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A quick guide to Cebuano

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Filipino (Tagalog) might be the official language and English the medium of instruction, but Cebuano, the native language of Cebu, is the most widely spoken vernacular in the archipelago, not only used in Cebu but also by most of the central and southern Philippines. Cebuano and Filipino have elements in common, but also have significant differences of construction and phraseology. It’s quite possible for a native Manileño to bump into a native Cebuano and not be able to understand much he or she says. The complex web of languages and dialects that spans the Philippines is one of the reasons for its political and social fragmentation.

Cebuano is evolving as it assimilates slang and colloquialisms from other Visayan dialects, as well as from Filipino and English. Confused? You will be. Most Cebuano conversations veer apparently at random between all three languages, leaving even Filipino visitors unable to grasp the meaning.

Some Cebuano basics

Good morning Maayong buntag
Good afternoon Maayong hapon
Good evening Maayong gabi
How are you? Kumusta?
I’m fine Maayo man
Very well Maayo ka’ayo
What’s your name? Umsay pangalan ni mu?
Where are you from? Taga din ka?
Thank you Salamat
You’re welcome Walay sapayan
Goodbye Ari na ko
Yes O-o
No Dili
OK Sigi
How much is this? Tag-pila ni?
Expensive Mahal
Cheap Barat
Idiot! Amaw!
Go away! Layas!
Who? Kinsa?
What? Unsa?
Why? Ngano?
Near/Far Duol/Layo
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