10 Pinoy Expressions That Can’t Be Translated

Who you gonna call? Batman!

(SPOT.ph) If they have jibberjabber, we have kabalbalan. If they have kummerspeck ("bacon grief"), we have dalamhati. Their warm fuzzies or dokidoki can never measure up to our kilig. Also, it’s better to know gigil than frustration. (Isn’t it frustrating that there’s no direct translation for frustration?)


We suspect that what Antoine de Saint-Exupéry meant to say was that languages are the source of misunderstanding, not just "language is the the source of misunderstanding." Anyone who has ever tried translating anything has had the pleasure of saying hello to a word that doesn’t come with a passport.


Here are 10 Pinoy expressions that lose their charm when approximated in another language.


Also read:

Salvage and 20 Other Philippinenglish Words: A Non-Definitive List
Glossary of Confusing Pinoy Expressions

15 Words We No Longer Use
10 Popular Pinoy Profanities



1. Wala sa bundok ko niyan

What it means: Said when one is feeling rather incompetent and would like to humbly ask for help or when encountering something completely foreign.


In a sentence: "Paano ba gumamit nito? Wala sa bundok ko nito eh."


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2. Kinakain ako (nang buhay)

What it means: The object is a monster that preys on ignorance, e.g., a new phone with more features than you can handle.

In a sentence: "Pina-try sa akin 'yong Google glass, nakakahiya. Hindi ako marunong gumamit, kinain ako nang buhay."




3. 19-kopongkopong

What it means: A very, very long time ago. Very, very.

In a sentence: "Sino pa ba gumagamit ng salitang 'to? Galing pa 'tong 19-kopongkopong."



4. Bahala na si Batman!

What it means: Loosely related to the phrase "f*ck it," but instead of throwing caution to the wind, you entrust your faith on a very specific (but still very fictional) superhero.

In a sentence: "Instant trip to Tagaytay at wala kang dalang kahit ano? Bahala na si Batman!"


Balding head photo from www.goodenoughmother.com



5. Tanong mo sa lelang mong panot

What it means: Please ask this unidentified fictional character, because she's the only one who gives a damn.

In a sentence: "Gusto mong malaman bakit tayo nag-break? Tanong mo sa lelang mong panot."


6. Mukha mo

What it means: Literally, your face. An expression of disbelief, a calling out of BS...so maybe this means your face is dung.

In a sentence: "You think you can beat me? Mukha mo."



Baby photo from imunsinkable.com


7. Anak ng teteng

What it means: An exclamation that expresses mild annoyance.

In a sentence: "Anak ng teteng naman, sabi ko cheese, kinuha mo butter."



8. Isa't kalahating tanga

What it means: You're (excessively) stupid. (Similar to "half-wit" but instead of having less wit, you have a lot of dumb.)

In a sentence: "Kung hindi ka pa naman isa't kalahating tanga, bakit kasi diniligan mo 'yong cactus?"




9. Sasapatusin kita

What it means: I'm going to (slap you with / throw a) shoe (at) you.

In a sentence: "Huwag kang makasat, sasapatusin kita."



10. Huli ka balbon

What it means: You've been caught, (you unusually hairy person). Sometimes used even when not addressing a hairy person.

In a sentence: "Akala ko nasa bahay ka lang kagabi? Huli ka balbon!"


Also read:

Salvage and 20 Other Philippinenglish Words: A Non-Definitive List
Glossary of Confusing Pinoy Expressions

15 Words We No Longer Use
10 Popular Pinoy Profanities


Writer’s note: This post has been updated on July 24, changing Kinain ng buhay to Kinain nang buhay. As a handy guide, we would like to share that the longer "nang" is used when it precedes a verb, an adjective, or an adverb, and when it is the first word in a sentence. Otherwise, the shorter "ng" is used.


A reader in the comments would also like to point out that lelang is the Tagalog word for grandmother, which is why the article used the female third person pronoun to refer to a vague female ancestor of unknown identity. No changes were made.

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