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Which to learn first, Tagalog or Cebuano?

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Great to hear you are making an attempt Jesse. When they laugh it is because you are being bakikaw (awkward). It is so easy to be bakikaw. I ask the person that laughed at me "How should I say it?" It is amazing how virtually all will go out their way to help you. Do not expect them to tell you why it is bakikaw as they most likey only know how it should sound.

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Jess Bartone

.....When they laugh it is because you are being bakikaw (awkward).....


Cousin Jeannifer is not being bakikaw, it is her personality. I have watched her from a distance, interacting with her own blood, and she is the same... very touchy and conspiratorial, whispering (loudly) in ears etc, always holding people's arms and laughing as she speaks... in my culture she would be called "bubbly". Her husband, a government driver, is a very serious and sombre man, and they seem to balance each other perfectly. We invited them to dinner one night - I cooked - and Jeannifer held the floor all night, she cracks me up, Jun Jun speaks very good English but he just sits there smiling at his wife in loving admiration (I guess for her storytelling abilities... life is never boring with Jeannifer around), and between Jun2x and my wife they kept me up with the gist of the stories.

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I faced the same dilemma, and have spent a lot of time thinking about it. It's difficult to take a decision when almost by definition you dont know enough to make an informed one.


I'm going for tagalog for the following reasons:


1: not 100% sure if I would stay in the visayas

2: there is vastly more free/cheap teaching material available on the internet for tagalog than cebuano. Although I am bilingual, I have made a number of false starts on the third language, and don't want to start investing money in another fiasco.

Definitely where you plan to live will probably be your biggest factor in deciding the language to learn first. But I wouldn't learn Tagolog or Visayan if yo uaren't sure. Figure out where you plan to live and then learn the language. If you were living in Spain but not sure if you might want to live in Germany which language would you learn?


There is more free/cheap material available for Tagolog. There is a Rosetta Stone software for Tagolog but not for Visayan. Why, I don't know as there are more Visayan (1st) speakers in the Phils than Tagolog. I believe the gov't is doing it's best to force out the non Manila languages which I think is a shame.

I agree with admin however on tagalog. Many words seem to be spelt very similarly, what seem like a random selection of consonants interspersed with letter "a", and of course if you get the consonants mixed up, you say something completely different. Although the grammar seems rather simple, I find this makes it all rather difficult. I have no idea at all if cebuano is the same.

Yes, if you rearrange the letters of any language's words you can get some wildly different meanings.

I suspect if you learn tagalog first, then cebuano might be picked up faster if you decided to swap, though I freely admit this is a complete guess on my part.

Do not be so sure of that. The locals refer to all languages of the Philippines as dialects as an American would refer to their own language, American, or Australian, or British, Scottish, etc. as being different dialects of English. But Visayan and Tagolog and others aren't dialects they are different languages. Just sharing some words doesn't make English French or visa versa. I bought a lot from a retired San Miguel exec from Manila. He was a Spanish speaker but, of course, knew Tagolog as well. He had even been assigned to SM in Mandaue for a couple years but when I asked him how good his Cebuano was he responded "I can understand it some but I don't try to speak for fear of sounding stupid."

Finally, I am not sure that being a native English speaker really helps in tagalog. Why do you think it might make a difference?

Because the majority of teachers and teaching aids are geared to go from English to either Tagolog or Visayan. There isn't a lot of call to learn those languages by any other speakers that don't already know at least some English.

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At one time I was coming along pretty good in Tagalog. When Imoved to and married in Cebu I used some Tagalog expressions and people would ask my wife "why is he speaking tagalog." I took lesson from Angie for several months and I was continually inserting Tagalog. She threatened to beat me on more than one occasion. So don't make the assumption that "I will learn this and later I can switch" for me it made switching more difficult, but I did find Tagalog easier. I'm at the point now where I can scream at the kids to shut up and turn the TV down and go ask your mama. Angie is teacher who has several language posts on the forum JSL


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Well thanks to skyman for taking the time to reply, even if I dont necessarily agree with all the points.


for example, on my tagalog lesson 1, i see that mataba and mababa exist in tagalog. I suspect that mataba and matata might as well, and I kind of suspect there are many other examples like this. if yoiu tried the same trick in most european languages, you would end up with gibberish rather than a real word. I find the vocabulary quite difficult to learn because of this.


Now all I know in cebuano is "o" and "dili"; you really can only get so far with that.


I always assumed that cebuano and tagalog might have different vocalubary, but fairly similar grammar, so rather than use Spain and Germany (as in sky mans points) I kind of considered my situation as more "I want to live in scandinavia. Should I learn danish or swedish?" which are same same but different, or Danish/Finnish which are just plain different different.


I kind of assumed that cebuano and taglog would have different vocabulary but broadly similar grammar (like spanish/portuguese?) Isnt this a better comparason? Now if I wanted live in Iberia, learning Spanish would definitely be a help in moving over to Portuguese.


But this whole thread is kind of depressing me. I was happy with my tagalog choice, but now everything is back up in the air again. But better to know now than a few years down the road, I will only live long enough to learn one more language properly at best.

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