Bisayan Infix “..g..”: It Shows Our Culture of Cooperation and Harmony

Topic |  

Bisayan Infix “..g..”: It Shows Our Culture of Cooperation and Harmony

Topic |  


It is said that language is the soul of the culture of the people.  The Sugboanon Bisayan language is not an exception.

However, since we use the English language in school, we are not aware that the nuances of our mother language indicate our culture.

English is an inflectional language.  It relies so much on the verb.  In fact it is required that every sentence must have a verb.


Sugboanon Bisaya is an agglutinative language.  It relies so much on the affixes.  As of today I have already identified 4,268 affixes in Binisayâ.  Some are used as a prefix, some as infix, some as suffix, and others are combinations of prefix, infix, and suffix.

The infix “..g..” is so peculiar that its use indicate our culture of cooperation and harmony.

The Prayer

Now that the Holy Week is approaching we always hear the prayer, “Santa Maria, inahan ka sa Diyos, ig-ámpò mo kaming makasasálà…”.  Notice the infix “g” in “ig- ámpò”.  If you will use “iámpò”, without the infix “g”, it may seem the same.  Actually the meaning will be different.

In the English language, it is translated as, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners..”.  Those who are trained in the English language only, will translate this prayer as “Santa Maria, inahan ka sa Diyos, iámpò mo kaming makasasálà..”.  This is correct in the English context, but without the infix “g”, it does not carry the connotation of cooperation, harmony, or synergy.

Infix “..g..”


The infix “..g..” signifies a collective or plural form of a group in terms of measure, size or quality.  a.) It is usually expressed in English as “ones”.  Gamáy = small; gágmay = the small ones, – “Pilía kanang gagmay. = Select the small ones”: dakô = big; dagkò = big ones. b) It can also be used to mean “from each other”.  Layò = far; lágyò = far from each other- “Lagyò ra pagkatanóma. = They were planted far from each other”.  “Kadtong lagyò maoy unáha. = Do first the far ones/Do first the ones that are far.”


When you say “Iámpò mi = pray for us”, you are requesting someone to pray for you and you are passive.  When you say “Ig-ámpò mi”, with the infix “..g..”, it means that you are requesting someone to cooperate or help in praying and because of the interaction; the word “ig=ámpò” cannotes a plural sense.

When you say “Iámpò náto si Pedro nga modaóg”, it means that individually we will pray that Pedro will win.  However, when you say “Ig-ámpò náto si Pedro nga modaóg”, it means that collectively and together we will pray that Pedro will win.

In the English context there is no difference between “iámpò” and “ig- ámpò”.  However in the Bisayan context and its culture there is a whale of difference.


An American Missionary

In the 1990s there was an American Protestant missionary that was proselytizing in Tagbilaran.  He was wondering why he can only gather an audience from the Rotarians and other elites in Tagbilaran.  He was not able to connect with the ordinary people.


I told him that his preaching style is good for the American culture but not to Boholanos.  When you say “Accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior”, that is a taboo in our culture.  When Pedro accepts Jesus Christ as his savior, then I can no longer accept Jesus Christ because Pedro has already obtained the right.  I might as well go home.

In the Boholano culture it should be “Accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior”.  Because of the “our”, when Pedro accepts, I am also included and can also accept.  We always differentiate the personal from the collective actions.

No Boholano politicians in his right mind will say “Akong proyékto = My project”.  It is always “Atong proyekto = Our project”.  The politician will always say “átò = ours” and never “ákò = my; mine”.  The politician must be careful to portray an interrelation with the voters.


Many educated Boholanos will say that “ig-ámpò” does not seem to be correct because it sounds similar to saying “igsúon”, and Mother Mary is not your sister.

After neglecting our mother language for a long time, nobody now knows that ““ig-ámpò”and “igsúon = sibling” follow the same rule.

The base word of “igsúon” is “súon”.  The word “súon” means coming from or made from the same mold.  If you say “isúon ni”, it means make this next from the same mold.  Since siblings came from the same mold or the same parents, they are “igsúon” or mutually came from the same mold.  Due to the interrelationship the “..g..” connotes plurality.

Therefore “ig-ámpò” is a better word than “iámpò” because it will manifest our culture of cooperation, interrelationship, harmony, and helpfulness.  “Ig-ámpò” connotes that while you are praying, it would be to your benefit if someone will help.

Remember what happened after the Oct. 15, 2013 earthquake? Outsiders were surprised when Boholanos cooperated and said “Thank you” to those who helped.

The Bisayan word “ikatábang = for helping” is good but “ikagtábang = for helping one another” is considered much better in our culture.  “Ikagtábang” connotes that while you are helping a person, that person is not idle but also working.

(By Jes B. Tirol)

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