The Philippines is a country whose diversity is perhaps showcased not just by its regional cuisines, but also by the overwhelming number of languages spoken by its people. There are about 170 distinct languages in our nation of over 100 million — not “dialects” as lesser educated people have frequently referred to them, but *languages* that are distinct enough that a native speaker of one cannot sufficiently understand another.
To unite in communication the various peoples under the republic, the 1987 constitution officially designated English and Filipino as official languages, the latter of which is based on Tagalog, spoken natively mostly on the large island of Luzon and a few islands just south of it. There are many other languages on the island of Luzon, and the one spoken by the people in the area of Pampanga province, a recognized bastion of culinary greatness, is known as Kapampangan.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you went into a Filipino store, and instead of automatically assuming that everyone is a native Tagalog, you could actually tell that they are from a different ethnic group with their own language and food culture?
Today, let’s learn a few Kapampangan words!
Nokarin la reng Chocnut?
Where are the Choc-Nut?
Nanu la reni?
What are these?
Manyaman la reni.
These are delicious.
Taga-nokarin ko pu?
Where are you from?
Taga-nokarin kayu king Pampanga?
Where in Pampanga are you from?
How can you tell a real Filipino?
Real Filipinos are deeply proud not only of their country, but also of their own regional culture, along with its food and language — whether it’s Tagalog, Kapampangan, Ilocano, Cebuano, Bicolano or any of the many others too many too list!
In fact, one of the most famous old sayings that everyone learns by heart is as follows:
People who don’t value their own language are worse than rotten fish.
What marks someone as a member of a particular ethnic group is his or her colloquial fluency in the language. And in the case of the diverse country of the Philippines, it’s not necessarily the officially designated Filipino language.
So next time you’re at a Filipino store, don’t just assume that everyone is a Tagalog. Be curious and ask what region the owners are from… and maybe even ask them to speak their language. Real Filipinos are friendly and love to share!
Coming soon: pronunciation audio files for these words, and more Kapampangan phrases… And of course, a focus on other languages of the Philippines!
In the meantime, share what Kapampangan words you’ve heard at the store and what a non-native speaker may have fun learning to say. 🙂