Question: Connotations of Actor vs Object Focused Verbs

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Author Photo by: Flecktarn2 Badge: Supporter
Feb 07 2021, 6:19pm CST ~ 2 mos., 14 days ago. 
Question: Connotations of Actor vs Object Focused Verbs
Hello all. I think I finally have gotten a handle on how focus works grammatically in Tagalog, but something I don't understand keeps happening. Mostly I am learning on my own through textbooks, flashcards and dictionary on this website, reading in Tagalog, etc. but also I try to practice speaking and pronunciation with my mom . She is fluent at a conversational level, but between her Tagalog having deteriorated from living in the US for so long and her not being a language teacher, she isn't able to help me with more subtle things. Let me give an example of what keeps happening. I will practice by telling her something simple like "Nagbabasa ako ng aklat ko kagabi." and she will respond by saying "Okay, I understand but I would tend to say it like 'Binabasa ko ang aklat ko kagabi.'" So as far as my novice brain can tell we are 1) both grammatically correct, and 2) both communicating almost exactly the same message, but she is consistently choosing to use object/patient focused type verbs whereas my brain (which still thinks in English) is gravitating towards actor/active focused verbs. But, I know intuitively that there must be some subtle differences between the two options. Is there something wrong with what I am doing? What are the connotations of each? Does one come across as more formal or less formal than the other? More direct than the other? Any help would be appreciated, thank you!
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Author Photo akosikoneho Badge: SupporterBadge: Serious SupporterBadge: VIP SupporterOfficial Teacher Teacher
Feb 07 2021, 6:37pm CST ~ 2 mos., 14 days ago. 
Yes, we Anglos tend to over use the actor focused verbs. In general Tagalog uses object focused verbs when describing something that is happening for only a short time, or has happened for a first time.
I cook would translate as an actor focused verb, I am cooking (xyz) would translate with an object/patient focused verb.
You can think of the actor focused verbs as the habitual things we do, and the object patient focused ones as being more ephemeral.
Nagbasa ako ng aklat ko = I used to read my book(s).
Binasa ko yung aklat ko = I read my book.
Nagbabasa ako ng aklat = I read books (often, as a habit)
Binabasa ko ang aklat = I'm reading the book (right now, but not always)
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Author Photo Flecktarn2 Badge: Supporter
Feb 07 2021, 6:52pm CST ~ 2 mos., 14 days ago. 
@akosikoneho Thank you Mr. Rabbit for the quick reply - thinking of it as habitual vs ephemeral makes sense to me. In the interim, I think if I just "default to" the object/patient focused verbs I will get my message across a higher percentage of the time, and then consciously think to myself "Oh, this is more habitual, I will switch to the actor-focused form." I am also re-assured to hear that I am not the only other English-speaking learner to struggle with this particular thing. I will tell my Mom what you said and hopefully this will go a long way to helping us understand each other more often, and reduce our frustration! Thanks again.
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Author Photo menay Badge: SupporterBadge: Serious Supporter
Feb 08 2021, 9:58am CST ~ 2 mos., 13 days ago. 
Hi, having the same problem with the "active voice/actor focus" and the "passive voice/object focus" i tend to use active voice form as like English also in Hebrew that what we use to. Your description of your Mom reaction is the same like my wife. Following "TutorofManila" in FB and YouTube (highly recommended for Tagalog learners) i heard her saying that "unlike in English, in Tagalog we use to use the passive voice much more frequently" while trying to explain the verbs usage. good luck.
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Author Photo Flecktarn2 Badge: Supporter
Feb 09 2021, 8:52am CST ~ 2 mos., 12 days ago. 
@menay Thanks for the hint on Tutor of Manila! I had not heard of her until now. I have added many of her videos to my watch list.
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Author Photo jkos Badge: AdminBadge: SupporterBadge: Serious SupporterBadge: VIP Supporter
Feb 09 2021, 3:01pm CST ~ 2 mos., 12 days ago. 
Getting the right verb is tough in Tagalog.
In this case, the object focus verb is generally what will be used if you're referring to something specific (like your specific book that you read last night).
Nagbasa ako ng libro. = I read a book. (non-specific, "a book")
Binasa ko ang libro ko kagabi. = I read my book last night. (your specific book)
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Author Photo BoraMac Badge: Supporter
Feb 10 2021, 3:14am CST ~ 2 mos., 11 days ago. 
When I watch a movie at the cine...I am amazed by the emotion and connection converyed by the language. Tao Tayo db!
In all discussions of one of the most interesting language units ever created - the Tagalog VERB...all there is aspect and focus. Talagang talgaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh? Show me a thoughtful discussion otherwise. Naku!
When I was in a B School on a little hill in Ithaca, I was taught to BLEACH all emotion from our business COMMUNICATIONS. In the real world, we failed consistently until we all connected with what SELLS....EMOTIONS!
I can recommend a careful reading of Tagalog Structures of Teresita V. Ramos. Many strong clues in her AFFIX explanations. NOW, I would love for deeper conversations, but if you are truly interested, she drops the signposts. And a few more brave voices are down that path. Message me if you ever get down my way.
Past Perfect Verbs....Passive Active Constructions...SVO....meeeeh....those polluted English notions - for me - belong on a hill in Ithaca. I am NOT INTERESTED in spitting out some past perfect grammatical perfection translation. But if that's the most important for your REAL CONNECTIONS in the Philippines., MORE POWER.
Tagalog is more fun...and EMO...RIN!
Kita kits sa labas.
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Author Photo BoraMac Badge: Supporter
Feb 10 2021, 10:43am CST ~ 2 mos., 11 days ago. 
ULLLLLLkay read my disclaimer. (BTWhhhay what vowels UUUUL and AYYY...meh ewan)
Careful down this for me...I like the taste ang dugo ko!
Just the FACTS. Consider matay vs patay. (BTWhhhay which one came first and how did we get to the second?)
pINapatay niya ang neighbor ko. HE killed THHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHE neighbor. I am not talking -IN...just the law. M U R D E R Incorporated. You MUST point a gun. You must point at THEeeee neighbor. ANNNNNNNNNNG neighbor. You must have SPECIFIC INTENT to hit one neighbor with a bullet. BhhhhANG BhhhhANG! You must HIT that neighbor -- at least for the exact conviction of murder.
Now facts! When the pulis show up to my neighbors house. MAmatay siya! He died. His death was natural. His death was accidental. His death was inadvertent. I DONT KNOW, really. I might have even been there kahit pero TODDI, pangako ha. The Other DUDE DID IT, namaaaaaahhn. When the pulis are ever talking to me....MA- MA- MA- siyyyyyempreeeeeeeeeee! CharNOT! :D I don't like to pay for my bed - EVERY night.
If you ask for most affixes, sabi daw pareho pareho. OR...sabi daw deep Tagalog poh! Or...mas mabuti English po! Alam ko alam ko, poh poh poh. At pooh pooh pooh rin poh!
But if you look carefully at edge cases...ahhhhh ganun! There are daming signposts down that pathway...but many don't like you down that DARK narrow path. Ingat poh! Bawal dadaan poh!
BTWhaaay...Talagaaaaaaaah TAYO...TAO TAYO!
Kita kits sa labas. Tagalog is more fun DIN POH!
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Author Photo SiAko Badge: Native Tagalog Speaker
Feb 26 2021, 10:52am CST ~ 1 mo., 25 days ago. 
the actor focused verb emphasizes more on the action/ activity or the actor of the verb and the thing object is usually indefinite, hence: Nagbabasa ako ng libro kagabi = I was reading a book last night. The object focused verb is really not in the passive voice but it emphasizes on the definite object which the speaker and the listener know, hence: Binabasa ko ang libro kagabi. = I was reading the book last night.
As for the word PATAY = it is an adjective meaning dead; Mamatay is a verb meaning to die; and Patayin is a verb meaning to kill ( pinatay is the past tense of patayin, which is the infinitive form)
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Author Photo jkos Badge: AdminBadge: SupporterBadge: Serious SupporterBadge: VIP Supporter
Feb 26 2021, 11:35am CST ~ 1 mo., 25 days ago. 
The object focused verb is really not in the passive voice but...
Totally agree here. This is a little off topic, but I really think the "Object focus = English passive voice" is just terribly misleading and just a bad analogy for students...although I've seen it explained that way in multiple places...
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Author Photo Flecktarn2 Badge: Supporter
Feb 26 2021, 12:45pm CST ~ 1 mo., 25 days ago. 
@jkos As an update, I have been practicing with this issue (including with another Tagalog speaker I met) so I am getting better - good news! I do think that the analogy to passive English voice has been useful to me as a student to understand the CONSTRUCTION of the object focus, though not so much its use (which as SiAko is saying, it seems to me more about emphasis and, well... focus haha). The latter is slowly coming to me with practice. Anyway, that's my progress so far.
I am grateful for the responses I have been getting on this forum.
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Author Photo Bituingmaykinang
Mar 19 2021, 3:59pm CST ~ 1 mo., 4 days ago. 
I think the difference is easier seen if framed interrogatively. I'll use the completed form for simplicity
Nagbasa ako ng libro kagabi answers the question "what did you do last night?"
Binasa ko ang libro kagabi answers the question "what did you do to the book last night?"
Does it make sense?
Just don't say Binasa ako ng libro kagabi. Grammatically correct, but the meaning is funny.
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Author Photo Bituingmaykinang
Mar 19 2021, 4:09pm CST ~ 1 mo., 4 days ago. 
@SiAko Then there's napatay which means manslaughter. LOL
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Author Photo SiAko Badge: Native Tagalog Speaker
Mar 19 2021, 7:20pm CST ~ 1 mo., 4 days ago. 
@Bituingmaykinang ha ha ha you are actually right. The root is patay which means dead. so, Patay (adj) siya means he is dead; all the others are verbs: Namatay siya means he died; Pinatay siya means someone killed him / he was murdered; Napatay siya means he got killed/ he was accidentally killed. .. so yeah manslaughter or homicide's really more fun learning Tagalog if you know the way but it's a real jungle without a compass..... Tagalog is really a beautiful language
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Author Photo AklayPakau Badge: Native Tagalog Speaker
Mar 19 2021, 11:33pm CST ~ 1 mo., 4 days ago. 
Hehe, it's not only in Tagalog.. the patay/matay difference can also be found in other Philippine languages, and after doing a bit more research, the reconstructed Proto-Austronesian had it as well.. really interesting.
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