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Top 10 useful Bisaya Phrases in English

If you are planning to visit the central and southern islands of the Philippines, it would be in your best interest to know a few common phrases in the native language, Bisaya. Before I show you these common phrases, however, here are a couple of general tips about how to read and pronounce words in the Bisaya language.

What makes Bisaya fairly simple is that the way that the word is spelled is the way that the word is pronounced. Words in the Bisaya language are pronounced by sounding out each syllable of the word. A majority of vowel sounds in the Bisaya language are what an English speaker would refer to as short vowel sounds.

For example, in the Bisaya phrase "Kumusta man ka?" (which in English means "How are you?"), the vowels are all pronounced with short vowel sounds. The "u" is pronounced the way it is used in the English word "up" and the "a" is pronounced the way it is used in the English word "apple."

There are some exceptions to this rule. Take, for example, the sounds "ay" and "i." In Bisaya. "Ay" in Bisaya is pronounced with a long "i" vowel sound like in "eye." An "i" in Bisaya is pronounced with a long "e" vowel sound like in "eel." The word "Bisaya" would then be pronounced as "bee-sigh-ya."

Knowing these easy rules, whether you are saying hello or asking for directions, here are 10 common Bisaya phrases to help you get around.

  1. Hello, how are you?
    The standard Bisaya greeting is "Kumusta naman ka?"

  2. I’m good and you?
    The response to a greeting is "Maayo man ko, ikaw?" The word "Maayo" is a little difficult to pronounce: the double "a’s" in "maayo" is something that English speakers are not use to seeing. The word can be split up into the individual sounds of "ma", "ay", and "yo" so the word would read "mah-eye-yo." The "kaw" in "ikaw" is pronounced as "cow" so this word would read, "ee-cow."

  3. Pleased to meet you.
    This phrase translates to "Nalipay ko nakaila ko nimo." This common phrase literally translates to "I am happy that I got to know you."

  4. What’s your name? My name is…
    When asking for someone’s name say, "Unsa man ang imong pangan?" When someone asks for your name, respond by saying "Ang akong ngan si…" followed by your name.

  5. "Please" and "Thank You"
    These etiquette words translate, respectively, to "Palihog" and "Salamat".

  6. Good morning, good afternoon, and good night
    Good in Bisaya is "Maayong." Morning is "buntag," afternoon is "hapon" and night is "gabi-i." Putting the two words together, standard greetings throughout the day would be, "maayong buntag," "maayong hapon," and "maayong gabi-i."

  7. Where is the… ?
    When asking about the whereabouts of a place or an object use the phrase, "Asa ang…?"

  8. How much is this?
    While shopping and curious about a price use the saying, "Tagpila kini?"

  9. I’m hungry. Let’s eat!
    While expressing hunger and the desire to eat, you can say the phrase, "Gutom ko. Mangaon ta!"

  10. Good-bye! See you soon.

A simple Bisaya farewell is "Babay! Magkita unya ta pohon."

To learn more phrases in Bisaya, visit the Cebuano phrase-book provided by this blog site here:

Photo Credit:Dylan Walters
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