Kapampangan language

Kapampangan language

region=Central Luzon
speakers=2.4 million
fam4=Central Luzon
script=Latin (Iindigenized or Spanish variant);
"Historically written in Baybayin"
nation=Regional language in the Philippines
agency=Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
(Commission on the Filipino Language)

Kapampangan is one of the major languages of the Philippines. The language is also called "Pampango", "Capampañgan", "Pampangueño", and "Amanung Sisuan". The latter literally means "breastfed language" and is analogous to the term "native language."


The word Kapampangan is derived from the rootword "pampang" which means "river bank."

Very little is known about the language prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.

In the 18th century, two books were written by Fr. Diego Bergaño. He authored "Vocabulario de la lengua Pampanga"Bergaño] and "Arte de la lengua Pampanga".

The Kapampangan Language produced two literary giants in the 19th century. Father Anselmo Fajardo was noted for his works "Gonzalo de Córdova" and "Comedia Heróica de la Conquista de Granada". Another writer, Juan Crisostomo Soto, was noted for writing many plays. He authored "Alang Dios" in 1901. The Kapampangan poetical joust "Crissotan" was coined by his fellow literary genius Nobel Prize nominee for peace and literature in the 50's, Amado Yuzon to immortalize his contribution to Pampanga's Literature. Currently, the use of Kapampangan, even in areas where the language has traditionally been spoken, is in decline. [In many gatherings Kapampangans seem more confident and articulate in exchanging views and ideas among their own K [abalen] ‘countrymen’ ... in Tagalog than they would in their own [mother tongue] . For instance, many Catholic priests are now delivering their homilies in the Tagalog language during a Kapampangan liturgy while high school student meetings are conducted in the Tagalog language even if all the participants are Kapampangans. http://www.silinternational.org/asia/philippines/ical/papers/pangilinan-Dispute%20on%20Orthography.pdf]


Kapampangan is a Northern Philippine language within the Austronesian language family.

The position of Kapampangan among the Northern Philippine language family is not clear. It's been grouped by SIL as a member of the geographically disjointed Bashiic-Central Luzon-Northern Mindoro language subfamily. This includes languages like Ivatan (spoken north of Luzon), Yami (spoken on Orchid Island, near the southeast coast of Taiwan, and closely related to Ivatan), and Iraya of the island of Mindoro.

Kapampangan's closest relatives are the Sambal languages of Zambales province and the Bolinao language spoken in the town of Bolinao, Pangasinan.

Most, if not all, of these languages share the same reflex of the Proto-Austronesian consonant *R, which is /j/ in those languages.

Geographic distribution

Kapampangan is primarily spoken in the provinces of Pampanga and in the southern towns of the province of Tarlac (Bamban, Capas, Concepcion, San Jose, Gerona, La Paz, and Tarlac City). It is also spoken in isolated communities within the provinces of Bataan (Abucay, Dinalupihan, Hermosa, and Samal), Bulacan (Plaridel, Pulilan, and Calumpit), Nueva Ecija (Cabiao, San Isidro, Gapan City, Cabanatuan City), Zambales (Olongapo and Subic) and the city of Manila.

The Philippine Census of 2000 stated that a total of 2,312,870 out of 76,332,470 people spoke Kapampangan as their native language.


Standard Kapampangan has 21 phonemes: 15 consonants and five vowels. Some western dialects of Kapampangan have six vowels. Syllable structure is relatively simple. Each syllable contains at least a consonant and a vowel.


Kapampangan is complete in vowel phonemes, they are:

*IPA|/a/ an open front unrounded vowel similar to English "father"
*IPA|/ɛ/ an open-mid front unrounded vowel similar to English "bed"
*IPA|/i/ a close front unrounded vowel similar to English "machine"
*IPA|/o/ a close-mid back rounded vowel similar to English "forty"
*IPA|/u/ a close back rounded vowel similar to English "flute"

In addition to those, some dialects also had IPA|/ə/. In some western accents, there is a sixth monophthong phoneme IPA|/ɯ/, a close back unrounded vowel, found in for example IPA| [atɯp] "roof" and IPA| [lalɯm] "deep". However, this sound has merged with IPA|/a/ for most Kapampangan speakers.

There are four main diphthongs; IPA|/aɪ/, IPA|/oɪ/, IPA|/aʊ/, and IPA|/iʊ/. However, in most dialects, including standard Kapampangan, IPA|/aɪ/ and IPA|/aʊ/ are reduced to IPA|/ɛ/ and IPA|/o/, respectively.

The monophthongs have allophones in unstressed and word-final positions:

*IPA|/a/ is raised slightly in unstressed positions except final syllables
*Unstressed IPA|/i u/ are usually pronounced IPA| [ɪ ʊ] as in English "bit" and "book" respectively, except final syllables.
*At the end of a word and declarative sentences, IPA|/ɛ/ and IPA|/i/ are pronounced IPA| [i] , and IPA|/o/ and IPA|/u/ are pronounced IPA| [u] .
*However, in exclamatory and interogatory statements, IPA|/ɛ/ and IPA|/i/ are pronounced IPA| [ɛ] , and IPA|/o/ and IPA|/u/ are pronounced IPA| [o] . Examples:
**"What is this?" is "Nanu ine?", not *"Nanu ini?"
**"Come here!" is "Me kene!", not *"Me keni!"
**"Who is Pedro?" is "Ninu i Pedro?", not *"Ninu i Pedru?"
**"(He) wrote me!" is "Silatanan na ko!", not *"Silatanan na ku!"


Below is a chart of Kapampangan consonants. All the stops are unaspirated. The velar nasal occurs in all positions including at the beginning of a word.

Unlike other Philippine languages, Kapampangan lacks the phoneme /h/.


Sinulat ku.
"I wrote."

Silatanan na ku.
"(He or She) wrote me."

Dinatang ya.
"(He or She) has arrived." [Note: Dinatang ya = "He arrived" or "He arrives"; He has arrived = Dinatang ne]

Sabyan me kaku.
"Tell me it." [I don't know how to explain this; more proper translation is: tell it to me or to some effect "advise me"}

Ninu ing minaus keka?
"Who called you?

Mamasa la.
"They are reading."

Mamangan la ring babi?/Mamangan la ding babi?
"Are the pigs eating?" (literally: "Eating they the pigs?")

Genitive pronouns follow the word they modify. Oblique pronouns can take the place of the genitive pronoun but they precede the word they modify.

Ing bale ku.
Ing kakung bale.
"My house."

The dual pronoun "ikata" refers to only the first and second persons.

The inclusive pronoun "ikatamu" refers to the first and second persons. It may also refer to a third person(s).

The exclusive pronoun "ikamí" refers to the first and third persons but excludes the second.

Ala tang nasi.
"We (you and I) do not have rice." [the word "you" here maybe plural or singular]

Ala tamung nasi.
"We (you and I and someone else) do not have rice." [this is the same as above; "tang" is only a shortcut of "tamung"]

Ala keng nasi.
"We (someone else and I, but not you) do not have rice." [the third person maybe singular or plural, that is, "we" may refer to "He/She and I" or "They and I"]

Furthermore, Kapampangan stands out among many Philippine languages in requiring the presence of the pronoun even if the noun it represents, or the grammatical antecedent, is present.

Dinatang ya i Erning. (not *"dinatang i Erning")
"Ernie arrived."

Mamasa la ri Maria at Juan./Mamasa la di Maria at Juan. (not *"mamasa ri Maria at Juan/mamasa di Maria at Juan")
"Maria and Juan are reading."

Silatanan na kang José. (not *"silatanan kang José")
"José wrote you."

As a comparison, it would be akin to saying *"dumating siya si Erning", *"bumabasa sila sina Maria at Juan" and *"sinulatan ka niya ni José" in Tagalog.

Special forms

The pronouns "ya" and "la" have special forms when they are used in conjunction with the words "ati" (there is/are) and "ala" (there is/are not).

Ati yu king Pampanga. (not *"Ati ya king Pampanga")
"He is in Pampanga."

Ala lu ring doktor keni./Ala lu ding doktor keni. (not *"ala la ring doktor keni/ala la ding doktor keni")
The doctors are no longer here.

Note: for some speakers of Kapampangan (possibly certain dialects), all of the above forms can be used:
Both "ati yu" and "ati ya" are equally right. Plural form ("they are") is "atilu" and "atila".
Both "ala la" and "ala lu" are correct in the plural form. Singular form is "ala ya" and "ala yu"

Pronoun combinations

The order and forms in which Kapampangan pronouns appear in sentences are outlined in the following chart.

Kapampangan pronouns follow a certain order following verbs or particles like negation words. The enclitic pronoun is always first followed by another pronoun or discourse marker.

Ikit da ka.
"I saw you."

Silatanan na ku.
"He wrote to me."

However, the following constructions are incorrect: *"ikit ka da" and *"silatanan ku na"

Also, pronouns combine to form one portmanteau pronoun.

Ikit ke. (instead of "Ikit ku ya")
"I saw her."

Dinan kong pera. (instead of "Dinan ku lang pera.)
"I will give them money." [Actually "Dinan ku la..." is correct; "kong..." is a shortcut of "ku lang..."]

Portmanteau pronouns are not usually used in questions and while using the word "naman". Furthermore,

Akakit me? (instead of "akakit me?")
Do you see him?

Buri nya naman yan/buri ne murin yan. (instead of "buri ne naman yan")
he likes that, too

The chart below outlines the permitted combinations of pronouns. There are blank entries to denote combinations which are deemed impossible.

The column headings (i.e., yaku, ika, etc.) in bold denote pronouns in the absolutive case while the row headings (i.e., ku, mu, etc.) denote pronouns in the ergative case.

Enclitic Particles

1. ba: used optionally in yes-and-no questions and other types of questions.
2. daw/raw: reporting or hearsay particle that expresses that the information is second-hand; he said, she said, they said, it was said, allegedly, reportedly, supposedly.
3. din/rin: inclusive particle that adds something to what was said before; also, too.
4. iká: expresses hope, unrealized condition (with verb in completed aspected), used in conditional aspects.
5. itá: expresses uncertainty and unrealized idea; perhaps, probably, seems.
6. kahit, man: even, even if, even though.
7. kung: condition particle that expresses unexpected event; if.
8. lang: limiting particle; only, just.
9. na and pa

*na: now, already, yet, anymore.
*pa: still, else.10. namán: used in making contrasts and softens requests and emphasis.
11. nanu ita: expresses cause; because, because of.
12. ngâ: used in affirmations or emphasis and also softens imperatives; indeed.
13. palá: realization particle that expresses that the speaker has realized and/or suddenly remembered something.
14. po: politeness particle.


To express existence (there is/are) and possession (to have), the word "atí" is used.


There are two negation words: "alí" and "alá."

Alí negates verbs and equations. It means "no" and/or "not".

Alá is the opposite of "atí."

Interrogative Words

Komustá is used to inquire how something is (are). It is frequently used as a greeting meaning "How are you?" It is derived from the Spanish "¿cómo está?".Komustá na ka?
“How are you?”

Komustá ya ing pasyente?
“How is the patient?”

Nanu means "what".

Nanu ya ing gagawan mu?
“What are you doing?”

Ninu means "who".

Ninu la reng lalake?/Ninu la deng lalake?
“Who are those men?”

Ninu i Jennifer?
“Who is Jennifer?”

Nokarin means "where" but is used to inquire about the location of an object and not used with verbs.

Nokarin ya ing drayber?
“Where is the driver?”
Note: "Drayber" is the Kapampangan phonetic spelling of “driver.”

Nokarin ya i Henry?
“Where is Henry?”

Loan words

Kapampangan has a plethora of Spanish loan words, given its more than three hundred years of occupation. Among a few examples are "suerti" from Spanish "suerte" (luck), "kurus" from "cruz" (cross), "karni" from "carne" (meat), and "korsunada" from "corazonada".

Due to the influence of Buddhism and Hinduism from the surrounding islands, Kapampangan also acquired words from Sanskrit. A few examples are:

*"kalma" "fate" from Sanskrit "karma"
*"damla" "divine law" from Sanskrit "dharma"
*"mantala" "magic formulas" from Sanskrit "mantra"
*"upaya" "power" from Sanskrit "upaya"
*"lupa" "face" from Sanskrit "rupa"
*"sabla" "every" from Sanskrit "sarva"
*"lawu" "eclipse" from Sanskrit "rahu"
*"galura" "giant eagle (a surname)" from Sanskrit "garuda"
*"laksina" "south (a surname)" from Sanskrit "dakshin"
*"laksamana" "admiral (a surname)" from Sanskrit "lakshmana"

Kapampangan also contains a lot of Chinese especially from Cantonese and Hokkien. Examples are:

*"ápû" 阿婆 "(maternal) grandmother"
*"impû" 外婆 "(paternal) grandmother'
*"ingkung" 外公 "(paternal) grandfather"
*"atchi" 阿姐 "eldest sister"


ome Common Phrases

*Kumusta ka? - How are you?
*Masalese ku pu. - I'm fine.
*Mayap ku pu. - I'm good.
*Nanung lagyu mu? - What is your name?
*Malagu kang talaga. - You are really beautiful
*Kasanting mu! - You are so handsome!
*Uwa - Yes
*Ali - No
*Me keni (from 'Ume ka keni'). - Come here.
*Kaluguran da ka - I love you, We love you, They love you.
*Tabalu keka - literally "I don't know with you" (expression)
*Eku balu- I don't know
*Mako na ku - I have to go
*Mangan ta na, Mangan tamu-Let us eat now, Let us eat


Traditional Children's Song

Atin ku pung singsing
Metung yang timpukan
Amana ke iti
King indung ibatan [Better = "Kang..."]
Sangkan keng sininup
King metung a kaban
Mewala ya iti,
E ku kamalayan.

Ing sukal ning lub ku
Susukdul king banwa
Pikurus kung gamat [or the active "Mikurus..."]
Babo ning lamesa
Ninu mang manakit
King singsing kung mana
Kalulung pusu ku
Manginu ya keya.

English Translation:

I once had a ring
With a beautiful gem
I inherited this
From my mother
I stored it as well as I could
In a hopebox
But it just suddenly disappeared
I didn't notice.

The heartache inside me
Is as high as the sky
My crossed hands (as I pray)
Are upon the table
Whoever would find
That inherited ring
[Better: My inherited ring] My poor heart (that's aching)
Shall forever worship him/her.

ee also

*Kapampangan people
*The Province of Pampanga
*Languages of the Philippines


*Bautista, Ma. Lourdes S. 1996. An Outline: The National Language and the Language of Instruction. In Readings in Philippine Sociolinguistics, ed. by Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista, 223. Manila: De La Salle University Press, Inc.
*Bergaño, Diego. 1860. Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance. 2nd ed. Manila: Imprenta de Ramirez y Giraudier.
*Castro, Rosalina Icban. 1981. Literature of the Pampangos. Manila: University of the East Press.
*Fernández, Eligío. 1876. Nuevo Vocabulario, ó Manual de Conversaciónes en Español, Tagálo y Pampángo. Binondo: Imprenta de M. Perez
*Gallárdo, José. 1985-86. Magaral Tang Capampangan. Ing Máyap a Balità, ed. by José Gallárdo, May 1985- June 1986. San Fernando: Archdiocese of San Fernando.
*Henson, Mariano A. 1965. The Province of Pampanga and Its Towns: A.D. 1300-1965. 4th ed. revised. Angeles City: By the author.
*Kitano Hiroaki. 1997. Kapampangan. In Facts About The World’s Major Languages, ed. by Jane Garry. New York: H.W. Wilson. Pre-published copy
*Lacson, Evangelina Hilario. 1984. Kapampangan Writing: A Selected Compendium and Critique. Ermita, Manila: National Historical Institute.
*Manlapaz, Edna Zapanta. 1981. Kapampangan Literature: A Historical Survey and Anthology. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Universit Press.
*Panganiban, J.V. 1972. Diksyunaryo-Tesauro Pilipino-Ingles. Quezon City: Manlapaz Publishing Co.
*Pangilinan, Michael Raymon M. 2004. Critical Diacritical. In Kapampangan Magazine, ed. by Elmer G. Cato,32-33, Issue XIV. Angeles City: KMagazine.
*Samson, Venancio. 2004. Problems on Pampango Orthography. In Kapampangan Magazine, ed. by Elmer G. Cato,32-33, Issue XII. Angeles City: KMagazine.
*Tayag, Katoks (Renato). 1985. "The Vanishing Pampango Nation", Recollections and Digressions. Escolta, Manila: Philnabank Club c/o Philippine National Bank.
*Turla, Ernesto C. 1999. Classic Kapampangan Dictionary. Offprint Copy

External links

* [http://www.silinternational.org/asia/philippines/ical/papers/pangilinan-Dispute%20on%20Orthography.pdf#search=%22siuala%22/ 10 ICAL Paper - Issues in Orthography]
* [http://www.sil.org/asia/philippines/ical/papers/pangilinan-Diacritical%20Marks.pdf#search=%22siuala%22/ 10 ICAL Paper - Importance of Diacritical Marks]
* [http://www.silinternational.org/asia/philippines/ical/papers/kitano-Transitivity%20and%20clitics.pdf#search=%22Kapampangan%22/ 10 ICAL Paper - Transitivity & Pronominal Clitic Order]
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=pam Ethnologue]
* [http://language.psy.auckland.ac.nz/austronesian/ Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database]
* [http://www.bansa.org/?q=dictionaries/cmd&dict_lang=Kapampangan Bansa.org Kapampangan Dictionary]
* [http://maxpages.com/lesson Kapampangan in 10 Easy Lessons] NB: uses SÚLAT BACÚLUD or the Spanish-derived Orthography
* [http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/sept/02/yehey/top_stories/20070902top1.html Dying languages]
* [http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/sept/02/yehey/top_stories/20070902top6.html State can still save Kapampangan]

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