Learn Tagalog 04

Tagalog pronunciation: Glottal stops

In this video, we’ll have a look at glottal stops in Tagalog.

What are glottal stops?

When you say "uh-oh" in English, you actually have two glottal stops: one before uh and the other before oh.

A glottal stop is just an abrupt silence that you make by closing your throat.

Tagalog has many glottal stops.

Some words have a final glottal stop before a pause, for example, at the end of a sentence, as in: Wala. – which means There’s none.

Do you hear the glottal stop after a’? Wala.

But when such words are immediately followed by another word, there is no glottal stop and the final vowel becomes longer instead:

Wala pa.There’s none yet. So here a’ becomes longer and the glottal stop disappears.

In our Tagalog learning materials, we use an apostrophe to indicate these final glottal stops or long vowels.

In Tagalog, there normally are glottal stops between vowels, and they’re not indicated. For example:

oo – which means yes
and maaga – which means early

But when people speak fast, they usually don’t pronounce these glottal stops.

Lastly, there are also glottal stops before vowels at the beginning of a word, and before vowels that follow a hyphen, and they’re not indicated either. So you say:

aso – which means dog
mag-usap – which means to talk to each other
mag-aaral – which means will study
and pag-ibig – the word for love

Again, when people speak fast, they usually don’t pronounce these glottal stops.

But, just like with the long vowels, it’s important to be aware of them, because some words are identical except for a glottal stop.

In the beginning, it’s good practice to speak slowly and exaggerate these glottal stops a bit.

In the next video, we’ll talk about optional sound changes in Tagalog. Thank you for watching.

Back to video index