Syllabication of Filipino Words

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Syllabication of Filipino Words

SYLLABICATION OF FILIPINO WORDS

A syllable is one unit of sound that forms the whole or part of a word. In Filipino, a syllable is called pantig and the syllabication of a word is called pagpapantig. When syllabicating words, syllables are separated by a middle dot called the interpunct (•) which is also called the interpoint, middot, or centered dot.

Syllable Forms
A syllable may be comprised of one vowel alone but a consonant needs a vowel to make a syllable. Syllables with two or more letters can have only one vowel. However, a syllable can have one or more consonants. The Filipino word for vowel is patinig (symbol: P) and the word for consonant is katinig (symbol: K).

The table below shows the different forms of Filipino syllables and same examples of Filipino words with those types of syllables.

Syllable Form

Examples (in bold)

P ako (a·ko), edad (e·dad), i·sa (i·sa), noo (no·o), oso (o·so), ubo (u·bo)
KP ba·ka (ba·ka), dugo (du·go), relo (re·lo), si·la (si·la)
PK akda (ak·da), isda (is·da), ugnay (ug·nay), uod (u·od)
KPK aklat (aklat), bundok (bun·dok),  dahon (da·hon), isip (i·sip)
KKP bloke (blo·ke), braso (bra·so), droga (dro·ga), gripo (gri·po), plato (pla·to)
PKK abstrak (abs·trak), ekstra (eks·tra)
KPKK disk, fern, gibmefayb (gib·me·fayb)1, iskeyt (is·keyt), isport (is·port), keyk, kontest (kon·test), nars, test
KKPK blangko (blang·ko)2, brilyo (bril·yo), dyip, dyakpat (dyak·pat)3, ekspres (eks·pres), ispred (is·pred), isprey (is·prey), kyut, plastik (plas·tik), playwud (play·wud), prinsesa (prin·se·sa), swak, trak, tren, tsek, tres, trangkaso (trang·ka·so)2, tsamba (tsam·ba), tsismis (tsis·mis)
KKPKK bleyd, breyk, breyslet (breys·let), treynta (treyn·ta), tsart
KKPKKK shorts

1 From the English expression ”Give me five!” (Yes, this is in the UP dictionary.)
2ng is one consonant
3From the English word “jackpot”

Rules in Syllabicating Filipino Words
Listed below are the rules in syllabicating Filipino words as recommended by the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) in its document entitled Ortograpiyang Pambansa (2013), which is attached to the Department of Education Order No. 34, s. 2013.

Ortography refers to the part of language study concerned with letters and spelling. It also refers to writing words with the correct letters and with accordance to standard or accepted usage.

1. A syllable may be comprised of one vowel alone but a consonant needs a vowel to make a syllable. Syllables with two or more letters can have only one vowel. However, a syllable can have one or more consonants.

Examples: ako (a•ko), sila (si•la), ulam (u•lam), baul (baul), almusal (al•mu•sal)

2. If there are two or more consecutive vowels in a word, the vowels are separated into different syllables. These consecutive vowels may appear at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a word.

Examples: aagaw (aa•gaw), uulan (uu•lan), alaala (a•laa•la), asotea (a•so•tea), baunan (bau•nan), loob (loob), tuon (tuon), babae (ba•bae), noo (noo), totoo (to•too), buo (buo)

3. If there are two consecutive consonants in a word, the first consonant joins the vowel before it in one syllable. The second consonant becomes part of the next syllable.

Examples: ambon (ambon), pinggan (pinggan), madre (madre), tigre (tigre), serbisyo (serbisyo), iskolar (isko•lar), istorya (istorya)

4. If there are three different consecutive consonants somewhere in the middle of a word, the first two consonants join the vowel before them in one syllable. The third consonant becomes part of the next syllable.

Examples: breyslet (breyslet), transportasyon (transpor•tas•yon), inspirasyon (inspi•ras•yon), ekskursiyon (ekskur•si•yon), eksperimento (ekspe•ri•men•to)

5. If there are three consecutive consonants somewhere in the middle of a word, and the first consonant is m or n and the next two consonants are any of the consonant clusters bl, br, dr, pl, or tr, then the m or n joins the vowel before it in one syllable and the consonant cluster becomes part of the next syllable.

Examples: sum•bre•ro (sumbre•ro), miyembro (mi•yembro), balandra (ba•landra), timpla (timpla), simple (simple), ehemplo (e•hemplo), kompleto (komple•to), kontrata (kontra•ta), entrada (entra•da), entrega (entre•ga), Intramuros (Intra•mu•ros)

6. If there are four consecutive consonants somewhere in the middle of a word, the first two consonants join the vowel before them in a syllable. The last two consonants become part of the next syllable.

Examples: abstrak (abstrak), ekstra (ekstra), ekspres (ekspres), eksklusibo (eksklu•si•bo), eksplorasyon (eksplo•ras•yon), ekstremidad (ekstre•mi•dad), transkripsiyon (transkrip•si•yon)

Before I continue, I would just like to add that some Filipinos make the mistake of breaking up the letter ng into two consonants. Remember that ng is considered to be one letter in the Filipino alphabet; it is a consonant. It may appear at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a word. It cannot be separated into the consonants n and g, and thus cannot be separated into two different syllables.

Examples: ngipin (ngi•pin), bango (ba•ngo), mangga (mang•ga), bulong (bu•long)

It is also important to note that there are Filipino words that have n and g next to each other but it is not the letter ng. The key is in knowing how the word is pronounced.

Changes in Syllabicating Filipino Words
The discussion that follows attempts to show how the syllabication of some Filipino words would be changed if the above rules were followed. I will compare how some Filipino words were syllabicated in the 2010 Edition of the UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino and how they should be syllabicated according to the above rules of the Ortograpiyang Pambansa (2013).

Note that the above syllabication rules first appeared in a document by the KWF entitled Gabay sa Ortograpiya ng Wikang Filipino, which was attached to DepEd Order No. 104, s. 2009 and implemented by the DepEd since then. Since the UP dictionary was released a year after (2010), it would be understandable that these new syllabication rules were not applied to some words in the dictionary.

a.  A consonant cluster or consonant blend is a sequence of consonants without a vowel and wherein each consonant sound is heard when the word is pronounced. Examples of consonants clusters in Flipino are bl, br, dr, gr, pl, and pr.

Some Filipino words have two consecutive consonants (somewhere in the middle of a word) that look like a consonant cluster. Now it would seem that these consonant clusters are not separated into two consonants in different syllables. The consonant cluster would join a vowel or other letters in one syllable.

Since there are no specific syllabication rules on words with two-letter consonant clusters in the middle of the word, such words would have to fall under rule 3 above (words with two consecutive consonants).

The table below shows the comparison between the syllabication of words with consonant clusters in the UP Filipino dictionary and if rule 3 of the Ortograpiyang Pambansa were followed.

Consonant cluster Filipino word 2010 UP Diksiyornaryong Filipino 2013 Ortograpiyang Pambansa
bl problema pro·ble·ma prob·le·ma
kable ka·ble kab·le
terible te·ri·ble te·rib·le
responsable res·pon·sa·ble res·pon·sab·le
br kobra ko·bra kob·ra
sobra so·bra sob·ra
sobre so·bre sob·re
dr madrasa ma·dra·sa mad·ra·sa
kompadre kom·pa·dre kom·pad·re
gr programa pro·gra·ma prog·ra·ma
telegrama te·le·gra·ma te·leg·ra·ma
sagrado sa·gra·do sag·ra·do
krusigrama kru·si·gra·ma kru·sig·ra·ma
kr burukrasya bu·ru·kras·ya bu·ruk·ras·ya
demokrasya de·mo·kras·ya de·mok·ras·ya
pl eroplano e·ro·pla·no e·rop·la·no
multiplikasyon mul·ti·pli·kas·yon mul·tip·li·kas·yon
pr   apritada pri·ta·da ap·ri·ta·da
aprobado pro·ba·do ap·ro·ba·do
kapritso ka·prtso kap·rit·so
tr atraso tra·so at·ra·so
teatro te·a·tro te·at·ro
salitre sa·li·tre sa·lit·re
buwitre bu·wi·tre bu·wit·re
ts kotse ko·tse kot·se
litson li·tson lit·son
litsugas li·tsu·gas lit·su·gas

b.  Two consecutive consonants in some Filipino words look like a consonant cluster but they are separated into two different syllables and are therefore not considered to be a consonant cluster. In these cases, syllabication rule 3 of the Ortograpiyang Pambansa applies.

Not a consonant cluster Filipino word 2010 UP Diksiyornaryong Filipino and 2013 Ortograpiyang Pambansa
b-l tabla tab·la
hibla hib·la
Abril Ab·ril
b-r abrelata ab·re·la·ta
libre lib·re
libro lib·ro
d-r madrasta mad·ras·ta
madre mad·re
padre pad·re
d-y orkidya or·kid·ya
g-r agrabyado ag·rab·ya·do
agrikultura ag·ri·kul·tu·ra
tigre tig·re
integridad in·teg·ri·dad
k-r sekreto sek·re·to
sekretarya sek·re·tar·ya
p-r kopra kop·ra
t-r letra let·ra
litrato lit·ra·to
litro lit·ro
t-s itsa it·sa
otso ot·so
otsenta ot·sen·ta
atsara at·sa·ra
atsuwete at·su·we·te
kutsara kut·sa·ra
kutsero kut·se·ro
kutsilyo kut·sil·yo
kutsinta kut·sin·ta
kutson kut·son
titser tit·ser

c. There are some Filipino words with three consecutive consonants which do not seem to follow the syllabication rule 4 or 5 stated above. For example, if the last two consonants is a consonant cluster, it seems that the first consonant joins the vowel before it in a syllable and the consonant cluster becomes part of the next syllable.

The table below shows the comparison between the syllabication of words with consonant clusters in the UP Filipino dictionary and if rule 4 of the Ortograpiyang Pambansa were followed.

Filipino word 2010 UP Diksiyornaryong Filipino 2013 Ortograpiyang Pambansa
doktrina dok·tri·na dokt·ri·na
elektrikal e·lek·tri·kal e·lekt·ri·kal
martsa mar·tsa mart·sa
kongkreto kong·kre·to kongk·re·to
iskrin is·krin isk·rin
eskrima es·kri·ma esk·ri·ma
ispred is·pred isp·red
estranghero es·trang·he·ro est·rang·he·ro
estratehiya es·tra·te·hi·ya est·ra·te·hi·ya
istroberi is·tro·be·ri ist·ro·be·ri
istrikto is·trik·to ist·rik·to
distrito dis·tri·to dist·ri·to
instrumento ins·tru·men·to inst·ru·men·to
orkestra or·kes·tra or·kest·ra
sastre sas·tre sast·re
ministro mi·nis·tro mi·nist·ro
rehistro re·his·tro re·hist·ro

If we apply syllabication rule 4 to words with consonant clusters such as those in the table above, the pronunciation of the words would sound a bit awkward. Many Filipinos tend to pronounce these words as they are syllabicated in the UP dictionary.

d. Filipino words with other consonant clusters (such as gr and pr) that follow the letters m or n would not fall under rule 5 but would have to fall under rule 4. The two consonants in the consonant cluster would be separated into different syllables.

The table below shows the comparison between the syllabication of words with consonant clusters in the UP Filipino dictionary and if rule 4 of the Ortograpiyang Pambansa were followed.

Filipino word 2010 UP Diksiyornaryong Filipino 2013 Ortograpiyang Pambansa
imprenta im·pren·ta imp·ren·ta
impresyon im·pres·yon imp·res·yon
impraestruktura im·pra·es·truk·tu·ra imp·ra·est·ruk·tu·ra
ingrato in·gra·to ing·ra·to
ingreso in·gre·so ing·re·so
Kongreso Kon·gre·so Kong·re·so

Because the Department of Education endorses the use of the Ortograpiyang Pambansa, the syllabication of the words under this column would be considered correct unless the effect of consonant clusters on the pronunciation of words was overlooked and therefore not included in the syllabication rules.

If you see an error in what I’ve just posted, please feel free to leave a comment below.

I’ll be making and posting worksheets on syllabicating Filipino words soon.

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3 thoughts on “Syllabication of Filipino Words

  1. Pingback: Pagpapantig Worksheets | Samut-samot

  2. Does it mean Ortograpiya should be the one to use in syllabication of words or both are accepted or both are correct?

    • Hi, Sherryl! If you want to be technical about it, the Ortograpiya should be followed because it is endorsed by the Department of Education. For cases where there are three consecutive consonants (see the table in Item c in my discussion), I would accept both as correct if I were a teacher, but I am not. The syllabication in the UP Diksiyonaryo is what I favor because that is how most people would pronounce them.

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