Tag Archives: differences

Differences between Bikol and Tagalog

I’ve read somewhere that Bikol is the closest language to Tagalog, and it would be easy for Tagalogs to learn Bikol. Well, here I have written a list of differences between Tagalog and Bikol and judge for yourself if Bikol is easy to learn.

Another reason why I’ve written this post is to kindle interest in Bikol as it is far richer than Tagalog in certain respects. There’s been a lot of studies conducted on Tagalog, but not much about Bikol. I think this is due to the relative ease of accessibility to Tagalog materials, it has more speakers, more literature written in it and that it’s the national language.

I will not discuss here vocabulary differences between Bikol or Tagalog, since vocabulary is easy to borrow from language to language, but rather differences in phonology, morphology and syntax. I will use the KWP orthography for Tagalog (or Filipino). I will use my proposed orthography for Bikol here.

These are just the most notable differences. I will update this list as I come accross others.

1. Bikol retains the glottal stop (IPA: ʔ ) in syllable final positions, whether word internally or finally. Tagalog ellides it, resulting in vowel-final syllables.


SWP Orthography Opo, hindi nga po naligo si Gemo.
Words’s pronunciation in isolation (IPA) ʔo:poʔ hindiʔ ŋaʔ po? nali:goʔ si gemoʔ
Natural Speech (IPA) ʔo:poʔ-# hindi ŋa pu naligo si gemoʔ
English Gloss Yes, Gemo indeed did not took a bath (polite speech).

In Bikol, the glottal stops in syllable final positions, whether word internally or finally, are not lost when spoken within a group of words.


Proposed Orthography Ŋanaч naman чiyan kun pirmiŋ baчgoh чan badoч moh чoroчaldaw
Words’s pronunciation in isolation (IPA) ŋanaʔ na man ʔiyan kun pirmiŋ baʔgo ʔan ba:doʔ mo ʔoroʔaldaw
Natural Speech (IPA) ŋanaʔ na man yan kun pirmiŋ baʔgo ʔan ba:doʔ mo ʔoroʔaldaw
English Gloss That’s excessive if your clothes are always new every day.

And since ‘na’, ‘ay’ and ‘at’ are normally unstressed words in Tagalog, their vowels are dropped and consonant component attached to preceeding words ending in vowels or ‘n’.


Detached Attached
maganda na talon magandang talon
dahon na malapad dahong malapad
palibhasa ay palibhasay
sapagka at sapagkat
kaya at kayat
nguni at ngunit
datapwa at datapwat
bagaman at bagamat
subali at subalit

2. This second point is not a difference but I am mentioning it in this section so that some people will not look for it in the other sections. I would like to point out something that is normally classified as prefixation in Tagalog, as if this is another instance of a prefix use. For me that is totally wrong. This is instead an entirely different phenomena: a chroneme change (shift or reversal).


Written Word Verb (IPA) / English Gloss Nominal (IPA) / English Gloss (Occupation)
mag-aaral magʔa:a:ral will study magʔaʔaral student
mag-aasin magʔaʔasin will make salt magʔa:ʔa:sin salt maker/seller
mag-iitlog magʔi:ʔitlog will lay egg magʔiʔitlog egg seller
magbabakya magba:bakyaʔ will use wooden clogs magbabakyaʔ wooden clog maker/seller
magbibigas magbi:bigas will husk rice magbibigas husked rice seller
magpuputo magpu:pu:to will make rice cakes magpuputo rice cake maker/seller
magsasaka magsa:sa:ka will farm magsasaka farmer
manggagamot maŋga:gamot will cure maŋgagamot doctor, quack doctor
manggagantso maŋga:gantso will go defrauding maŋgagantso fraudster, cheater, swindler
mangangaso maŋa:ŋa:so will hunt with dogs maŋaŋa:so hunter
mangangahoy maŋa:ŋa:hoy will gather wood maŋaŋa:hoy lumberjack, logger
mangingisda maŋi:ŋisdaʔ will catch fish maŋiŋisdaʔ fisherman
manananggol mana:naŋgol will defend mananaŋgol lawyer
mamamangka mama:maŋkaʔ will go boating mamamaŋkaʔ boatman
mambabatas mamba:batas will make laws mambaba:tas lawmaker, congressman, senator, legislator, city councilor

Please note that this applies only with Tagalog verbs in the irrealis mood & continuative aspect. Bikol does not do this as it uses ‘para-‘ and ‘taga-‘ affixes to denote occupation. This chroneme change also happens in Bikol, but not for occupation but things, objects, implements, concepts, etc.


Written Word Verb (IPA) English Gloss Nominal (IPA) English Gloss
tataramon ta:taramon ‘something to be spoken’ tatara:mon word
kakanon kakanon to eat something kaka:non food

Tagalog has this as well. Additional examples will be posted later.

Word Formation: Compounding
1. There are a lot more compound words in Tagalog than in Bikol. Compounding is productive in Tagalog.

Tagalog English
asal-hayop (behavior+animal), bestial conduct
bahaghari (g-string+king), rainbow
basag-ulo (break+head), altercation, quarrel
buntong-hininga (heap+that+breath), sigh
dahongpalay (leaf+linker+rice), a green-colored poisonous snake
dalantao (bring+linker+human), pregnant
kapitbahay (adjoin+house), neighbor
hampas-lupa (strike+soil), tramp, bum, good-for-nothing
ingat-yaman (care+wealth), treasurer
pamatid-uhaw (for cutting+thirst), quencher
urong-sulong (go backward+go forward), hesitant, wavering

There is a dearth of compound words in Bikol.

Bikol English
чablondawanih (woven cloth+linker+legendary first woman), rainbow

2. ‘Tala- -an’ is treated as a cimcumfix in Tagalog, but I consider it as a compounded word talaan+word, and the word is inserted between tala- and -an. ‘tala’ means record, plus the word for what is recorded, plus the locative affix -an.

Tagalog English
talátinigan (record+voice+locative suffix), dictionary
taláaklatan (record+book+locative suffix), catalogue of books
taláarawan (record+day+locative suffix), calendar or diary
taláupahan (record+rent+locative suffix), payroll/wages
taláawitan (record+lyrics+locative suffix), book of lyrics
talátugtugan (record+melody+locative suffix), book of melodies

3. ‘sang-‘ is from ‘isa na’ meaning ‘one+linker’. Bikol and Tagalog has both words prefixed before numbers.

Tagalog Bikol English
sangdaan saŋgatos (one+linker+hundreds), One hundred
sanglibo saŋriboh (one+linker+one thousands), One thousand
sampo sampuloч (one+linker+tens), Ten

The difference is that ‘sang’ is more productive in Tagalog:

Tagalog English
sambahayan (one+linker+house+locative affix), household
sambayanan (one+linker+town+locative affix), town’s populace
sambuhat (one+linker+lift), synchronized lifting
sandakot (one+linker+handscoop), a handful
sandali (one+linker+quick), one moment
sandamak (one+linker+handbreadth), a handbreadth
sandangkal (one+linker+handspan), a span from thumb to middle finger
sandipa (one+linker+fathom), a fathom
sanduguan (one+linker+blood+locative affix), blood compact
sanlaksa (one+linker+ten thousands), ten thousand
sanlinggo (one+linker+week), one week
sansala (one+linker+wrong doing), prohibition
sansalita (one+linker+word), one word
sansinukoban (one+linker+cover+locative affix), universe
santambak (one+linker+heap), one big heap/pile
santaon (one+linker+year), one year
santinakpan (one+linker+cover+locative affix), universe
santuka (one+linker+beak), one peck
sang-angaw (one+linker+millions), one million
sang-ayon (one+linker+agree), conformity
sangkalangitan (one+linker+sky+locative affix), heavens, firmament
sangkapuluan (one+linker+archipelago), the whole archipelago
sangkatauhan (one+linker+people), humanity
sangkatutak (one+linker+many), a group of very many/numerous members
sangkaterba (one+linker+many), a group of very many/numerous members
sangkawan (one+linker+flock), a flock, herd, school
sangyuta (one+linker+hundred thousands), one hundred thousand

Bikol have a few words implying agreement or oneness.

Bikol English
saŋhulih (one+linker+last), agreement to buy at half the price and halve the profit with the original seller once resold.
saŋgawad (one+linker+assist), be an assistant
saŋgilid (one+linker+edge), navigation along one of the river banks.
sampaliŋ (one+linker+turn to one side), slap/smack on the face

4. di-‘ is a Tagalog prefix word meaning ‘not’, similar to English ‘in-, im-, non-, un-“. This is absent in Bikol.

Tagalog Bikol English gloss
di-kasal daчih kasal ‘unmarried’
di-karapatdapat daчih nadadapat ‘unworthy’
di-maganda bakoŋ magayon ‘not beautiful
di-magkasundo daчih magkasundoч ‘incompatible’
di-maari daчih pwedeh ‘impossible’
di-akalain daчih akalaчon ‘unexpected’
di-tiyak daчih siguradoh ‘unsure’

Bikol uses 2 words to negate a phrase, bakuч and daчih. Bakuч is preposed before nominals and daчih before verbs.

Word Formation: Affixation – Nominal Morphology
1. It is often indicated that Tagalog has a circumfix ‘papag- -an’ independent of ‘pag- -an’. I don’t agree. ‘papag–an’ is ‘pag- -an’ in imperfective aspect form, where the first CV is repeated or reduplicated. This is not ‘pa-‘ plus ‘pag-‘ prefix.

Tagalog pag–an > IRR: <Redup>pag–an > <pa>pag–an
Bikol pag–an > IRR : pag–an > pa: –an

Since ‘pag-‘ is the nominal form of the verbal prefix ‘mag-‘, ‘pag-‘ prefix will follow how the ‘mag-‘ prefix also is conjugated in Irrealis mood. In Bikol, ‘mag-‘ becomes ‘ma:-‘ in the imperfective aspect, irrealis mood of the verb. With Tagalog ‘mag-‘, the light version of the 1st syllable of the base word is reduplicated. But since ‘pag-‘ affixed word is not a verb, the entire word is treated as a base word.

Tagalog Bikol English
pagsayawan > papagsayawan pagsayawan > pa:sayawan  
pagbayuhan > papagbayuhan pagbabayuhan > pa:babayuhan  
paglutuan > papaglutuan paglutuчan > pa:lutuчan  
pagkulahan > papagkulahan pagkulahan > pa:kulahan  

The same relation applies between the Tagalog circumfixes ‘papag–in’ and ‘pag–in’

Tagalog Bikol English
pag-aralin > papag-aralin pagчadalon > pa: чadalon  
paglakbayin > papaglakbayin pagbaklayon > pa:baklayon  
pag-awayin > papag-awayin pagчiwalon > pa:чiwalon  
paglaruin > papaglaruin pagkawaton > pa:kawaton  
paghiwain > papaghiwain paggirison > pa:girison  
pagtilarin > papagtilarin pagtiladon > pa:tiladon  

‘papag–an’ and ‘papag–in’ have future meaning since its not in the Realis mood. For verbs in realis mood, the Perfective Aspect is has a default past meaning, while the Imperfective  Aspect has present meaning. In Irrealis Mood, the Perfective(non-continuative) aspect has a neutral tense, but the Imperfective (continuative) aspect cannot be present or past since it is not happening now or in the past.

2. Bikol has both para– and taga– prefixes to refer to regular, habitual or professional actions, whereas Tagalog only ‘tagapag-‘ or ‘mang-‘. ‘Mang-‘ is just the Irrealis active verb conjugation with reduplication but nominalized through chroneme shifting (see earlier discussion).

Tagalog Bikol English
mananahi paratahiч seamstress, tailor
manganganta parakantah singer (as a solo profession)
tagapagluto paralutoh cook, chef
magsasaka paraчumah farmer-owner
mangaaway paraчiwal fighter
? parapakiчaram nosy

Taga– means that the doer is limited/restricted to doing the action of the verb, where it involves other persons doing other parts of the processes or steps.

Tagalog Bikol English
tagatahi tagatahiч person doing the sewing only, not cutting of fabrics or washing, etc
tagakanta, tagaawit tagakantah, tagaчawit singer (in a band, other members do the drums, guitar, etc)
tagaluto tagalutoч cook (another is doing the preparation before cooking or serving after cooking)
tagasaka tagaчumah farmer (someone else doing the planting, harvesting, husking, financing, selling, etc.)
tagaaway tagaчiwal fighter (someone else doing the mediation, refereeing, etc in a fight)

‘Tagapag-‘ is derived from ‘taga-‘ (the same affix above) plus ‘-pag-‘ : ‘pag-‘ is the nonfinite form of the verbal affix ‘mag-‘ added to imply a more direct, active role in doing the action. The combined affixes imply a more restricted role in the doing of the nominalized (pag-) action.

What’s the difference between ‘taga-‘, ‘tagapag-‘, ‘tagapa-‘, ‘tagapang-‘? Taga- is the affix as discussed above. -pag-, -pa-, and -pang- are the nonfinite forms of the verbal orientation affixes mag-, ma- and mang-, thus the meaning added is the meaning of those verbal orientation affixes. I will discuss these verbal orientation affixes in another post. Both of these are present in Tagalog and Bikol.


tagalista tagapalista tagapaglista tagapanglista
tagadala tagapadala tagapagdala tagapangdala
tagaulat tagapaulat tagapagulat tagapangulat
tagahukay tagapahukay tagapaghukay tagapanghukay


tagalistah tagapalistah tagapaglistah tagapaŋlistah
tagadarah tagapadarah tagapagdarah tagapaŋdarah
tagaчusip tagapaчusip tagapagчusip tagapaŋчusip
tagakalot tagapakalot tagapagkalot tagapaŋkalot

The persons indicated by these words are different. The tagalista is the same as the tagapaglista, the tagapalista, tagapangllista and tagalista are different persons/role in the action lista.

Although the forms are identical in Bikol, the meanings are not. The Bikol words with ‘tagapag-‘ do not have the same meanings as those with ‘para-‘. Para is intensive, tagapag is semi-intensive.

Thus, both the ‘mang-‘ with reduplication and ‘tagapag-‘ are present in Bikol as well, except that Bikol does not shift the chroneme in ‘mang-‘ to get the ‘profession’ meaning and ‘tagapag-‘ has a restricted meaning compared with ‘para-‘, and very little meaning difference with ‘taga-‘.

It is also to be noted that in Bikol, para- can be combined with <pa> : parakakan, parapakakan, parapangkakan. Parapagkakan is absent since it is already embodied in parakakan.

3. Kag– prefix in Bikol has no Tagalog counterpart. Its signifies the doer or agent of a completed/finished action if a verb, or owner if a noun. To express this in Tagalog, one has to say use may-, which is also present in Bikol. It means ‘with’.

Tagalog Bikol English
maykapal kaglalaŋ/maylalaŋ ‘creator/ person with creation
mayhandog kagdulot/maydulot ‘donor/person with donation
may-bahay* kagharoŋ/mayharoŋ ‘house owner/person with the house’
maylikha kaggiboh/maygiboh ‘manufacturer, maker, composer/person with the works
maysakit *kaghelaŋ/mayhelaŋ xx/person with the sickness, patient

*may-bahay and maybahay are different. Maybahay means ‘housewife’ in Tagalog.

One cannot say in Bikol kaghelang since helang is not a verb; may– is used for general possession or possession of anything while kag– is used for doer of an action or the active agent. Since kag– is absent in Tagalog, Tagalog cannot make such distinction.

4. Bikol has mako– and pako– prefixes, which imply relationship indicated by the rootword. This is absent in Tagalog.

Tagalog Bikol English
pamangking lalaki makoчamaч ‘nephew’
pamangking babae makoчinaч ‘niece’
apo makoчapoч ‘granchild’
amain, tiyuhin pakoчamaчon ‘uncle’
tiyahin pakoчinaчon ‘auntie’

5. Pagkani– prefix in Bikol, meaning “the state of having become (in the past)”, is absent in Tagalog. The –ni– component is the same one present in another Bikol prefix mani– ‘to have become’. The approximate expression in Tagalog would be to say ‘pagkakapaging’ , which is also possible in Bikol.  pagkakapaging  literally means “the state of being been (in the past)”,

Tagalog Bikol English (very literal meaning)
pagkakapaging gwapo pagkanigwapoh / pagkakapagiŋ gwapoh ‘the state of having become/being been handsome’
pagkakapaging tao pagkanitahoh / pagkakapagiŋ tahoh ‘the state of having become/being been human’
pagkakapaging bata pagkaniчakiч / pagkakapagiŋ чakiч ‘the state of having become/being been a child’
pagkakapaging bata pagkanihalaŋkaw / pagkakapagiŋ halaŋkaw ‘the state of having become/being been tall’
pagkakapaging asawa pagkaniчagom / pagkakapagiŋ чagom ‘the state of having become/being been a spouse’
pagkakapaging bayan pagkanibanwaчan / pagkakapagiŋ banwaчan ‘the state of having become/being been a town’
pagkakapaging ina pagkaniчinaч / pagkakapagiŋ чinaч ‘the state of having become/being been a mother’

This is different from pagka– prefix, meaning ‘the state of having’ or from pagiging  ‘the state of being’.

Tagalog Bikol English
pagkagwapo / pagiging gwapo pagkagwapoh / pagigiŋ gwapoh ‘the state of having handsomeness/being handsome’
pagkatao / pagiging tao pagkatahoh / pagigiŋ tahoh ‘the state of having human-ness/being human’
pagkabata / pagiging bata pagkaчakiч / pagigiŋ чakiч ‘the state of having child-ness/being a child’
pagkamataas / pagiging mataas pagkahalaŋkaw / pagigiŋ halaŋkaw ‘the state of having tallness/ being tall’
pagka-asawa / pagiging asawa pagkaчagom / pagigiŋ чagom ‘the state of having spouse-ness/being a spouse’


Word Formation: Affixation – Adjectival Morphology
1. Tagalog has an affix ‘pala-‘ meaning’ habitually’. This is expressed in Bikol as main– or –Vron‘. Technically they’re different meanings. Both are absent from each other. Note that ‘pala-‘ is only affixed to verbs.

Tagalog Bikol English
paladasal maminiчbiч ‘habitually prays’
palabiro masinubah ‘habitually jokes’
palaimpok matinimos ‘habitually saves’
palalinis (?)malininig ‘habitually cleans’
palangiti mahinuyom ‘habitually smiles’

‘mapa-‘, ‘mapag-‘ and ‘mapang-‘ are used for both nominal words and verb to have the same ‘habitual’ meaning.

Tagalog Bikol English
mapagmura maminuda ‘habitually curses’
mapagbiro masinuba ‘habitually jokes’
mapag-irap mainirap ‘habitually sneers’
mapaglakad malinakaw ‘habitually walks’
mapagtawa manginisi ‘habitually laughs’
mapang-away parapaki-iwal ‘habitually quarrel with someone’
mapang-inis   ‘habitually annoy someone’
mapambato   ‘habitually stone someone’
mapanira   ‘habitually destroys’
mapanuro matinukdo ‘habitually point someone out’

‘mapa-‘, ‘mapag-‘ and ‘mapang-‘ all imply ’cause the subject to do’ something, whether involuntarity agent subject (mapa-), voluntary agent subject (mapag-, implies habitual action also), or agent subject induces another agent (mapang-).

Tagalog ‘mapa-‘, ‘mapag-‘ and ‘mapang-‘ are not exact semantic equivalents of Bikol para– or Tagalog ‘pala-‘. ‘mapa-‘, ‘mapag-‘ and ‘mapang-‘ are combinations of ‘ma-‘ adjectival prefix meaning ‘full of’ plus the non-finite forms of the verb. Bikol main-‘ has also this same ‘ma-‘ adjectival prefix but does not mean the same as ‘ma(pa-,pag-,pang-)’. Bikol para-‘ is purely a verb prefix. I am unsure if Tagalog ‘pala-‘ shifted in meaning/use from verbal to adjectival.

2. Bikol has ha– as prefix for a special class of adjectives, with the rest of adjectives using ‘ma-. Ha– is affixed only to bases indicating spatio-temporal dimensions. Tagalog has only ma– for all adjectives.

Tagalog Bikol English
mataas halaŋkaw ‘tall’
mababa hababaч ‘low’
malalim hararom ‘deep’
mababaw hababaw ‘shallow’
mahaba halabaч ‘long (spatial)’
matagal halawig ‘long (temporal)’
maiksi haliчpot ‘short (spatial & temporal)’
malayo harayoч ‘far’
malapit haranih ‘near’
makipot hayakpit ‘narrow’
malapad halakbaŋ ‘wide’

There are the only exceptions, which follow the other adjectives:

Tagalog Bikol English
makapal mahiчbog ‘thick’
manipis mahimpis ‘thin’

3. Bikol has a –non suffix, meaning ‘in the nature of’. This is absent in Tagalog.

Tagalog Bikol English
x Bikolnon ‘Bikol+nature, ‘Bikolish’
x Diyosnon ‘God+nature, godly/divine’
x dagatnon ‘sea+nature, marine’
x laŋitnon ‘sky+nature, heavenly’
x turognon ‘sleep+nature, sleepy/always sleeping,

One cannot say in Bikol tagaturog or tagadiyos, thus –non and taga– are different. When taga– is prefixed to a noun, it denotes a place or spatial location, with the resulting meaning of a person or people residing from or native of a place.

Tagalog Bikol English
taga-Bikol tagaBikol ‘Bikol native/resident’
taga-Manila tagaManilaч ‘Manila native/resident’

Syntax and Function Words
1. Tagalog has the topic marker ‘ay’, Bikol has ‘чiyoh’ as internal topic marker in equational sentences only but this is not obligatory, for a pause or even nothing can replace it. The pause is the only possible external topic marker.


Tagalog Ang mga bata ay naglalaro ng taguan sa aming bahay.
Bikol Чan maŋah чakiч *(чiyoh/no pause) nagkakawat nin taraguчan sah samoŋ baloy
English The children are playing hide and seek at our house.

The asterisk (*) in *iyo means its either unattested or ungrammatical to say with ‘iyo’, while ‘/’ means another possibility.

Tagalog Sa aming bahay ay naglalaro ang mga bata ng taguan.
Bikol Sah samoŋ baloy *чiyoh/(pause) nagkakarawat чan maŋah чakiч nin taraguчan.
English At our house, the children are playing hide and seek.

Iyo as topic marker in equational sentence:

Tagalog Siya ay ang maganda.
Bikol Siyah чiyoh/(no pause) чan magayon.
English She is the beautiful one.

In descriptive sentence, iyo is not obligatory:

Tagalog Siya ay maganda.
Bikol Siyah *чiyoh/(no pause) magayon.
English She is beautiful.

I would depart from Hirano who called ‘ay’ a Topic marker and call ‘ay’ instead as a Focus marker in a thematic equative sentence. It is not a Topic marker, unlike ‘wa’ in Japanese, since all markers in Tagalog (ang, ng, sa, si, sina, ni, nina, kay, kina, etc) are prepositions (placed before) unlike Japanese (ga, o, de, ni, etc) which are postpositions (placed after). Also, it does not appear with the topic if the topic is not word initial. It can’t even be called a Topic-Focus linker since ‘ay’, unlike ‘na’ in Tagalog, cannot appear if the words or phrases being linked is reversed.


NOM na ADJ saging na matamis
ADJ na NOM matamis na saging
English Gloss sweet banana
TOP ay FOC siya ay maganda
FOC ay TOP *maganda ay siya.
English Gloss She is pretty

‘ay’ then is more a Focus marker, if it appears after the topic. In normal sentences, there is no need to mark the focus since it is at the start of the sentence (VSO or VOS sentence pattern).

2. Bikol have no demonstrative equivalent to ‘ire’ in Tagalog, although in Tagalog, that is rarely used lately. With ire’s continued loss, ito is shifting meaning to mean just ‘close to speaker’.

Tagalog ire ito iyan iyon/yoon
Bikol *чidih чinih чiyan чitoh/чidtoh
English this/these (near me), this/these (near you and me), that/those (near you), that/those (far from you and me)

*чidih is a hypothetical form not found in Bikol.

Tagalog yoon and Bikol чidtoh can mean ‘it’ and refer to things that are not visible.

3. Tagalog has comparative and existential demonstrative forms which are absent in Bikol, but can be expressed using 2 words.


Tagalog nandine nandito/narito nandiyan/nariyan nandoon/naroon
English in here (near me) in here (near you and me) in there (near you) in there yonder (far from you and me)


Tagalog ganire ganito ganiyan ganoon
English like this (near me) like this (near you and me) like that (near you) like that yonder (far from you and me)

For Bikol to do that would require 2 words:

Existential = uya + locative:

Bikol x чuyah digdih чuyah diyan чuyah duman
Tagalog *nasa dine *nasa dito *nasa ayan *nasa iyon

Comparative = arog + genitive:

Bikol x чarog kaчinih чarog kaчiyan чarog kaчitoh/katoh
Tagalog gaya nire gaya nito gaya niyan gaya niyon

4. Tagalog has additional personal pronouns ‘kata, nita and kanita’ although they are rarely used now. These are lacking in Bikol.


Person / Clusivity Nominative Genitive Oblique
Tagalog Bikol Tagalog Bikol Tagalog Bikol
1st-Excl ako чakoh ko koh, niyakoч akin sakuyaч, sakoч
1st-Incl kata x nita x kanita x
2nd ikaw,ka чikah,kah mo moh iyo saчimoh
3rd siya siyah niya niyah kanya saчiyah


Person / Clusivity Nominative Genitive Oblique
Tagalog Bikol Tagalog Bikol Tagalog Bikol
1st-Excl kami kamih namin mih, niyamoч amin samoч, samuyaч
1st-Incl tayo kitah natin tah, niyatoч atin satoч, satuyaч
2nd kayo kamoh ninyo nindoh inyo saчindoh
3rd sila sindah nila nindah kanila saчindah

It is not right to call the minimal series as singular since the 1st-inclusive is actually dual in meaning. Bikol lacks 1st Inclusive minimal series ‘kata, nita and kanita’.

Tagalog and Bikol has 1 more pronoun each not in the above list. Tagalog ‘kita’ and Bikol taka are portmanteau personal pronouns, being a combined 1st-Exclusive genitive ‘ko’ and 2nd person nominative ‘ikaw’/ka’ or чikah/ka.

Tagalog Tinanong kita.
Bikol Hinapot takah.
English I asked you.
Tagalog Mahal kita.
Bikol Namomoчtan takah.
English I love you.

Word Formation: Affixation – Verbal Morphology
1. Magpati– prefix is rarer in Tagalog than in Bikol. The prefix means ‘to let/allow oneself to, without resistance, passively’

magpatihulog to allow oneself to fall (from a tree, building, other high place)
magpatianod to allow oneself to drift (in a current or river)

Tagalog ‘magpatiwakal’ ‘to kill oneself’ is most likely not an instance of ‘magpati-‘ affix, but of ‘magpa-‘ affix, since (1) the base word is most likely tiwakal, and (2) Magpatiwakal has an active meaning and not passive. There exists no base word ‘wakal ‘ in Tagalog now and if ‘wakal’ is the root word, wakal could be related to ‘wakas’ ‘end’, or to Bikol ‘wakay’ meaning ‘(1) to scatter or spread, (2) to eviscerate, disembowel’. Magpatiwakal could mean then ‘to allow oneself to be scattered/spread, by cutting oneself’. Or it can refer to a suicide method, but as of now we plainly do not know.

Instances of magpati– in Bikol includes:

magpatihulog to allow oneself to fall (from a tree, building, other high place)
magpatiчanod to allow oneself to drift (in a current or river)
magpatibasaŋ to leave oneself to chance
magpatiwaraч to allow one’s possession go to nothing
magpatilagbaч to let itself become elongated

And since magpati– is in active voice, there is also a passive voice:
чipati-, pati– –on, pati– –an.

Versative Orientation Lative Orientation Essive Orientation
чipinatihulog pinatihulog pinatihulogan
чipinatiчanod pinatiчanod pinatiчanodan
чipinatibasaŋ pinatibasaŋ pinatibasaŋan
чipinatiwaraч pinatiwaraч pinatiwaraчan
чipinatilagbaч pinatilagbaч pinatilagbaчan

2. Bikol can express plural verbs through –Vr– infix in all moods, transitivity, iterativity, aspects, voices, and focus, while Tagalog has a limited plural affix ‘-si-‘, productive only with ‘mag’ ( > magsi-) and mangag ( > mangagsi-). These Tagalog forms are very seldom used. Tagalog has no plural forms for ‘ma-‘, ‘mang-‘, ‘-in’, ‘-an’, ‘-um’ and ‘i-‘, thus Tagalog ‘si-‘ prefix may not have a plural meaning originally. We will compare ‘magsi-‘ with Visayan prefix ‘masig-‘ in another post.


Tagalog Naglalaro ang bata.
Bikol Nagkakawat чan чakiч.
English The child is playing.


Tagalog Nagsisilaro ang mga bata, or frequently, Naglalaro ang mga bata.
Bikol Nagkakarawat чan maŋah чakiч.
English The children are playing.

This –Vr– infix appears in all verb conjugations in Bikol. This infix appears also in nouns and adjectives with plural connotations as well:

pagbaraŋaчbaŋaч division
pagpurustahan betting game (plural actors)
pagчiribah company (plural actors)
pagkaчaramigoh friendship (plural person)
kapagчarakiчan generation
harababaч short (plural form)
mararah dry (plural form)

This cannot be used to mean plural nouns. Maŋah is used for that.

pagbaraŋaчbaŋaч maŋah pagbaraŋaчbaŋaч
pagpurustahan maŋah pagpurustahan
pagчiribah maŋah pagчiribah
pagkaчaramigoh maŋah pagkaчaramigoh
kapagчarakiчan maŋah kapagчarakiчan
harababaч maŋah harababaч
mararah maŋah mararah

Maŋag– prefix in Tagalog is not a plural affix, its a collective affix meaning ‘to (do) together with, or in company with’, which is also present in Bikol. This is different from abilitative affix (-ka-). Although fully productive, collective affixes are infrequently used, especially in Bikol. Maŋag– affix is not a comitative/sociative/associative affix since its subject has to be a group including the subject, not someone with whom the subject did the action.

Tagalog Nangagsisilaro ang mga bata, or frequently, Nangaglaro ang mga bata.
Bikol Naŋaŋagkarawat чan maŋah чakiч, or Naŋaŋagkawat чan maŋah чakiч.
English The children (as a group) are playing

Note that Bikol and Tagalog reduplicates different syllables.

The affix nag– –an has reciprocal meaning “to (do) to each other” and is not a plural suffix. This is present in both Bikol and Tagalog. –an suffix has reciprocal meaning only if affix together with nag-, if used alone, it has a locative meaning, unless there is a chroneme shift.

Tagalog Nagsisuntukan sila, or frequently, Nagsuntukan sila.
Bikol Nagsuruntukan sindah.
English They punched each other.

Reciprocal and collective meaning can go together as naŋag– –an. This implies 2+ participants, since there has to be person who can do it to each other and together.

Tagalog Nangagsisisuntukan sila, or frequently, Nangagsusuntukan sila.
Bikol Naŋaŋagsuruntukan sindah or Naŋaŋagsuntukan sindah.
English They punching each other and with each other. (a free for all punching)

Verbs with reciprocal affix co-occur with the subjects in the plural (Bikol & Tagalog) and the verbs may or may not be in the plural (Bikol). This is due to number agreement. Collective affix in Bikol is preferrable without the plural infix, but is possible if several groups.

3. Bikol can express action iterativity, making 3 distinctions, Tagalog cannot. In Bikol, action iterativity distinctions are: non-iterative (no affix), occasional iterative (taga– prefix) and continuous iterative (para– prefix). In Tagalog, the continuous iterative is done by repeating the verb, as shown below.


Tagalog Naglalaro ang bata.
Bikol Nagkakawat чan чakiч. (Non-iterative)
English The child is playing (one complete action).
Tagalog x
Bikol Nagtatagakawat чan чakiч. (Occasional Iterative)
English The child is playing every now and then (with significant interval).
Tagalog Naglalaro nang naglalaro ang bata.
Bikol Nagpaparakawat чan чakiч. (Continuous Iterative)
English The child is playing again and again (non-stop or insignificant interval ).


Tagalog Nagsisilaro ang mga bata.
Bikol Nagkakarawat чan maŋah чakiч. (Non-iterative)
English The childen are playing (one complete action).
Tagalog x
Bikol Nagtatagakarawat чan maŋah чakiч.(Occasional Iterative)
English The children are playing every now and then (with significant interval).
Tagalog Nagsisilaro nang nagsisilaro ang mga bata.
Bikol Nagpaparakarawat чan maŋah чakiч.(Continuous Iterative)
English The children are playing again and again (non-stop or insignificant interval ).

This is fully productive in all verb conjugations even with collective and reciprocal meanings, and even in nonfinite forms of the verb.


4. Standard Bikol has imperative mood apart from indicative mood through the suffixes –ih and –ah, Standard Tagalog has not. Tagalog dialects close to Bikol and Bisayan languages have, like Quezon Tagalog and Marindoque Tagalog. I do not know if Mindoro Tagalog and Batangas Tagalog dialects have them as well.

Tagalog Bigyan mo ako ng kanin.
Bikol Taчuhan moh чakoh nin malutoч or Taчuhih чakoh nin malutoч.
English Give me (cooked) rice.
Tagalog Kainin mo ang kanin.
Bikol Kakanon moh чan malutoч or Kakanah чan malutoч.
English Eat the (cooked) rice.

5. Both Tagalog and Bikol has active affixes (mag-, ma-, maŋ-, maŋag– and mani-(Bikol only)/magiŋ-) and passive affixes (-in, –an, чi– and –um-). But in Tagalog, majority of verbs either conjugates for –um– or mag– only. In Bikol, both conjugations are possible.

Others have called this a verbal case system, but I think this is not correct, as ‘case’ normally is applied to verb arguments, not the verb itself, and that Tagalog & Bikol has real case markers, called prepositions. Verb Orientation system would be a better term.

Tagalog Umiyak (*Nagiyak) ang bata.
Bikol Huminibiч (Naghibiч) чan чakiч.
English The child cried.
Tagalog Umupo (*Nagupo) ang bisita.
Bikol Tuminokaw (Nagtukaw) чan bisitah.
English The guest/visitor sat down.
Tagalog Dumating (*Nagdating) kami kahapon.
Bikol Чuminabot (Nagчabot) kamih kasuhapon.
English We arrived yesterday.
Tagalog Nagtanim (*tumanim) ako ng saging.
Bikol Nagtanom (Tuminanom) чakoh nin batag.
English We planted a banana.
Tagalog Nagtanong (*tumanong) siya sa guro.
Bikol Naghapot (Huminapot) siyah sah paratukdoч.
English He/she asked the teacher.

* indicates that this form is unattested and/or ungrammatical.

Both –um– and mag– are fully productive in Bikol, although the irrealis imperfective forms are the same in both. Here is an example for the verb ‘tanom’ ‘to plant’.

Mag- -um-
Irrealis Perfective magtanom tumanom
Imperfective matanom matanom
Realis Mood Perfective nagtanom tuminanom
Imperfective nagtatanom minatanom

There is syncretism in the irrealis imperfective forms of mag– and –um-. The mag– irrealis imperfective conjugation is irregular and should have been *magtatanom. Such pattern or rule exists in Tagalog (magtatanim). The –um– irrealis imperfective and realis imperfective conjugations are irregular and should have been *tumatanom and *tuminatanom. The correct irrealis imperfective conjugation exists in Tagalog (tumatanim) but as –um– realis imperfective conjugation.

What is the distinction between mag– and –um-? Mag– is active voice, –um– is deponent passive voice, that is, it is active in meaning (syntax) but has a passive form (morphology). Passive voice is indicated in Bikol and Tagalog by morphology and never by syntax. In Tagalog, there is only very limited verbs that can be conjugated for both, but it is fully productive in Bikol.

Both Bikol and Tagalog doesn’t have dedicated reflexive affix or dedicated comitative affixes. Abilitative affix –ka– and –ki– affix can have comitative meanings, but that is not their primary meaning.

6. Bikol has the prefix mani– ‘to become’, which is unproductive and almost absent in Tagalog, if only for the sole occurence of ‘manibago’.

Tagalog Bikol English
maging tao manitahoh ‘become a man’
maging ina maniчinaч ‘become a mother’
maging anak maniчakiч ‘become a child’
maging bayan manibanwaчan ‘become a town’
maging bago manibaчgoh ‘become new, feel new’

“Maging bago” is also manibago in Tagalog. That’s the only word with mani– prefix in Tagalog. Bikol also uses the verbal auxilliary magiŋ.

This prefix is related to pagkani– (pagkanibaчgoh) and pani– (panibaчgoh). See above discussion of pagkani-.

7. Bikol has an alternative affix for –in– (realis mood), which is pig– for passive verbs. Tagalog does not have that.

Kuminakan > *Pigkumakan (not possible)
Kinakan > Pigkakan
Чikinakan > Чipigkakan
Kinakanan > Pigkakanan

Register or Speech Level
Bikol has a a speech level or register not found in any Philippine language. Its called “angry register” by Jason Lobel but is a misnomer since one does not have to be angry to use it. One can use it if irritated, or wants to intimidate, antagonize, shock, to illicit laughter, to spice up a conversation, or to put people down or outside their normal place. I would call it Palanit, and the other register Palumhok. Palanit register can also use words that imply vulgar, unpolished behavior, or apply words normally descriptive of animals. Both palanit and palumhok describe the speaker’s attitude towards the thing, or emotions at that moment. The following are just a few of the examples in Bikol.

Palumhok Palanit English
чakiч buldaŋ child, kid
чalinawnaw malsuk eye center (iris & pupil)
чapon daklag, batikal, tapok throw
чayam,dayoч damayoч, gamadyaч dog
bagas lamasgas husked rice
bagyoh, чuran bagrak, bagwak rain, typhoon
batay tuчmak step on something
bitis samiŋkil legs
kakan gutok, sibaч, lamon eat
kamot kamulmog hand
kurahaw kagrat, kagsiŋ shout
kuyamad kusmad, kuspad lice eggs
kwartah samagtak, sagtak, sagrak money
dagaч bugaчgaч land
daplaч sukamaŋ fall flat on the face
guraŋ gusgus old person
gutom guslok hungry
halas lasulas snake
haliч lantuчag, lantot go away, leave
haroŋ biray house
hibiч ŋuraŋaw cry
higdaч чulmoŋ lie down
higdaчan чulmoŋan bed
чintsik tugalsik Chinese
laчag bugtak put, place
lakawlakaw baraybasay walk
laboy lapuk mud
lubot lusabot behind, ass
maчan, mansay чagimadmad  
matah чamamatak eye
mataŋaч gabsok midnight
muroч guramoy fingers, toes
ŋipon ŋisloч teeth
ŋisih ŋakŋak, pusŋak laugh
ŋusoч buŋaŋaч, ŋuraspak, ŋurapak mouth
ŋuyaч sakabsakab chew
чorig tukaчrig pig
padiч lamasdiч priest
sukah sukalkag vomit
taliŋah taliŋogŋog ear
taram yamutam, yamyam talk
tugaŋ kabugtoч brother/sister
tukaw lapigaч sit
turog tiplaч, tupsok, tuspok sleep
чuran dunag, bagwak rain
чutak чalimantak mind, brain
burat lusrat, lasŋaw drunk, intoxicated
kawat hamlaч play
buŋog lusŋog deaf
nasuloч natuprod burnt

Paŋsahayop are words normally applied to animals but could be applied to humans. These words hit harder when used.

Paŋtahoh Paŋhayop English
kagat taчkab bite
чinom raчraч drink
kakan habhab eat
kukoh kukud nail
duŋoч чuŋos nose
barayboh balukag body hair
giчtil kirag flirt
darah lalay, tabag carry
taram чuŋaч talk
ba:gaч hasaŋ lungs
ŋabil tukaч lips
matabaч lumbalumbah, чorig fat
maniwaŋ чatitiчras, tabilih thin
kublit чanit skin
чagisis kagiskis, kiskis dry, scaly skin
kakanon bahog food
sabaw sagmaw soup
taramtaram purakputak  

Palanit is different than vulgar language or ‘rapsak’. The following are rapsak words and are mostly tabooed so I am indicating their respective replacement words “Panaŋliч”.

Palumhok (Rapsak) Palanit (Rapsak) English Gloss Panaŋliч
pipiч, pitaч, buray, putay lamasdak vagina kinabuhay
pisot, pikoy, butoч himutoч penis kinabuhay
lapit, bayag lamaчyag testicles sugok
kitoч sagbat fuck durog
laчtog x erect tanos
bulbul x pubic hair buhok, barayboh

Palanit words are not cuss words since cuss words are called ‘raway’ or ‘mudah’. I will not list curse words here.

Bikol speech register is the opposite of the 9 register levels in Basa Jawa (Javanese) which are more oriented towards politeness & respect: krama inggil (honorific – talking to people of higher status), krama madya (intermediate – talking to people of same social status/age) & ngoko (ordinary – talking to people of lower status, or familiar/related people). The 9 levels in descending order are mudha-krama, kramantara, wreda-krama, madya-krama, madyantara, madya-ngoko, basa-antya, antya-basa, ngoko-lugu.

Because of these, it can be said that Bikol is far richer, more expressive than Tagalog in verbal, adjectival, and nominal morphology and speech levels. But Tagalog is richer in compounding, topic/comment markings, and function words. But those Tagalog characteristics are easy to borrow, being words. Tagalog will have a harder time borrowing those Bikol features, even the speech register which need a whole lot of words. Tagalog is Bikol lite, Bikol is Tagalog plus.

These differences say a lot about their common protolanguage, Meso-Philippine. Next we will investigate features in Visayan languages which are absent in Bikol, and note if they are absent in Tagalog as well. Visayan languages are another set of languages belonging to Meso-Philippines.