TIL: The Filipino term for ‘Zero’ is ‘Kopong’

Gelo Lasin

For today’s TIL (Today I Learned), we’ve got something that’s a bit simpler, but mindblowing nonetheless.

Lately, I’ve noticed that the Internet has been amusingly fascinated with the Filipino language. One viral question, in particular, has people asking: ‘What the heck is ‘zero’ in Filipino?’

 

And while it may seem that ‘zero’ is just one of those English words that do not have a direct literal translation in Filipino, a quick search on Google and Twitter proves that it actually has one, and it’s called ‘Kopong’.

 

Apparently, ‘Kopong’ is an old Tagalog word that we adapted from Indonesia which translates to empty, nothing or zero.

So whenever your lolos and lolas used to exclaim that your dress looked liked it was from ’19 kopong kopong’, they were literally saying that you look like someone from the 1900s.

And here I thought ‘Kopong Kopong’ was a person.

 

Twitter user @keiakamatsu says that ‘Kopong’ is actually a derivation of the Malay word ‘Kosong’ which translates into ‘blank or zero’.

 

One quick search for a tutorial on how to count in Indonesian proves that the claim is true

 

SEE ALSO: TIL: The first-ever Filipino serial killer is a Catholic priest

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