- Continued from Tagalog/Lesson 1
Diacritics are normally not written in everyday usage, be it in publications or personal correspondence. The teaching of diacritics is inconsistent in Filipino schools and many Filipinos do not know how to use them. However, diacritics are normally used in dictionaries and in textbooks aimed at teaching the languages to foreigners.
There are three kinds of diacritics used in Tagalog:
- Acute accent or pahilís
- Used to indicate primary or secondary stress on a particular syllable; talagá. It is usually omitted on words that are stressed on the penultimate (second to last) syllable; umága = umaga. It is possible that there is more than one stressed syllable in a word, meaning that that pahilís mark may appear multiple times, as in Repúbliká. If there is no diacritic on the last two syllables of a word, then it means that there is stress on the penultimate syllable; kásayahan is actually stressed on two syllables: kásayahan.
- Grave accent or paiwà
- It indicates that there is a glottal stop (/ʔ/) at the end of the word; akalà. This mark may only appear at the end of a word that ends in a vowel. This mark does not indicate stress. Therefore, following the previously stated rule on stress, akalà is stressed on the second to the last syllable: akalà.
- Circumflex accent or pakupyâ
- It indicates that the final syllable of a word receives stress while there is a glottal stop (/ʔ/) that follows; sampû. This is because it is a combination of the pahilís and paiwà marks. This mark may only appear at the end of a word that ends in a vowel. dálitâ = dálitâ
Diacritics are an optional aspect of the Tagalog orthography. Most Filipinos (and Philippine news journals) write Tagalog without using any diacritic at all. However, pieces of Tagalog writing which use diacritics can occasionally be found in some religious journals, old books, and others.
A word in Tagalog spelled in a certain way without the diacritics can actually be pronounced in four ways, and each case results into a different meaning or a different word in itself. The four cases are:
This case is where a word is stressed in the last or end syllable. The vowel of the last syllable should contain an acute diacritic mark.
Examples: "akó" (me), "lakí" (size), "parú-paró" (butterfly), "sangá" (branch), "talagá" (really)
This case is where a word is unstressed in the last or end syllable. In Tagalog, this entails the need to stress the penultimate or 2nd-to-the-last syllable. The vowel of the penultimate syllable should contain an acute diacritic mark.
Examples: "bóbo" (moron), "hábal-hábal" (motorcyle taxi), "ílog" (river), "kasalánan" (sin), "sáko" (sack), "umága" (morning)
The unstressed end case is the Tagalog's default case. Readers who read a diacritic-supported Tagalog document should use the unstressed end case whenever he/she sees a word without any diacritic mark. Most Tagalog journals which employ diacritics only choose to use diacritics for unstressed end case words if those words could be confused as the words in the other cases. So they spell "píto" to differentiate whistle ("píto") from seven ("pitó"). However, if the word has no corresponding word in another case, it is written without diacritics. So these journals will use "umaga" instead of "umága", because no other "umaga" word exists in other cases.
Alternately, older Tagalog conventions often moves the acute diacritic mark from the penultimate syllable to the very first stressed syllable of the word. There are Tagalog words which have two or more stressed syllables in the first place. So "kasalánan" is spelled as "kásalanan" in older conventions because its first stressed syllable is "ka". However, modern guidelines has deprecated this rule, because the Filipino people, most of which has no formal linguistic training, even find it difficult to pinpoint which syllables are being stressed and not. So "kasalánan" is the correct diacritic-supported spelling using modern guidelines.
Glottal stopped end
This case is where a word is applied with a glottal stop in the last or end syllable which is unstressed. The vowel of the last syllable should contain a grave diacritic mark.
Examples: "akalà" (assumption), "bagà" (lungs), "gurò" (teacher), "labò" (unclear), "lahì" (race), "pukè" (vagina)
Because the last syllable is unstressed, then just like the unstressed end case, the penultimate syllable is therefore stressed. This means we could spell it like "akálà". However, there is no need to add the acute diacritic mark in there. So "akalà" is okay.
Glottal stopped stressed end
This case is where a word is applied with a glottal stop in the last or end syllable which is stressed. The vowel of the last syllable should contain a circumflex diacritic mark. You can imagine "â" as "á" and "à" combined.
Examples: "larô" (play), "salitâ" (word), "sawî" (emotionally devastated), "tahî" (sew)
|Stressed end||Unstressed end||Glottal stopped end||Glottal stopped stressed end|
|bayarán||for hire||bayáran||pay (verb)|
|lutò||way of cooking||lutô||cooked|
|sawá||large snake||sawâ||fed up|
|kasamá||landless farmer||kasáma||included||kasamâ||very evil|
Before the standardization of Tagalog during the mid-20th century, the acute accent (pahilís) functioned in the same way as it is used in Spanish orthography today. The older version is no longer in use.
Words stressed on the last syllable use an accent when they end with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u), with -n, or with -s, as in Magandá, bilí, Inglés. Words stressed on the next-to-last syllable use an accent when they do not end with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u), with -n or with -s, as in Kabuháyan, Umútang. Words stressed on other syllables always take the accent, as in Matemátika. Words not stressed on the last syllable but end with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) do not use the acute accent, unless stress is on the final vowel. In the older system, the word Repúbliká would be written simply as Repúblika. The newer version "Repúbliká" is written this way in order to be consistent with the new rules for using diacritics ("If there is no accent upon the last two syllables of a word, then the stress is on the second-to-last syllable").
- Paul Morrow's Filipino Pronunciation Guide.
- Concise English-Tagalog Dictionary by Jose V. Panganiban
- A Handbook and Grammar of the TAGALOG LANGUAGE (1905), featuring the older diacritical system on page 18.