Pinoys are emotional. That’s why we have apt words for even the littlest emotion. If we’re feeling it, we gotta be able to name it, and if we don’t, we’re thinking up names for it.
It’s a small wonder that most of the Filipino words in our list that can’t be translated to English relate to emotions. We’re naturally wired to be sappy! And now for the second part of our list:
“Ewan ko kung saan sya nagpunta, hindi ko alam.”
Ask Apo Hiking Society. They’d tell you that ewan is almost synonymous to yes. Were they being cocky? Maybe.
But that’s the beauty of the word ewan. It’s so vague it doesn’t give away anything. It could mean a lot of things at once: I don’t know, I don’t remember and I don’t care. It could also mean the person is of two minds at the moment (undecided).
Maybe you just don’t have anything to say so you toss ewan just to say something. Depending on the context, ewan could be full or devoid of meaning.
“Ayokong umihi sa CR ng opisina, ang panghi!”
Of course, we needed a word to describe what urine smells like. But there’s no exact English word for panghi.
Sources say it’s the odor of urine. But it’s really more of smelling like piss or smelling like ammonia. That’s the closest translation you can get and even these fail to evoke what panghi is really like: it’s stale-smelling urine. Urine left for sometime emanating a very strong ammonia smell.
The first Pinoy who coined the word probably wasn’t satisfied with amoy ihi; it had to be panghi. What a connoisseur!
“Ayoko ng kumain ng manok, nakakaumay na!”
When Depeche Mode sang “Just Can’t Get Enough”, Umay was probably the farthest thing from their mind.
Umay is when you’ve had enough. When you’re satiated to the point of not being able to take in anymore. However, this isn’t limited to food and eating yourself sick.
We’ve managed to incorporate this into emotions. “Ayaw na kitang makita, nauumay ako sa pagmumukha mo” is a not-so-subtle way of telling somebody to get lost, with an insult to boot.
“Bakit ka nagsuot ng rubber shoes at naka-bestida ka? Ang baduy mo!”
A slight to a person’s fashion sense, baduy has a negative connotation. And this word is also used to describe somebody who is old-fashioned, “Nagsulat ka pa ng love letter eh text na ang uso ngayon, ang baduy mo talaga.”
You could call somebody a fashion mess, or the worst-dressed, but baduy can mean much more than that; it’s more of an insult to the person, and not just his/her fashion choices.
“Ayokong makipaglaro dyan, napipikon kapag natatalo.”
Ha! We’re naturally pikon as Pinoys. Balat-sibuyas. Sore losers. And our pagiging pikon reached new heights when our pambansang kamao took a right and fell asleep in the boxing ring for two minutes last year.
See, we’re pikon like that: hotheaded, easily angered, touchy and easily offended. And there isn’t a word in English that’s a catchall for all these, as Devina Dediva must have found out.
“Nakalimutan kong bilhin ‘yung pinabibili mong kwan.. perdible!”
We use kwan in place of an object’s name we’ve temporarily forgotten. And while we’re trying to recall it, we use kwan instead.
But kwan is also used to say things we couldn’t say out loud, and hope that the other person would read into it, “Di ba sya ‘yung kumwan dun sa kwan ni aling Nena?” and those in earshot would have to figure out what kwan really means.
Another use for the word is when we can’t think of anything to say. Kind of like an er, uhm, uh moment.
“Wag mo ng pasalihin sa laro yan at tirang baldog lagi ‘yan.”
Baldog in the context of Pinoy basketball means a shot that hits board but doesn’t make the rim. The NBA has yet to come up with a term for a bad play like this.
On the other hand, baldog could also mean a sudden, bad fall usually with the head hitting a hard surface “nabaldog ‘yung ulo ng anak mo sa semento”. In both context, an exact English word is unavailable.
“Gusto kong nilalambing ako kapag galit ako.”
While Google Translate says that lambing is tenderness, it fails to adequately define what lambing is. It’s like this: tenderness + sweetness + being affectionate + wanting to be caressed = lambing.
Nobody says no to a lambing. Filipino children have this down to an art. They know when to lambing nanay especially when they’re in for some scolding. And tatay gets some of the lambing when the chikitings are asking for a new toy.
“Uminom ka ng maraming tubig para mawala yang balisawsaw mo”
Balisawsaw is a collective term for the following symptoms: lingering desire to pee, frequent peeing and pain in the bladder.
It’s not always associated with Urinary Tract Infection and dysuria, although the symptoms are similar. As kids, our lolas would scold us about sitting on a hot surface (like a stone bench exposed to the heat of the sun) because we’d experience balisawsaw after sitting on it.
“Dati ako ang nagpapakahirap, ngayon sya naman.”
This word practically defies translation: it’s a word affixed to a sentence to either give emphasis, highlight contrast, or give gentle coaxing (for requests).
For emphasis: “Hindi ko naman sinasadya.”
For contrast: “Yung isa, umuwi na. Yung isa naman, nagpaiwan pa.”
As gentle coaxing: “Tulungan mo naman akong magbuhat.”
But this amusing word isn’t done yet. Naman could also be used to mean again. “Ikaw na naman?!” and a more recent use for the word means “of course!” as only John Lloyd Cruz can illustrate in a popular TV commercial.