Dictionary Entries explained

There are two types of entries in this dictionary, major and minor.

1 Major Entries

Major entries are those which are given a full English gloss and usually one or more examples of how the entry is used. Minor entries, on the other hand, contain only the related major entry form, a part of speech, and a minimal gloss.

1.1 The lexical item and variants

A word or affix in boldface type and at the extreme left margin of the column is the lexical item, or main entry. An asterisk at the beginning of a main entry indicates that that particular entry occurs only affixed. For example, *buuk may occur in the forms hambuuk and tibuuk but never as buuk alone. When two or more main entries are homophones they are distinguished by subscript numbers following each word, as in:

daral1 “to fry an egg”
daral2 “a coconut confection”

Immediately following most entries which consist of more than one morpheme is a set of parentheses enclosing either two roots or a root and one or more affixes. The root (or roots) is (are) the form(s) from which the main entry was derived:


(from taga + īpun)


(from -iy- + putu)


(from CV rdp. + salamat + -an1)

For the most part, lexical items that are used only in certain regions are not marked as such. In a few cases, however, the region where a term is used is noted, e.g., in the entries tangas and tikmil.

The speech of the coastal people (including the people of Jolo town), called parianun, is taken as the standard in this dictionary, and the speech of the people of the interior (tau gimba), called gimbahanun, is considered non-standard. This choice is not a value judgment. The people of the interior are not inferior to coastal people. Rather, the learner of Tausug is more likely to meet parianun forms than gimbahanun ones. For many lexical items, the pronunciation in the two varieties differs. The parianun pronunciation is listed first, followed by its gimbahanun equivalent. One regular difference between the two varieties of Tausug is that the parianun pronunciation of many words lacks a glottal stop at the end of the first syllable, whereas in gimbahanun the glottal stop is present. Since this difference is so regular, gimbahanun variants which differ from the parianun in this way are not given a minor entry, i.e., they are not listed as a separate main entry. A user of the dictionary who hears a form with a glottal stop in this position should look up the word under the spelling without that apostrophe. As an example, note:

buluy (gimb. bu'luyvag maka-To get free. Tambula in pagal, makabuluy in manukClose the pen, the chicken might get free.

But there is no entry bu'luy. On the other hand, the gimbahanun variant bu'gat does have a minor entry because the difference between it and the parianun buggat, while fairly common, is not as common as the difference noted above. Thus there is a major entry buggat which has three senses, eight glosses, and seven sample sentences, and a minor entry bu'gat with only the minimum of information:

bu'gat (gimb. equiv. of buggatnWeight, heaviness.

In cases where a variant cannot be said to be gimbahanun form or belong to any particular speech community, it is simply listed after the standard form. The variant is given its own separate entry only if it is more than one column distant from the major entry. Thus kulban is a major entry and variant kurban is a minor entry. The form parachaya, however, a variant of paratsaya, is not listed because the two would be only about a column apart.

An attempt has been made to identify the immediate donor language of lexical items that have been fairly recently adopted into Tausug. The editors make no claim to exhaustiveness on this point, however, preferring to be silent where they are not sure.

1.2 Sense discrimination

Many lexical items have more than one sense. In this dictionary, sense distinctions are considered more basic than part of speech distinctions. Hence the sense numbers are given before parts of speech, are set in boldface, and all of them after the first are placed two spaces out into the left margin. In a number of entries, for example taas, only major sense distinctions have been made, and senses that are closely related have been lumped together. The primary or literal sense is given first and the secondary, extended, and figurative senses are given afterward.

1.3 Parts of speech

Labels indicating parts of speech immediately follow sense numbers, if there are any. Instances of multiple parts of speech are listed within the entry involved and not in separate entries. The seven parts of speech, with an example of each, are:











ba'lus rancid”








to scrape”




you (pl.)”





1.4 Grammatical information

(Stem class)

For every verb, grammatical information has been included. For approximately half the verbs, the first item of this information is the verb stem class. For an explanation of the verb stem classes, see GRAMMAR NOTES, Verb Stem Classes.


The next item of grammatical information for verbs is a list of the cases of the noun phrases which can be focused items in a clause with that verb as predicate. (For an explanation of the notion of case, see GRAMMAR NOTES. Following each case name, in bold type, is (are) the affix(es) which go on the verb when that case is the focused item. For instance:

*jullit vag mag-mang--um-; pat -unTo tease, annoy (someone). Ayaw mu siya jullita.

Here we see the cases Agent and Patient listed. The agent who does the teasing may be the focused item with this verb, and when it is, the verb will have one of the affixes mag-, mang-, or -um- or an affix related to one of these. Also, the Patient, the person teased, may be the focused item, and, when it is, the verb will have the affix -un or an affix related to it (see Chart 3 and Affixes in GRAMMAR NOTES).

The list of cases is given below in the Verb Stem Classes section of the GRAMMAR NOTES. Two additional cases not in that list appear in the lists of cases and affixes such as in the example above. One is Actor, defined as the entity which changes unintentionally, whereas an Agent acts by intent. The other is Beneficiary, defined as the animate entity for whom/which or on behalf of whom/which an action is performed. Actor appears often in the dictionary. There are three cases, however, which are never listed with their corresponding affixes (exception noted below):

(1) Beneficiary (Ben). Every action can be done for someone's benefit or on behalf of someone. Although Ben is not listed (except a few times when it is identical with Goal), sometimes an example is given illustrating a focused beneficiary. An example is the entry , sense 1, the last example under the verb. Ben is always focused with -an.

(2) Instrument (Inst). Every action is performed with the use of some instrument. In theory, every agentive verb could focus Inst, though in fact the instrument seldom is mentioned. The affixes that focus Inst are hipag-hipang-, and (rarely) hi- (begun aspect piyag-, piyang-, and -iy- ). The learner cannot predict when hipag- should be used and when hipang-. Usually hipag- is acceptable.

(3) Non-instigative Cause. Practically every state is caused by some inanimate force. Almost every non-agentive verb can have the affix maka- (or naka-), which focuses Non-instigative Cause.


Following each case name is one or more affixes. When two affixes are listed following cases other than Agent and Actor, the first one given is considered more correct. Note that only the not-begun aspect form (see GRAMMAR NOTES) is given. Each not-begun affix therefore represents itself and all the other inflectional possibilities for verbs when that case is focused in the clause. For example -un, the form given following the case Patient for agentive verbs, stands for itself plus the following:


purpose mode, begun aspect


imperative mode (often appears in sample sentences)


abilitative mode, not-begun aspect


abilitative mode, begun aspect


purposive mode habituative manner-aspect, not begun aspect


purposive mode, habituative manner-aspect, begun aspect


(the causative affix) in combination with each of the above.

Similarly, the imperative -an often appears in sample sentences under verbs that focus the Patient with hi-, and the imperative -i often appears in sentences under verbs that focus the Range or Goal with -an (see the paradigm of verbal affixes in Chart 3 of GRAMMAR NOTES).

One affix which normally does not appear in the grammatical information is the so-called causative afix (pa2). This affix can occur on almost every verb. Rather than list it following every case name, the editors omit it entirely (see exception below) and note only those verbs on which it never occurs. In cases where a verb always carries the causative affix, this affix is listed as part of the entire affix for that particular focus. For example:

subul 1 n. A young man, bachelor. In manga subul...
v. act magpa--um-; pat ma-(For a young man) to attain puberty. Di' pa kaw tūpun mamaya'-maya'. Magpasubul naa kaw ampa kaw kabayaanIt's not yet fitting...

When the affix mang- occurs with entries beginning with b, k, p, s, and t, mang- is given in the list of affixes even though a morphophonemic change takes place with the result that the spoken form is not simply mang- plus the stem. For explanation and examples see GRAMMAR NOTES, section 5, Morphophonemics.

In the case of certain stems beginning with pang- an affix m- is given instead of -um-. The m- stands for itself and the begun-aspect form n-. These stems are actually derived stems but the editors have chosen not to enter them under the original root.

Additional grammatical information is sometimes supplied, enclosed in square brackets. This information usually applies to verbs.

(Reduplication of the stem)

With a few exceptions, words formed by reduplicating the stem have been omitted. The reason is that these words are regular derivatives. The meaning of the reduplication is almost always either diminution of the concept or, with some verbs, to act like or pretend to be whatever the stem is. Thus words like kahuy-kahuy "small trees" and palangka-langkahun "to pamper a little bit" are not listed, nor are magpingka'-pingka' "to pretend to be lame," magisug-isug "to pretend to be courageous," and many, many others like these. Exceptions are extremely common diminutives such as bāy-bay "small house." Such derivatives are listed, however, if their meaning is irregular, for example dayang-dayang "princess" (but dayang "term of endearment and respect for a woman or girl") and datu'-datu' "doll" (but datu' "male member of a royal family.")

1.5 Usage label

In some entries, immediately preceding the gloss there is a usage label enclosed in curly brackets, one of the following: Archaic, Rare, Not commonly used, Poetic, Eup. (for Euphemism), and Vulgar. In other entries, usage information is in the gloss (see 1.6).

1.6 English glosses

The English gloss contains the nearest translation equivalents of the Tausug lexical item. (Scientific names, if any, precede the gloss.) For some entries (e.g., andahaw) the gloss is an explanatory equivalent since there is no adequate English translation. In many glosses there is a gloss comment, enclosed in parentheses, in addition to the gloss proper. Some examples of glosses containing a gloss comment follow:

tikuy n. A confection made of sticky rice (usu. made by Chinese on their feast days).

tigda'v. ST pat -um-(For a flow of liquid or air) to become strong, heavy, hard.

tigbas v. CH 1 ag mag--um-; pat -unTo chop, hack, stab (something).

The last example above illustrates another feature of the dictionary, namely that "(something)" in a gloss stands for "(someone or something)," except in cases where the semantic components of the lexical item exclude a human referent. Thus tigbas above means to chop a person as well as an object.

Commas are normally used to separate overlapping synonyms in a gloss (e.g., in tigda' and tigbas above). Sometimes semicolons are used for clarity, as in the following:

*tūn 2 v. ag mag--um-; pat -un.To tolerate, bear humbly; refrain from expressing, hold (something) back; swallow (something, fig. sense).

In the gloss "tolerate" and "bear humbly" are felt to be very close in meaning and somewhat different from "refrain from expressing" and "hold back." "Swallow" is somewhat different yet. But the editors do not feel that the sense should be divided into subsenses.

The pronouns "he, his, him" have been used in the glosses where necessary. They are used generically and are intended to be read inclusively.

1.7 Cultural information

The editors have tried to include information about Tausug culture necessary to a thorough understanding of the lexical item. This information, if present, immediately follows the gloss and is enclosed in parentheses.

1.8 Illustrative sentences

For most parts of speech of a great majority of the entries, one or more sentences are given to illustrate the use of the lexical item, and an English translation of each illustrative sentence is supplied. Both the lexical item illustrated and its English translation are printed in boldface. The sentences, though not taken from text material, are acceptable Tausug sentences composed by the teachers and workers from Sulu who participated in the Tausug dictionary project (up to 1974) or by the compilers/editors or their consultants (1975-1994).

Considerable effort has been made to give illustrative sentences which convey cultural information as well, e.g., attitudes and beliefs common among Tausugs, values generally held by them, and information about Islam. Examples, in translation, are as follows:

Your eyes will become narrow if you're bitten by a cockroach.

It's not good to slander people.

The five pillars of the Islamic faith are to bear witness, to tithe, to pray five times daily, to keep the fast of Ramadan, and to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The translations of Tausug illustrative sentences are fairly literal translations into English.

If the main entry involved is a verb, then usually the illustrative sentences contain forms of the verb which represent its more common focus possibilities.

Tausug pronouns do not distinguish gender, but English requires a distinction in the third person singular. The pronouns have been translated either as masculine or feminine according to what was in the mind of the Tausug speaker who supplied the sentence.

1.9 Cross references

In the great majority of entries, cross-references follow the English translation of the last sample sentence. These are of eight types:

(1) over-syn. = Shares at least one component of meaning with the lexical item in question.

(2) SYN. = A true synonym of the lexical item in question.

(3) Cf. = related semantically to the lexical item in question.  In many cases, a word following a Cf. could be said to be an overlapping synonym, but the editors have been conservative and considered it only related semantically.

(4) ANT. = At least one component of meaning is opposite to that/those of the lexical item in question.

(5) GENR. = The name of a group or class of which the lexical item in question is a member.

(6) SPEC. = A member of the group or class which the lexical item in question names.

(7)  (See ___ for table.) = The lexical item appears in a table under the entry ___.

(8) See Appendix n. = The lexical item is listed in Appendix n.

A cross-reference pertains to the part of speech under which it appears and all previous parts of speech back to the beginning of the entry or the beginning of the sense (if there is more than one sense), unless otherwise noted.

A number following a cross-reference (not a subscript) refers to a particular sense of the cross-reference. Other senses of the cross-reference are not semantically related to the sense of the lexical item in question under which this cross-reference occurs.

1.10 Subentries

Subentries appear at the end of an entry. They are of four types: compounds, derivatives, idioms, and sayings.

Compounds are lexical items formed from the juxtaposition of two other lexical items, but with a different meaning from either of them, e.g. hulas-sangsa', under the entry sangsa'.

Derivatives are defined in this dictionary to be affixed forms which are themselves inflected as verbs. (The matter of derivation in Philippine languages is complex. A narrow definition of derivatives has been chosen here in order to keep as clear as possible from the "gray area" between inflection and derivation.) An example is makusug, under the entry kusug.

In the case of both compounds and derivatives, only a minimal treatment is given where the comp. or der. label appears, i.e., under the main entry. Usually, only a part of speech and a gloss appear under these labels. The user must look the form up under its own main entry in order to find a full treatment. An example is as follows:

kannal v. ag mang-; pat -unTo think....ponder. Subay mu kannalun in pag'ammal ibadat mu. You should think seriously of your spiritual life. over-syn: pikil tali'
pangannal der. n. Mistaken thought, presumption; way of thinking, consciousness.

At the entry pangannal the user will find:

pangannal 1 n. Way of thinking, consciousness. Nalawa' in pangannal niya...
v. ag mag-; pat -un.To think. Magpangannal muna in tau maingat ampa siya tumagna'.....pt: akkal 
2 n. (Mistaken) thought, presumption. Pangannal ku dumatung siya bihayaun. thought he would arrive now....
v. ag mag-.To form a thought or idea based on presumption.

Idioms are two or more words in a syntactic construction that have a unique meaning not deducible from the meanings of the parts. Most idioms are labeled with a single part of speech.

Sayings are usually whole clauses which give pieces of advice or common observations about life, often as metaphors. They are also called proverbs or adages.

2 Minor Entries

A minor entry contains only a minimum of information. Its purpose is twofold: (1) to refer the user who looks up this entry to a major entry where this form is treated in full, and (2) to give a short gloss.

Almost all minor entries consist of variations in pronunciation. If the variant is used in many places in the Tausug-speaking area, it is labeled as "var. of." If the variant is used in many places in the Tausug-speaking area, it is labeled as "var. of." If the variant is gimbahanun it is labeled as "gimb. equiv. of." If the variant is used on the smaller islands surrounding Jolo it is labeled "pū' equiv. of" and if used in Luuk, "Lu. equiv. of." Examples are:

jinis (fr. var. ginisn. Kind, variety.

ha'lu (gimb. equiv. of hallun. A pestle (esp. for pounding rice).

A few minor entries consist of phonetic alternations, such as the alternate -hi for the imperative marker -i with stems ending in a vowel.