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Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

A Descriptive Analysis of Bikol Adjectives

Jezelle Irish C. Lapid

This paper is a description of the Bikol adjectives, which tackles their

phrase level positions and their formations. This includes the
formation by the affixation of verbs and nouns, and the affixation
and the use of words to form the different intensifications and
diminishing quantities.

1.0 Introduction

In grammar, adjectives are words that belong to a class that modify words. They may be
either in root or in complex words. Complex adjectives are those that have their root words
attached with affixes. Adjectives have the ability to express differing degrees or intensities of the
property denoted by the root system through affixation, reduplication, or the occurrence of
specific particles (De Guzman, 1996).

Not all languages have adjectives, but some do, including Bikol. It is said that without it,
how people speak, write and communicate on those languages which have it won’t be as colorful
as what one can make of them as these words slightly change the meaning of the word by adding
description and making them more specific.

There have been previous works about Bikol adjectives. Mintz, in his Bikol Grammar
Notes (1971), discussed the adjective phrase, and the different formations of adjectives.
McFarland’s The Dialects of the Bicol Area (1974) tackled the different forms of adjectives in
the different areas in Bikol; and Lobel & Tria, who used the word “modifiers”, enumerated them
based on the affixes and the words that go with them.

This paper describes the different formations of the adjectives and categorizes them
based on the affixes that certain words go with and which are then derived into adjectives. Bikol
words in this paper are spelled using the IPA.

It is to be noted that the term “Bikol adjectives” here is referred to that of the Standard
Bikol language.

2.0 Adjective Position

Adjectives can be found before or after the nouns or pronouns that they modify. A
linker links them with each other, which is often a word or a clitic. In example (1a) the plural
adjective makokosog ‘strong’ comes before the noun dijos ‘god’ and are linked together by the
linker ‘na’, while example (2a) shows the position of the adjective magajon ‘beautiful’ after the
noun daraga ‘maiden’, which are connected by the clitic – attached to the noun. Inversely, both
can be found in the opposite position, as shown in (1b) and (2b).

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(1a) mga ma-ko-kosog na dijos

DET ma-PL-strength LNKR god
‘strong gods’

(1b) mga dijos na ma-ko-kosog

DET god LNKR ma-PL-strength
‘strong gods’

(2a) an daraga= ma-gajon

DET maiden=CL ma-beauty
‘the beautiful maiden’

(2b) an ma-gajon na daraga

DET ma-beauty LNKR maiden-N
‘the beautiful maiden’

3.0 Adjective Formations

Just like in other languages, Bikol adjectives also come in different forms. Most of them
require affixes while others are base adjectives. Bikol adjectives are categorized into three basic
forms (Mintz, 1971, p.42; McFarland, 1974, p. 208). These are the ma-formed (madiklom ‘dark’ >
ma- + diklom ‘darkness’), ha-formed (halakaw ‘tall’ > ha- + lakaw ‘tallness’) and the unaffixed
adjectives (dakula ‘large’). There are also other affixes that when attached to certain words imply
different meanings (e.g. paraiwal ‘always fighting’> para- + iwal ‘to fight’; nakakaherak ‘pitiable’ >
nakaka- + herak ‘pity’).

An adjective consists of an adjective affix and an adjective base. The basic formula is as
follows (Mintz, 1971, p. 43):

Adj  Adj Affix + Adj Ba

Adj Af  affixes
(1) ma- hamis
AdjAf AdjBa
ma- sweetness

(2) Ø dakula
No affix AdjBa
Ø largeness

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

3.1 Word Base to express (Lopez, 1937, p. 41) or Unaffixed Adjectives

These adjectives modify another word as roots themselves. They are categorized here
based on their color, physical conditions, size, psychological, situational and emotional traits and
conditions, moral, ethical or social values and qualities, and shape or form. I call these words as
“straight-to-the-point” adjectives since they readily describe other words without any “further
ado’s” of affixation.

Examples include: asul ‘blue, gadan ‘dead, lapa ‘rotten’, sadit ‘small’, kuripot ‘ungenerous’,
bilog ‘circle/circular’.

3.2 Affixed Forms

When affixes are attached with nouns or verbs, they take the characteristics or traits of
those words, and together, both form adjectives.

3.2.1 ma- formed adjectives

The prefix ma- attaches to basic adjectives of the following classes: appearance,
dimension (except height/length/distance), taste and tint. This adjective group is the most
common form among Bikol adjectives. (Lobel & Tria, 2000, p.49) The prefix ma- means, “being
that of the {noun}” or “possessing the trait of the {noun} it is attached with”. McFarland (1974,
p. 210) described this as a productive affix which combines freely with nominals to also express
“having much {noun}”.

maAdj P  ma + base
 ma + appearance
dimension / Ø height, length and distance

appearance  e.g. diklom ‘darkness’

dimension  e.g. niwa ‘thinness’
taste  e.g alsom ‘sourness’
tint  e.g. puti ‘whiteness’

The prefix ma- attaches to the base form of words that fall under those categories.
Height, length and distance do not belong to this group because they occur with a different
prefix (Lobel and Tria, 2000, p. 49). Sections to presents each of the categories to
which the prefix ha- attaches.

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives Appearance

Included in this group are not just the physical attributes but also the moral traits and
values as well. They are under ‘appearance’ because that trait is not only obvious in the outside
but also what is being shown.

(1) ma-diklom ‘dirty’

‘dark’ (4) ma-kanos
(2) ma-boot ‘ugly’
‘kind’ (5) ma-tawo
(3) ma-ati ‘having many people; crowded’
ma-dirt Dimension

Dimension refers to a measurable extent. Lobel and Tria (2000, p. 49) included the width,
thickness, power and capability here.

(1) ma-hib-og ‘thin’

‘thick’ (6) ma-kulog
(2) ma-rikas ‘painful’
(7) ma-haldat
(3) ma-taba ma-stingness
ma-fatness ‘stingy’
(8) ma-bagsik
(4) ma-himpis ma-fastness
ma-thinness (object) ‘fast’
(9) ma-lowaj

(5) ma-niwa
ma-thinness (body)

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives Taste

Taste is the flavor perceived in the mouth.

(1) ma-hamis (4) ma-asgad

ma-sweetness ma-saltiness
‘sweet’ ‘salty’

(2) ma-alsom 
(5) ma-taba
ma-sourness ma-salt-deficiency
‘sour’ ‘tasteless’

(3) ma-pait (6) ma-siram

ma-bitterness ma-taste
‘bitter’ ‘tasty’ Tint

Tint refers to a shade or variety of color. By adding the prefix ma- to the color word, the
meaning becomes ‘a shade of that color’ or ‘somewhat possess that color’. The color words here,
serving as bases, are not referred to as adjectives but rather, as in their noun class. In the
examples below, it is the whiteness and the redness, not the red and white attributions that are
extracted by the prefix.

(1) ma-puti

(2) ma-pula

3.2.2 ha- formed adjectives

The prefix ha- attaches to words dealing with height, distance and length (Lobel and Tria,
2000, p. 40). I included the category of depth here since I cannot infer its inclusion in any of the
aforementioned categories. However, I later on found out that this category was also mentioned
by Mintz (1971, p. 42) as one of the classes the prefix ha- attaches to. The prefix can mean as
“characterized by the word it is attached to”. With only those categories as the bases for this
prefix, it can be inferred that there is an exclusiveness of the use of the prefix ha-. McFarland
(1972, p. 209) described this as a non-productive prefix, restricted to a small class of adjectives,
whose meanings refer mostly to measurement of some kind.

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

haAdj P  ha- + base

 ha- + height

height  e.g. baba ‘lowness/shortness’

length  e.g. laba ‘longness’
distance  e.g. rayo ‘farness’
depth  e.g. rarom ‘depth’ Height

Height is the measure from the top to the bottom of someone or something.

(1) ha-baba

(2) ha-la
‘tall’ Length

Length refers to the whole extent of an object from its both ends.

(1) ha-laba

(2) ha-lawig
‘long’ Distance

Distance is the length of space between two points.

(3) ha-rayo

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(4) ha-rani
‘near’ Depth

Depth is the distance or the surface from top to bottom of specified points.

(1) ha-rarom

(2) ha-babaw

3.2.3 Para-

When attached to a base, the word becomes a something that means having the habit of
whatever is connoted in the verb, or simply as the “habit of the (verb)”. Simply put, it transforms
a verb into an adjective.

(1) para-iwal
para-to fight
‘always fighting’

(2) para-pa
para-to pray
‘prayerful, always praying’

3.2.4 Nakaka-

When attached to a base word, the resulting form becomes identical with abilitative verb
forms (e.g. is surprising). In English translation, they become adjectives ending in “-ing or “-
able” (Lobel &Tria, 2000, pp.52-53).

(1) nakaka-herak na damulag

nakaka-pity LNKR carabao
‘pitiable carabao’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(2) nakaka-istorbo= aki

nakaka-annoy=CL child
‘annoying child’

3.2.5 Maki- and –non

When affixed to certain nouns, the resulting adjective is one which also possesses the
meaning “characterized by a {noun}”. Although both have the same meaning, they are attached
separately. It is to be noted that maki- forms usually connote a “fondness of the root word” or in
negative sense, “being overly fond of the {noun}” (Lobel & Tria, 2000, p. 50).

(1) maki-amigo

(2) maki-babae

(3) diyos-non
‘god-like; divine’

4.0 Pluralization

Pluralization in Bikol is expressed through insertion of an /r/ and/or repetition of a part

of the word, and/or the addition of the word maa. Sections 4.1 to 4.3 explain further the
different ways of pluralizing Bikol adjectives.

4.1 Insertion and Repetition

In ha- formed and unaffixed adjectives, these processes can go together. The infix –rV-
or an /r/ plus repetition of the first vowel of the base occurs after the ha- or before the
unaffixed adjective. Ma- formed adjectives and colors are pluralized by repeating the first syllable
of the base word (Lobel &Tria, 2000, pp. 53-54).

(a) haAdj P = ha + base + Pl

= ha+ -rV- + base

(1) ha-baba  ha-ra-baba

ha-lowness ha-PL-lowness
‘low’ ‘low ones’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(2) ha-rajo  ha-ra-rajo

ha-farness ha-PL-farness
‘far’ ‘far ones’

(b) ØAfAdj P = base + Pl

= -rV- + base

(1) hoben  ho-ro-ben

‘young’ ‘young ones’

(2) dakula  da-ra-kula

‘many’ ‘many ones’

(c) maAdj P = ma + base + Pl

= C1V1C2V2 + Pl
= C1V1C1V1C2V2

(1) ma-gajon  ma-ga-gajon

ma-beauty ma-PL-beauty
‘beautiful’ ‘beautiful ones’

(2) ma-pula  ma-pu-pula

ma-redness ma-PL-redness
‘red’ ‘red ones’

4.2 Addition of the Plural Marker ma

Adjectives can also take their plural forms just by adding the plural marker maa. Some
colors also take this kind of pluralization. The word maa can mean ‘the many’ or shows that it
follows a plural adjective.

4.2.1 Maa pluralized adjectives

Maga can be placed before the adjective only, or before the adjective that follows a
modified word. Adjectives with affixes para-, nakaka, maki, and –non also take this for

(1) ma para-taram
PL para-talk
‘talkative ones’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(2) ma nakaka-herak
PL nakaka-pity
‘pitiable ones’

(3) ma maki-amigo
PL maki-friend
‘friendly ones’

(4) ma dijos-non
PL god-non
‘god-like; divine ones’

Concerning the pluralized adjective that does not follow a modified word, in its
underlying structure, there really is a word being modified. That is why, looking at the examples
(2-4) below, the English translation comes with the word ‘ones’ pertaining to more than one
thing because there really is something being described; although it is not directly mentioned
within the given Bikol adjective plural phrase. For the remaining of the adjectives presented in
this paper that do not follow directly a modified word, it is to be noted that there really is and the
English translations with the word “ones” indicate such. A further discussion on this issue is also
presented in section

Adj (Pl.)  (article) + mga + adjective + (modified word)

(1) an a
ma mara=ng dahon
DET PL dry CLITIC leaf
‘the dry leaves’

(2) an a pobre (ones)

DET PL poor
‘the poor ones’ or ‘the ones who are poor’

(3) an a magajon (ones)

DET PL beautiful
‘the beautiful ones’ or ‘the ones who are beautiful’

(4) an a para-
ma adal (ones)
DET PL para to study
‘the studious ones’ or ‘the ones who are studious’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

4.2.2 Pluralized color adjective

It was discussed previously that most color adjectives take their plural forms by repeating
the first syllable of the root such as with examples (1) and (2). However, in some cases, such
adjectives use the word mga for its pluralization, such as in example (3) (Lobel and Tria, 2000, pg.

Color adjective = ma-formed color adj + PL

= ma- + color + Pl
= C1V1C2V2 + Pl
= C1V1C1V1C2V2

(1) ma-asul  ma-a-asul

ma-blueness ma-PL-blueness
‘bluish’ ‘bluish ones’

(2) ma-pula  ma-pu-pula

ma-redness ma-PL-redness
‘reddish’ ‘reddish ones’

= unaffixed color adjective and not ma-formed + PL

= mga + unaffixed color adjective and not ma-formed

(3) abo-hon  mga abo-hon

gray-very PL gray-very
‘very gray’ ‘very gray ones’

(4) lila-hon  mga lila-hon

purple-very PL purple-very
‘very purple’ ‘very purple ones’

4.3 Combination of the insertion and repetition, and the addition of Plural Marker ma

Cases such as this are just optional since doing either of the pluralization method is
already enough.

(1) an a ma-ga-gajon
DET PL ma-PL-beauty
‘the beautiful ones’

(2) ma ma-ko-kosog na dijos
DET ma-PL-strength LNKR god
‘strong gods’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

5.0 Intensification

The adoption of the word intensification rather than of comparison is in order to include not
only the degrees of comparison but also those of the other forms of adjectives or its
combination with other words which in the Philippine languages express an idiomatic
intensification of the sense conveyed by the adjective without the presence of comparison
(Lopez, 1937, p.42).

5.1 Equality

Equality may be expressed in several ways, either by attaching the prefix siring ka- or by
using the word pareho. Here, two objects are compared to as being of the same quality. It is to be
noted that the first is the one being compared to the second object, which infers that the second
one serves as the standard (Lobel &Tria, 2000, pp. 54-55).

5.1.1 Siring ka-

This is found after the introduction of the first object. The prefix ka- is attached to the
adjective base and must always come with siring. Siring ka- can mean as “as (trait) as”.

(1) siri
siring ka-whiteness
‘as white as’

(2) siri
siring ka-strength
‘as strong as’

5.1.2 Pareho

This word is linked before the adjective. It can mean as “same {trait}” or “equally

(1) pareho= bilang
pareho=CL number/amount
‘same number/amount as’

(2) pareho= sukol na trese metros an laba
pareho=CL measure LNKR thirteen meters DET length
‘measuring same 13 meters long’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(3) pareho ka-dakula

pareho ka-many
‘as many as’

5.2 Contrastive

The contrastive category is divided into two degrees: the comparative and the superlative.
In comparative degree, two different objects are being compared differently. The comparative
words mas and pa and the marker ki sa are used to describe such differences. Superlatives are
formed by the addition of the affix pinaka-. When it comes with emphasis, either of the suffix –
on, or the words maray and garo are used.

5.2.1 Comparative

Comparatives are made by the use of comparison words that accompany the adjectives in
the sentence: the pa and the mas, which can also come together. The marker ki sa introduces the
object being compared to the first one. Pa and mas are used on the adjective describing the first
object. An adjective with either pa or mas can exist alone in a sentence even if there is no direct
comparison involved with another object. Comparative word mas

The word mas, a word said to be borrowed from the Spanish, (Mintz, 1971, p.147) is
found before the adjective. This is the most commonly used comparative marker. Mas can mean
as ‘more or greater in the {trait}’ it follows.

(1) An iba kaw

mas ha-la sagkod
DET others more ha-highness and
‘The others are higher and’

mas makusog ki sa satuya dalawa.

more ma-strength than our two
‘stronger than the two of us.’

‘The others are higher and stronger than the two of us.’

An adjective with mas can exist alone in a sentence even if there is no direct mentioning
of something or someone being compared to in the sentence. I believe however, that there is an
underlying word to which the word being modified here is compared to. A discussion earlier
about this was already been presented in section 4.2.1. But for further clarification, I will further
discuss it here. Let’s take number (2) for example. As we can see, in the phrase maa maluja ‘the
weak (ones) and maa mas makosog, there is the plural marker maa that does not only describe
the plurality of the adjective but as well the underlying noun that the adjective describes. When

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

translated in English, the phrase sa maa mas makosog sainda becomes ‘from those who are
stronger than them’. The word ‘those’ has an underlying word which, based from the sentence,
can be ‘those people’, or it can also be ‘from the ones’.

(2) Iniligtas mo an maa ma-luja,

Save-PST you DET PM ma-weakness
‘You saved the weak (ones)’

sa maa mas ma-kosog sainda.

LM PM more ma-strength them
‘from those who are stronger than them.’

(3) mas ma-rahaj

more ma-goodness
‘better’ Comparative word pa

The word pa is found after the adjective and followed by either the referent, or the
marker ki sa. However, this is not used as commonly as mas. Pa can also mean as ‘more or
greater in the trait it follows’ but with more conviction and implies the feeling of ‘competition’
between two things.

(1) An saiya maa tataramon ma-halnas pa

DET his/her PM words ma-slipperiness pa
‘His/her words are more slippery’

ki sa mantika
than oil
‘than oil’

‘His/her words are more slippery than oil.’

(2) An saiya maa tataramon ma-lumoy pa

DET his/her PM words ma-softness pa
‘His/her words are softer/gentler’

ki sa lana
than oil
‘than oil’

‘His/her words are softer/gentler than oil.’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

An adjective with only pa can exist alone in a sentence even if there is no direct
comparison involved with another object (although underlying it, there really is something being
compared to).

(3) Maraj pa si padri pirmi= ma-sagana (kisa iba).

Good pa DET Father always=CL ma-abundance(than others)
‘How fortunate Father is (comapared to others), he is always abundant.’ Combination of mas and pa

The two can come together in a sentence. When these two are used, they pertain to
“undoubtedly greater in the {trait}”.

(1) Mas ma-gian pa sinda sa saro= hinaos.

mas ma-lightness pa that LM one=CL breath
‘That (object) is lighter than

(2) Mas ma-rahaj pa ki sa buhay an pagkamoot

mas maray(good) pa than life DET hatred
‘Hatred is better than life.’

5.2.2 Superlative

Superlatives are formed by the addition of the affix pinaka-. A collective plural (Lopez,
1937, p. 41) is rendered here, which means that something is being compared to a number of
people or things. Pinaka-

This prefix means “the most {adjective} or the best of that {trait}”.

(1) Sija an nagi pinaka-matali na tawo

S/he DET become.PST pinaka-intelligent LNKR man
‘S/he has been the most intelligent man’

sa ibabaw nin daga.

LM above PREP earth
‘on the surface of the earth’

‘He has been the most intelligent person on the surface of the earth.’

(2) Kuaha an pinaka-marahaj mo arina.

Get DET pinaka-good you=CL flour

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

‘Get your best flour.’

Adjectives can also express its superlative degree by means of suffixation and the use of
special words. They emphasize and intensify the characteristic of the adjectives into a much
higher degree. These include the –on formed superlatives, or the addition of the words gáyo,
maráy and abang. –on

This affix, which means ‘very’, is attached at the end of the positive degree of the
adjective. Positive degree is defined as the ‘normal’ form of the adjective, where there are no
modifications to indicate comparisons with another.

Adj  Adj + superlative

Adj  ____C#
Emph  -on / _____C#/ -on

(1) ma-tarum-on (4) da-ra-kula-on

ma-sharpness-on da-PL-bigness-on
‘very sharp’ ‘very big ones’

(2) ma-kusog-on (5) ha-rani-hon

ma-strength-on ha-rani-hon
‘very strong’ ‘very near’

(3) ha-rayu-on (6) ma-drama-hon

ha-farness-on ma-sadness-hon
‘very far’ ‘very sad’ maraj

This word linked after the adjective by na or -ng. It also means “very”.

Adj P  Adj + connector + excessiveness + amazement

Adj  ____C#
Conector  na / ____C#/na

(1) ma-gajon na maraj

ma-beauty LNKR maraj
‘very beautiful’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(2) pula= maraj
red=CL maraj
‘very red’ gajo

Gajo is found after the adjective linked either by the particle na or –ng. Gayó can also
mean “very, plus a feeling of amazement.

Adj P  Adj Af + Adj Ba + connector + excessiveness + amazement

Conector  na / ____C#/na

(1) ma-rikas na gajo

ma-fastness LNKR gajo
‘(amazingly) very fast’

(2) ma-taba= gajo
ma-fatness=CL gajo
‘(amazingly) very fat’ aba

Aba is most commonly used especially in verbal communication. It can also mean
“very”, “so”, “such a {noun}”, and what a {noun}”, but what makes it different with the other
three is that it is followed by a noun form. The resulting form becomes an adjective phrase.
Usually, this is found in an exclamatory sentence since it invokes something in exclamation.

Adj P  aba + noun

(1) Aba
abang beauty
‘What a beauty!’

(2) Aba
abang good
‘Very good!

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives Use of –on with either maraj or gajo

An adjective in its –on form (superlative form) can use either maray or gayo at the same
time. This indicates a characteristic to the highest degree- “better than the best” or the “bestest”.

(1) ma-gajon-on na maraj

ma-beauty-very LNKR very
‘really really (very very) beautiful’

(2) ma-gajon-on na gajo

ma-beauty-very LNKR very
‘really really (very very) beautiful’

5.2.3 Excessiveness

Excessiveness of the adjectives is expressed by the use the words grabe and sobra. Grabe

Grabe can mean as “too {noun}” since it places itself before a noun to indicate an
excessiveness of the trait that the noun possesses.

(1) grabe 
grabe ka -sickness
‘too sick or too much of the sickness’

(2) grabe kaw

grabe ka-ha-tallness
‘too tall’ Sobra

Sobra means “so much of the {trait of the word it follows}”.

(1) sobra= pagkamoot
sobra=CL anger
‘so much angry’

(2) Sobra sa 
saro= beses
sobra NM one=CL time (occurence)
‘more than one time/once’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(3) Sobra 
na ma-rahaj
sobra LNKR ma-goodness
‘so much goodness; so good’

5.2.4 Negation

The adjectives in Bikol can express negativity by placing the words bako and bako gajo
before the adjective. Bako

Bako, which means “not”, shows negation when added before the adjective. It is linked
with the adjective by a clitic –ng since it ends in a vowel.

(1) bako= ma-gajon
bako=CL ma-beauty
‘not beautiful’

 gajo Bako

Bakong gayo, also found before an adjective, is asuperlative negation which means “not
very {adjective}”.

(1) bako= 
gajo= ma-gajon
bako=CL gayo=CL ma-beauty
‘not very beautiful’

(2) bako- 
gajo= kaw
bako=CL gajo= ha-tallness
‘not vey tall’

5.2.5 Diminished Quantities

Diminished quantities are expressed by the use of affixes and of special words, and by
the processes of repetition and reduplication. They reduce the quantity or value of the meanings
of the adjectives they attach to. They can also reductively and directly describe a noun without
any adjective involved, resulting to an adjective phrase. MedЋЋo

MedЋo means “possessing a bit or a slight {adjective}”.

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(1) medЋЋo ma-lipot

medyo ma-coldness
‘quite cold/slight cold/a bit cold’ Dikit

In one of my interviews with my informant, I asked her to translate the Tagalog medЋo
maganda ‘slightly pretty’ in Bikol. She said that it’s medЋo magajon but for her, the use of dikit is
more correct (which implies that medЋo is used/accpeted in Bikol). Having said that, I included it
here. This is the same as medЋo. However, its meaning may be a little different. It means “closely
related to the {adjective}” and is connected by the linker ning.

(1) ma-gayon 
ni dikit
ma-beauty LNKR dikit
‘close to pretty’ or ‘almost pretty’ Garo

Garo, a word placed before the adjective to show uncertainty, means “somewhat like”.

(1) garo ma-kintab

garo ma-shineness
‘somewhat like shiny’

(2) garo ma-alsom

garo ma-sourness
‘Somewhat like/ somewhat sour’

Garo is also placed before nouns to create a {noun}-like formation or formations that
shows a description of an object using the atrribution of another object of which both possess

(3) garo ma-alsom na suka

garo ma-sourness LNKR vinegar
‘Somewhat like a sour vinegar’ / ‘like a sour vinegar’

(4) garo aki

garo child
‘child-like/childish’ Reduplication

The concept contained in the base is somewhat reduced by the reduplication of a part of
the word. The (Lobel & Tria, 2000)
Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

(1) ma-taba-taba
‘quite fat’

(2) ma-gajon-gajon
‘quite beautiful’

Below is an example that shows feigned actions, particularly dealing with afflictions.
These words are usually verbalized by the addition of the affix mag- + -an (Mintz, 1971, p. 150).

(1) buog  buog- buog

‘deaf’ ‘feigning deafness’

(1a) mag-bu og -an an aki.
‘pretending to be deaf’

6.0 Is adverb present in Bikol?

In the course of my study of Bikol adjectives, I have encountered describing words that
follow a word in a verb form. In English, and as what we know generally, that if a verb is
preceeded by a modifier, that modifier is known as an adverb. However, in most Philippine
languages, such cases is not like that.

Arguments as to the presence of adverbs in Philippine languages have been streaming the
linguistic discussions ever since. Some findings show that adverbs are really present in some of
our languages like in Pangasinense.

In this section, I will try to check if the phrases I have encountered in which there is an
adjective modifying a verb is different from the kind of phrases discussed in the previous
sections of this paper. Let’s try to look at these examples.

(1) a. Magajon an daraga.

Beautiful DET maiden
‘The maiden is beautiful.’

b. Magajon an daraga magkanta.

Beautiful DET maiden sing
‘The maiden is beautiful at singing.’

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

b. Magajon magkanta an daraga.

Beautiful sing DET maiden
‘The maiden sings beautifully.’

Seeing the first example, the adjective magajon is followed by a noun daraga with the
determiner an. In the second one, the adjective magajon is also followed by a noun daraga, which
comes with the word magkanta. Magkanta in that sentence acts as a gerund, meaning, a word in
verb form but functions as noun. In the third example, the adjective magajon describes the word
magkanta, which in that case acts as a verb.

The third example shows a case showing that the describing word functions as that of
the adverb. It can be noticed that adjectives in Bikol don’t change their morphological
appearance when describing a verb. The same adjective word is used to modify a noun or a verb.
Based on my understanding, in this case, the word magajon in example (c) is not referred to as an
adverb. It’s just that when they are translated in English, they look like one. Bikol adjectives
modify nouns, pronouns and verbs.

However, it is to be noted that in there are instances that Bikol language shows an adverb.
This occurs when adverbs of time such as the days of the week ( Martes ‘Tuesday < muro-Martes
‘every Tuesday and Bjernes ‘Friday < buro-Bjernes ‘every Friday”) are used.

7.0 Conclusion

Bikol adjectives are found before or after the word it describes. An adjective phrase
consists of an adjective affix and an adjective base. Some adjectives do not possess affixes but
most of them do. Corresponding categories attach themselves with specific affixes.

For the pluralization of the adjectives, the use of the word mga or the insertion of –rV- is
needed, each of which also attaches themselves with certain adjective forms. Combining these
two is also accepted, although it is only considered an option.

Intensification covers the equality and the contrastivity. The latter includes superlative
and comparative degrees, excessiveness, negation and the diminishing of quantities. In showing
equality, siri ka- and pareho are used. Comparative degree is shown by the use of mas and pa,
both of which can be used separately or as one. Superlatives are formed by the addition of the
suffix –on (-hon if the base word ends with a vowel), prefix pinaka-, and the words maraj, garo,
and aba. An adjective, which is already intensified by the use of –on, can also use maraj or garo at
the same time. The words sobra and grabe are used to show excessiveness. Negation uses bako or
bako gajo. In showing diminished quantities, labi ka-, medЋo, dikit, garo and repetition and are used.

It cannot be generally concluded that there are no adverbs in Bikol. The term ‘adjective’
does not only take the modification of nouns and pronouns, but also of verbs since there is only

Lapid: Bikol Adjectives

one term for that describing word. However, in some cases there is the presence of adverbs most
particularly the adverbs of time.

It is admitted that the author’s linguistic knowledge is not yet sufficient to cover up the
complicated problems dealing with adjectives and adverbs. It is therefore recommended that
works on Bikol adjectives be further studied and improved in the future.


DET - determiner PST- past

PL- plural NM- nominal marker
LNKR- linker REDUP- reduplication
CL- clitic REPET- repetition
PM- plural marker Vaff- Vaff
C- consonant AdjAff- adjective affix
V- vowel AdjBa- adjective base
LM- locative marker


Lobel, J.W., & Tria, W.J.S. (2000). An Satuyang Tataramon. Naga City: Lobel & Tria Partnership,
Lopez, C. (1937). Preliminary study of the affixes in Tagalog. Selected Writings of Cecilio Lopez.
Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1937.
McFarland, C.D. (1974). The dialects of Bikol area. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Yale
Univeristy, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Mintz, M.W. (1971). Bikol grammar notes. In H. McKaughan (Ed.). PALI Language Texts:
Philippines. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.