Sunday, March 17, 2013

Of Letters W's and J's

I grew up and I identify myself to a small nucleus of Leyteño speaking relatives. And though we can claim a true blue Leyteño identity because our grandparents are pure Leyteño by blood, we are slowly missing a distinct mark of our Leyteñlanguage into homogeneity. We should know that we are distinct from that of another regional variation called Cebuano.

One might say that the difference between Cebuano and Leyteño is not that striking that both languages can be mutually intelligible. True, but there is something distinct about Leyteño that sets it apart from Cebuano.

The differences lie mostly in phonology. One is, when speaking, a pure Leyteño tends to replace the Cebuano letters L with W; and Y with J. Although there are many exceptions to it, this usually happens when letters L or Y is between two vowels.

For example, the Cebuano "bulak" becomes Leyteño "buwak" which both refers the same as flower. Another is the Cebuano "sulayi" turns Leyteño "sulaji" which both means to try. Here some other examples to the best of my knowledge:

pula - puwa (red in color)
ulan - uwan (rain)
bulad - buwad (to dry)
ilalom - ilawom (under or beneath)
bola - bowa (a ball)
sulat - suwat (a letter)
kalot - kawot (to scratch)
tigulang - tiguwang (old)
bulag - buwag (blind)
dula - duwa (to play)

maayo - maajo (good)
buyog - bujog (a bee)
kuyaw - kujaw (amazing)
gayud - gajud (an intensifier)
bayad - bajad (payment)
kuyap - kujap (to faint)
bayi - baji ( a woman)
bayaan - bajaan (to leave)
siya - sija (pronoun he or she)
kabayo - kabajo (a horse)

Fourth or fifth generations like mine would struggle to find these Leyteñwords either by natural inability or sheer laziness. Nowadays when I hear people speaking with W's and J's between vowels, I seem to feel nostalgic. I can hear the voices of my grandparents back the old days talking to me. Yet, nobody, if not a few like me, cares that much to preserve these words.

Leyteño, anyone still speaking?


  1. nabasa na gyud nako neph, hahahahhaa...natototo kana ha, hahahahaha.... murag di na kaayo ko kadungog ug leyteño nga pulong neph, sila lola inday ra man gani to nimu ug akong lola nga tiya ni lola nimu, mama sa akong mama ang akong madunggan mulitok anang mga pulunga....heheheheh nice one neph..thanks for sharing

  2. Hi, I stumbled upon this blog looking up the difference between bulak and buwak. I grew up in Cebu and was just looking at a guide to cebuano when one of the phrases translated flower to "bulak". I've always used "buwak" growing up--maybe it's a cebu city thing and the rest of the province use bulak. So looking at your list it seems that leyteno and cebuano (city) is the same in using w over the l.

    cebuano- cebuano (city) - leyteno
    bulak - buwak - buwak
    pula - puwa - puwa (red in color)
    ulan - uwan - uwan (rain)
    bulad - buwad - buwad (to dry)
    ilalom - ilawom - ilawom (under or beneath)
    bola - bola - bowa (a ball)
    sulat - suwat - suwat (a letter)
    kalot - kawot - kawot (to scratch)
    tigulang - tiguwang - tiguwang (old)
    bulag - buwag - buwag (blind)
    dula - duwa - duwa (to play)
    sulayi - suwayi - sulaji
    maayo - maayo - maajo (good)
    buyog - buyog - bujog (a bee)
    kuyaw - kuyaw - kujaw (amazing)
    gayud - gyud - gajud (an intensifier)
    bayad - bayad - bajad (payment)
    kuyap - kuyap - kujap (to faint)
    bayi - bayi - baji ( a woman)
    bayaan - bayaan - bajaan (to leave)
    siya - siya - sija (pronoun he or she)
    kabayo - kabayo - kabajo (a horse

    1. Thanks for the great input, someone! :)


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