20 September 2013

The Use of the Word May to Create Idiomatic Phrases in Filipino

The word may in Filipino means tbere is or has. For example, you can say may tao sa labas which means there is a person outside. Figuratively or idiomatically you can also use the phrase may sayad sa ulo which means something is wrong with the head of someone or that someone is crazy.

This usage of the word is deeply entrenched in the language and yet sometimes overlooked by scholars. It may prove difficult to understand and can cause confusion among the language learners.

The technique is to use the word may in front of a noun to come up with a phrase that shows ownership of something or that defines a new idea or concept. The resulting phrase functions as an idiomatic expression whose meaning may be different from the literal translation.

Below are examples showing how the creation of a new idea or concept is done by putting the word may in front of a noun. In each case, the new word is followed by its literal meaning which is not the one intended and then by the correct meaning as understood by native speakers.

may akda (has a written work) (author)
may sala (has a missed shot) (wrongdoer)
may ari (has property) (owner)
may tama (there's a hit) (has a feeling for)
may gusto (has a want) (likes)
may sabit (there's a hang) (may not work)
may toyo ang utak (has sauce in the brain) (gone mad)
may bisa (has an effect) (effective)
may laban (has a fight) (can win)
may puso (has a heart) (kind)
may gawa (has a work) (creator)
may kaya (has power) (well-off)
may edad (has age) (old)
may laman ang salita (there's content in words) (implying that someone did a wrongful act)
may pagtingin (has a looking out for) (has a feeling for someone)
may punto (has a point) (makes sense)
may sungay na (has grown horns) (behaving badly since then)
may balat sa puwet (has birthmark on one's bottom) (person with bad luck)
may kililing (has chimes) (crazy person)
may katok (has a knock) (crazy person)
may sayad (has parts touching each other) (person gone mad)
may dugo sa kamay (has blood on hands) (guilty of a person's death)
may lupa (has land) (landlord)
may sabi (has a talk) (the one who said so)
may taglay (is carrying something) (has or have)
may pera (has money) (rich person)
may galit (has anger) (is angry with)
may hilig (has a leaning toward) (is fond of)
may kapangyarihan (has power) (auhorities)
may ulo (has a head) (intelligent)
may utak (has brain) (wise person)
may damit (has clothes) (wearing clothes)