Tausug Prefix Hi>

While looking at the forms of the various Philippine languages for PMP *ika-pitu (seventh), I noticed that Tausug uses a verb prefix hi> while others mostly uses i>.

This page shows 3 of such prefixes using hi>.

(1) Theme focus hi>

  Tausug Tagalog Sugbuhanon
Infinitive (h)i>… i>…  
Future (h)i>… i><CV>…  
Initiated …<iy>… i>…<in>…  
Progressive C><iy>V>… i><C<in>V>…  

(2)  Instrument focus hipang>

  Tausug Tagalog Sugbuhanon
Infinitive hipang>… ipang>…  
Future hipang>… ipang><CV>…  
Initiated p<iy>ang>… ip<in>ang>…  
Progressive p<iy>ang><CV>… ip<in>ang><CV>…  

(3) Reason focus hika>

  Tausug Tagalog Sugbuhanon
Infinitive hika>… ika>…  
Future hika>… ika><CV>…  
Initiated k<iy>a>… ik<in>a>…  



Example of use of hika> in Tausug is hikahangpu’  tenth.

From the above table, we will notice that:

  1. Tausug hi> is only present in the infinitive and the Future, and has been dropped in the Initiated and progressive. We know its been dropped since this also happened in the other verb prefixes ma>, mag> and <un as well but not in other affixes, and its sister languages retains the affixes in all forms. In <an it was not dropped as it will get confused with the <un forms. For <um> and m>, in <um> was not dropped as it inside the verb, and in m> the addition of <iy> did not result in more syllables.
  2. The n in <in> infix (Realis marker or marker for Inceptive Aspect?) was also dropped and replaced with a semivowel y <iy> for the Realis Mood. This happened in the other affixes (<un, <an, m>) and <um> ( with <im> from <inum> so expected is <iyum> then <im> after dropping <u>) but not in ma> (with nag> from mina> so expected is miya> then ya> by dropping mi>) and  mag> (with nag> from minag> so expected is miyag> then yag> by dropping mi>) . Is it likely that the syllable dropping (#1) occurred first before the change of <in> to <iy>?
  3. There is no distinction between infinitive and future. This behavior is similar to what is found in Kapampangan and Ilokano. Could it be that the Tausug future form is the proto Bisayan language future form or the original form since it does exists in the progressive form and only there, or Tausug dropped the progressive aspect indicator (CV reduplication, which may have a present and past interpretation) in the future form? Can the progressive form be used with future interpretation as well?
  4. It uses reduplication to indicate progressive aspect, which is not common in other Bisayan languages like Sugbuhanon, Hiligaynon, etc. Sugbuhanon is supposedly closer to it but uses <a> for a few prefixes like mag> to indicate progressive aspect like  naga> or ga>. Example: galakaw (nagalakaw; naglakaw)   (walking) ; gakaon (nagakaon; nagkaon) (eating). Tom Marking said that Sugbuhanon uses naga> for present to indicate ongoing actions, and maga> or mag> can be used interchangeably for future.

Another unusual thing in Tausug is that it has a few similarities with Kapampangan apart from the Future form:

  1. It uses in and sin for Common noun phrase markers, while Kapampangan uses ing, ning, and king.
  2. It has (alveolo)palatal phonemes j,ch,ny while Kapampangan has ny.
  3. Some words have <l> or lost it in both while Bikol and Warayan languages have <r> or <l>.

Possible Origin

From the same page, it is also noticeable that some of Tausug forms starting with h> has an s> counterpart in other languages:

Personal Phrase marker, Singular hi Tagalog: si
Bikol: si
Personal Phrase marker, Plural hinda Tagalog: sina
Bikol: sa
Locative Phrase marker


Tagalog: sa
Bikol: sa
”in what order”


Tagalog: pang-ilan
Bikol: ikapira
Ten hangpu Tagalog: sampu
one hambuuk Tagalog: sambuo
one hundred hanggatus Bikol: sanggatos
one thousand hangibu Tagalog: sanglibo

Except of course:

  Tausug Tagalog
Nominative pronoun 3rd person, Singular siya Tagalog: siya
Bikol: siya
Nominative pronoun 3rd person, plural sila Tagalog: sila
Sugbuhanon: sila
Genitive Phrase marker, Specific


Hiligaynon: sing

So the s > h change could be a recent and existing change in Tausug (like in Samarnon?) and does not explain h> initial prefixes. According to Blust, the prefix hi> was the more original form in the Philippines:

Like *Sa-, *Si- is reflected in several Formosan languages, as with Atayal s-, Bunun is-,
and Paiwan si- ‘instrumental voice’. In the Philippines it is reflected as i- (Itbayaten,
Ilokano, Bontok, Pangasinan, Tagalog, Bikol, Cebuano i-), where either singly or in
combination with other affixes it marks instrumental voice, benefactive voice, or
sometimes other relationships. In the central Philippines the expected reflex of PAN *Si- is
**hi-, but like *Sika- ‘prefix of ordinal numerals’, and some other high-frequency
morphemes (PAN *Sepat, PMP *epat ‘four’) this affix shows an irregular loss of expected

Thus, the Tausug forms (hi>, hika> and hipang>) may be the original ones, and the following conjugated Tagalog forms may indicate what were the original forms for hi> as an example.

Past ibigay hibigay
Present ibinibigay hibinibigay
Infinitive ibigay hibigay
Future ibibigay hibibigay

Other Language Features

Other features in Tausug that is different from Tagalog are:

(1) The presence of j (native words) , ny, and ch (allophone of ss). Gemination of non-glottal consonants.

(2) The Reciprocal <i suffix (which is also present in Hiligaynon, Sugbuhanon, Samarnon and other Bisayan languages) and full reduplication of stem (reciprocal, diminutive).

(3) The presence of dual pronouns. Also present in Tagalog but with different origin.


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