Langam: Ant or Bird?

The Philippines is an archipelago nation of over 7,000 islands.  All those islands produced many unique languages and dialects.  And at times, a word, spelled exactly the same way, can have completely different meanings.

There are hundreds of dialects spoken in the Philippines.  Tagalog and English are the official languages, though Cebuano is spoken by more Filipinos.

One day at our mother’s house, my sister and I were chatting with her friend, Leo.  I noticed some ants crawling on the floor, and said “hmmmm…langam.”

My sister looked down at the floor and we tried to follow the source of their march into the house.  Leo, however, had his neck tilted back and was looking out the window and up towards the ceiling.

We all laughed when we realized what happened.   Leo was looking for a bird he thought had flown into the house through the window.

Langam in the Tagalog language is an ANT, the kind that likes sugar and lives in a colony.  The langam that Leo was looking for was the feathery flying type, because in Cebuano a langam is a BIRD.  The meaning for the same word cannot be more different.

This langam

Ant on Leaf (source www.freedigitalphotos.net Image: hinnamsaisuy)

or do you mean this langam?

I always enjoyed running into these words.  My dialect world though, is limited to Tagalog and Cebuano.

Let me know if you know of other Filipino words / dialects with different meanings or of English / Tagalog or other languages as well.  I would love to learn about more!

–Lola Jane

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