(the main dialect
of the philippines
), "ate", pronounced ah-teh
, means "older sister".
it is most often used as a title, appearing before the person's name much in the same way "uncle" is used. thus, the youngest child would preface the names of his older female siblings with "ate", obtaining, for example, such extended names as ate maria and ate beth. in context, "ate" can be used by itself without a name following it, becoming an abbreviation for the compound name itself.
also like the word "uncle", it can be used nominally. it can simply mean "older sister", literally.
tagalog: "pero ikaw ay ate niya"
english: "but you are her / his older sister"
tagalog: "sino ba ang ate mo?"
english: "who is your older sister?"
much like other asian cultures, titles are given to people with an eye kept toward some sort of social hierarchy. the title spoken is in reference to yourself (Cf: japanese honorofic language, keigo), here indicating a subserviance brought on by age and birth rank. though this term can also be used in addressing older female cousins, there is no word for "little sister".
"Ate" can also be used as a term of affection made to an older female who is not related to the speaker. it can also be abbreviated verbally with "te".