The Case of Ano: Language in the Formation of Kapwa

  • John Moses A. Chua


This essay delves into the multifaceted nature of the Tagalog word ano, examining its usage in various contexts and its impact on communication within Tagalog-speaking communities. Three cases of ano are discussed in the essay. The first case pertains to ano accompanied by ostension; the second, pertains to ano accompanied by context clues; and the third, pertains to ano without any ostension or context. In Tagalog communities, ano, despite the lack of ostension or context, is sometimes still used in everyday conversations, presenting the problem of how meaning or understanding of the word ano is still possible. The third case of ano will be further divided into two: IT-ano (ibang tao-ano) and HIT-ano (hindi ibang tao-ano) providing the difference between strangers and acquaintances. By relying on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s idea of what it means to understand through language-game, this essay discusses how a vague word such as ano gives rise to meaning and understanding. This approach to clarify meaning will relate to the levels of social interaction found in Virgilio Enriquez’s idea of pakikipagkapwa. The analysis will proceed by referring to hypothetical scenarios involving the use of the term ano situated in the everyday conversational use of language by Filipinos. The mode of analysis takes the perspective of the author, who is a native speaker of Tagalog.