Kapampangan language

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Spoken in: Philippines 
Region: Central Luzon
Total speakers: 2.4 million
Language family:
   Central Luzon
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: pam
ISO 639-3: pam

Kapampangan is one of the thirteen major languages of the Philippines.



The word Kapampangan or Capampañgan 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 and Arte de la lengua Pampanga.

Two 19th-century Kapampangan writers are hailed as being the equivalent of William Shakespeare in Kapampangan literature. 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 M. Yuzon to immortalize his contribution to Pampanga's Literature.


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 city 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 Tarlac. It is also spoken in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Bataan, and Zambales.

The Philippine Census of 2000 states that 2,312,870 out of 76,332,470 people speak Kapampangan as a native language.

Predominantly Kapampangan-speaking regions in the Philippines.


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


Before the arrival of the Spanish, Kapampangan had three vowel phonemes: /a/, /i/, and /u/; some dialects also had /ə/. This was later expanded to five vowels with the introduction of Spanish words.

They are:

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

There are four main diphthongs; /aɪ/, /oɪ/, /aʊ/, and /iʊ/. Though in most dialects, they are reduced to only two.


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/.

Nasals|ng [ŋ]

Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal Stops|Voiceless

p t k


Voiced b d g


Voiceless (ts, tiy) [tʃ]
Voiced (diy) [dʒ]
Fricatives s (siy) [ʃ]
Laterals l
Flaps r
Semivowels w (y) [j]


Stress is phonemic in Kapampangan. Primary stress occurs on either the last or the next-to-the syllable of a word. Vowel lengthening accompanies primary or secondary stress except when stress occurs at the end of a word.


  • /a/ is raised slightly in unstressed positions
  • In some western accents, /ɯ/ is a separate phoneme as in [atɯp] (roof) and [lalɯm] (deep). However, this sound has merged with /a/ for most Kapampangan speakers.
  • Unstressed /i/ is usually pronounced [ɪ] as in English "bit"
  • At the end of a word and declarative sentences, /e/ and /i/ are pronounced [ɪ ~ i].
  • However, in exclamatory and interogatory statements, [i] is raised to ɛ. So, nanu ini? becomes nanu ine? (Translation: what is this?) and Me keni! necomes Me kene!(Translation: Come here!)
  • At the end of a word and declarative sentence, /o/ and /u/ are pronounced [u]
  • However, in exclamatory and interogatory statements, [u] is raised to [o]. So, ninu i Pedru? becomes ninu i Pedro? (Translation: who is Pedro?) and Silatanan na ku! becomes Silatanan na ko! [Translation: (He) wrote me!]
  • Unstressed /u/ is usually pronounced [ʊ] as in English "book"
  • The diphthong /aɪ/ is pronounced [e ~ ɛ] in many Kapampangan accents, especially the standard one.
  • The diphthong /aʊ/ is pronounced [o ~ ɔ] in many Kapampangan accents, especially the standard one.
  • /k/ has a tendency to become [x] between vowels as in German "bach"
  • /ɾ/ and /d/ are sometimes interchangeable as /ɾ/ and /d/ are allophones in Kapampangan. So, Nukarin la ring libro? can be Nukarin la ding libro? (Translation: Where are the books?)
  • A glottal stop that occurs at the end of a word is often omitted when it's in the middle of a sentence.

Historical sound changes

In Kapampangan, the Proto-Philippine schwa vowel has merged to /a/ in most dialects of Kapampangan. It is preserved in some western dialects. For example, Proto-Philippine *tanəm is tanam (to plant) in Kapampangan. Compare with Tagalog tanim and Cebuano tanom.

Proto-Philippine *R merged with /j/. For example, the Kapampangan word for "new" is bayu while in Tagalog it is bago and baro in Ilokano.



While Kapampangan nouns are not inflected, they are usually preceded by case markers. There are three types of case markers: absolutive (nominative),ergative (genitive), and oblique.

Unlike English and Spanish which are nominative-accusative languages, Kapampangan is an ergative-absolutive language. It's a common misconception that Kapampangan is frequently spoken in the passive voice.

Absolutive or nominative markers mark the actor of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb.

Ergative or genitive markers mark the object (usually indefinite) of an intransitive verb and the actor of a transitive one. It also marks possession.

Oblique markers are similar to prepositions in English. It marks things such as location and direction.

Furthermore, noun markers are divided into two classes: one for names of people (personal) and the second for everything else (common).

Below is a chart of case markers.

  Absolutive Ergative Oblique
Common singular ing -ng,
Common plural ding
ring karing
Personal singular i -ng kang
Personal plural di
ri kari


Dinatang ya ing lalaki.
"The man arrived."

Ikit neng Juan i Maria.
"John saw Maria."

Munta la ri Elena at Robertu king bale nang Miguel.
"Elena and Roberto will go to Miguel's house."

Nukarin la ring libro?
"Where are the books?"

Ibie ke ing susi kang Carmen.
"I will give Carmen the key."


Kapampangan pronouns are categorized by case: absolutive, ergative, and oblique.

Ergative Oblique
1st person singular yaku, aku ku ku kanaku, kaku
2nd person singular ika ka mu keka
3rd person singular iya, ya ya na keya, kaya
1st person dual ikata kata, ta ta kekata
1st person plural inclusive ikatamu, itamu katamu, tamu tamu, ta kekatamu, kekata
1st person plural exclusive ikami, ike kami, ke mi kekami, keke
2nd person plural ikayo, iko kayu, ko yu kekayu, keko
3rd person plural ila la da karela


Sinulat ku.
"I wrote."

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

Dinatang ya.
"He has arrived."

Sabyan me kaku.
"Tell me it."

Ninu ing minaus keka?
"Who called you?

Mamasa la.
"They are reading."

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 pronounce 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."

Ala tamung nasi.
"We (you and I and someone else) do not have rice."

Ala keng nasi.
"We (someone else and I, but not you) do not have rice."

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. (not *mamasa ri 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 sayinbg *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. (not *ala la ring tau keni)
The doctors are no longer here.

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."

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

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

Buri nya naman yan. (instead of buri ne naman yan)
He likes this one, on the other hand.

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.

1 s
2 s
3 s
1 dual
1 p inc.
1 p exc.
2 p
3 p
1 s
(ing sarili ku) da ka ke
- - - da ko
da kayu
ku la
2 s
mu ku (ing sarili mu) me
- - mu ke
mu kami
- mo
mu la
3 s
na ku na ka ne
(ing sarili na)
na kata na katamu na ke
na kami
na ko
na kayu
nu la
1 dual
- - te
(ing sarili ta) - - - to
ta la
1 p inc.
- - ta ya - (ing sarili tamu) - - ta la
1 p exc.
- da ka mi ya - - (ing sarili mi) da ko
da kayu
mi la
2 p
yu ku - ye
- - yu ke
yu kami
(ing sarili yu) yo
yu la
3 p
da ku da ka de
da kata da katamu da ke
da kami
da ko
da kayu
da la</br>(ing sarili da)

Demonstrative pronouns

Kapampangan's demonstrative pronouns are outlined in the chart below.

This particular system of demonstrative pronouns differs with other Philippine languages by having separate forms for the singular and plural.

  Absolutive Ergative Oblique Locative Existential
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nearest to speaker
(this, here)
ini deni
nini dareni kanini kareni oyni oreni keni
Near speaker & addressee
(this, here)
iti deti
niti dareti kaniti kareti oyti oreti keti
Nearest addressee
(that, there)
iyan den
niyan daren kanyan karen oyan oren ken
(yon, yonder)
ita deta
nita dareta kanita kareta oyta oreta keta

The demonstrative pronouns ini and iti (as well as their respective forms) both mean "this" but each have distinct uses.

Iti usually refers to something abstract but may also refer to concrete nouns. For example, iting musika (this music), iti ing gagawan mi (this is what we do).

Ini is always concrete and never abstract. For example ining libru (this book), ini ing asu na ni Juan (this is Juan's dog).

Furthermore, in their locative forms, keni is used when the person spoken to is not near the subject spoken of. Keti, on the other hand, when the person spoken is near the subject spoken of. For example, two people in the same country will refer to their country as keti however, they will refer to their respective towns as keni. Both mean here.

Nanu ini?
"What's this?"

Mangabanglu la rening sampaga.
"These flowers are fragrant."

Ninu ing lalaking ita?
"Who is that man?"

Me keni.
"Come here."

Ati ku keti.
"I am here."

Mangan la keta.
"They will eat there."

Ninu ing anak niyan?
"Who is the child of that?"

Oyta ya pala ing salamin mo!
"So that's where your glasses are!"

E ku pa menakit karen.
"I haven't seen these yet."

Oreni adwang regalo para keka.
"Here are two gift for you."


Kapampangan verbs are morphologically complex and take on a variety of affixes reflecting focus, aspect, mode, and others

Ambiguities and irregularities

Speakers of other Philippine languages find Kapampangan verbs to be more difficult than their own languages' verbs due to some verbs belonging to unpredictable verb classes as well as ambiguity with certain verb forms.

To illustrate this, let's take the rootword sulat (write) which exists in both Tagalog and Kapampangan.

For example:

  • susulat means "is writing" in Kapampangan but "will write" in Tagalog.
  • sumulat means "will write" in Kapampangan but "wrote" in Tagalog. This form is also the infinitive in both languages.
  • sinulat means "wrote" in both languages. However in Kapampangan it's in the actor focus but object focus in Tagalog

The object-focus suffix -an represents two types of focuses. However, the only difference between the two is that one of the conjugations preserves -an in the completed aspect while it is dropped in the other conjugation. Take the two verbs below:

bayaran (to pay someone): bayaran (will pay someone), babayaran (is paying someone), beyaran (paid someone)
bayaran (to pay for something): bayaran (will pay for something), babayaran (is paying for something), binayad (paid for something)

Note that other Philippine languages have separate forms. For example, there is -in and -an in Tagalog, -on and -an in Bikol and in most of the Visayan languages, and -en and -an in Ilokano. This is due to historical sound changes concerning Proto-Philippine /*e/ mentioned above.

There are a number of actor-focus verbs which do not use the infix -um- but are usually conjugated like other verbs that do. For example, gawa (to do), bulus (to immerse), terak (to dance), lukas (to take off), sindi (to smoke), saklu (to fetch), takbang (to step), tuki (to accompany), etc. are used instead of *gumawa, *bumulus, *tumerak, *lumukas, *sumindi, *sumaklu, *tumakbang, *tumuki,

Many of the verbs mentioned in the previous paragraph undergo a change of their vowel rather than use the infix -in- (completed aspect). In the actor focus (i.e., -um- verbs), this happens only to verbs having the vowel /u/ in the first syllable. For example, the verb lucas (to take off) is conjugated lukas (will take off), lulukas (is taking off), and likas (took off) (rather than *linukas).

This chance of vowel also applies to certain object-focus verbs in the completed aspect. In addition to /u/ becoming /i/, /a/ becomes /e/ in certain cases. For example, dela (brought something) and not *dinala, semal (worked on something) and not *sinamal, and seli (bought) and not *sinali.

Furthermore, there is no written distinction between the two mag- affixes in writing. Magsalita can either mean is speaking or will speak. There is an audible difference, however. [mɐgsaliˈtaʔ] means "will speak" while [ˌmaːgsaliˈtaʔ] means "is speaking".

Conjugation chart

Below is a chart of the basic Kapampangan verbal affixes.

  Infinitive &
Progressive Completed
Actor Focus1a -um- CV- -in-
Actor Focus1b - CV- -in-
Actor Focus1c m- mVm- min-
Actor Focus2 mag- mág- mig-, meg-
Actor Focus3 ma- má- ne-
Actor Focus4 maN- máN- meN-
Object Focus1 -an CV- ... -an -in-
Object Focus2
Benefactive Focus
i- iCV- i- -in-
i- -i-
i- -e-
Object Focus3
Locative Focus
-an CV- ... -an -in- ... -an
-i- ... -an
-e- ... -an
Instrument Focus ipaN- páN- piN-, peN
Reason Focus ka- ká- ke-

Loan Words

Many Kapampangan words have been borrowed from foreign languages, like Spanish such as swerti/swerte (from suerte, luck), krus (cruz, cross), kwartu/kwarto (from cuarto, room), peru/pero (from pero, but), and berdi/berde (from verde, green); Chinese such as susi/suse (from xu-xi, key) and sungkî/sungkê (from sung-ki, uneven); and Sanskrit such as karma.


Some Common Phrases

  • Komusta na ka? - How are you?
  • Masalese ku pu. - I'm fine.
  • Mayap ku pu. - I'm good.
  • Nanung lagyu mu? - What is your name?
  • Malagu ka pin. - You are really beautiful
  • Kasanting mo! - You are so handsome!
  • Wa - Yes
  • Ali - No
  • Mekeni (from 'Ume ka keni'). - Come here.


  1. isa (for simple counting), metung (for describing the quantity of the object)
  2. adwa
  3. atlu
  4. apat
  5. lima
  6. anam
  7. pitu
  8. walu
  9. siyam
  10. pulu (for simple counting), apulu (for describing the quantity of the object)

Traditional Children Song

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

Ing sukal ning lub ku
Susukdul king banwa
Pikurus kung gamat
Babo ning lamesa
Ninu mang manakit
King singsing kung mana
Kalulung pusu ku
Manginu ya keya.

English Tranliteration:

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
Without my notice.

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

See also

External links

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Original Source

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ilo:Pagsasao a Kapampangan

pam:Kapampangan (amanu)