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Vocabulary[revisa codigo]

Forms and style[revisa codigo]

Chavacano (especially Zamboangueño) has two levels of usage for words: The common or familiar form and the formal form.

In the common or familiar form, words of local origin or a mixture of local and Spanish words predominate. The common or familiar form is used ordinarily when conversing with people of equal or lower status in society. It is also used more commonly in the family, with friends and acquaintances. Its use is of general acceptance and usage.

In the formal form, words of Spanish origin or Spanish words predominate. The formal form is used especially when conversing with people of higher status in society. It is also used when conversing with elders (especially in the family and with older relatives) and those in authority. It is more commonly used by older generations, by Zamboangueño mestizos, and in the barrios. It is the form used in speeches, education, media, and writing.

The following examples show a contrast between the usage of formal words and common or familiar words in Chavacano:

English Chavacano (Formal) Chavacano (Common/Familiar) Spanish
slippery resbalozo/resbaladizo malandug resbaladizo
rice morisqueta canon arroz
rain lluvia/aguacero aguacero aguacero/lluvia
dish vianda/comida comida vianda/comida
braggart/boastful orgulloso(a) hambuguero(a)/bugalon(a) orgulloso(a)
car coche auto coche/auto
housemaid muchacho (m)/muchacha (f) ayudante/ayudanta muchacha(o)
father papá tata papá
mother mamá nana mamá
grandfather abuelo abuelo/lolo abuelo/lolo
grandmother abuela abuela/lola abuela/lela
small chico(a)/pequeño(a) pequeño(a)/diutay pequeño/chico
nuisance fastidio malihug fastidio
hard-headed testarudo duro cabeza/duro pulso testarudo
slippers chancla chinelas chancla/chinelas
married de estado/de estao casado/casao casado
(my) parents (mis) padres (mi) tata y nana (mis) padres
naughty travieso(a) salawayun desagradable
slide rezbalasa/deslizar landug resbalar/deslizar
ugly feo (masculine)/fea (feminine) mala cara feo(a)
rainshower lluve tali-ti lluvia
lightning rayo quirlat rayo
thunder/thunderstorm trueno trueno trueno
tornado tornado/remolino ipo-ipo tornado/remolino
thin (person) delgado(a)/flaco(a)/chiquito(a) flaco(a) delgado/flaco

Examples[revisa codigo]

Months, days, numbers, and phrases[revisa codigo]

Names of months, days, and numbers in Chavacano are the same as in Spanish:

English Spanish Chavacano
January enero Enero
February febrero Febrero
March marzo Marzo
April abril Abril
May mayo Mayo
June junio Junio
July julio Julio
August agosto Agosto
September septiembre Septiembre
October octubre Octubre
November noviembre Noviembre
December diciembre Diciembre
Monday lunes Lunes
Tuesday martes Martes
Wednesday miércoles Miercoles
Thursday jueves Jueves
Friday viernes Viernes
Saturday sábado Sabado
Sunday domingo Domingo
one uno uno
ten diez diez
hundred cien ciento
five hundred quinientos quinientos
one o'clock Es la una a la una
five o'clock Son las cinco a las cinco
now ahora ahora
today hoy (or este día) este dia
tomorrow mañana mañana
this afternoon esta tarde este tarde
on the street en la calle na calle/na camino
on the table sobre la mesa encima mesa/na la mesa
in the room en el cuarto adentro cuarto
the door la puerta el puerta
one peso un peso un peso
twenty centavos una peseta un peseta
good bueno bueno
better mejor mejor
best el mejor (de) el de todo mejor/el mejor de todo

Persons and relations[revisa codigo]

English Formal Familiar Common
Mr./Mrs. Señor/Señora Ñor/Ñora
Father Padre Papa Táta
Mother Madre Mama Nána
Grandfather Abuelo Lolô
Grandmother Abuela Lolâ
Grandfather-in-law Aguelo Aguelo
Grandmother-in-law Aguela Aguela
Granduncle Tio-Abuelo Tio-Abuelo
Grandaunt Tia-abuela Tia-abuela
Uncle/Aunt Tío/Tía Tío/Tía
Godfather Padrino Paninoy Ninong
Godmother Madrina Maninay Ninang
Son/Daughter Hijo/Hija Hijo/Hija Anac
Elder Brother Hermano mayor Manó Manong
Elder Sister Hermana mayor Maná Manang
Brother/Sister Hermano/Hermana
Cousin(s) Primo(s)/Prima(s)
Nephew(s) Sobrino(s)/Sobrina(s)
Child(ren) Niño/Niña o Niños Batâ (maga)
Grandchildren Nieto/Nieta
Godson/Goddaughter Ahijado/Ahijada Hijao/Hijada
Brother-in-law/Sister-in-law Cuñado/Cuñada Cuñao/Cuñada
Father/Mother-in-law Suegro/Suegra
Father and Godfather Compadre Paré
Mother and Godmother Comadre Maré
Opposite Parents of a Couple Balahí
Husband(s) of Sister(s) Concuño(s)
Wife(ves) of brother(s) Concuña(s)
Husband and Wife Marido y Mujer
Doctor and Patient Doctor y Paciente
Lawyer and Cliento Abogado y Cliente Abogao y Cliente
Teacher and Pupil Maestro y Dicipulo
Lender and Borrower Prestamista y Deudor
Landlord and Tenant Propietario y Inquilino
Son/Daughter-in-law Yerno/Yerna
Single man/woman Soltero/Soltera
Very young maiden Dalaguita, Dalaguinguing
Young maiden Dalaga/Dalaguita
Sweetheart Novio/Novia
Friend(s) Amigo(s)/Amiga(s)
Companion o Mate (classmate/officemate/et al.) Compañero(s)/Compañera(s)
Pal/Chum Barcada
Enemy Enemigo
Opponent Contrario
Partner Socio
Acquaintance Conocido
Stranger Desconocido/Estranijero
Foreigner Estranijero
Visitor Visita
Guest Invitado Invitao
Landlady Casera
Boarder Pupilo
Boss, Employer Ámo
Chief Jefe
In-charge Encargado Encargao
Manager Maniñger
Foreman Capataz
Employee Empleado Empleao
Worker Trabajador/Trabajadora
Laborer Obrero
Day laborer Jornalero
Helper Ayudante/Ayudanta
Salesman/Salesboy, Saleslady/Salesgirl Tendero/Tendera
Messenger Mensajero/Mensajera
Servant Sirviente/Sirvienta Muchacho/Muchacha Atchay

Diphthongs[revisa codigo]

No llevan acentos como casí todas las palabras en Chavacano.
Letters Pronunciation Example Significant
ae aye cae fall, to fall
ai ayi caido fallen, fell
ao aow cuidao take care, cared
ea eya patea kick, to kick
ei eyi rei king
eo eyo video video
ia iya advertencia warning, notice
ie iye cien(to) one hundred, hundred
io iyo cancion song
iu iyu saciut to move the hips a little
uo ow instituo institute
qu ke que what, that, than
gu strong gi guia to guide, guide
ua uwa agua water
ue uwe cuento story
ui uwi cuida care, to take care
oi oye oi hear, to hear

Grammar[revisa codigo]

Simple sentence structure (Verb-Subject-Object word order)[revisa codigo]

Chavacano is a language with the Verb Subject Object sentence order. This is because it follows the Tagalog and Cebuano grammatical structures. However, the Subject Verb Object order does exist in Chavacano but only for emphasis purposes (see below). New generations have been slowly and vigorously using the S-V-O pattern mainly because of the influence of the English language. These recent practices have been most prevalent and evident in the mass media particularly among Chavacano newswriters who translate news leads from English or Tagalog to Chavacano where the "who" is emphasized more than the "what". Because the mass media represent "legitimacy", it is understood by Chavacano speakers (particularly Zamboangueños) that the S-V-O sentence structure used by Chavacano journalists is standardized.

Declarative affirmative sentences in the simple present, past, and future tenses[revisa codigo]

Chavacano generally follows the simple Verb-Subject-Object or Verb-Object-Subject sentence structure typical of Tagalog and Cebuano in declarative affirmative sentences:

Ta compra (verb) el maga/mana negociante (subject) con el tierra (object).
Ta compra (verb) tierra (object) el maga/mana negociante (subject).
Tagalog: Bumibili (verb) ang mga negosyante (subject) ng lupa (object).
Tagalog: Bumibili (verb) ng lupa (object) ang mga negosyante (subject).
(‘The businessmen are buying land.’)

The subject always appears after the verb, and in cases where prenominal subjects (such as personal pronouns) are used in sentences, they will never occur before the verb:

Ya anda yo na iglesia en denantes.
(‘I went to church a while ago.’)

Declarative negative sentences in the simple present, past, and future tenses[revisa codigo]

When the predicate of the sentence is negated, Chavacano uses the words jendeh (from Tagalog or Cebuano ’hindi’ which means ’no’) to negate the verb in the present tense, no hay (which means ’not’) to negate the verb that was supposed to happen in the past, and jendeh or nunca (which means ’no’ or ’never’) to negate the verb that will not or will never happen in the future respectively. This manner of negating the predicate always happens in the Verb-Subject-Object or Verb-Object-Subject sentence structure:

Present Tense

Jendeh ta compra (verb) el maga/mana negociante (subject) con el tierra (object).
Jendeh ta compra (verb) tierra (object) el maga/mana negociante (subject).
(Eng: The businessmen are not buying land. Span: Los hombres de negocio no están comprando terreno)

Past Tense

No hay compra (verb) el maga/mana negociante (subject) con el tierra (object).
No hay compra (verb) tierra (object) el maga/mana negociante (subject).
(Eng: The businessmen did not buy land. Span: Los hombres de negocio no compraron terreno)

Future Tense

Jendeh hay compra (verb) el maga/mana negociante (subject) con el tierra (object).
Jendeh hay compra (verb) tierra (object) el maga/mana negociante (subject).
(Eng: The businessmen will not buy land. Span: Los hombres de negocio no comprarán terreno)
Nunca hay compra (verb) el maga/mana negociante (subject) con el tierra (object).
Nunca hay compra (verb) tierra (object) el maga/mana negociante (subject).
(Eng: The businessmen will never buy land. Span: Los hombres de negocio nunca comprarán terreno)

The negator jendeh can appear before the subject in a Subject-Verb-Object structure to negate the subject rather than the predicate in the present, past, and future tenses:

Present Tense

Jendeh el maga/mana negociante (subject) ta compra (verb) con el tierra (object) sino el maga/mana empleados.
(Eng: It is not the businessmen who are buying land but the employees. Span: No es el hombre de negocio que están comprando terreno sino los empleados)

Past Tense

Jendeh el maga/mana negociante (subject) ya compra (verb) con el tierra (object) sino el maga/mana empleados.
(Eng: It was not the businessmen who bought the land but the employees. Span: No fue el hombre de negocio que compró el terreno sino los empleados)

Future Tense

Jendeh el maga/mana negociante (subject) hay compra (verb) con el tierra (object) sino el maga/mana empleados.
(Eng: It will not be the businessmen who will buy land but the employees. Span: No sería el hombre de negocio que comprará el terreno sino los empleados)

The negator nunca can appear before the subject in a Subject-Verb-Object structure to strongly negate (or denote impossibility) the subject rather than the predicate in the future tense:

Future Tense

Nunca el maga/mana negociante (subject) hay compra (verb) con el tierra (object) sino el maga/mana empleados.
(Eng: It will never be the businessmen who will buy land but the employees. Span: Nunca sería el hombre de negocio que comprará el terreno sino los empleados)

The negator no hay and nunca can also appear before the subject to negate the predicate in a Subject-Verb-Object structure in the past and future tenses respectively. Using nunca before the subject to negate the predicate in a Subject-Verb-Object structure denotes strong negation or impossibility for the subject to perform the action in the future:

Past Tense

No hay el maga/mana negociante (subject) compra (verb) con el tierra (object).
(Eng: The businessmen did not buy land. Span: el hombre de negocio no compró terreno)

Future Tense

Nunca el maga/mana negociante (subject) hay compra (verb) con el tierra (object).
(Eng: The businessmen will never buy land. Span: el hombre de negocio nunca comprará terreno)

Nouns and Articles[revisa codigo]

The Chavacano definite article el precedes a singular noun or a plural marker (for a plural noun). The indefinite article un stays constant for gender as 'una' has completely disappeared in Chavacano. It also stays constant for number as for singular nouns. In Chavacano, it is quite common for el and un to appear together before a singular noun, the former to denote certainty and the latter to denote number:

el cajon (’the box’) - el maga/mana cajon(es) (’the boxes’)
un soltero (’a bachelor’) - un soltera (’a spinster’)
el un soltero (’the bachelor’) - el un soltera (’the spinster’)

Nouns in Chavacano are not always precedeed by articles. Without an article, a noun is a generic reference:

Jendeh yo ta llora lagrimas sino sangre.
(’I do not cry tears but blood’.)
Ta carga yo palo.
(’I am carrying wood’).

Proper names of persons are preceded by the defnite article si or the phrase un tal functioning as an indefinite article would:

Si Maria es un bonita candidata.
(’Maria is a beautiful candidate’.)
un tal Juancho
(’a certain Juancho’)

Singular nouns[revisa codigo]

Unlike Spanish, Chavacano nouns do not follow gender rules in general. In Zamboangueño, the article 'el' basically precedes every singular noun. However, this rule is not rigid (especially in Zamboangueño) because the formal vocabulary mode wherein Spanish words predominate almost always is the preferred mode especially in writing. The Spanish article 'la' for feminine singular nouns do exist in Chavacano. When in doubt, the article 'el' is safe to use. Compare:

English singular noun Chavacano singular noun (general and common) Chavacano singular noun (accepted or uncommon)
the virgin el virgen la virgen (accepted)
the peace el paz la paz (accepted)
the sea el mar la mar (accepted)
the cat el gato el gato (la gata is uncommon)
the sun el sol el sol
the moon el luna el luna (la luna is uncommon)
the view el vista la vista (accepted)
the tragedy el tragedia el tragedia (la tragedia is uncommon)
the doctor el doctor el doctora (la doctora is uncommon)

And just like Spanish, Chavacano nouns can have gender but only when referring to persons. However, they are always masculine in the sense (Spanish context) that they are generally preceded by the article 'el'. Places and things are almost always masculine. The -o is dropped in masculine nouns and -a is added to make the noun feminine:

English singular noun Chavacano singular noun (masculine) Chavacano singular noun (feminine)
the teacher el maestro el maestra
the witch el burujo el buruja
the engineer el engeniero el engeniera
the tailor/seamstress el sastrero el sastrera
the baby el niño el niña
the priest/nun el padre el madre
the grandson/granddaughter el nieto el nieta
the professor el profesor el profesora
the councilor el consejal el consejala

Not all nouns referring to persons can become feminine nouns. In Chavacano, some names of persons are masculine (because of the preceding article 'el' in Spanish context) but do not end in -o.

Examples: el alcalde, el capitan, el negociante, el ayudante, el chufer

All names of animals are always masculine—in Spanish context—preceded by the article 'el'.

Examples: el gato (gata is uncommon), el puerco (puerca is uncommon), el perro (perra is uncommon)

Names of places and things can be either masculine or feminine, but they are considered masculine in the Spanish context because the article 'el' always precedes the noun:

el cocina, el pantalon, el comida, el agua, el camino, el trapo

Plural nouns[revisa codigo]

In Chavacano, plural nouns (whether masculine or feminine in Spanish context) are preceded by the retained singular masculine Spanish article 'el'. The Spanish articles 'los' and 'las' have almost disappeared. They have been replaced by the modifier (a plural marker) 'maga/mana' which precedes the singular form of the noun. Maga comes from the native Tagalog or Cebuano 'mga'. The formation of the Chavacano plural form of the noun (el + maga/mana + singular noun form) applies whether in common, familiar or formal mode.

There are some Chavacano speakers (especially older Caviteño or Zamboangueño speakers) who would tend to say 'mana' for 'maga'. 'Mana' is accepted and quite common, especially among older speakers, but when in doubt, the modifier 'maga' to pluralize nouns is safer to use.

English plural noun Chavacano plural noun (masculine) Chavacano plural noun (feminine)
the teachers el maga/mana maestro(s) el maga/mana maestra(s)
the witches el maga/mana burujo(s) el maga/mana buruja(s)
the engineers el maga/mana engeniero(s) el maga/mana engeniera(s)
the tailors/seamstresses el maga/mana sastrero(s) el maga/mana sastrera(s)
the babies el maga/mana niño(s) el maga/mana niña(s)
the priests/nuns el maga/mana padre(s) el maga/mana madre(s)
the grandsons/granddaughters el maga/mana nieto(s) el maga/mana nieta(s)
the professors el maga/mana profesor(es) el maga/mana profesora(s)
the councilors el maga/mana consejal(es) el maga/mana consejala(s)

Again, this rule is not rigid (especially in the Zamboangueño formal mode). The articles 'los' or 'las' do exist sometimes before nouns that are pluralized in the Spanish manner, and their use is quite accepted:

los caballeros, los dias, las noches, los chavacanos, los santos, las mañanas, las almujadas, las mesas, las plumas, las cosas

When in doubt, it is always safe to use 'el' and 'maga or mana' to pluralize singular nouns:

el maga/mana caballero(s), el maga/mana dia(s), el maga/mana noche(s), el maga/mana chavacano(s), el maga/mana santo(s), el maga/mana dia(s) que viene (this is a phrase; 'el maga/mana mañana' is uncommon), el maga/mana almujada(s), el maga/mana mesa(s), el maga/mana pluma(s)

In Chavacano, it is common for some nouns to become doubled when pluralized (called Reduplication, a characteristic of the Malayo-Polynesian family of languages):

el maga cosa-cosa (el maga cosa/s is common), el maga casa-casa (el maga casa is common), el maga gente-gente (el maga gente is common), el maga bata-bata (el maga bata, 'child', is common), el maga juego-juego (el maga juego is common)

In general, the suffixes -s, -as, -os to pluralize nouns in Spanish have also almost disappeared in Chavacano. However, the formation of plural nouns with suffixes ending in -s, -as, and -os are accepted. Basically, the singular form of the noun is retained, and it becomes plural because of the preceding modifier/plural marker 'maga' or 'mana':

el maga/mana caballeros (accepted)
el maga/mana caballero (correct)
el maga/mana dias (accepted)
el maga/mana dia (correct)

Adding the suffix -es to some nouns is quite common and accepted. Nouns ending in -cion can be also be pluralized by adding the suffix -es:

el maga meses, el maga mujeres, el maga mayores, el maga tentaciones, el maga contestaciones, el maga naciones, el maga organizaciones

However, it is safer to use the general rule (when in doubt) of retaining the singular form of the noun preceded by the modifier/plural marker 'maga' or 'mana':

el maga mes, el maga mujer, el maga mayor, el maga tentacion, el maga contestacion, el maga nacion, el maga organizacion

Verbs[revisa codigo]

In Zamboangueño, Chavacano verbs are mostly Spanish in origin. In contrast with the other dialects, there is rarely a Zamboangueño verb that is based on or has its origin from other Philippine languages. Hence, verbs contribute much of the Spanish vocabulary in Chavacano de Zamboanga.

Generally, the simple form of the Zamboangueño verb is based upon the infinitive of the Spanish verb, minus the final /r/. For example, continuar, hablar, poner, recibir, and llevar become continuá, hablá, poné, recibí, and llevá with the accent on the final syllable.

There are some rare exceptions. Some verbs are not derived from infinitives but from words that are technically Spanish phrases or from other Spanish verbs. For example, dar (give) doesn't become 'da' but dale (give) (literally in Spanish, to "give it" [verb phrase]). In this case, dale has nothing to do with the Spanish infinitive dar. The Chavacano brinca (to hop) is from Spanish brinco which means the same thing.

Verb Tenses[revisa codigo]

Simple tenses[revisa codigo]

Chavacano (especially Zamboangueño) uses the words ya (from Spanish ya [has/have been]), ta (from Spanish está [is]), and hay plus the simple form of the verb to convey the basic tenses of past, present, and future respectively:

English Infinitive Spanish Infinitive Chavacano Infinitive Past Tense Present Tense Future Tense
to sing cantar canta ya canta ta canta hay canta
to drink beber bebe ya bebe ta bebe hay bebe
to sleep dormir dormi ya dormi ta dormi hay dormi

The Chabacano of Cavite and Ternate uses the words ya, ta, and di plus the simple form of the verb to convey the basic tenses of past, present, and future respectively:

English Infinitive Spanish Infinitive Chabacano Infinitive Past Tense Present Tense Future Tense
to sing cantar canta ya canta ta canta di canta
to drink beber bebe ya bebe ta bebe di bebe
to sleep dormir dormi ya dormi ta dormi di dormi
Perfect constructions[revisa codigo]

In Zamboangueño, there are three ways to express that the verb is in the present perfect. First, ya can appear both before and after the main verb to express that in the present perspective, the action has already been completed somewhere in the past with the accent falling on the final ya. Second, ta and ya can appear before and after the verb respectively to express that the action was expected to happen in the past (but did not happen), is still expected to happen in the present, and actually the expectation has been met (the verb occurs in the present). And third, a verb between ta and pa means an action started in the past and still continues in the present:

Chavacano Past Perfect Chavacano Present Perfect Chavacano Present Perfect
ya canta ya ta canta ya ta canta pa
ya bebe ya ta bebe ya ta bebe pa
ya dormi ya ta dormi ya ta dormi pa

The past perfect exists in Chavacano. The words antes (before) and despues (after) can be used between two sentences in the simple past form to show which verb came first. The words antes (before) and despues (after) can also be used between a sentence in the present perfect using ya + verb + ya and another sentence in the simple past tense:

Past Perfect (Chavacano) Past Perfect (English)
Ya mira kame el pelicula antes ya compra kame con el maga gulusinas. We had watched the movie before we bought the snacks.
Past Perfect (Chavacano) Past Perfect (English)
Ya mira ya kame el pelicula despues ya compra kame con el maga gulusinas. We had watched the movie and then we bought the snacks.

Chavacano uses a verb between "hay" and "ya" to denote the future perfect and past perfect respectively:

Future Perfect (Chavacano) Future Perfect (English)
Hay mira ya kame el pelicula si hay llega vosotros. We will have watched the movie when you arrive.

Passive and Active Voice[revisa codigo]

To form the Zamboanga Chavacano active voice, Chavacanos of Zamboanga follow the pattern:

El maga soldao ya mata con el criminal The criminal was killed by soldiers.

As illustrated above, active (causative) voice is formed by placing the doer el maga soldao before the verb phrase ya mata and then the object el criminal as indicated by the particle con

Traditionally, Zamboanga Chavacano does not have a passive construction of its own.

        Un gran saludo: --Guaicaipuro