Wednesday Word: Go

In Palawano, surong, as a verb, means “go.” Put a suffix –an on it, and it’s a noun meaning “destination.” Simple enough.

But used figuratively, it can also mean “to improve.” So if your friendship with someone “goes,” not only is it actually still there, it’s stronger and better than ever!

But surprisingly, surong can also mean “to get worse.” When your sickness “goes,” that means it’s becoming more serious. Yes, it is the exact opposite meaning… or is it really?

I think that the sense behind the figurative meanings “improve” and “get better” is more like “continue going in the current direction,” or “become more so.” So good things become “more so” and bad things become “more so,” as well.

Again, the point of these little vignettes is not for you to learn Palawano, but to have a little fun, perhaps, while being reminded that word-for-word “translation” is not actually translation at all, and that defining words based on the concept of their so-called equivalents in English will usually mislead us.

Meanwhile, we can all pause to think about whether we are investing the effort to make the good things in our lives “go” (improve), while striving to hinder the progress of any unwanted negative elements.

Pick something… and make it go!


About Bill Davis

Writer, speaker and translation and language learning consultant. I write technical articles, poetry and humor, and I am working on my first novel which is set on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.
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