Words for Onion in Kapampangan
Filipinos have made international headlines for facing an onion shortage right now, but there’s no shortage of different and distinct onion vocabulary for Kapampángans as diverse influences on the Kapampángan language gave them several words for onions!
For the past month, onions have become one of the unofficial symbols of inflation in the country, with the price of onions skyrocketing to about twice or thrice that of meat.
Multiple languages have influenced the Kapampángan language throughout history (from Arabic to even Nahuatl!), and three of them (Spanish, Sanskrit, and Hokkien) have contributed words for onions in Kapampángan.
Kapampángan notably has a lot of Spanish, Sanskrit, and Hokkien loanwords, in some cases even unique to Kapampángan or not found in many other Philippine languages.
SIBÚYAS • (si-BOO-yuhs)
Spanish cebollas, plural of cebolla “onion”
LASÚNÂ • (luh-SOO-na’)
shallot (smaller red onion)
Tagálog: múrang sibúyas (literally “immature onion”, with múra = “immature; cheap”; may also refer to spring onions)
Sanskrit लशुन (laśuna) “garlic”
SÁNG • (SAHNG)
scallion, green onion, spring onion, onion leaves
Tagálog: dáhon ng sibúyas (“leaf of onion”)
Hokkien 蔥 / 葱 (chhang) /t͡sʰaŋ⁴⁴/ “green onion, scallion”
“Sibúyas” is the most commonly used general word for “onion” (incl. shallots) while “lasúnâ” is a rarely used old word for “onion” that is specifically used as “shallot” (smaller red onions) by some people.
Tagálog “múrang sibúyas” (literally “immature/cheap onion”) may also be used for scallions or green onions aside from shallots.
“Sáng” is commonly used in Kapampángan for scallions/green onions, spring onions, or generally onion leaves.
literally “onion-skinned”; oversensitive, easily offended
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