Arts & Entertainment

Matilda Star Has a Tagalog Question Filipinos Can't Answer

Matilda was left even more confused when Filipinos gave their answers. 
IMAGE TriStar Pictures, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Gage Skidmore
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Mara Wilson, the child actor who played Matilda in the eponymous film, threw Filipinos off-guard when she posed a deceptively simple question nobody could answer: “Ano ang meaning ng ‘naman’? Salamat.

According to Wilson, she has been learning Tagalog for a week after she posted the tweet on July 12. 

Although some people attempted to provide an accurate answer, their responses were mostly wrong. 

Someone commented that naman means “again” in English. Others said the word is the English equivalent of “really.” Other suggestions included “of course,” “whatever,” “what now,” and “generally,” which are, of course, all misleading. Poor Matilda!

So, what is the meaning of naman

Naman is one of those Filipino words with no English equivalent. It is part of a group of words known in Filipino grammar as ingklitik or clitic. 

An ingklitik is an expression or word that has no precise meaning as a standalone word. It has to be joined by other words to gain different meanings. In other words, they can never be accurately translated on their own. 

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The following are examples of ingklitiks:

  • Nga (Ano nga?)
  • Ba (Ito ba?)
  • Tuloy (Hayan tuloy!)
  • Pala (Huwag na pala.)
  • Kaya (Ano kaya ito? )
  • Daw/Raw (Ikaw daw.)

Just like the ingklitiks mentioned above, naman takes different meanings depending on the words that accompany it. 

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  • Ako naman. (It’s my turn. / Let me go next.)
  • Ano ba naman? (What the heck?)
  • Na naman? (Again?)
  • Hindi naman. (Not really.)
  • Oo naman. (Sure / Definitely.)

Hopefully, this helps Wilson with her Tagalog lessons! We invite her to learn more confusing Tagalog words with no English Equivalent

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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