Learn Tagalog 05

Tagalog pronunciation: Optional sound changes

Welcome back for the next Learning Tagalog grammar video, which is about optional sound changes or replaceable sounds.

Tagalog has a number of sounds that are not really fixed. Some of those sounds tend to change, depending on what follows them. Other sounds are really interchangeable.

Let’s start with one that you may have already noticed: the /i/ sound changing to /e/. This happens in the last syllable before a pause, for example, at the end of a sentence.

mabuti (good) becomes Mabute.
mabait (friendly) becomes Mabaet.
hindi (which means no) becomes Hinde.

Our next optional sound change is /e/ changing to /i/.

This often happens in the last syllable of the word, when it’s not followed by a pause. In other words, when it’s immediately followed by another word. For example:

sige na (which means come on…) becomes sigi na.

Next we have /o/ changing to /u/. This happens when /o/ is short and not followed by a pause.

ulo ko (which means my head) becomes ulu ko.

Then there are the optional sound changes of /ai/, /au/ and /ay/. For example:

kailan: which means when, is often pronounced kaylan, keylan or kelan
kaunti’: meaning a little, often becomes kawnti’ or konti’
may: meaning there is, often becomes mey or me

The last series of optional sound changes are /diy/, /niy/, /siy/, /tiy/ and /ts/.

You have diyan, which often becomes jan. It means there.

The word for coconut, niyog, often becomes ñog. And this n here, sounds like the /gn/ in lasagna.

He or she in Tagalog, siya, often becomes sha.

Tiyan, often becomes chan, and it means belly.

And kotse often becomes koche, and it means car.

That was it for pronunciation.

I’d like to mention that there’s an official spelling system with accents, which is used in some Tagalog dictionaries. Unfortunately, we find this system confusing, because the accents don’t mark individual sound changes. So instead, we prefer to use underlines and apostrophes. For more information about the system with accents, go to Appendix A in the grammar at: learningtagalog.com/grammar

For more info on Tagalog pronunciation and audio samples, you can go to: learningtagalog.com/grammar/pronunciation.html

In the next video, we’ll talk about the Tagalog linkers na and -ng.

Thank you for watching.

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