We talk about the “glottal stops” in my classes a lot because they are littered all over the Tagalog language. In Tagalog, they can exist before the word as in 'aso, in the middle of the word as in o'o, and in the end as in upo'. These sounds are made when we are holding our breath like when saying “bottle” in a British accent—the t sound is replaced by the glottal stop (sounds like bo'ul). In Tagalog, these sounds make a big difference in a word, for example:
Tayo (don’t hold breath at the end)- means "us"
Tayo' (hold breath at end) - means "stand up"
Kaya – can
Kaya’ – wondering
Basa - to read
basa' - wet
Sama – join
Sama’ – bad
Many Tagalog words differ in meaning depending on the presence of the glottal stop.
Can you think of any?
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