Cebuano phrasebook

Cebuano, also called Sugboanon or Bisayan, is a major language in the southern Philippines. It is spoken natively throughout Cebu Province, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, and Camiguin, in much of Leyte and Mindanao, and in parts of Samar.

With twenty-odd million native speakers, Cebuano is the second most common local language in the country, after Tagalog, and 55th in the world according to Wikipedia. It is the most important of a large group of Visayan languages. There is a Cebuano Wikipedia which reached two million articles in 2016.

. . . Cebuano phrasebook . . .

Cebuano is an extremely phonetic language, thus making it much more simple for non-Cebuanos to learn and speak.

If one is familiar with Spanish, this makes Cebuano all the easier. Every Filipino language has similarities to Spanish (the Philippines having been conquered by the Spaniards and subsequently under Spanish rule for 300 years), and the pronunciation is nearly identical. Double “l”s in Cebuano are pronounced with a “y” sound, the “j” is typically spoken as “h”, and the “r”s are rolled in the same way Spanish-speakers roll their “r”s.

The most common pronunciation mistake made by non-Cebuano speakers trying to learn the language is its double vowels. These use what linguists call “glottal stops”, which makes one sound pause before saying the other sound. Take, for instance, the phrase for good evening: “Maayong gabii”. Most non-Filipinos would read that out loud as “mai-yong gabby”. Not so. Every vowel in Filipino languages is pronounced, even when it follows another vowel. Thus, good evening would be “ma-ayong gabi-i”. So take notice that each double vowel, e.g. aa, ii, oo, ua, au, has a glottal stop between the two vowels.

“Ula and ola” the ‘l’ has a ‘w’ sound as in “water”. For ‘ala’ the ‘l’ disappears e.g. halang (hang).

Stress in Cebuano is next to the last syllable if more than one syllable. Beyond that, with two syllables the first gets stressed.

Unaccented Cebuano Vowels

a 
as the ‘a’ in “attention” [when the ‘a’ is followed by ‘y’ it becomes ‘ay’ similar to the word “eye”]
e 
as the ‘e’ in “bed”
i 
as the ‘ee’ in “week”
o 
as the ‘o’ in “open”
u 
as the ‘oo’ in “book”

Accented Cebuano Vowels

à 
long sound like ‘a’ in “far” [ahh]
â 
short sound like ‘a’ in “attend” [ah]
è 
long sound like ‘e’ in “bled” [ehh]
ê 
short sound like ‘e’ in “let” [eh]
ì 
long sound like ‘ee’ in “bleed” [ee]
î 
short sound like ‘i’ in “it” [ih]
ò 
long sound like ‘o’ in “obey” [ohh]
ô 
short sound like ‘o’ in “okay” [oh]
ù 
long sound like ‘oo’ in “pool” [ooo]
û 
short sound like ‘oo’ in “cook” [oo]

Double Cebuano Vowels

aa 
as two separate sounds with a stop “maayong” [mah-ah-yong]
i-i 
two separate sounds “gabi-i” [GAH-bee-ee]
b 
like ‘b’ in “bed”
c 
like ‘s’ in “supper”, ‘k’ in “kid” [foreign sounds]
d 
like ‘d’ in “dog”
g 
like ‘g’ in “go” [always hard sound]
h 
like ‘h’ in “help”
k 
like ‘k’ in “kitten”
l 
like ‘l’ in “love”
m 
like ‘m’ in “mother”
n 
like ‘n’ in “nice”
ng 
like ‘ng’ in “bang” [nasal sound]
p 
like ‘p’ in “pig”
r 
like ‘r’ in “rico” [rolled ‘r’]
s 
like ‘s’ in “sun”
t 
like ‘t’ in “top”
w 
like ‘w’ in “weight”
y 
like ‘y’ in “yes” also as ‘y’ in “possibly”

. . . Cebuano phrasebook . . .

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. . . Cebuano phrasebook . . .

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