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Forever 81

Lost in translation


BRUJA: hocloban; mangcuculam; asuang (“Death of the 500-year-old Witch”) ART BY GCF, 1980

Let me just punish you with another vocabulario, a Spanish-Tagalog dictionary, fallen apart at the seams, corners eaten away by termites.  I always assumed I knew basic Spanish but this revealed to me how little I did.

This dictionary or vocabulario was published by Libreria Martinez circa 1910 or earlier.  Some of the words are archaic and so are the Tagalog spellings which follow the Spanish orthography (no Institute of National Language yet then).  I found its quaintness fascinating.  Although it takes a while to get used to, there is much to learn from that book.

These terms were selected from some 1,200 entries.  I omitted the Spanish words whose meanings were quite obvious, including instead those whose Tagalog definitions described everyday life in the first decade of the 1900s.  (For instance, they must have used a lot of umbrellas then, either for sun or rain—there are already six words for it here).  I included a lot of words whose meanings have changed (arsenal used to mean “repair shop for vehicles!”).   Some Spanish words were complete mystifications, as were their Tagalog definitions, such as Toldo-aragarag. Those I did not even include. Some were chosen for having become common Filipino surnames, others simply because the definitions were funny. Desembaular, for instance, seems such a formal term simply for “take out of the baul!” Or I just liked the words.  Sorry, you can skip my next column, too, if you can’t stand this.


Aguador  – mangiiguib (water carrier)

Ala      – pacpac

Angusta  – hinagpis

Amistad  – pag-iibigan

Apacible – maamong loob

Aposento – silid; posada (inn); panunuluyan

Arbolario – mangmang na tauo; ang manga marunong sa kahoy at damo

Arillos – hicao; pananainga

Armario – aparador

Arrabal – nayon

Arroyo – batis; saloysoy

Arsenal – gauan ng mga sasacyan

Asado – inihao

Asco – diri; suclam (Kadiri to death!)

Asilo – taguan ng mga manlilingo, magnanacao, etc.

Ataud – cabaong

Augusto – cagalanggalang


Balde – toong (con que sacan agua); timba;  de balde – walang bayad; en balde – walang paquinabang

Baldio – lupang di pinaquiquinabangan; tauong gala; lagalag

Barrer – magualis; palisan; magpunas

Barrera – lugar na quinucunan nang gagauing manga saro, palayoc, paso, banga (source of clay)

Barbara – almacen nang polvora sa manga sasakyan (store of gunpowder for artillery)

Barbaridad – cabangisan; capangahasan; gaua o uicang walang taros o walang tuto

Barquillo – matamis na tila bumbong

Basa – Puno na nababaon na pinatatatacaran or pinaninibayan nang haliguing bato or torre.  Ang puno o dahilan na pinaca caloloua nang anomang bagay.

Bastidor – lalagyan nang manga casangcapang bubog; pinagpipintahan, pinagbubuldahan, etc.; tabing sa comediahan; telon. (Actually anything with a frame is a “bastidor,” from embroidery hoop to framed stage curtain).

Belleza – cariquitan; ganda

Berlina – parang coche

Biznieto – apo sa tuhod

Bosque – gubat

Brujo – hocloban; mangcuculam; asuang

Buenaventura – palad o capalaran; panghuhulang may anito

Butaca – upuang o silyang malaqui at mahaba

Buyo – icmo; hitso; mamain


Cabecera – olonan

Cabeza – ulo; punong namamahala

Cabildo – catipunan nang mga canonigo o punong eclesiastico

Cabron – cambing na lalaqui; ang lalaquing nagpapabayang pacalunya ang caniyang asawa

Cacho – piraso

Cafetal – capihan

Calabozo – hulo o duyo ng bilangoan

Calcetin – medias na maicli

Calva – ulong walang buhoc; upao

Calzado – pangbalot sa manga paa gaya nang zapatos, bota, etc.

Camarin – pinagtataguan sa likod ng altar nang alinmang larawan nang caniyang manga hiyas o damit (photo of saint’s jewels and vestments)

Cambalache – palitan nang manga bagay na momonting halaga

Campesino – taga parang

Capona – gauing tanda nang pagka guinoo

Caracol – suso grande – taclobo; reforcido o pilipit; reluciente  pequeño – caligay; sigay

Casto -  malinis; walang calibugan (no sex-capades)

Caudal – cayamanan; pagaari; salapi

Cayado – tungkod nang pastol at ng Obispo

Cubierto – cuchara, tenedor at cuchillo

Cucaracha – ipis


Delgado – manipis; de cuerpo – mapatpat

Decaspar – magalis na balacubac

Desembaular – kunin sa baul

Diana – tugtog nang tambol sa guerra o digma


Efemerides – librong quinasusulatan nang nangyayari arao-arao

Ejercito – hocbo

Espeso – malapot (as in “chocolate e”)

Estimar – halagahan; mahalin

Estrada – daan

Excremento – tae

Extramuros – labas ng ciudad


Febril – ang nauucol sa lagnat

Felicidad – palad

Feo – pangit; mahalay

Franco – magandang loob; tapat na loob

Frugalidad – casucatan sa pagkain, pagdaramit, etc.

Funebre – malumbay


Galan – butihin

Gallardo – mariquit

Garganta – liig

Gemelo – cambal

Golpear – cumatog o tumuctoc

Gorra – ang isinusuot na ibinabalot sa ulo

Gordura – taba; linaba

Grajo – uac

Grueso – malaqui; macapal; mabagal; bagol; magaspang

Grupa – ancasan o dapit puitan nang cabayo

Guardasol – payong

Guzman – sundalo nang mahal na tauo


Hamaca – duyan

Hechicero – mangagaway; mangcuculam

Herpes – buning balictad

Holganza – pagpapahinga at pagaalio

Honda – lambanog

Hormiga – langgam

Hospicio – bahay tahanan ng mga pulubi


Idolo – anito

Ilusion – camalian or pagcacamali ng bait, para nang dayang caipala, i, gauain nang diablo na panghihichurang anghel

Ilustre – dilag; madilag

Incubacion – panghalimhim nang manoc

Indugencia – pagpapatawad

Infanteria – tropang lakad

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Tags: Language , Spanish-Tagalog dictionary , vocabulary

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