciate it if you can use one or two of these common-place idioms in talking with them. You can ask a Filipino friend for a more elaborate explanation if you find my description a little confusing.

Filipinos use the expression Bahala Na (Come What May) when faced with a situation where the outcome is unknown. It underlies a determination to go ahead with an action even though the odds of succeeding is slim.

When a Filipino describes an action as Suntok sa Buwan (Literally, a Jab to the Moon), it means that a move is being done with a very small chance of hitting the target. The action has a very little chance of succeeding because in the first place the objectives are not clear.

Bugbog Sarado (Literally, Roughed Up Horribly) can happen to you if you disrespect a Filipino lady. The family and relatives of the lady you disrespected will gang up on you and rough you up badly leaving you with eyes you can barely open.

Kuskos Balungos roughly translates to Shakespeare's much ado about nothing. It describes one's behavior when she tries to find excuses for why what she is asked to do will not really solve the problem. More precisely, it refers to weak excuses that others will not generally find acceptable.

Urong-Sulong literally means backward-forward and it describes a situation where one is unsure of what to do. More particularly it refers to an action that will not result in a favorable outcome as there is lack of determination on the part of the actor as if she is not really convinced that this is the right way to go. The move will pretty much result in nothing substantive being done.

Tatanga-tanga describes a person who is clueless and who would easily fall for scams and dubious schemes or who could be readily sweet-talked into parting with her money. Tanga by itself means uneducated or ignorant so when someone says tatanga-tanga, it means that the person is acting like an idiot or in a stupid manner.

Agaw-buhay which literally means to steal a life is used to describe a life or death situation for a person. It refers to a situation where a person is on the brink of death. It is used to idiomatically portray a person who is being rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment.

Kusang-loob literallly means motivated from the inside and idiomatically refers to an action that is done voluntarily without any prodding from anyone. The actor does something on her own accord and is not being forced into doing such an act.

Laki sa Layaw literally means brought up in freedom but is idiomatically used to mean a spoiled child. Such a person had not experienced poverty and had been pampered as a child. Thus, she lacks motivation to pursue a meaningful goal and is content on receiving dole outs from her parents.

Bale wala literally translates to without value and is idiomatically used to mean to come to naught. It is used to impart a sense of regret on putting an all-out effort and gaining a pittance of result. It highlights the undue waste of resources for an effort that did not succeed.

Balik-loob (literally return inside) is used to depict a change of heart on the part of the doer. The person referred to has gone astray and has come back to the fold. It is most frequently used to describe the coming back of rebels into the fold of the law.

Tawid-gutom literally means to cross or overcome hunger and is used to describe how a small amount of money can tide someone over for a few days. When used to describe an amount, it means that it could just barely save someone from starvation, pointing out how small the amount is.

Read my other article on Spanish derived words in Tagalog vocabulary at: http://hinagapnikaure.blogspot.com/2012/02/easily-add-some-spanish-derived-words.html.