11 Shocking Hard-To-Pronounce Tagalog Words

Have you ever found yourself stumbling over the pronunciation of new words while learning a language? It’s a common speed bump on the road to fluency. And, Tagalog is no stranger to these linguistic loop-de-loops. Like tongue twisters you never saw coming, this language has some surprising hard-to-pronounce Tagalog words that will have your mouth doing gymnastics. In this post, we’ll highlight eleven Tagalog words that will catch you off-guard with their unexpected pronunciation challenges.

Now, you might think that learning the Tagalog language solely involves memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules. But let’s be honest. Some words are trickier to pronounce than others. This presents a fun challenge for those of us eager to master the local lingo. So, we’ve put together a list of these linguistic hurdles to give you a head start. Think of it as a delightful challenge. And, get ready to stretch your pronunciation skills as we dive into these 11 hard-to-pronounce Tagalog words. And rest assured, with a bit of practice, you’ll be pronouncing these words like a local in no time!

What Are The Hard-To-Pronounce Tagalog Words

Learning the pronunciation of Filipino words is not that hard. They are too straightforward. But of course, for a non-native speaker, there are hard-to-pronounce words. Here are some hard-to-pronounce Tagalog words and their English translations that you can use when conversing with your Filipino friends.

Most Disturbing – Pinakanakapagpapabagabag-damdamin

If the longest word English word is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, in the Filipino language, it is pinakanakapagpapabagabag-damdamin. It is one of the most tongue-twisting words and can be difficult to pronounce for English beginners.

The word is formed using a common way of creating superlatives in Tagalog, using “pinaka-” (the most) followed by a descriptor. The suffix “-damdamin” is often used to refer to feelings or emotions. Thus, you get a superlative description of ‘the most disturbing’.

Example Sentence: The death of Maria Clara is one of the most emotionally disturbing scene in the novel El Filibusterismo. (Ang pagkamatay ni Maria Clara ang isa sa pinakanakapagpapabagabag-damdamin sa nobelang El Filibusterismo.)

Worrisome – Nakakapagpabagabag

English is filled with long words that can tie our tongues in knots, words like “antidisestablishmentarianism” or “incomprehensibilities.” But did you know that in the Tagalog language, such terrifying tongue twisters also exist?

The word nakakapagpabagabag is one of the famous tongue twisters in the Filipino language. But did you know that it’s just an adjective. This Filipino word means ” worrisome.” It is also one of the Filipino words that are hard to pronounce. That’s why you rarely hear Filipinos using it in daily conversations.

Example Sentence: What you did is very worrisome. (Nakakapágpabagabag ang ginawa mo.)

Twinkling – Kumukutikutitap

If the stars could talk, they might just be able to pronounce our next challenging Tagalog word: “Kumukutikutitap”. Yes, it’s a mouthful, isn’t it? The Tagalog word kumukutikutitap describes something twinkling, like the twinkle of stars or the flicker of Christmas lights.

Example Sentence: The star is twinkling in the sky. (Kumukutikutitap ang mga bituin sa langit.)

Amazing – Kagila-gilalas

Kagila-gilalas is one of the deep Filipino words to describe the astounding feeling you feel. It came from the word gilalas, which means “astonishment or amazement.” So, kagila-gilalas translates to amazing in English. But pronunciation can be quite a challenge. Even native Tagalog speakers might have a difficult time with this one!

Example Sentence: The talents that Filipinos show to the world today are amazing. (Kagilagilalas ang mga talentong ipinakita ng mga Pilipinon sa mundo.)

Rumbling – Dumadagundong

You know that feeling when a thunderstorm approaches, and you can feel the vibrations of the rumbling thunder under your feet and through your bones? In Tagalog, there’s an exact word for that: Dumadagundong. Its English translation is “rumbling, or a make a deep and loud sound.” It usually describes a loud or rumbling sound like thunder, explosion, and more.

Dumadagundong is one of those Tagalog words that’ll make you sound like a true language maestro once you nail it. But oh boy, isn’t it a bit of a tongue twister? But don’t worry because language learning tools like the Ling app can do the magic for you. This app is downloadable on your Apple and Android devices!

Example Sentence: I heard the rumbling thunder. (Narinig ko ang dumadagundong na kulog.)

Hard-to-Pronounce Tagalog Words Ling App Rumbling

Commercial – Patalastas

Next on the list of hard-to-pronounce Tagalog words is patalastas. This word means “commercial” in English. It’s a staple in everyday Tagalog conversations, especially when discussing the latest trends splashed across your TV screen or streaming on your devices. Moreover, it’s one of the hardest Tagalpg words to pronounce because of the letters used. If you find it hard to pronounce it, just pronounce it by syllables first.

Example Sentence: Donny Pangilinan and Belle Mariano have a lot of commercials today. (Maraming patalastas ngayon sina Donny Pangilinan at Belle Mariano.)

Going down? – Bababa ba?

You might find it hard to believe, but this is actually a sentence in the Filipino language that means “Going down? or Are we going down?”. It came from the word “baba,” which means “down” the one syllable of ba, added in the beginning, is used to indicate that the action is yet to happen (future tense). Lastly, the word “ba” is a particle added to phrases when asking a question.

Example Sentence: Are we going down? I’ll just get my things. (Bababa ba? Kukunin ko muna ang gamit ko.)

Flower – Bulaklak

Is there anything not to love about flowers? Their vibrant colors, intoxicating scents, and the way they brighten up any living space – it’s no wonder we’re drawn to them. But for those just dipping their toes into the world of Tagalog, we have one flower-related word that might have you stuttering: Bulaklak.

Even if it is only a short word, it is still one of the hardest words to pronounce in the Filipino language. The word bulaklak is the Filipino word for the English word “flower”. It is pronounced fast with no pause or stop between syllables.

Example Sentence: Buy flowers on Valentine’s Day. (Bumili ka ng bulaklak sa Araw ng mg Puso.)

Unbelievable – Di kapani-paniwala

Think of that jaw-dropping moment when you first saw the pristine beaches of the Philippines or heard the impossible notes of a particularly well-sung kundiman. That feeling of awe, of sheer wonder—that’s di kapani-paniwala. The word “‘di kapani-paniwala” means “unbelievable” in English. The hyphen between “kapani” and “paniwala” is used to separate words that are being repeated. It also indicates a partial stop or a pause in pronunciation.

Example Sentence: The success we hoped for is unbelievable. (Di kapani-paniwala ang naging tagumpay ng ating hinahangad.)

Those – Mga

Mga is a Tagalog particle that pluralizes count nouns. And this word is surprisingly hard to pronounce. If you look at it, you might not have any idea how to pronounce it because it is composed of two consonants consecutively and a vowel. It was originally spelled as manga, but with the development of the Filipino language, it was changed to the shortened version “mga”. A lot of foreigners are finding it hard to pronounce this particle.

Example Sentence: Those Filipinos are naturally helpful. (Ang mga Pilipino ay likas na matulungin.)

Of – Ng

The last word is similar to the previous one. It is composed of only two consonants with no vowels. That’s why it is a mystery to pronounce it if you’re not a Filipino. The word Ng (pronounced as ‘nang’), equivalent to the English word ‘of,’ is a vital bridge in many Tagalog sentences.

To pronounce it correctly, you want to merge the N and G sounds almost simultaneously. Begin by saying the word “sing.” Notice that lingering “ng” sound at the end? It’s the same sound! That nasal vibe that resonates at the back of your throat is your target.

Example Sentence: This is the beginning of the movie. (Ito ang simula ng pelikula.)

Hard-to-Pronounce Tagalog Words Ling App Filipino words

Conquer Hard-To-Pronounce Tagalog Words

Learning to say hard-to-pronounce Tagalog words can feel like going through a maze with unexpected twists and turns. But, each time you get a word right, you are one step closer to becoming closer to the amazing Filipino culture. Mistakes are just a normal part of learning, like how children fall before learning to walk. Focus on enjoying the learning process and soon, those once hard-to-pronounce words will become easy for you to say.

Think about how proud you were when you could finally say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” perfectly. It will feel the same when you master these 11 Tagalog words that seem hard at first. Being patient and practicing often will not only help you pronounce these words but will also let you become a part of a world that values understanding and connecting with others.

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