Words in Filipino (or Tagalog) are generally pronounced in four ways: malumay, malumi, mabilis, and maragsa.
All right, all right, all right, don’t panic!
We’ll talk about those four in a bit more detail later. There’s even a nice little Venn diagram below that will make things clearer for Filipino language learners.
For now, just keep in mind that Filipino words are either said slowly or relatively fast.
The difference between the two slow ways and the two fast ways are that one of the slow/fast ways has a glottal stop at the end of the word (what we call impit in Tagalog) and the other doesn’t. So:
There are other differences between those four ways of pronouncing Filipino words but those are the easiest to remember.
If you already have a good idea of what the differences are between malumay, malumi, mabilis, and maragsa, you can go directly to the worksheets.
If you still want to learn more about them, read on!
First: what is a glottal stop?
The easiest way to understand what a glottal stop is is to say “uh-oh.”
That thing that you do after the “uh” — when you sort of abruptly stop the word by closing your throat and thereby abruptly stopping the flow of air — that is the glottal stop.
There are glottal stops in lots of languages. For example, in English, people living in certain areas might say “wah-er” instead of saying “water” and clearly pronouncing the “t”. In those cases, glottal stops might take the place of consonants like “t”.
However, in Tagalog and many other Filipino languages, the glottal stop is only done at the end of the word, and only after vowel sounds. Examples:
So that’s actually a clue as to the pronunciation of a Tagalog word: if it ends in a consonant, it can only be either malumay or mabilis, because both malumi and maragsa are characterized by glottal sounds after the vowels at the end of the words.
Another difference among the four ways of pronouncing Filipino words is which syllable is stressed or accented.
Just think of it this way: if a word is said fast, then there’s no time to stop anywhere while saying it, and so the stress would have to be on the last syllable.
On the other hand, if a word is said slowly, then the general rule is to put the stress on the second to the last syllable.
Even though these four ways — malumay, malumi, mabilis, and maragsa — are the standard ways to pronounce Filipino words, you might notice that some words don’t strictly fit any of these categories.
Two examples that I can think of are two days of the week:
In both these cases, the stress is on the 3rd to the last syllable. There’s probably a rule about it somewhere in Filipino vocabulary, but, yeah, just at first glance, they don’t seem to fit any of the four ways to pronounce Filipino words.
Some words are spelled exactly the same in Tagalog and Bisaya, but are either pronounced differently or have totally different meanings.
(There are probably similar situations between Tagalog and other Philippine languages, but I only know Tagalog and Bisaya.)
One final difference worth mentioning among the four ways to pronounce Filipino (Tagalog) words is the accent marks (tuldik) used with them.
I would note, though, that these accent marks aren’t used very common anymore, at least not in ordinary conversations and writing. Unlike in Italian, for example, where they really put accent marks on the last syllable (ex. città, Gesù) and that’s how you know you’re supposed to put the stress on that last syllable, in Filipino, you could spell the word without the accent mark and the spelling would still be considered correct. Which is kind of a shame because it would have been a big help to us non-Tagalog Filipinos, who still get confused on whether certain words are pronounced with glottal stops. (Seriously, it’s a struggle! ^_^ ) But then I suppose it’s just as well, because having to write all those accent marks in every non-malumay word would have been an absolute chore.
These are the accent marks used in Filipino:
Note that the accent marks are placed above the last vowel of the word but it does not necessarily mean that that’s the vowel to stress.
Of all these accent marks, the one I would sometimes use when writing Filipino words would be the pakupya, especially if two different words have the same spelling, and it makes it much easier to understand which one I mean by indicating the pronunciation of the word.
But, again, it’s not strictly necessary to do this, and you can usually guess which word is meant from context clues anyway.
I hope you learned something from our discussion above because in this worksheet, you will put your knowledge to the test!
How do malumay, malumi, mabilis, and maragsa differ in terms of their:
Can you give examples for each way to pronounce Filipino (Tagalog) words?
Then you’re ready to answer this worksheet!
Now that you’re fairly familiar with the different ways to pronounce Filipino (Tagalog) words, it’s time to put your knowledge to practical use!
Take a look at the words in this worksheet and sort them according to how they are supposed to be pronounced: malumay, malumi, mabilis, or maragsa?
For what it’s worth, here’s what the words in the worksheet above mean:
(And of course I didn’t put accent marks. That would make it too easy. 😉 )