How to say Beautiful in Chabacano

Did you know that there is a difference between the meaning of the words bunito and bunita in the Chabacano language? In the Spanish language, the only difference between these two words would be the gender. You use the Spanish bonito when referring to men and the Spanish bonita to women.

In the Chabacano language, adjectives generally don’t have genders like in Spanish. The only time that adjectives will have gender in the Chabacano language is when referring to persons. For example we say:

Alto mi hermano, Alta mi hermana
In English: My brother is tall, My sister is tall

Blanca el mujer, Blanco el hombre
In English: The girl is white, The boy is white

Flaco el mio tio, Flaca el mio prima
In English: My uncle is thin, My (female) cousin is thin

However for inanimate objects or when referring to people in general, adjectives don’t have genders (they are always masculine). For example we say:

Blanco el casa
In English: The house is white

Blando el cama mio
In English: My bed is soft

Negro el camisa suyo
In English: His/her shirt is black

With regards to the words bunito and bunita however, they exist independently with their own separate meanings. Bunito is used to say that something is nice while bunita is used to say that a girl is pretty.

Here are some examples of these two words being used:

Chabacano: Bunito el programa na T V ayer
English: The program on TV yesterday was good

Chabacano: Bunito el zapatos tuyo
English: Your shoes are nice

Chabacano: Bunito el tuyo pelo
English: Your hair is nice

Chabacano: Bunito el coche
English: The car is nice

Note that in Chabacano, we never use the word bunito to say that a boy or a man is good-looking. This word is only used for inanimate objects. It is possible though that in the traditional Chabacano, the word bunito/bunita had the same meaning as their Spanish counterparts as is suggested in the Chabacano dictionaries: Chabacano de Zamboanga Handbook (Camins) and Chavacano de Zamboanga Compendio y Diccionario (Rolando Arquiza Santos). I don’t think though that you will encounter anybody below the age of fifty who will say: bonito el hombre or bonito mi tio. To my ears at least, it would sound really awkward if I will hear someone use the word bunito like this.

As has already been established, the word bunita can only be used to say that a woman or a girl is pretty. It can never be used to say that an inanimate object is pretty/nice.

The words bunito and bunita come from the Spanish bonito and bonita which means pretty/nice (used both for persons and inanimate objects). There are still many young people today (me included) who will spell these words with an ‘o’ instead of a ‘u’ and pronounce it as it is being pronounced in Spanish.

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