The Etymology and Usage of Ate/Kuya and Ading.
-allo! To all the new ates and kuyas, congrats! You get your first adings. To older ates and kuyas, congrats for adding to your family lines. And to our newbies in PAC, I give you the biggest congrats! You guys will finally get your ates and kuyas and be put into PAC families! But first, this question... how many of you guys actually have older siblings? What do you call them?
Ate? Kuya? How about younger siblings? What do you call them? How many of you guys know the background of these words?
Turns out, the words ‘ate’ and ‘kuya’ are derived from Chinese bases. ‘Ate’ derived from ‘atchi’ and ‘kuya’ from ‘koya’. In fact, the dialect of Kapampangan still uses the Chinese versions of the words ‘ate’ and ‘kuya’ today. Besides those two dialects, Ilocano uses the terms ‘manong’ and ‘manang’, where in Tagalog we use those words for much older members that we have a kinship relationship to. ‘Manong’ and ‘manang’ are actually more derived from Spanish words than Chinese words (‘hermano’ and ‘hermana’ respectively).
Who here has more than one older sibling? Did you know there’s more terms than just ‘ate’ and ‘kuya’ when referring to your older siblings? ‘Ate’ and ‘kuya’ are usually reserved for the eldest in each family. Following that, we have ‘diko’ and ‘dete’ meaning ‘second oldest brother’ and ‘second oldest sister’. Guess what? They also come from Chinese bases! ‘Di’ in Chinese means second. In fact, there are more honorifics between siblings in the Philippines separating them by age and order from oldest to youngest (like ‘sangko’ and ‘sanse’ for the third and so on and so forth.
Enough talk about the ‘ates’ and ‘kuyas’ here a tidbit for the adings. Tagalog, by definition, uses the word ‘kapatid’ when referring to a sibling. The youngest in the family usually obtains the nickname of ‘bunso’ meaning baby (very fitting for the last sibling in most families). Now, I guess you’re wondering, where does the word ‘ading’ come from? The word ‘ading’ is from Ilocano, but has been adopted into normal usage since there is no direct translation to address younger siblings except the word ‘kapatid’. A reason for this is that ‘kapatid’ is usually used to refer to only younger siblings, while ‘ading’ can be used to refer to younger siblings, relatives and friends.
The words ‘ate’ and ‘kuya’ and ‘ading’ aren’t meant to just used for siblings. They also relate to the workplace and school! Using these words break the ice by a means of showing respect due to a gap of age or superiority (a younger student asking an older student, or a mentee to a mentor). This usage allows the exchange of common information and the beginning of conversation between two people. It shows the respect given to someone who is older, wiser, or more experienced. It’s kinda like how here we refer to Professors and Teachers by their honorific titles. The Philippines as a nation, and we as Pilipino people hold high to this value. The respect between people and the usage of these words shows just that. And its more than just respecting each other, its respecting your culture. It’s a placeholder for keeping in tune with your culture back home and honoring those who share the same cultural values as you.