Speak, Stories

These Tagalog Words Came From the Chinese Language

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Chinese and Filipinos have lived side by side for centuries, and both cultures have borrowed from one another to create something that’s wholly and uniquely Chinoy. Words like siopao, siomai, and lomi are obviously derived from Hokkien, a dialect of the Chinese language. But there are also other words that have been so fully adapted into the Tagalog language that very few people may realize they were borrowed from the Chinese language.

Here are a few examples:

1. Hikaw

Yup, as in earrings. It comes from the word, hikau, in Hokkien and maintained its meaning.

2. Bakya

Wooden clogs. Not as commonly used today, but definitely popular in the past.

3. Sungki

This Tagalog term comes from chungkhi. Literally “stretched teeth,” but it used to mean crooked teeth.

4. Pansit

As most people know, this one just means noodles. Sounds the same in Hokkien.

5. Ginto

This is derived from the word, kimtiau, which means gold bar. Or possibly, kimto, which means gold-plated.

6. Pakyaw

Pakyaw originated from the term, poah-kiau, which means to gamble or bet money. It now means “wholesale buying.”

7. Sangla

Sangla may be from sing-le, which means “to gift.” However, it also can mean, “to pawn.”

8. Buwisit

I always thought this was a Tagalog curse word, but it also apparently has Hokkien origins. It comes from bo-ui-sit, meaning without clothes or food, which if you wish that on somebody, is a pretty bad curse.

9. Suya

“To be disgusted by,” in Tagalog. Did you know it’s from the Hokkien term, soe-a, which means, “how unlucky”?

10. Susi

The Hokkien version: so-si. It’s the key.

Those are a few words that I didn’t realize were borrowed from Hokkien. Maybe you know a few more Tagalog words that were derived from Hokkien. Sound off below!

Leave a Reply