Filipino & Spanish Words: Lost in Translation Part 1

History explains the huge influence of Spanish in Filipino language. As Spain colonized the Philippines in 1521 and stayed in the country for more than 300 years, a lot of Filipino words are actually loan words from Spanish.

However, there are some that got its meaning changed, veered off course, and ended up lost in translation. I don’t exactly know how and why it happened. I'm just assuming that during the Spanish era, the Filipinos casted as Indios were the ones who might have misheard or misunderstood some Spanish words due to lack of knowledge since only the Ilustrados were allowed to study Spanish.

Here are a few words that I can think of. To Filipinos learning Spanish and to Hispanics studying Filipino (note: Filipino is the official language of the Philippines, not Tagalog), this may come handy.

Di masyado vs. demasiado

Although these 2 words sound alike, their meanings are at the opposite poles. In Filipino, the phrase di masyado means “not so much.” On the other hand, the Spanish word demasiado is its antonym that means “too much.”

Using di masyado or demasiado can be tricky and may send a wrong message across if used incorrectly. It pays to know their difference.

Siguro vs. seguro

Changing a single letter may spell a lot of difference. When one says siguro in Filipino, it means “maybe,” “perhaps,” or an expression of something that's “not sure.” Meanwhile, it's contradicted by the Spanish word seguro that even though spelled almost similar in Filipino, it means “for sure.”

So ladies, when a guy asks you for a date, make sure it's said in the right way either in Filipino or Spanish, so as not to give false hope! =p

Conyo vs. coño

In the early 2000s, the word conyo was a trend in the Philippines especially among teenagers. It refers to “a person who’s too conscious about his or her social status.” A conyo is best identified by his way of speaking who speaks in mixed English and Filipino with an obvious twang in the pronunciation of the Filipino words.

In Spanish, coño is a vulgar word. Literally pertaining to a female sex organ, coño is one of the overused words for swearing especially by the Spaniards. As a matter of fact, I had a former Spanish workmate whom I almost tallied how many times he would say coño in a day. Believe me, it was beyond the count of my fingers.

Kerida vs. querida

Being called a kerida in the Philippines is something negative. Filipinas would not want to be called or tagged as one since it pertains to a mistress or someone who has an affair with a married man. It's so unfortunate that this loan word had gone wrong because believe it or not, it’s such a beautiful word in Spanish. I personally find it one of the most romantic adjectives. One of the meanings of querida in Spanish is “dear” or “beloved.”

So if you're a Hispanic, be careful next time with using querida in the Philippines because it just might bring a wrong impression.  

Siyempre vs. siempre

Here’s another pair of tricky words that sound and look very similar but have a nuance to watch out for. In context, the Filipino word siyempre means “of course” while siempre in Spanish means “always.” These adverbs don’t mean the opposite but may lead to a confusion when used improperly.
Here's siyempre used in a dialogue:

Person 1: Kailangan ba talagang pumunta ko doon? (Do I really need to go there?)
Person 2: Siyempre naman! (Of course!)

On the other hand, here's siempre:
Person 1: ¿Con qué frecuencia haces ejercicios? (How often do you exercise?)
Person 2: Siempre lo hago. (I always do it.)

Medyas vs. medias

Medyas in Filipino refers to a pair of socks while medias in Spanish refers to stockings that are mostly used by women. Although both fall under the article of clothing, you might end up lost in a closet if you don’t know the difference.

I remember a story of my Filipino professor who lived in Spain. He went to a department store to buy a pair of socks. But since he was still studying Spanish back then, he said medyas instead of calcetines (the Spanish word for socks). So just imagine how the saleslady had to react about it.

Do you have other Filipino and Spanish words in mind? Share and comment below!

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Shelly C. Dimaculangan was a language translator in the Philippines. She finished AB Journalism at University of Santo Tomas in Manila where she took her first Spanish classes. After college, she continued learning Spanish at Instituto Cervantes de Manila. 



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