The Prefix HA-

When I wrote this post, I had a suspicion that its not just Bikol that has the prefix ha-, a prefix that is normally added to base words indicating some sort of spatio-temporal dimension. Although I have seen WarayWaray having this prefix as well in some of its adjectives, I never expected that it could be found in other Borneo-Philippine languages as well. I came across this database of Austronesian language words and it seems this is found in a number of other languages, but is slowly losing ground to ma– prefix.

Below is a table of comparison of 10 adjectives, 8 are related to spatio-temporal dimensions and the 2 others are not, for comparison purposes. I took the 11 largest languages in the Philippines, plus some more minority languages that have this prefix in at least a few of these adjectives.

English Gloss Tagalog Sugbuhanon Hiligaynon Kiniray-a Maranao Tausug Kapampangan Ilokano Pangasinan
wide malapad
lapad masaŋkad malapad mabelaŋ malakbaŋ malapad nalawa maawaŋ
narrow makitid hagipчot makitid malipчot masimpit masigpit makiput чakikid mainget
far malayoч layo malayoч rayo mawatan malayuч marayuч чadayu чarawi
near malapit duчol malapit rapit marani masuquk sípiŋ*


long mahabaч taчas kalabaчon labəg malabaч mahabaч makabaч чatiddog чanduquey
short maчikliч, maчiksiч
mubô malipчot lipчot
mababaч mababaq
makúyad, pandak чababa melag
thin manipis nipis maniwaŋ nipis manipis manipis maчimpís
naчiŋpis mabeŋ
thick makapal bagaч malapuyot daməl makapal marakmul makapal napuskol mataba
good mabuti maчáyo maчayo mayád mapia marayaw makayap**
naчimbag ma
bad masamaч daчután panuláy malaчin marataq maŋiq marók dakes maчoges

* according to my Kapampangan friend, malapit is the right word here. ‘siping’ actually ‘katabi’ in Tagalog.

** according to my Kapampangan friend, mayap is the right word here.

English Gloss Bikol Ilahud Waray
Aklanon Itbayaten Mamanwa Hanunuo Palawan
wide halakbaŋ
halapad ɣá:pad,
mayavuŋ haloчaч daka malabɨg
narrow hayakpit
haligot kitid mahilid masiчɨt diчít piɨt
far harayoч hirayoч ɣayúч harawiч чaroч чarayuч чalawid
near haranih harani
ɣapít masŋɨn чarani чaráni чalɨŋɨt
long halabaч
halabaч ha:baч чanaruч чataчas чabaч чabwat
short haliчpót hamubò putút
чababaч чabábaч
thin mahimpis manipis nipis mataripis nipis manipis manipis
thick mahiчbog madakmol dá:muɣ matukpuǥ madamɨч madamul madamɨl
good marhay
maчupay mayád mapiaq magazon mayád magayɨn
bad maraчot
maraчot ɣá:чin maraчɨt maqoŋa daчút makawat


English Gloss Ibanag Kallahan Kayapa Dumagat Casiguran Ifugao Batad Inibaloi Filipino
wide чalawa чambanaw lawaч damu:na qɨmbanaw halakbaŋ (distance horizontal)
haluwaŋ (hole, opening)
hahiwas (space itself)
hataŋkad (distance vertical)
narrow ** чunчipɨt piчit ** чɨpit hayakpɨt (distance)
hapiчɨt (hole, opening, space)
mahikpit (tightened grip, clothe, etc.)
madikit (small)
madɨkɨt (sticky, touchy)
makipɨt (tight corner)
pikɨt (cornered) 
чɨpit (pressed)
чɨmpit (compressed)
far чarayyu чadawwi чadeyoч чadagwi чarabʷi hadayuч (distance)
near чaranni naqihaqgaŋ чadeneч neheggon чɨsop hadanih
long чapaddu чandukkɨy чatakdug чadu??oy чɨncoḳɨy halabaч (space)
halabɨg  (time)
short чalinno-c чantikkiy чapehit hoqdod чintikiy
hadiчpót (short object)
hababaч (short low)
matikey (short person)
thin makabbal maчiŋpih lapes maya:pit maчiŋpis hañɨpis (flat, objects)
mahimpis  (flattened)
maniwaŋ (skinny, rope)
thick makannag mahɨdɨl bagɨl maqugtul masɨcɨl hakapal  (like paper)
hadakmɨl  (like mound, heap)
matabaч (like rope)
good mapya pɨhɨd mahusay mapohod maptɨŋ madɨyɨw (abstract goodness)
mahusay (skills)
mabuti (intellect, intent)
bad marake-c lɨwa medukɨs napu:hi ŋaqaw madakɨt (suffering, hardship)
malɨwag (injustice)
beautiful           magayɨn
rich           mapirak  (money, cash-rich)
mayaman (all kinds, wealth)


First of all, the data for Bikol Iraya and Magindanao are missing, and some words are missing as well for Ibanag and Ifugao Batad, I have other entries as well that I know of. The data for Sugbuhanon and Aklanon seems to be just the base words and without the prefix. All the entries are unconfirmed and were just taken from the above mentioned database, apart from the ones I’ve added. Although I am quite suspicious of the чa– prefix if this is just ma– with the m dropped, this does not seem to be so as Ilokano has na– for the ma-, for example.

From the table above, we can conclude that 2 of these spatio-temporal dimension adjectives (thin and thick) are not formed like the others. We can also say that it is mainly Bikol (6), Waray Waray (6) and Ibanag (5) that has retained this prefix. Other languages that still retained it in some forms are Mamanwa (5), Ilokano (5), Hanunuo (4), Dumagat Casiguran (4), Batak Palawan (3), Kallahan Kayapa (3) , Itbayaten (3), Ifugao Batad (3), Pangasinan (2), Sugbuhanon (1) and Inibaloi (1).  Tagalog, Hiligaynon, Kiniray-a, Maranao, Tausug and Kapampangan totally eliminated this prefix. Does this correlate with the over-all retention rate of these languages of the features of pre-historic language(s) in the Philippines? Also worth noting is that the only major lowland languages that retained it are in the eastern part (Bikol, Waraywaray) and northern part (Ilokano, Pangasinan, Ibanag) of Luzon and the rest are isolated languages in small islands (Mamanwa, Batak Palawan, Itbayaten, Tagbanwa Kalamian Coron) or mountains (Dumagat Casiguran, Kallahan Kayapa, Ifugao Batad, Inibaloi, Hanunuo).

Bikol has a few more words with this prefix that are not found in that database : haluwaŋ (wide hole or opening), hararom (deep), hababaw (shallow), hababaч (low), halaŋkaw (high), haloчag/halowag or halugaч (loose fitting), halawig or haloy (long time), haчot (tight), although the last two doesn’t look like coming with a prefix to me. The Batangas Tagalog term ‘alwan’ “ease, comfort’” could be analyzed as derived from haluwagan (ha-luwag-an) ‘looseness or opposite of tightness”, probably a borrowing in old times that undergone sound change.

The column Filipino Conlang are the words that will form part of the Filipino language which I am building, sourced from all the languages of the Philippines, as originally intended in the drafts of the 1934 Philippine constitution. A few comments on some of the entries.


Kiniray-a, Aklanon, Hanunuo ‘mayad’ and Bikol ‘maray’ are related since Bisayan languages do metathesis (Bisayan ‘adlaw’ ‘aslum’, Bikol ‘aldaw’ ’alsum’) and could be originally like Bikol ‘maray < marahay < madahay’ and Bisayan ’mayad < maday < madahay’ with d and y metathesis.  The base ‘dahay’ could all be related to Tausug ‘rayaw’, Mansaka ‘dayaw’  & Manobo Dibabawon ‘dɨyɨw’. In Bikol, h and w sometimes alternates, like ‘taho/tawo’, so ‘dahay could be also be ‘daway’. Looks like Tausug, Mansaka and Manobo Dibabawon has the w and y reversal too. All this needs further proof though. ‘dayaw/dɨyɨw’ could be the original base word in old Philippine language(s). Tagalog “mabuti”  could be related to Lampung Api ‘bətiч’ and Komering ‘botiч’ in Sumatra Indonesia and could be from Sanskrit buddhi ‘intellect’. Sugbuhanon, Ilonggo ‘ayo’ Mamanwa ‘gazon’, Palawan Batak gayɨn could be cognate to Bikol ‘gayon’ “beauty”, where it implies that a thing of beauty is something that is good. Maranao, Ibanag ‘pia’, Itbayaten ‘piaq’ could be from *pirak “silver”, meaning that if you have lots of riches, that is good. Dumagat ‘husay’ is related to Tagalog ‘husay’ “skill, efficiency, expertness”. Kallahan ‘pɨhɨd’, Ifugao ‘pohod’ are related but I am unable to speculate on its origins. Kapampangan ‘kayap’, Waray ‘upay’ are related, assuming Waray also did metathesis, from ‘kɨyap’ but I don’t know what this means.  Its hard to find related words to Inibaloi ‘pɨtɨŋ’, Ilokano ‘imbag’, and Pangasinan ‘oŋ’ terms.


Sughuhanon, Hanunuo ‘daчút’, Bikol,Waray ‘raчot’, Itbayaten raчɨt,  Batak ‘ráчət’, Ibanag ‘rake-c’, Dumagat ‘dukɨs’, Pangasinan ‘чoges’, Ilokano ‘dakes’, Kapampangan ‘rók’ could all be from *dakɨt. This word is also cognate to the Tagalog word ‘sakit’ “disease, sickness, illness; pain, sorrow, grief” and to Bikol ‘sakit’ “offence, grudge, resentment; difficulty, toughness, hardship”. Marano ‘rataq’ and Bikol ‘datah’ are related. Kiniray-a ‘laчin’, Aklanon ‘ɣá:чin‘ are related, and cognate to Bikol ‘(ma)laчin’ “feeling sick, under the weather”, which originally meant “different, another, dissimilar”. Bad feeling or sickness was a meaning extension which was one way of saying your feeling different from the usual. It seems the concept of badness is related to the idea of sickness and difficulty, which all bring painful feelings. Kallahan ‘lɨwa’, Pangasinan ‘чaliwa’ are related to Tagalog ‘kaliwaч’ “left” and to Bikol ‘liwag’ “iniquity, injustice”. Inibaloi ‘ŋaqaw’, Mamanwa ‘qoŋa’ and Tausug ŋiq‘ look related but I don’t know where they came from. Tagalog ‘samaч’ and Ifugao ‘pu:hi’ I can’t find related words to them.


Bikol, Mansakan, Kalagan, Butuanon and Tausug term ‘lakbaŋ’  “width” seems to be derived from a cognate word to Tagalog ‘hakbaŋ’ ”stride” as a distance measurement and Bikol has ‘lakdaŋ’, Tagalog ‘lakdaw’ “step”. In Bikol, ‘lakbaŋ” not only means width but also breadth.  Also, Bikol has haluwaŋ “wide hole or opening”, which could be a cognate word of Maranao ‘lebaŋ’, Tagalog, Gaddang ‘luwaŋ’, Sangir ‘loaŋ’, Pangasinan ‘awaŋ’.  Bikol ‘hiwas’ “spaciousness, roominess, vastness” could not be related to any word there; not even Melayu ‘luas’ since Bikol has this term as well meaning “outside”. It seems Bikol has 3 terms for the concept wide: halakbaŋ, haluwaŋ, mahiwas.

Mamanwa, Ilokano,  Dumagat Casiguran and Ibanag terms comes from ‘labaч’ “long” or breadth/length. Palawan Batak ‘labɨg’ could be related to Bikol ‘lawig’ “duration, length of time”.  Hiligaynon ‘saŋkad’ could be related to Tagalog ‘taŋkad’ “height” with the base as the reference point, which means that the term was applied to wide objects vertically.

Tagalog, Kinaray-a, Waray, Sugbuhanon, Kapampangan ‘lapad’ , Aklanon ‘ɣá:pad’ ‘width” could be related to Palembang Malay, Ambon Malay, Indonesian, Madurese, Ngadju Dayak ‘lebar’, Melayu Brunei ‘libar’  and the word for fly ‘lɨ’pad’ in Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waraywaray, ‘lupad’, Tagalog ‘lipad’, Kinaray-a ‘ləpad’, Aklanon ‘ɣupád’, as birds flying becomes wider with their wing extended. Interestingly, Bikol, Mansakan, Maranao, Bulaang Mongondow, Palawan Batak and Subanon has ‘layug’ for “flight” and their term for “wide” does not look related to ‘lɨ’pad’.


Tagalog, Hiligaynon, Aklanon ‘kitid’, Ilokano ‘kikid’, Itbayaten ‘hilid’  seems to be from ‘kitid’ and Hanunuo ‘diчit’ from “dikit”. ‘kitid’ and  ‘dikit’ could come from the same word ‘dikit’, which could be related to Bikol ‘dikit’ Tagalog ‘liчit’ “small” or Bikol ‘dukot’ Tagalog ‘dikit’ “touching, sticking”. Mamanwa ‘siчit’ could be related to ‘dikit’ too.

Dumagat Casiguran ‘’piчit’, Palawan Batak ‘piчɨt’ could be related to Bikol ‘piчot’ “narrow, snug, tight” Tagalog “’piчit’ “in a tight corner, fix, pressed tightly” Tagalog ‘pikot’ “cornered, surrounded”. Inibaloi ‘чɨpit’, Kallahan Kayapa ‘чipɨt’ could be related to Bikol, Tagalog ‘чipit’ “pinched, crushed, pinned” or Tagalog ‘hapit’ “tight fitting” Tagalog ‘gipit’  “lacking space, cornered, pressed”. ‘piчɨt’ and ‘чipɨt’ are related through metathesis of p and ч. ‘чipɨt’ could be from ‘kipɨt’, from where Kapampangan kiput could come from and Tagalog ‘kipot’ “narrowness”.

Tausug ‘sigpit’ could be related to Tagalog ‘higpit’  “tightness, closeness”. Bikol ‘yakpit’ could be distantly related to Old Javanese ‘hapit’, Puyuma ‘ləq̂típ’, Manobo dibabawon ‘ligqɨt’. Sugbuhanon gipчot, Kiniray-a ‘lipчot’, Waraywaray ‘ligot‘ could be from ‘likpot‘ which could be related to Bikol ‘liчpot’ “short”. See notes on SHORT. Maranao ‘simpit’, Pangasinan ‘inget’, Indonesian ‘sempit’ are related to Tagalog impit “pressed, compressed” or Bikol ‘himpis’ “thin”.


Tagalog, Sugbuhanon, Hiligaynon, Tausug ‘layoч’, Kikiray-a, Kapampangan ‘layoч’, Ilokano ‘dayoч’, Bikol, WarayWaray, Hanunuo ‘rayoч’, Aklanon ‘ɣayúч’, Mamanwa ‘roч’, Ibanag ‘rayyu’, Dumagat Casiguran ‘deyoч’ could be all from ‘dayoч’. Pangasinan ‘rawi’, Itbayaten ‘rawiч’, Palawan Batak ‘lawid’, Inibaloi ‘rabʷi’, Ifugao Batad ‘dagwi’, Kallahan Kayapa ‘dawwi’ could be related to Bikol ‘lawig’ “long time”, maybe re-analyzed as far places which takes a long time to travel, and could all be from a word cognate to Palawan Batak ‘labɨg’ “wide”. Could this mean then as “far and wide”? Could Maranao ‘watan’ be related to the place name ‘batan’ or ‘ivatan’? Ivatan means place where “washed ashore”, meaning far (from the sea)? Looks quite a stretch to me.


Maranao, Bikol, WarayWaray, Mamanwa, Hanunuo ‘rani’, Ibanag ‘ranni’ Dumagat Casiguran ‘deneч’ looks like these are cognate to possibly one word ‘daniч’, as its attested from north to south, in most subgroup languages in the Philippines. Kapampangan ‘sipiŋ’ is related to Tagalog “beside, next to each other”. Tagalog, Hiligaynon, ‘lapit’, Kiniray-a ‘rapit’, Aklanon ‘ɣapít’ looks limited to Greater Central Philippine languages only. Sugbuhanon ‘duчol’, Tausug ‘suчuk’, Inibaloi ‘чɨsop’, Pangasinan ‘siŋger’ , Palawan Batak ‘lɨŋɨt’, Ilokano ‘sideg’, Itbayaten ‘sŋɨn’, Ifugao Batad ‘heggon’ look all hard to relate. Kallahan Kayapa ‘naqihaqgaŋ’  looks like a verb to me.


Tagalog, Tausug, Aklanon ‘habaч’, Hiligaynon, Maranao, Bikol, WarayWaray ‘labaч’, Kapampangan ‘kabaч’,  Hanunuo ‘чabaч’ could all be from ‘labaч’, which could be related to Old Javanese ‘dawâ’, Modern Javanese ‘dawa’ and Malagasy ‘láva‘. Kiniray-a ‘labəg is related to Bikol ‘lawig’ and pertains to “long time”. Inibaloi ‘coḳɨy’, Kallahan Kayapa ‘dukkɨy’, Ifugao Batad ‘du??oy’, Pangasinan ‘duquey’ could be related to Hiligaynon ‘dugay’, but as far as I know, this also pertains to temporal length. Sugbuhanon, Mamanwa ‘taчas’ is related to Tagalog ‘taчas’ “high (top point of view)”. Dumagat Casiguran ‘takdug’, Ilokano ‘tiddog’ could be related to Bikol ‘tindog’ “standing”. Ibanag ‘paddu’,  Itbayaten ‘naruч’, Palawan Batak ‘bwat’ all look difficult to relate.


Hilgaynon, Kiniray-a ‘lipчot’, Bikol ‘liчpot’, Palawan Batak ‘ ‘diчpot’, Ibanag ‘linno-c’ could all be related to Sugbuhanon ‘gipчot’ “narrow” and come from ‘likpot’. Tagalog, Maranao, Tausug, Ilokano, Mamanwa, Hanunuo ‘babaч’ are all related to Bikol, Tagalog ‘babaч’ “low in stature” which could be interpreted as short in width also. Sugbuhanon, WarayWaray ‘mubo’, Kiniray-a ‘nubo’ could be related to Sangir ‘nibuч’ “short object”. Kallahan Kayapa ‘tikkiy’, Inibaloi ‘tikiy’, Pangasinan ‘tiquey’ are related to Rukai ‘də́kai’, Kapampangan ‘kuyad’, Itneg ‘pandik’ Tagalog ‘pandak’ and could be related to the word for small ‘dikit’. Pangasisn ‘melag’, Itbayaten ‘naynid’, ‘sidsid’, Aklanon ‘putot’ ‘чisut’, Dumagat CAsiguran ‘pehit’, Tagalog ‘ikliч’, Ifugao Batad ‘hoqdod’ are difficult to relate to other languages.


Tagalog, Sugbuhanon, Kiniray-a, Maranao, Tausug, WarayWaray, Aklanon, Mamanwa, Hanunuo, Palawan Batak ‘nipis’, Itbayaten ‘ripis’, Dumagat Casiguran ‘lapes’, Ifigao Batad ‘ya:pit’ could all be from ñɨpis as attested in Moken ‘ñipih’, Lahanan, Kayan ‘ñipi’, Kenyah ‘ñipe’, Bunun ‘nibis’, Subanon ‘mɨpis’, Malagasy ‘nífy’, Javanese ‘tipis’. Kapampangan ‘impis’, Ilokano, Inibaloi ‘iŋpis’  Bikol ‘himpis’, Kallahan Kayapa ‘чiŋpih’ could be related to Tagalog ‘чimpis’ “deflated, flat” or ‘чimpit’ ‘”pressed, compressed”. Hiligaynon ‘niwaŋ’  is related to Bikol ‘niwaŋ’ “slender, svelte, skinny’. Did Ibanag ‘kabbal’ underwent meaning reversal from Tagalog ‘kapal’ “thick”?Pangasinan ‘mabeng’ is hard to relate to other languages.


Tagalog, Maranao, Kapampangan ‘kapal’ is related to Pangasinan ‘taba’  through Melayu ‘tebal’. In Bikol, Tagalog ‘tabaч’ means “fat”. Rukai ‘dəmə́l’, Kinikray-a ‘damal’, Hanunuo ‘damul’ , Palawan Batak ‘damɨl’, Mamanwa ‘damɨч’, Tausug, ‘rakmul’, Waraywaray ‘dakmol’, Aklanon ‘dá:muɣ’ could all be from ‘dakmɨl’ which is present in Mansaka, Kalagan. Hiligaynon ‘lapuyot’, Ibanag ‘kannag’, Sugbuhanon ‘bagaч’, Dumagat Casiguran ‘bagɨl’, Bikol hiчbog’, Ilokano ‘puskol’, Itbayaten ‘tukpuɣ’, Ifugao Batad ‘qugtul’, Kallahan Kayapa ‘hɨdɨl’, Inibaloi ‘sɨcɨl’ all are difficult to relate to other languages.

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