Wednesday, March 3, 2010

how my NG is helping my TL

LOL :) Totally random title, I know. Let me explain.

The thought of moving to a new country is daunting, especially if you don't speak the language. Case in point: CHINA. I really don't know how I managed 4 years of the same 4 phrases over and over again - wo ting bu dong (I don't understand), wo bu yao (I don't want), wo mei you qian (I have no money), and wo yao qu (I want to go...). But hey, I survived right? Unfortunately my Mandarin didn't.

So now I find myself in some what of a similar (but not as grave) situation. You might be wondering, "why? you speak Spanish already don't you?" Well yes, not 100% perfect, but I'll give myself a 94%, which is definitely enough to survive. But the Spanish I knew before coming here is Spanish Spanish...from Spain. Huh?

The same way biscuits in England are cookies in America; Spanish vocabulary also changes drastically across the Atlantic. Although I've expanded my word base over the years, I'm still learning. Here are some of my favorites thus far:

chale - no way
chamaco - child
chambear - to work
chaparrito - shorty
chela - beer
compadre / comadre - brother/pal/friend; but usually used to address the godparents of your kids.
desmadre - kinda used to describe a disastrous situation, but I think it's more on the not so polite side (I wouldn't use it when describing an event to your grandma, for example).
guacala - gross / ew.
guey - man/dude
orale - right on; cool.
padre - awesome
sale - that's cool / ok.
tener hueva - feel lazy (again, not the most polite of sayings).

I decided against including the nastier slang (although I definitely have one or two (or three) favorites in that category too!), but you can check out a full list here.

Along with new words of course comes new pronunciations, the most challenging of which (for me) has been the dreaded TL. Most of these are proper names from Nahuatl, the Aztec language still spoken today in Mexico.


I seriously have laughing fits in my attempts to pronounce these words properly, but I've been getting better and better. The other day my gordo was giving me lessons, and quite impressed after he said, "see, your ng has helped your tl".

The NG he is referring to is that very specific sound in Tagalog that only native speakers seem to grasp properly.

ng - of
nga - pressing confirmation, truly, really. Oo nga - Yes, indeed.
hangin - air
ngayon - now
ngipin - tooth
langit - heaven
kulangot - booger

Did you try pronouncing the above? I found this mini-guide that attempts to help:

The Letter NG

This is a single letter in the Filipino alphabet and its sound is not at all foreign to the English speaker. It can be found in words such as “sing” and “hang” etc. The difficulty for non-Filipinos is that the ng sound is often at the beginning of a word or a syllable. Here is a trick to learn this sound. It works as long as you don’t pronounce the word “sing” with a hard g.

Repeat the words “sing along” several times together in a continuous flow:
Sing-along, sing-along, sing-along, etc…

Now remove the last syllable “long” and repeat several times:
Singa, singa, singa, etc…

Now remove the first two letters “si” and repeat several times while making sure that the sound of the letter Y does not creep into your pronunciation.
Nga, nga, nga, etc… 

Now you’ve got it!

Did it work for you?

Maybe with more practice my gordo's tl will eventually help his ng.

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