The linkage of Malay (and Indonesian) with Tagalog. Part 2

malay archi

Since I’ve started this blog, my article entitled “The linkage of Malay (and Indonesian) with Tagalog” is, as of now, currently my most popular and most viewed out of the articles I’ve written so far. So for a reward of your kindness towards that article, I’ve decided to make a Part 2 of it.

If you haven’t read that article yet, do click the link above or here.

Vocabulary comparisons

For this article, I have discovered more words/cognates found in both Malay and Tagalog.

Many of the worlds in the lists were from the comments for the previous article, so I thank those who’ve made comments and suggestions that contributed to the vocabulary lists.

I have also noticed that based on the vocabulary given from the comments for the previous article, I get the impression that the vocabulary in the Philippine languages seem to have more in common with the languages of Borneo or Sulawesi than the standardised language/s from Johor in Peninsula Malaysia.

Here are some more words in Tagalog and Malay/Indonesian and mean the same thing.

NOTE: For now, I’m only comparing Malay/Indonesian and not other languages from Malaysia or Indonesia (e.g. Javanese) as I am not very familiar about them yet.

Malay/Indonesian Tagalog English
atap (I) atop roof
bahagian (M) bahagi piece
basah basa wet
bayar bayad pay
buka bukas to open
cinta sinta love
danau danaw lake
datang dating come
hadapan harap(an) front
kelambu kulambo mosquito net
kilat (M) kidlat lightning
lelaki lalaki male
mari maaari to allow to do
masam maasim sour
masin maasin salty
muka mukha face
murah mura cheap
pahit (ma)pait bitter
panas (ma)banas* hot
pilih pili to choose
rusa usa deer
salah sala* wrong
sayang (I) sayang waste
sembah simba to worship
seni sining art
senjata sandata weapon
sepak sipa to kick
tawa tawa to laugh
telinga tainga ear
timbang timbang weight
tipis/menipis (ma)nipis thin

*Common in other Tagalog-speaking provinces like Marinduque. In Manila, mali is preferred. Sala also means “living room”. (Ma)init is preferred in Manila to refer something hot.

More words found in Malay/Indonesian and Tagalog that mean the same, but have different spellings and orthography.

The Tagalog equivalent omits the Malay “m” and/or removes the “g” from the Malay “ng” in the middle of the word.

Malay/Indonesian Tagalog English
bangsa bansa country
bumbong (M) bubong roof
bungsu bunso youngest child
dinding dingding wall

The Tagalog equivalent usually replaces the Malay “u” with an “o”.

Malay/Indonesian Tagalog English
guru guro teacher
mangkuk mangkok bowl
penuh puno full
tolak tulak to push
tolong tulong to help

The Tagalog equivalent sometimes replaces the “r” with “l”.

Malay/Indonesian Tagalog English
cermin salamin mirror
harga halaga price
kembar kambal twin
perak pilak silver
rasa lasa taste
sementara samantala while…

Here is a new list of false friends between Malay/Indonesian and Tagalog.

Malay/Indonesian English meaning Tagalog English meaning
agama religion agham science
alamat address alamat legend
bangun to wake up bangon to rise up
cerita story salita to speak/word
harimau tiger halimaw monster
hukum punishment hukom judge
ikut to follow ikot to go around
ingat to remember ingat to take care
jadi* to become yari* to happen
kampung village kampong camp
kita we (inclusive) kita dual pronoun
kucing cat kuting kitten
mulai to begin mula from
ucap (I) to pronounce usap to converse

*Not too sure if this is a similarity.

The Tagalog equivalents of the English translations of the Malay false friends are as follows:

English Tagalog
religion relihiyon
address tirahan
to wake up gising
story kuwento
tiger tigre
punishment kaparusahan
to follow sunod
to remember alaala/tandaan
to become maging
village barrio/barangay
we (inclusive) tayo
cat pusa
to begin simula*
to pronounce bigkas

*not too much of a false friend from Malay’s mulai

For the most part, almost every Philippine language seems to have the VSO sentence structure as opposed to Malay’s SVO structure like in English. There are other languages in Indonesia that have the VSO structure mainly in Sulawesi but I have yet to find resources about them.

Despite the title of this article about comparing Malay to Tagalog, I will go one step further and make comparisons between Malay and not only Tagalog but also with other languages of the Philippines. This is to show linguistic and cultural connections between the Philippines and the rest of the Malay-speaking world. Various parts of the Philippines were part of either the Srivijaya, Majapahit or the Bruneian empires.

Here are a list of Malay words/cognates that can be found in other Philippine languages which are further from the Tagalog equivalents.

Malay Word Other Word Language English Tagalog equivalent
dengan (with) dangan Bikol and at
ini ini Bikol, Visayan langs. this ito
darah dara Ilocano blood dugo
ikan ikan Ilocano fish isda
luar ruar Ilocano outside labas
malam malem Ilocano afternoon hapon
makan mangan Ilocano, Kapampangan to eat kain
peria paria, palya Ilocano, Maranao bitter gourd ampalaya
dua duwa, duha Ilocano, Visayan langs. two dalawa
minum minum Kapampangan to drink inom
nasi nasi Kapampangan rice kanin
kuda kuda Maranao, Maguindanao horse kabayo
laba-laba lawa-lawa Maranao, Maguindanao spider gagamba
nenas* nanas Maranao, Maguindanao pineapple pinya
atau atawa Tausug or o
baju baju Tausug shirt baro
bicara (I) bisara Tausug to speak salita
bukan bukan Tausug no hindi
jembatan (bridge) jambatan Tausug pier tulay (bridge), pantalan (pier)
sayur sayyul Tausug vegetables gulay
senapang sinapang Tausug gun/weapon baril/sandata
buat buhat** Visayan languages to do gawa
buta buta Visayan languages blind bulag
kamu kamo*** Visayan languages you (pl.) kayo
nangka nangka Visayan languages jackfruit langka
nyamuk namok Waray mosquito lamok

*Came from the European Portuguese word for “pineapple”, ananas . The Brazilian Portuguese word for “pineapple” is abacaxi.
**buhat in Tagalog means to lift and/or carry
***Commonly used in Marinduque Tagalog

Furthermore, the days of the week in Tausug, Maranao, Maguindanao and other languages of Filipino Muslims are basically the same as in Malay/Indonesian which were derived from the Arabic days of the week. Tagalog and other languages use the ones derived from Spanish.

There are about 170 languages spoken in the Philippines so obviously the lists do not cover all of those languages. I only just used the languages from the resources I was only able to obtain.

Ka-an circumfix

Many languages have affixes among other ways to make nouns from adjectives. For example, in English good + ness = goodness, which refers to the things that make something good. Another term for this is abstract nouns.  Other suffixes in abstract nouns in English mainly include ~hood, ~ity, ~tion and ~sion.

Malay/Indonesian has ke-an while Tagalog has ka-an. These circumfixes have multiple functions. The Tagalog version is generally used to form abstract nouns out of adjectives, nouns or verbs. The Malay/Indonesian version/s however use theirs to make abstract nouns, make adjectives describing excessiveness (too much) and act as verbs describing something beyond control.

Here are a few examples.

English Malay/Indonesian Tagalog
beauty kecantikan kagandahan
chaos kekacauan kaguluhan
cleanliness kebersihan kalinisan
death kematian kamatayan
fear ketakutan katakutan
happiness kebahagiaan kaligayahan
health kesehatan kalusugan
hunger kelaparan kagutuman
ignorance ketidaktahuan kamangmangan
life/lifestyle kehidupan kabuhayan
peace keselamatan kapayapaan
progress kemajuan kaunlaran
satisfaction kepuasan kasiyahan

The root words of the words are in bold. In order to make these words in Malay, usually all you need to do is just add the circumfix to the root words. Easy. But for Tagalog, one has to change the morphology of some letters.


For example, if the root word ends with a consonant and the last vowel before that is ‘o‘, it becomes a ‘u‘ when added with ~an, ~in or the ka-an circumfix.

gutom (hungry) + ka-an kagutuman (hunger)
hukom (judge) + an hukuman (court of law)
takot (fear/scared) + ka-an katakutan (fear)

Also in Tagalog, if the root word ends with a ‘d’, it becomes an ‘r’ when added with ~an, ~in or the ka-an circumfix.

(ma)unlad (progressive) + ka-an kaunlaran (progress)
bayad (to pay) + an bayaran (payment)
tawid (to cross) + an tawiran (crossing)

These are obviously very exhausting analysis and comparisons between Malay and Tagalog. I think I’ve written a lot so I may have to stop it here. I’m sure I could discover more words I could add to my analyses and comparisons but I will save that for another article. I hope to discover something new as I enjoy writing articles about this topic.

If there are errors in this article, do not hesitate to inform me in the comments section.

Personally I enjoy finding similarities between these languages. As someone of Filipino descent, learning about these similarities allows me to understand more about the heritage of my ancestors and their connections to other parts of Asia. A lot of Filipino costumes and dances may be Spanish-influenced but deep inside the internal culture are the legacies that connect the people to the Malay-speaking world starting with the languages Filipinos speak.


8 thoughts on “The linkage of Malay (and Indonesian) with Tagalog. Part 2

  1. Does Malay or Bornean languages conjugate verbs the way Tagalog does? Do they also duplicate the first syllable, use nag-, mag- and -um- etc?

    • Hi Ralph,

      I’ll answer as best as I can. I know Malay/Indonesian has a different and simpler way of conjugating verbs than Tagalog. There is no duplication of syllables and few infixes. Basically almost not the same as Tagalog.

      The main conjugations are:
      *ber- (e.g + jaya = berjaya (to succeed))
      *men- (e.g + erti = mengerti (to understand))
      *men-kan (e.g. + dengar = mendengarkan (to listen)).

      Each conjugation can change the meaning of the verb in English.

      I don’t know about the other languages of Borneo.

      I hope this helps but I think an actually speaker of the language can answer this question better than I could.

      • John,

        An excellent peice of work. Thank you indeed for illuminating us. I have also a number of words from Hindi (originally Sanskrit) and Arabic (via Muslim Brunei connections) that also entered the Tagalog language.
        I find the language of the region amazing.

  2. Hi Johnny, great to meet you,

    There are some Malay or Indonesian (based from Riau Malay) languages conjugate verbs the way Tagalog does..

    The examples of these conjugations are:
    Malay – “peng – (e.g + ubah = change) + an = pengubahan”
    Tagalog – “pang – (e.g = masin/asin = salty ) + an = pangasinan”

    there are another conjugations like KE + words + AN, MENG + words + AN, PE + words + AN.

    Additionally Tagalog still retains some original Malay word as Panggalan (Panggilan – name), Maharlika (merdeka-freedom), WIKA (bika-language) .. etc.Panggalan (Malay – panggilan) is a oldest word of Malay origin before the word NAMA introduced in the Malay language.

    Ano panggalan mo?
    Apa/Anu panggilan mu?

    Today in Malaysia and Indonesia used panggilan to refer surname and nama refer to officail nama: Muhamaad, Panggilan Si Putih.

    More Malay words that had been lost or forgotten, will remain in Phillipines..

    Historically ..among carriers of old Malay language is the arrival of 10 Panay datu Brunei Malay, the Malay rulers who migrated to Visayan.

    Besides this old Malay sultanate of Brunei was also taken by the once ruled Manila, and with the arrival of Islam in Malay by Sharif Kebungsuwan to Maguindanao.


    • selamat sore, pak. saya asli filipina. dari namanya, saya bisa menebak kalau bapak dari malaysia. maafkan bahasa saya acak-acakan karena saya belajar sendiri. ada juga beberapa bahasa daerah di bagian filipina utara (propinsi pampangga, ilokos, dan benguet) yang punya beberapa kosa kata yang sama, sangat mirip atau bisa dianggap tua: nasi (kapampangan), nangis (ibaloi/inivadoy), awak (kankana-ɜy), dan lain-lain…

  3. Hi john. Great work. Kiniray.a i think is closer to malay. Or the old karay.a for sulud panay.

    Some malay prefixes have been lost in kiniray.a e.x. Kini raya or hini raya.. Means kini.. Ka ini (of the) raya (uplands).. Its the upland languages.

    Me layu or me rayu (from the uplands)..

    Linguists are actually wrong when they use hiligaynon to refer to the ilonggo language.

    Hiligyanin is from ilig (iligay) (to flow) and non to denote (someone of).. Hiligaynon has two parts. Hiniraya or kiniray.a and hinilawod or kinilawod from hini (of) and lawod (coasts)..

    There is a third which is akeanon. Liguists actually classify then as three different languages. Historicall though its just on language. Hinilawod ( ilonggo now labeled as hiligaynin was the trading language (pidgin) kiniray.a was the common language and akeanon was the court language.

    E.x. Karaya ragkul for big and hinilawod dako also for big is actually the same word. Originating from the word daragkol (big)

    Daragkol> ragkol,

    Both are actually slang terms for the proper word.

    Karay.a retained the uh sound for u. So when filipinos read the name puti.. Its pu ti.. Karay.a has euh or short ah sound for u. So its puh tih or pah tih.. We retain the r instead of l. So salamin is saramin or sarmin.

    We also retained the malay di or ti.. E.x. Wara ti makaon. ( there is nothing to eat) vso and svo structure is both used. You can also say. Wara it karan.on.

    Ano pangaran nimo?
    Ano imo ngaran?
    (what is your name)
    Ano is what
    Ngaran is name, nimo is ni and imo (ni third person, then imo is third person denoting ownership)

    I hipe some linguist would study kiniraya. And hopefully, they study the standard one and not the slang one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s