Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

To all of those who read my blog, I am wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

Manigong Bagong Taon sa inyong lahat! (Tagalog)
Mabungahong Bag-ong Tuig kaninyong tanan! (Cebuano)
Narang-ay a Baro a Tawen kadakayo amin! (Ilokano)
Mahamungayaon nga Bag-ong Tuig sa inyong tanan (Hiligaynon)
Mamura-way na Ba-gong Taon sa indo gabos! (Bikol)
Masaplalang Bayung Banwa keko ngan! (Kapampangan)
Mainuswagon nga Bag-o nga Tuig ha iyo nga tanan! (Waray-Waray)
Maaligwas ya Balon Taon ed sikayon amin! (Pangasinan)
Mahigugmaon nga Bag-ong Dag-on kinyo tanan! (Akeanon)
Makasi Tahun Ba'gu kaniyu katantan! (Tausug)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas greetings

Christmas is almost here, so in the spirit of Christmas and in the spirit of the subject of this blog, here are Christmas greetings in various Philippine languages. If you have any greetings for languages not on this list or corrections, please feel free to contribute. Though I should note that I highly prefer greetings from native speakers and not the ones that come from those error-ridden lists on the internet.

Tagalog: Maligayang Pasko
Cebuano: Maayong Pasko
Ilokano: Naragsak a Paskua
Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, Romblomanon, & Masbateño: Malipayon nga Paskwa
Bikol: Maogmang Pasko
Waray-Waray: Maupay nga Pasko
Kapampangan: Masayang Pasku
Pangasinan: Maabig ya Pasko
Akeanon: Maayad-ayad nga Paskwa
Asi: Maadong Paskwa
Onhan: Mayad nga Paskwa
Bolinao: Marigan Nabidad
Boholano: Malipajong Pasko
Philippine English: Meri Krismas :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Waray-Waray articles

In this issue of Salita Blog, we'll explore the wonderful world of Waray-Waray markers and how they compare with other Philippine languages.

To put this into perspective, Tagalog has three markers that each fit into three categories: absolutive, which is represented by ang; ergative (genitive), which is represented by ng; and oblique, which is sa. We'll just concern ourselves with the first two categories. These are further divided into common and personal classes, and the ones I listed are the common ones which this blog entry will focus on.

For more information on Tagalog markers, check out the Wikipedia article I wrote about Tagalog grammar. But here are some examples:

Ang Republika ng Pilipinas. (The Republic of the Philippines)
Kumain ng mansanas ang lalaki. (The man ate some apples [actor focus])
Kinain ng lalaki ang mansanas. (The man ate some [object focus])

Ilokano has a simpler system. Ti covers both absolutive and ergative case when the verb is not in the actor focus. On the other hand iti is usually the oblique but if there is an actor focus verb, it marks the object.

Ti Republika ti Pilipinas.
Nangan ti lalaki iti mansanas. (actor focus)
Kinnan ti lalaki ti mansanas. (object focus)

Bikol has a more expanded system. an and si are both absolutive with si being the most "specific" of the two. Usually it refers to something that was already mentioned. nin and kan are the ergative counterparts, respectively. Tagalog has a similar system but on an ostensibly colloquial level; yung and nung. Examples for Bikol:

An Republika kan Pilipinas.
Nagkakan an lalaki nin mansanas. (The man ate some apples.)
Nagkakan si lalaki nin mansanas. (The man ate some apples. [This refers to a man that was already mentioned.])
Kinakan nin lalaki an mansanas. (The man ate the apple.)
Kinakan kan lalaki an mansanas. (The man ate the apple. [again, refering to a previously-mentioned man.)
Siisay an maduman sa Maynila?

Hiligaynon has only ang in the absolutive case but sing and sang in the ergative. Sing is indefinite while sang is definite.

Hiligaynon's system appears to be the norm among Visayan languages.

Ang Republika sang Pilipinas.
Nagkaon ang lalaki sing mansanas. (apples, indefinite)
Ginkaon sang lalaki ang mansanas. (man, definite)

Cebuano has what I find to be a peculiar system. ang is the absolutive marker but the indefinite one is 'y and appears only in certain constructions such as interrogative words. ug is the ergative marker and usually found when the verb is in the actor focus. Sa is the definitive ergative marker and the one used in genitive constructions. It is also the oblique marker, so from my Tagalog perspective it sounds odd to me.

Ang Republika sa Pilipinas.
Mikaon ang lalaki ug mansanas.
Gikaon sa lalaki ang mansanas.
Unsa'y gikaon nimo? (What did you eat?)

Now, on to Waray-Waray's very interesting system.

Waray-Waray not only has an definite and indefinite distinction, but also a temporal one! This means a distinction between past and the non-past.

Here's a run-down:

in - indefinite (all times)
an - definite past
it - definite non-past (present and future)

The genitive forms are simply the addition of h or s, depending on the dialect. I will use h since that is used in Tacloban.

In Tagalog, to express "a man called" one could say may tumawag na lalaki or tumawag ang isang lalaki; and yes, tumawag ang lalaki is also possible. In Waray-Waray, the indefinite article gets rid of the ambiguity, it'd be tinmawag in lalaki. May-ada tinmawag nga lalaki is also possible.

If it's definite, you say tinmawag an lalaki (The man called).

Other translations.

Natawag an lalaki = The man was calling. (note an, past definite)
Natawag it lalaki = The man is calling. (note it, non-past definite)
Matawag it lalaki = The man will call.

Matawag an lalaki is also possible and it could imply that the person being spoken to knows the man.

Translations of the phrases I used for other languages:

An Republika han Pilipinas.
Kinmaon an lalaki hin mansanas. (The man ate some apples).
Kinmaon an lalaki han mansanas. (The man ate the apples).
Kinaon han lalaki an mansanas. (The man ate the apples).

I find this really cool. I think it'd be great if Tagalog had a system (or dare I say had conserved a system?) like this. It's the complex things in a language which attract (and oftentimes, frustrate) me.

And that concludes today's entry, folks!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Excellent news!!

Dimatung na in mga buk ku!
Nag-abot na an sakuyang mga libro!
Simmangpeten dagiti librok!
Miabot na ang akong mga libro!
Sinmabi la saray librok!
Nag-abot na ang akon mga libro!
Dinatang na la reng libru ko!
Inmabot na an ak mga libro!
Dungmating na ang aking mga aklat!
Dumating na ang aking mga libro!

You can find out what the languages above are at the bottom of this post.


If you understood at least one of those sentences above, my Tausug books finally came! They came several days ago just as Jason and I were going to begin the process to submit the insurance claim and have a tracer investigation done at the post office. I'm so glad that we don't have to do that anymore. I was just jumping for joy when I saw the "you have a package" ticket at the post office.

I noticed the post office inspected my package, because it said so on a stamp. I am betting that was the cause for the delay. But I learned my lesson; opt for a more faster delivery method if ordering from Hawai'i.

In any case, the books are wonderful. The printer and the guy who did the covers did a great job! I really love looking at my books and have been showing them off to friends and relatives.

I am in the process of making a web page so it'll have all the pricing and shipping info. It will be ready by Tuesday.

For those of you who have requested to be on a waiting list for the books, I will contact you this week.

I've not had a lot of time lately, so I am glad that I have a four-day weekend coming up.

Of course, a very big thank you to Jason Lobel who's been with me on this project since day one, which was almost three years ago. The book started out as a very crude 4-page article back in March of 2002. Eventually it became an 80-page "monster." He suggested that I turn it into a book and he took care of having it published out in Camarines Sur then bringing them all the way to Hawai'i and ultimately here. I can never thank him enough.

I am extremely happy.

And the languages above are: Tausug, Bikol, Ilokano, Cebuano, Pangasinan, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Waray-Waray, 17th century Tagalog, and modern Tagalog. Corrections and additions (like other languages) would be appreciated. :-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bummed... and link of the day.

The Tausug books I wrote still have not arrived. This coming Saturday will be week 7 already. I had a talk with the postal worker at my local post office and he said that was kind of odd, even for a package coming from Honolulu. He said to consider it lost and file the insurance claim.

And now I'm depressed about this.

But there is hope! I got in contact with eBay sellers who have experience mailing stuff; they have familiarity with how the US Postal Service operates. They said to fill out a "tracer" or more specifically, PS Form 1510 Mail Loss/Rifling Report. USPS will conduct an investigation to see where my package went. Usually they'll find the package in a back room, forgotten, or whatever.

In any case, the person who sent it, my friend Jason Lobel, has to initiate the search and I've already passed on the information to him on his voice mail last night.

I am keeping my fingers crossed. I am just glad I put insurance on it as well as a delivery confirmation number on it so I can make sure, via USPS's website, that it was not mistakenly delivered to whomever.

But seriously, how the hell can you lose 31 lbs of books!? This has been a frustrating experience for me. I've learned my lesson. Ship UPS or FEDEX.

And so sorry for the negative post, to make up for it I'll show you what I found last night:

It's a grammar of Cebuano that was written in 1904. It was translated from Spanish to English. Very interesting. And when I have more time, I'll read it over more in depth.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

20 Best Pangasinan Lovesongs

This evening my family and I went to the nearest Philippine grocery store, which is about 25 miles away from the rural area where we live, to stock up on some Filipino goodies.

I decided to browse the music CDs and none really caught my eye until I saw a CD full of Bikol songs. I was going to get it until I saw the Pangasinan ones. I already have a lot of Bikol music so I went and ahead bought the Pangasinan one instead. It's called 20 Best Pangasinan Lovesongs Vol. 2.

The lady who helped me ask if I was from Pangasinan and Bikol. I told her that I study Philippine languages so she started speaking to me in Ilokano. So I got some practice; she didn't use difficult words and I just spoke in basic sentences. I didn't understand her when she spoke to her coworker, but it was awfully pleasant to listen to! I left her by thanking her with Agyamanak and she said you're welcome by saying Awan ania man. I wish I could practice Ilokano more with native speakers on a more frequent basis. Or any other Philippine language for that matter.

In any case, I am listening to the Pangasinan CD right now. It's hard to tell if they're native speakers. But they are pronouncing the schwa vowel e consistently.

The songs on this CD are: Pawlen Ta Ca, Saray Luluak, Matalag ya Agew, Bituen Tan Dua, Pawil Cala, Puson Nankasalanan, Mairap So Mangaro, Bituen Ko, Inan Maaro, Liwayway Bulan, Nalingwan, Puson Maermen, Nilamang Mo'y Arok, Pagbabawi, Lapud Sika, Napapagaan, Diad Kasal Ko, Pinagpabli Taka, Siknol na Aro, and Happy Birthday Bilay Ko.

By the way, the CD looks a lot like the Kapampangan love songs CD I have. But unfortunately, the Pangasinan one does not have lyrics included unlike the Kapampangan one.

PS: My blog was one of the 142 out of 365 blogs to make it to the semi-finals at the Philippine Blog Awards web site. Cool, eh?

PPS: I still have not received my books. Any day now it is expected to arrive. I'm anxious.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

New Diversion: A Comparative Study of Philippine Lexicons

Before I begin. To those of you who have sent me e-mails concerning ordering my book, this is just to let you know that I am in receipt of them. I intend on giving pricing and shipping information sometime after I receive the books within the next couple of weeks.

In the mean time, I have a new diversion. It's Fe Z. Aldave-Yap's A Comparative Study of Philippine Lexicons. It was published in 1977. It's a comprehensive book and it was just as I was looking for. I do own a copy of Dr. Lawrence Reid's Philippine Minor Languages: Word Lists and Phonologies, but it covers "only" 43 languages spoken mostly in Northern Luzon and Mindanao. Aldave-Yap's work expanded upon Dr. Reid's to a total of 80 languages spoken in the Philippines.

The similarities and differences vary depending on the word. For example, dila and its variants (i.e., zila, rira, jila, chila, hila, etc.) are common in about 77 of the languages listed. The other 3 use lengua (in the Zamboanga & Cavite variants of Chabacano) and limut of Kakidugen Ilongot.

For an example of the vast differences, here's the word for "face" in those languages which I posted to a mailing list today. The names and transcription methods used have been altered somewhat.

MUKHÂ - Aklanon, Tagalog, Tagarug Sinauna (a language that is related
more to Kapampangan than Tagalog), Mangyan Tadayawan
NUKÂ - Ibanag
MUKAT - Agta, Isneg

ÁNGAH - Amganad Ifugao, Keley-i Kallahan
ÁNGAS - Northern Kankanaey, Tiruray
ANGAH - Batad Ifugao, Bayninan Ifugao
BÁNGAS - Hanunoo

APÉNG - Balangaw
APÍNG - Guinaang Kalinga
PING, ÁPING - Guinaang Kalinga

BAHU' - Agusan Manobo
BÁNHU' - Dibabawon Manobo
BAYHU' - Samal, Tausug
BÁYHO' - Butuanon, Mamanwa
BÁYHO(N) - Masbateño, Waray-Waray
BAYU' - Siocon Subanon

GE'YA - Dibabawon Manobo
GYA - Kalagan
GUYÁ - Hiligaynon
UYAEN - Kalamian Tagbanwa
UYAHÓN - Aklanon, Buhid, Hanunoo, Romblomanon
PANGUYÁHEN - Kinaray-a
UYÉN - Kuyonon
UYO - Tboli

RANGÍ - Tiruray
LENGI - Maranao
LANGÁ - Ilokano
LANGLANGUAN - Ata Manobo, Tigwa Manobo

NÁWENG - Dibabawon Manobo
NAWÓNG - Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Cebuano
NAONG - Kinamigin (Camiguin)

MÚYUNG - Itawis
MUTÚNG - Ibanag
MÚTUNG - Gaddang

LÓPA - Guinaang Bontoc, Binongan Itneg, Botolan Sambal
LÚPA - Kayapa Kallan, Kapampangan, Pangasinan
RÚPA - Ilokano, Aborlan Tagbanwa
DOPA - Ibaloi

BENÉNG - Maguindanao
BÉNNENG - Obo Manobo

BÍAS - Maranao
BIYAS - Maguindanao, Tiruray

MUGING - Isneg
MÚYIÑ - Ivatan

GÁTI - Sarangani Sangil
HATI - Sangir

KAHIMÓ - Waray-Waray
KAIMU' - Mansaka

WALENG - Palawan Batak, Cagayano
WE'LENG - Binukid
WAYÓNG - Surigaonon

LALÁWGEN - Rinconada Bikol
LALÁWGON - Naga Bikol

ALITÁNG - Iraya Mangyan
BATUK - Tagbanwa
BAWA - Sarangani Manobo
BAWEH - Sarangani Blaan, Koronadal Blaan
BEHÁL - Balangaw
DAGWAY - Kinamigin
DANGOY - Ivatan
QA'NUP - Kakiudgen Ilongot
CARA - Zamoboanga Chabacano, Cavite Chabacano
KILAY - Kalamansig Cotabato Manobo (of forehead)
KEPIREKPIREK - Western Bukidnod Manobo
MAMMANG - Pamplona Atta
MATÂ - Casiguran Dumagat
MULU' - Sindangan Subanon
RÚSAY - Alangan Mangyan

The words are grouped by similarity. Those that cannot are at the end of the list. It's a great book. It's too bad that it's out of print.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Book Update!

Jason called me from Honolulu this morning to informed me the has mailed 100 copies of my Tausug book. Allow 2 to 3 weeks for delivery.

What can I say? I'm very excited. I've been anticipating this for so long.

Today my grandma asked me "Gagawa ka pa ba ng ibang libro?" At ang sagot ko sa kaniya ay "Yep, those are my plans."

Eventually, at least.

Today's reading, which is very appropriate since Butuanon is Tausug's closest relative: Rescuing the Butuanon Language.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Filipino Classes at UH feel pinch

My friend Kalani sent me the article in the link below.

I'm a bit surprised that this is happening at University of Hawai'i where leading linguists on Philippine languages have taught and continue to teach. Linguists such as Lawrence Reid and Bob Blust.

Here's hoping that things will work out. There don't appear to be programs like that in the states.

Sunday, August 29, 2004


I do know that the description of this blog is dedicated to the "the over 160 languages in the Republic of the Philippines." However, there is a language that is worth mentioning. It is part of the Philippine language family, and is particularly close to Ivatan and Itbayat of Batanes. This language is called Yami and it is spoken in Taiwan.

Taiwan is not only home to Chinese language such as Taiwanese, Mandarin, and Hakka but it is also home to Austronesian languages such as Atayal, Paiwan, Tsou, Rukai, Ami, and others. Yami is the only Austronesian language spoken in Taiwan that is considered part of the vast Malayo-Polynesian subfamily that includes languages as far west as Malagasy and as far east as Hawaiian and Rapa Nui.

Yami, Ivatan, and Itbayat belong to the Bashiic-Central Luzon-Northern Mindoro (henceforth, BCN) subfamily of the Northern Philippine branch. The most famous BCN language is one of the 12 most spoken languages in the Philippines, Kapampangan. The position of Kapampangan in this category is still pretty much shaky, but that's a whole other blog entry.

In any case, I have encountered a very interesting website dedicated to the Yami language. The URL is:

Knowing that Yami is related to the languages of the Batanes Islands, I wondered if it was mutually intelligible with them. The third chapter, The Common Origin of Bashiic cultures answered that for me. Apparently if the speakers try speaking their respective languages without foreign borrowings then their mutual intelligiblity is highly increased. For an Ivatan, this meant avoiding Spanish, English, & Tagalog words and a Yami had to avoid using Chinese & Japanese words.

I found the following passage, under "intercomprehension", particularly fascinating:

... In 1986 I succeeded in taking along a Yami friend named Si-Mogaz (male, 39), when I traveled from Irala to Ivatan and to Itbayat. My main curiosity was to see how well, after several hundreds of years of isolation, they could communicate with each other. Now we had living people at hand with a strong desire to communicate, which made the testing of mutual comprehension very different from the previous attempts with the recordings. The results showed themselves within the first hours of conversation. Si-Mogaz felt uncomfortable with the negative form of the Ivatan verb and was somewhat discouraged by the Spanish and English loanwords. As the hours passed, however, his conversation became more self-confident and a few very clear communication behavior patterns started surfacing. Both sides had realized by then that Spanish, English, and Tagalog loanwords on the one side, or Chinese and Japanese loanwords on the other, did not work, so they started eliminating them by looking for synonyms in their own languages. This spontaneous, instinctive response caused an unusual feeling of excitement for the conversants, as if they had understood subconsciously that they were making efforts to reconstruct the language of their common ancestors. Almost every time they succeeded in finding a proper synonym for a native word or bypassed an acculturated element of their contemporary vocabulary by finding a commonly understood synonym, they had to pause to express their excitement by saying: "we are relatives indeed," or "we surely have common origin." In the case of those Spanish words for which there were no Ivatan synonyms, or which were so strongly embedded in usage that the Ivatans could not work their way around them, to my greatest amazement Si-Mogaz started picking them up. At the end of the day he was using correctly the word siguro, which comes from the Spanish "sure." In Ivatanen it is used for "perhaps" and there is no exact Yami equivalent for it. ...
Very cool. Please be sure to read the transcriptions of two stories in Yami to get a feel for the language and to see similarities with other Philippine languages; Nikapowan no tawo do yayo (The creation myth of Yayo) and Nikapowan no tawo do tawo d'Iranmilek (The Creation Myth of Iranmilek). The list of Yami vocabulary is worth visiting as well.

The site also includes an extremely brief grammar & phonology. There are phonemes that are not prevalent in other Philippine languages such as a uvular stop found in Arabic and retroflex stops. On Dr. Rubino's page, you can read a brief description of Ivatan grammar.

And below is a map of the Bashiic area. Click it to enlarge. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Languages or Dialects?

I do apologize for not updating as often. I had just started working again, so I have a giant distraction now.

In any case, here's an essay that I have written a few years ago. I got so tired of explaining to people that Cebuano or Ilokano or what have you is not dialect but a language that I decided to write it.

The title is Languages or Dialects? Understating the Native Tongues of the Philipines

My essay has gained some notoriety in the Philippines and published in a couple of newspapers (I've never seen the actual papers, though) and people from DILA have printed it out to give as fliers. So hopefully people's perceptions have changed at least somewhat. ;-)

Whenever I'm not working or on the computer, I am working on Waray-Waray verbs for now. I came into contact with a good set of Waray books and making the most out of them. Apparently Waray doesn't have a separate affix for instrumental focus. An example in Tagalog would be Ipambili niya ng bigas ang pera ng kaniyang ina.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Lake Sebu videos

I recently found these videos of the peoples living at Lake Sebu - mainly the Tbolis. You can hear the Tboli language in these videos. Tboli is unlike other Philippine languages I've encountered, which is probably why it's not classified in the same family other Philippine languages. It is Austronesian though.

The language reminds me of Khmer (of Cambodia) or a Slavic language like Czech with complex consonant clusters at the beginning of a word. The name of the language should exemplifies this. There are other words like sdo (fish), kdaw (day), mkik (cry), and tnilos (to cut meat).

Here are the videos...

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Bill 1563: Filipino as medium of instruction

Consider yourselves lucky - two blog entries in one day.

I heard from fellow linguaphile Viktoro about a proposed bill in the Philippine House of Representatives which seeks to make Tagalog as the medium of instruction in schools.

The full article is here. And below is an excerpt.

The bill's authors said use of the national language in the country's schools would better promote love of Filipino. They said the national language is much easier for students to understand.

The bill cited that there are more subjects being taught in English than Filipino including Science, Mathematics and the Makabayan subjects that covers music, values, practical arts and physical education. It noted that only Pilipino, Araling Panlipunan and Kasaysayan are taught using the national language.
Acquaintances of mine who are against Tagalog being the medium of instruction in non-Tagalog schools will probably disagree with me when I say that this is a step in the right direction. And I sincerely believe it is.

Ideally, I want Cebuano, Bikol, Ilokano, etc. used as mediums of instruction in their respective regions. But when that isn't possible, the next logical step would be to choose a language that's even remotely related to those languages. And that language is Tagalog. I do understand that many non-Tagalogs are not too fond of this idea, but I think the most important thing is to set aside all differences so that the children understand the subjects that they are learning. They cannot do that effectively in English or Spanish or what not. The languages will not disappear as long as it is spoken at home, on the streets, or anywhere in the child's life.

As I said, this is a first step. Hopefully the next will be Cebuano. Good luck to Bill 1563.

Non-Tagalog TV

One word. Awesome.

I learned that there are three Cebuano soap operas on a channel called Pinoy Central TV; Kapalaran, La Roca Negra, and This Life. I got curious and decided find out more about this channel, which is available on satellite dish here in the United States.

I managed to locate a programming guide and was overjoyed to find that there were not only Cebuano soap operas, but also Cebuano news (TV Patrol Central Visayas) and talk & variety shows (Chikahay Ta & Sabado na Gyud).

It just doesn't end there.

There are also regional varieties of TV Patrol airing in their native languages; TV Patrol Naga (Bikol), TV Patrol Northern Luzon (Ilokano), and TV Patrol Iloilo (Hiligaynon).

Wow, exciting.

You can see a 6MB clip of of a sample of Pinoy Central TV's showings by clicking here. The first minute of the clip has to do with the regional language program offerings. But they showed only Hiligaynon shows (which is fine, Hiligaynon's a beautiful language) but I wanted to see more. What a tease. The other two minutes are about some other things.

So now I am thinking about getting satellite TV, hopefully it's affordable. Or maybe I can bum tapes of broadcastings off of people. heh. ;-)

Monday, August 09, 2004

Tagalog article at Wikipedia

For the past few weeks, I've been working on article about Tagalog at Wikipedia. Wikipedia is basically an online encyclopedia and everyone can contribute. There was one for Tagalog and I gave it a complete overhaul.

The new article is at:

This article will be edited by other users and that's perfectly fine, since that's the nature of Wikipedia. But copies of past edits are saved. The copy I did is here


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

My Tausug Book

As many of you know, I wrote a book about the Tausug language titled In Bahasa Sug: An Introduction to Tausug. It's been published by my friend Jason Lobel who is currently in the Philippines. The book is done and I should be getting it when he returns to the USA in September. I have not seen the final product yet, and I am very anxious to see.

So it's kind of a tease (grin) when Sonny Villafania wrote to me saying that Jason showed him my book when they met Dr. David Zorc at De La Salle University in Manila. heh. heh. Then last night, Dr. Carl Rubino e-mails me saying that Dr. Zorc, who returned to the Washington D.C. area, showed him a copy of my book. So a copy of my book is across the country (I'm in the "other" and "greener" Washington. hehe.). Wow!

I think that I - the book's author - will be the last person to see it. I'll bet that even my mother will see it before I do. haha. That's ok. This is totally worth the wait.

Anyway, you can see the front & back cover of the book below. Click to see an enlarged photo.

The book will be in hardcover and paperback. There is a very limited supply of hardcover versions (20 or so) and much more of paperback. I have not determined the prices yet and I will make an announcement sometime after I receive the books.

If you're interested, please e-mail me and I will put you on my list which is short right now.

Dr. Rubino asked me if I'll be doing more books on other Philippine languages.

In a word?


Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I've nominated this blog at Philippine Blog Awards, and now it's part of the list. Click on the link to see or you can nominate a blog (even your own) on that site.

Wish me luck? ;-P

Monday, July 26, 2004

News about Chabacano / Chavacano

I participate (read: debate) on a mailing list dedicated to the Philippines' Spanish heritage. Many of the members favor reviving it there. Anyway, back in March a member living in Spain saw a report on Chavacano on channel TVE. Another Spain-based member taped them and were ultimately made available on a website.

The following three links have the video. It's mostly the same; the report itself does not differ it's just that the report was shown three different times and so the people at newsdesk changed.

One Two Three

I personally thought the report was interesting. It was nice to see the extent of Chabacano used in Zamboanga - to the point that it's used in newscasts and in radio.

However, the report had some inaccuracies.

The reporters prefaced the report with: "Chavacano no es sólo algo de mal gusta. Es también un idioma criollo del español que todavía se habla en una zona de Filipinas en la isla de Luzón. El chavacano mantiene las palabras del español y las sostiene con una gramática prestada del tagalo. Es un idioma que está a punto de desaparecer." (Translation: Chabacano is not only something of bad taste. It's also a creole language of Spanish that's still spoken in a part of the Philippines on the island of Luzon. Chabacano maintains words from Spanish and sustains them with a grammar borrowed from Tagalog. It's a language that is going to disappear.)

So far, there really is nothing really wrong. When I first encountered this, I thought they were refering to the Chabacano spoken in Cavite. Or perhaps that of Ermita - which some say is extinct or has only one speaker left.

But then, the person actually presenting the report, Rosa María Calaf, begins the report by saying: "La bienvenida no es a un barrio en España o Hispanoamérica. Es en la ciudad de Zamboanga. En Filipinas." (The welcome is not for a town in Spain or in Latin America. It's for a city in Zamboanga. In the Philippines.)

Totally wrong.

First, Zamboanga is not on the Luzon (in the north) instead it's in western Mindanao which is hundreds of miles away.

Second, since Zamboanga is not in Luzon, then the bulk of its grammar and vocabulary does not come from Tagalog. Instead, it comes from Visayan languages like Cebuano & Hiligaynon and perhaps other languages indigenous to Mindanao.

Third, Zamboangueño will not be disappearing anytime soon. The 2000 census says there are about 358,729. From my understanding, it's widely used as a second language.

On the other hand, In Luzon, there are 7,044 speakers of Ternateño (not the Portuguese creole) and 202,312 speakers of Caviteño. These languages are probably threatened by Tagalog according to this dissertation.

On Mindanao there are 20,545 Cotabateño speakers. There are 327,802 Davaweño speakers. Davaweño refers to both the creole and an Austronesian language so there may be confusion there. Though 17,873 are reported to speak the creole (listed as Davao-Chavacano) specifically.

Lastly, Rosa María Calaf says "... [N]i el tiempo ni otras lenguas alejaron al chabacano del castellano perfecto sino que los españoles no se lo enseñaron bien ..." (Neither time nor other languages distanced Chabacano from perfect Castilian but it's the Spaniards who didn't teach it [their language] well to them.)

Perhaps, in reality, the Spanish did not teach the language well. But creoles are the products of pidgins. Pidgins are created when two diverse linguistic groups strip their language to the bare essentials and try to communicate with each other. No formal teaching involved. The pidgins turn into creoles when the children & subsequent generations speak the pidgin as a native language.

In any case.. ¡Viva el chavacano!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

English as the Medium of Instruction

I am a member of a mailing list called Defenders of the Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago or for short, DILA. The group was founded by Oregon-based Ernesto "Ernie" Turla, a native speaker of Kapampangan. I respect Ernie highly and am grateful for his work and help on the Kapampangan language.

On Monday, Ernie forwarded to the group an article titled [Department of Education] promoting English as medium of instruction.

Ernie prefaced his e-mail with "this is good news." For the life of me, I am having trouble seeing this.

I find this well-intentioned idea detrimental.

As it stands, English is reserved for certain subjects such as math and science and Tagalog for social studies. The DepEd wants to increase the use of English.

I would like to make clear beforehand that I am not anti-English, which would be a silly concept since this is the primary language of my blog and the primary language of my everyday life.

English is not the first language of the vast majority of Filipinos. Hence, it is a foreign language. And as such, it should be treated as a foreign language. There is a world of difference between treating something as a foreign language and having a language used as a medium of instruction in schools.

Here's an example. Whenever I set out to learn something new, I want to make sure the subject at hand has my full comprehension. If not, then why bother? I speak Spanish and French with a decent amount of fluency. Given the option of learning a new concept in English, Spanish, or French, I'd overwhelmingly choose to learn it in English. Why? English is by far my strongest language, thus ensuring that I'll understand the subject thoroughly.

Similarly, if I were teaching a class of Tagalog-speaking children math - a subject some find difficult - I'd do it in Tagalog rather than in English. Why? My answer is very simple. I want them to learn without unnecessary obstacles such as the language barrier. I want them to understand. I want them to succeed.

Unfortunately, my opinion is not very popular.

I've debated this issue at length with people who disagree with me. They point out that it's neither Tagalog nor Cebuano that puts food on the table, but English. They point out that it's English that has benefited millions of Filipino families overseas such as mine.

This gives me the impression that these people care only about fluency in English but very little about other academic subjects. I hope this isn't true.

Now, I said above that I am not anti-English. But where do I feel is English's place in the Philippine education system? As I said, it's a foreign language. So, treat it as a subject that one learns about and not a vehicle for learning new things.

The Japanese learn in their language. So do the Finns, French, Spaniards, Catalans, Indonesians, Chinese, Turks, and even the Icelanders! So why not Filipinos?

I support the use of English as a subject as early as possible. In kindergarten, perhaps. I teach Spanish to children. I have also taught them math and handwriting. I dare not use Spanish to teach those subjects or else they won't fully understand. And that is the point.

Yes, providing the path to fluency in English at a young age is a step in the right direction. But doing it correctly is an important step.

Using English as the medium of instruction, however, is not. Using Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Maranao, et. al. is.

Friday, July 16, 2004

New Tagalog blog

A new Philippine language blog has arrived on the blogging scene. The main subject and, incidentally, the name of the blog is Tagalog translation.

The author is Joseph Rosaceña, a native of Manila now living in Cornellà de Llobregat, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. I met him on the Seasite Tagalog forum.
Joseph's an accomplished professional translator who works with English, Tagalog, Spanish, & Catalan.

He already has some interesting entries now and I look forward to many more.

His blog is now linked to the right sidebar.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Eight Major Languages No More

One of the most frequently-repeated facts about the languages of the Philippines is that there are eight major languages (or if they must, dialects.); Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Waray-Waray, and Pangasinan. The reason for this, from my understanding, is that each of these languages have at least one million native speakers.

With the release of the mother tongue statistics of the Philippine Census of 2000, four more languages have become members of the "million club." This brings the number up to 12 major Philippine languages.

The twelve major languages of the Philippines are:
  1. Tagalog (21,485,927) - central & south Luzon.

  2. Cebuano (est. 18,000,000) - central Visayas & northern Mindanao.

  3. Ilokano (6,920,760) - northern Luzon

  4. Hiligaynon (est. 7,000,000) - western Visayas

  5. Bikol (4,583,034) - southeastern Luzon

  6. Waray-Waray (est. 3,000,000) - eastern Visayas

  7. Kapampangan (2,312,870) - central Luzon

  8. Pangasinan (1,362,142) - Pangasinan province

  9. Kinaray-a (est. 1,051,968) - western Visayas

  10. Maranao (1,035,966) - Mindanao

  11. Maguindanao (1,008,424)- Mindanao

  12. Tausug (918,069) - Sulu archipelago
If my math is right, the grand total is 68,679,160 who speak one of the twelve major languages out of 76,332,470 Filipinos. That's almost 90% of Filipinos! All the languages above are a much more inclusive representation of the languages of the Philippines, with the addition of three languages spoken either in or near Mindanao.

The census results are not perfect, however. Three of the languages whose numbers I estimated are spoken in the Visayas; Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Waray-Waray. Kinaray-a may as well be in this group. The reason I estimated is that because in the Census, their numbers have decreased. For example, the census in 1995 said that where 14,486,196 Cebuanos (Boholanos included) but in 2000 there were 11,868,028.

This has also happened to Hiligaynon & Waray-Waray which, according to the 2000 census, have suffered losses of 464,339 and 42,443 speakers respectively.

Uh, so just where did these 3,124,950 Visayans go? Short of being abducted by aliens or mass genocide, the answer is in the census. As I've said, the census isn't perfect. Or more accurately, the methods used to calculate the mother tongue statistics aren't perfect.

Filipinos have a tendancy to give different names for their languages. If you have two different people that speak the same language, they might give you different names. The folks at the Philippine Census recognize this and consolidated the numbers where they could. But they didn't catch all of them. For example Kinaray-a was listed as three: Hamtikanon, Karay-a, and Kiniray-a.

In the Visayas, this happens frequently. There is the generic name Bisaya or Binisaya and the local name (and there can be a handful of local names). According to linguist R. David Zorc, there are about three dozen Visayan languages. So it is no surprise that in the census that there are about 5,778,435 "Bisaya/Binisaya" speakers.

I've double checked the percentages with the Philippine yearbook. Cebuano speakers have numbered at about 24% of the population since 1960. Hiligaynon at around 9-10%. And Waray-Waray at about 4-5%. So, my estimations are not too farfetched.

Furthermore, Tagalog is at about 32% according to the census of 2000 but 29.3% in 1995. Quite a leap if you ask me. Perhaps there were those who considered Tagalog their native tongue, even if it isn't.

Also, I have chosen to place Tausug on the list even if it's at 918,069. There are Tausugs in Sabah as well which bring the number over 1 million. It's an important language that's used as a lingua franca in the region.

What are the least-spoken languages? The five least-spoken languages are:

  1. Pinangal - spoken by 68. I don't know where this language is spoken. It's not listed on Ethnologue.

  2. Karolano - spoken in Negros Island (Visayas) by 71 people. Info here.

  3. Malbog - spoken by 197. Again, I don't know where.

  4. Tabangnon - spoken by 264 in Quezon Province to Paracale in Camarines Norte. Info about them here.

  5. Kabihug - 300 in Camarines Norte. Article here.
Now it's time to wait for the 2005 census....

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Kapampangan Pronoun Combinations

Since the late 1950's, my family has had ties of some sort to Pampanga province, due to the former Clark Air Base. My relatives aren't from Pampanga, but from Manila. I've also lived there myself for a period of five years and my now-18 year old brother was born there as well.

Looking back, my exposure to Kapampangan in Angeles City & Clark was rather scant. Though, I admit that at a young age I could have mistaken it for Tagalog. I was aware of phrases like me keni (come here) and that the locals didn't speak Tagalog the way my parents do. My mother, on the other hand, attended elementary school (Holy Family) in the 1960's and was exposed to it constantly. She understands it well, but cannot speak it fluently.

I left Pampanga in 1989 and it took about 12 year for me to develop a curiosity for the language spoken there; Kapampangan.

This curiosity led to fascination.

What can I say about Kapampangan? Perhaps, unpredictible, bizarre, unique, and, uh... cool? After studying Ilokano, Bikol, & the Visayan languages, I can say that the language is certainly an oddball. And that's what I love about it.

Conjugating took some time getting used to. In Tagalog, sumulat means "wrote" in the actor focus. In Kapampangan, it means "will write." On the other hand susulat means "will write" in Tagalog but means "is writing" in Kapampangan. The past tense in Kapampangan is sinulat. And this resembles the past tense of the object focus in Tagalog!

Also, in Kapampangan you have, for the verb "to read" (object focus): basan (future), babasan (progressive), and binasa (past).

But for the verb "to do" (object focus): gawan (future), gagawan (progressive), and not *ginawa, but gewa.

For "to eat" (again, object focus): kanan, kakanan, and you'd expect to see maybe *kinan. But no, it's pengan!

Ay naku, what a challenge. What fun.

Another interesting feature of Kapampangan is the the fact that a pronoun must always be present even when the noun it stands for is present. Dr. Reid calls these verbal agreement forms.

Kap: Malagu ya i Maria.
Tag: *Maganda siya si Maria. (literal translation)
Tag: Maganda si Maria. (free translation)
Eng: Mary is beautiful.

Kap: Silatanan na kang Pedru.
Tag: *Sinulatan ka niya ni Pedro. (literal)
Tag: Sinulatan ka ni Pedro. (free)
Eng: Peter wrote you.

Kap: Mamasa yang libru i Cristobal.
Tag: *Bumabasa siya ng libro si Cristobal. (literal)
Tag: Bumabasa si Cristobal ng libro. (free)
Eng: Christopher is reading a book.

Furthermore, Kapampangan has a set of merged pronouns that occur with the 3rd person singular & plural pronouns. Tagalog and its Central Philippine cousins typically have one that represents ko ikaw. Tagalog has kita, Bikol has taka, Cebuano has tikaw, Tausug has ta kaw, etc.

Kap: Ikit ke.
Tag: Nakita ko siya.
Eng: I saw him.

Kap: Dinan mong ebun.
Tag: Bigyan mo sila ng itlog.
Eng: Give them an egg.

Kap: Dinan meng ebun.
Tag: Bigyan mo siya ng itlog
Eng: Give him an egg.

Sometimes, they take different forms. The 3rd person singular forms usually do it around the word naman; kya naman rather than *ke naman. The plural ones change because they cannot end a sentence; Ikit ku la rather than *Ikit ko.

In any case, I made a chart that shows the pronoun combinations in Kapampangan. It's been very helpful to me, and so I'd like to share it with you. I compiled the information from sources written by Ernesto Turla, Hiroaki Kitano, Leatrice Mirikitani, and Michael Forman. Some entries might have two variants. The one on top is the short form and the bottom is the long one. Dashes indicate combinations which are deemed impossible. And the "ing sarili [pronoun]" represents a reflex action; myself, yourself, etc.

Also, Kapampangan writers may usually write words like da ka or yu ke as one word, daka or yuke. I've decided to keep them separate since particles can split them; da pin ka.

I've included a similar chart for Tagalog for comparison. I've listed the dual pronoun (you and I) in Tagalog, kata (or kita), which isn't used anymore these days. However, its Kapampangan counterpart is very much in use.

Some more examples:

Kap: Kaluguran da ka.
Tag: Mahal kita. OR Mahal ka namin. OR Mahal ka nila.
Eng: I love you. OR We love you. OR They love you.

Kap: Sulatanan na kong Isabel.
Tag: Susulatan kayo ni Isabel.
Eng: Isabel will write to you (plural).

Kap: Sibli no ring lapis.
Tag: Isinauli niya ang mga lapis.
Eng: He returned the pencils.

Chart of Kapampangan pronoun combinations
by Christopher Sundita
1 sg
2 sg
3 sg
1 dual
1 pl inc.
1 pl exc.
2 pl
3 pl
1 sg
(ing sarili ku)
da ka
da ko
da kayu
ku la
2 sg
mu ku
(ing sarili mu)
mu ke
mu kami
mu la
3 sg
na ku
na ka
(ing sarili na)
na kata
na katamu
na ke
na kami
na ko
na kayu
nu la
1 dual inc.
(ing sarili ta)
ta la
1 pl inc.
ta ya
(ing sarili tamu)
ta la
1 pl exc.
da ka
mi ya
(ing sarili mi)
da ko
da kayu
mi la
2 pl
yu ku
yu ke
yu kami
(ing sarili yu)
yu la
3 pl
da ku
da ka
da kata
da katamu
da ke
da kami
da ko
da kayu
da la
(ing sarili da)

Chart of Tagalog pronoun combinations
by Christopher Sundita
1 sg
2 sg
3 sg
1 dual
1 pl inc.
1 pl exc.
2 pl
3 pl
1 sg
(ang sarili ko
ko siya
ko kayo
ko sila
2 sg
mo ako
(ang sarili mo)
mo siya
mo kami
mo sila
3 sg
niya ako
ka niya
niya siya
(ang sarili niya)
niya kata
niya tayo
niya kami
niya kayo
niya sila
1 dual inc.
nita siya
(ang sarili nita)
nita sila
1 pl inc.
siya natin
(ang sarili natin)
natin sila
1 pl exc.
ka namin
namin siya
(ang sarili namin)
namin kayo
namin sila
2 pl
ninyo ako
ninyo siya
ninyo kami
(ang sarili ninyo)
ninyo sila
3 pl
nila ako
ka nila
nila siya
nila kata
nila tayo
nila kami
nila kayo
nila sila
(ang sarili nila)

Friday, July 02, 2004


This blog is now listed on Tanikalang Ginto. I've been visiting that site for 9 years now. Check them out!

I've also added an icon to the blog. if you're not familiar with it, it's in Baybayin and the word is "salita." Baybayin is the syllabic script that Filipino ethnic groups used before the arrival of the Spaniards. The script is no longer used except by Hanunoos & Tagbanwas on Mindoro Island.

You may find more information about Baybayin in the links below:

A Philippine Leaf by Hector Santos. This site was the first to introduce me to Baybayin 9 years ago. Beforehand, I had no idea it existed.

Sarisari, etc. by Paul Morrow. An excellent site which talks about Baybayin. Paul is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

And you can also read Omniglot's entries about Baybayin as used by Tagalogs, Tagbanwas, and Hanunoos.

Also, I've added some links on the right margin of this blog. They're links worth checking out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Rinconada Bikol

Just a little note before I begin. Today I obtained via Interlibrary Loan Tagalog Texts with Grammatical Analysis written in 1917 by linguist Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949). Interesting book. You can expect to read my comments about this book sometime after I'm done reading it.

Anyway, there are a total of four main languages spoken in the Bicol region. The region is rich in linguistic diversity. They are, according to Jason Lobel:
  1. North Coastal Standard Bikol - three main dialect groups spoken from: Daet, Camarines Norte; much of Camarines Sur including Naga and excluding the southern coast region; eastern Albay including Legazpi; northern Sorsogon; and the southern end of Catanduanes Island. The dialects of Naga & Legazpi are considered the standard.

  2. Southern Coastal & Inland Bikol - Rinconada Bikol, which is spoken in the southern part of Camarines Sur which includes the cities of Buhi, Iriga, Nabua, and Balatan; Libon; and eastern & western Miraya (from southern Camarines Sur, western Legazpi, and part of Northern Sorsogon.

  3. Northern Catanduanes - The (surprise!) northern end of Catanduanes island.

  4. Bisakol - Comprised of the words Bisaya and Bikol. This includes Central & Southern Sorsogon, Masbate island, and Ticao island.
Anyway, this entry is about Rinconada Bikol. A couple of months ago, I wrote a message in a mailing list showing the differences between the Naga standard dialect of Bikol, Rinconada Bikol, and Tagalog. I formulated the sentences from Jason Lobel's Rinconada Phrasebook and a draft copy of his Rinconada textbook.

RNC - Rinconada Bikol. NAG - Naga Bikol. TAG - Tagalog. ENG - English.

-UM- verbs
note 1: Naga Bikol doesn't make use of the -UM- prefix.
note 2: -UM- and MAG- prefixes are interchangeable and thus don't
affect meaning in Rinconada Bikol unlike in Tagalog.

RNC: Kumaon
NAG: Magkakan
TAG: Kumain
ENG: To eat (infinitive)

RNC: Kinnaon ya.
NAG: Nagkakan siya.
TAG: Kumain siya.
ENG: He ate.

RNC: Kinnakaon ya.
NAG: Nagkakakan siya.
TAG: Kumakain siya.
ENG: He is eating.

RNC: Kumkaon ya OR Kumakaon ya. (Note loss of vowel after -UM-)
NAG: Mákakan siya.
TAG: Kakain siya.
ENG: He will eat.

MAG- verbs

RNC: Magtutturo
NAG: Magtukdo
TAG: Magturo
Eng: To teach.

RNC: Nagtutturo sira.
NAG: Nagtukdo sinda.
TAG: Nagturo sila.
ENG: They taught.

RNC: Nagtututturo sira.
NAG: Nagtutukdo sinda.
TAG: Nagtuturo sila.
ENG: They are teaching.

RNC: Migtutturo sira.
NAG: Mátukdo sinda.
TAG: Magtuturo sila.
ENG: They will teach.

And some miscellany...

RNC: Isadto ya sa baloy namo.
NAG: Yaon siya duman sa harong mi.
TAG: Nandoon siya sa bahay namin.
ENG: He's there at our house.

RNC: Ono 'di?
NAG: Ano ini?
TAG: Ano ito?
ENG: What's this?

RNC: Agko ka igin?
NAG: Igwa kang aki?
TAG: Mayroon ka bang anak?
ENG: Do you have any kids?

RNC: Migtrabawo a agom ko sa Maynila udma.
NAG: Mátrabaho an agom ko sa Maynila saaga.
TAG: Magtatrabaho ang asawa ko sa Maynila bukas.
ENG: My husband will work in Manila tomorrow.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Book Review: Intermediate Ilokano by Precy Espiritu

Twenty years ago, the University of Hawai'i Press published Let's Speak Ilokano. It was authored by Precy Espiritu, then a Ph.D. student studying applied linguistics at UCLA. At almost 300 pages, this book does a rather decent job in teaching the basics of the Ilokano language, so I recommend her book highly.

For the past year, I've been impatiently anticipating the arrival of Intermediate Ilokano; the sequel of the book published in 1984. In finally received it a couple of weeks ago and have been reading it ever since. What can I say? Dr. Espiritu has really outdone herself.

The book is much larger; there are over 400 pages and it's about an inch wider than its predecessor. Not to mention that there's also an eye-catching cover. Espiritu has employed illustrator Junix Jimenez to breathe life into the book with his delightful illustrations depicting life in the Ilocos Region.

As for the content of the book itself, Espiritu discards the use of dialogs in favor of short stories. Each of the stories has a morale illustrating Philippine or Ilokano values. They are further explained in the cultural notes section at the end of each of the twelve lessons. There are also activities based on the new vocabulary and grammatical concepts introduced in the short stories. What I like is that the grammatical concepts are easily accessible via their own table of contents, right after the main table of contents in the beginning of the book.

Although there are many activities geared toward Ilokano learners in a classroom setting (Ilokano is taught as a class at the post-secondary level in Hawai'i, something not done in the Philippines!), a person learning via self-study can still benefit from the exercises.

There are some minor things which concerns me somewhat. In written Ilokano, pronouns are usually attached to the preceding work to make one new word. For example, in Tagalog there is the phrase nag-aral ako 'I studied'. The Ilokano equivalent would not be written as nagadal ak but nagadalak.

Perhaps it's this way since the pronouns ko 'my' & mo 'your' are reduced to k and m if the preceding words ends in a vowel. For example asawa ko 'my spouse' and libro mo 'your book' become asawak and librom. You gotta admit that asawa k and libro m look pretty darn silly.

[Addendum: July 25, 2004]: Carl Rubino chimed in saying that another reason for this is that ak is pronounced as part of the word; [] rather than Tagalog's [nag.?a.ral.?a.ko].

This can make things rather confusing for an Ilokano learner since it's sometimes difficult identifying a pronoun in a word. Espiritu is evidently aware of this and to combat this she italicizes the pronouns.

The following is from the first two paragraphs of the first story in the book on page 2:

Maysa nga aldaw, inayaban ti maysa a baket dagiti lima a kaarrubana, ket sinaludsodna, "Sinno ti mayat nga agdalus iti lugartayo?"

"Ay, dispensarem, Ina. Saan a siak, ta adu ti trabahok," kinuna ti umuna a simmungbat.

One day, an old lady called her five neighbors, and she asked, "Who wants to clean up our place?"

"Oh, (you) forgive me, Ma'am. I can't, because my work is many," said the first one who answered.

I wonder, though, if it has a place in a book for intermediate learners. It would have been definitely useful in Espiritu's first book. I also wish she would have included diacritic markers indicating stress like she did in the first one, too. However, they are marked in the glossary section but in bold. Even something of greater use would have been an audio CD to practice aural comprehension.

But like I said, these are minor and do not in any manner affect the quality of this book. All in all this is a great book in building up proficiency in Ilokano. All the grammatical concepts are explained in a straightforward manner with accompanying examples. Though, I admit that perhaps the calls for cultural discussions are somewhat unnecessary.

Serious learners of Ilokano should not be without Espiritu's two books as well as Dr. Carl Rubino's masterpiece, his indispensable Ilocano Dictionary and Grammar which is also available from the University of Hawai'i Press. My review for Dr. Rubino's book is on that Amazon.Com page, too.

Now, if only other Philippine languages had quality learning materials such as those I mentioned above.

External link: Dr. Precy Espiritu's Home Page

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Giliw Ko - A Philippine film from 1939

Last July I heard that Philippines-based KabayanCentral.Com was selling vintage films. I resolved to get the oldest movie they have, Giliw Ko. After much procrastination, I finally ordered it on June 1st and the film arrived today. From Singapore. Go figure.

The movie was made in 1939. Only one copy, deteriorated to the say the least, was found and restored by a film restoring organization in Australia. They did it as a gift to the Philippines. Anyway, 1939 was a couple of years before World War II and I was awfully curious about times back then; my grandparents were preadolescents then.

The film is basically about a country girl named Guia (Mila del Sol) who dreams of singing on the radio. She loves her childhood friend, played by Fernando Poe, Sr. and also the music teacher (or whatever he is), Ely Ramos.

My impression is that, culturally, very little has changed. Yes, it was from a dramatically different era, but it was more familiar. Personally I felt a bit more connected to the characters; they remind of relatives & acquaintances. This is contrast with American films of the era, where they have a more foreign feeling to me. This is a bit surprising since I am considerably more American in my ways. Did I make sense?

Since I'm a language nut, you can bet that I analyzed the speech of the characters in this film.

The Tagalog they spoke was totally comprehensible. It sounded a lot like Tagalog does now. However, it had a certain an archaic flavor to it. But it was considerably less than the English I hear in old American films.

I noticed that a lot of the characters used Spanish words that aren't normally heard among the younger generation (I'd include my parents who are late baby boomers).

  • The variations of señor (señora, señorito, señorita. I don't think señorito is used much in Spanish either!).

  • pues (then)

  • bueno (well)

  • mamá & papá (mom & dad)

  • hijo & hija (son & daughter.. or simply, child)
I also heard Tagalog words that aren't used much nowadays... sapagkat (because), subalit (but), ngunit (but), pumaroon (go there), pumarito (come here), etc.

One expression they kept on using was siyanga ba. I translated it as "really?" These days, it's talaga here. I do say siyanga pala, meaning "by the way."

And the English is kept to a bare minimum which is unlike the prevalence of Taglish today. The only Taglish I heard in the film was when the maid tried to get Mila del Sol's character to change from her bathing suit as she rushed to get married. "Ay! Nakabathing suit! Susmaryosep!" (Oh! She's in a bathing suit! Goodness!). The Filipinos who do speak English in the film do so with a Filipino accent. But the accent isn't very strong unlike those I hear today.

There is a part that surprised me and I guess one could say reflected the attitudes of Manileños at the time. It was between Mila del Sol's character and her music teacher, played by Ely Ramos. She was singing an English song called "I am in love with you." And her singing wasn't up to Ely's taste.

Ely: Ano? Ano ang nangyayari sa iyo? Hindi ganiyan ang pagkanta niyan! Kantahin mo kagaya ng dati. (What? What's happening to you? It isn't sung that way! Sing it like before.)

Mila: Bakit 'nyo kong pinipilit na kantahin ng Inggles? Sinabi ko na sa inyo na hindi ko maari. Bakit hindi 'nyo ko pakantahin ng Tagalog? (Why are you forcing me to sing in English? I already said I couldn't. Why don't you have me sing in Tagalog?)

Ely: Oy, alamin mo na tayo'y nasa Maynila at ang dapat mong kantahin ay Inggles, sapagka't ang makikinig nasusuya sa kantang Tagalog. (Hey, keep in mind that we're in Manila and English is what you should be singing, because the listeners are getting tired of Tagalog songs.)

In any case, it was an interesting movie. I was fascinated by it. If only there were earlier ones.

Link about this film:

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Alternative pronouns in Kinaray-a, Akeanon, and Onhan

Sometime last year a language named Kinaray-a caught my eye. It's spoken on the island on Panay in the provinces of Antique and Iloilo. The reason it interested me was because it was one of a handful of Central Philippine languages that had the fourth "schwa" vowel in its phonemic inventory. This phoneme, an unrounded back vowel, is prevalent in the languages of Northern Luzon such as Ilokano & Pangasinan, where it's represented by the letter "e". Many Visayan languages just have three; /a/ /i/ and /u/.

In any case, I decided to join a Kinaray-a mailing list to observe the participants use their language. The language certainly "felt" Visayan, but it was quite different from Hiligaynon, another language I've been exposed to which is spoken on Panay. Despite this, it's widely believed that Kinaray-a is a dialect of Hiligaynon or vice-versa even though they both occupy different branches of the Visayan family.

I noticed that they used the letter "u" and to represent the schwa vowel and one member wasn't too fond of my proposal to use "e".

Another thing that caught my eye and heard vaguely about was what I call the T-series pronouns.

Pronouns in Philippine languages are separated into categories. I'll use Tagalog as an example:

Nominative (Absolutive) - ako, ikaw (ka), siya, kami, tayo, kayo, sila
Genitive (Ergative) - ko, mo, niya, namin, natin, ninyo, nila
Oblique - sa akin, sa iyo, sa kaniya, sa amin, sa atin, sa inyo, sa kanila

In Kinaray-a, there are two sets of nominative pronouns. They appear to be based upon the genitive ones. Kinaray-a's pronouns are as follows:

Nominative (Absolutive) #1 - ako, ikaw (kaw), [none], kami, kita, kamo, sanda
Nominative (Absolutive) #2 - taken, timo, tana, tamen, taten, tinyo, tanda
Genitive (Ergative) - ko, mo, na, namen, naten, ninyo, nanda
Oblique - kanaken, kimo, kana, kanamen, kanaten, kaninyo, kananda

I found this rather odd. Even more odd was the fact that there is no 3rd person pronoun in the first series. I guess there is no need for one. In Tagalog, it is usually possible to leave out "siya" in a sentence.

I asked around and received a bunch of native speaker opinions on what the T-series pronouns could be used for. The best one was from Gail. Who said:

If someone told me "iririmaw kita" [let's get together], my knee jerk reaction would be to say, "amo ri-a abi mo" [that's what you delude yourself with]. but if he says "iririmaw tatun" [let's get together], aba okay ako diyan! [I'm ok with that] hehehe.

I concluded that it had to either be some kind of politeness marker or some kind of "softening" marker. I knew that this system existed in Aklanon, another Western Visayan language. So I consulted Dr. R. David Zorc, a fluent Aklanon speaker who is married to a native Aklanon.

An excerpt from his e-mail:

The differences are more pragmatic (i.e., discourse sensitive or oriented) than cultural. One set does not show more or less respect, as opposed to more emphasis, bringing the audience in to the fineries of the discussion or tale. They are limited to informal speech, rarely do they make it to writing, except in folktales where people or animals engage in extended discourse. They take quite a while to appear. For example, if I were telling of a bumpy plane trip to Manila, I would run through all the basic stuff using aku', e.g., umadtu aku sa erport ag naghuEa't aku' it mabu:hay
went - I - to - airport - and -waited - I - quite a while
Once we got up in the air, and the bumpy flight started, the airplane
or the weather could be characterized as:
ma7u'ndag gid 7it'7a:na 'it was very bumpy'
and what was going on in my stomach as:
masaki't gid 7it'7a:kun tyan, tumalig7ab 7a:nay aku', tapus sumukah gid
'my stomach was really sick, at first I belched, afterwards I just

And from another e-mail. This really explained things very well for me:

The Kinaray-a uses you describe ARE cultural, and so are some of the Aklanon
uses. ... What I believe is and has been going on is a long process of detopicalization. Object focus constructions allow the speaker to deemphasize himself or to be
deemphasized (gin-baligya7-a'n mo 'Did you sell it?', gin-baligya7'a'n ko 'I sold
it'; gin-Ea'bh-an ko 'I washed it'). In W.Bisayan dialects, the process is taken one step further by using an object-marked set instead of the topic marked set. I once heard Tagalogs say of Peace Corps Volunteers who always used the actor focus that they were "arrogant Americans." The lady's reaction to the IRIRIRMAW KITA smacks of the same thing. In the sick-on-airplane snippet I talked about, once the action gets
going, the actor removes himself from topicalization.

And he's right. In Tagalog, we usually switch from the nominative to the genitive. But in the three Western Visayan languages that I have looked at, there is another option. This, I find fascinating. I'd bet it'd be useful in Tagalog.

I also was told that there is another use for the t-series pronouns. Using two nominative pronouns in a row provides emphasis.

Kinaray-a: Ako taken ang nagabantay kang aken mga bata.
Tagalog: Ako mismo ang nagbabantay ng aking mga bata.
English I, myself, am watching over my children.

And I'll end this long post by showing Akeanon & Onhan's pronoun systems. I am corresponding with a native Onhan speaker about their pronouns. So it may need corrections later. Note that there is a hyphen in the Aklanon forms. It stands for a glottal stop.


Nominative #1 - ako, ikaw (ka), imaw, kami, kita, kamo, sanda
Nominative #2 - t-akon, t-imo, t-ana, t-amon, t-aton, t-inyo, t-anda
Genitive - ko (nakon), mo (nimo), na (nana), namon, ta (naton), ninyo, nanda
Oblique - kakon, kimo, kana, kamon, katon, kinyo, kanda


Nominative #1 - ako, ikaw (kaw), imaw, kami, kita, kamo, sanda
Nominative #2 - takon, timo, tana(?), tamon, taton, tinyo, tanda(?)
Genitive - ko (nakon), mo (nimo), na (nana), namon, ta (naton), ninyo, nanda
Oblique - akon, imo, ana, amon, aton, inyo, anda

I discovered Onhan's last night from this site. There are other Western Visayan languages, but I am unsure of them as I don't have resources about them.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The obligatory introductory post

This post has been updated on September 24, 2005 December 23, 2006.

Well... I finally went and did it. I've been wanting to something like this for quite a while. Now that summer has arrived, I work fewer hours at my job. This means that I have more time to dedicate to this project of mine.

To introduce myself, my name's Christopher or just "Chris." I'm 26 years old and live in a rural area of Washington State. I've been an ardent enthusiast of languages for as long as I can remember and I have been studying Philippine languages in general for about eight years now.

Here's some more about me in FAQ format. In this case, FAQ stands for "fictitiously asked questions." ;-)

What does "salita" mean?

Salita is a Tagalog word of Sanskrit origin. Its meanings include word, speech, talk/speak and language. I wanted a word that not only reflects the subject of this blog, but also something that is found in a number of Philippine languages. So far, I have found six more; Ilokano (sarita), Kapampangan (salita), Pangasinan (salita), Rinconada Bikol (sarita), Botolan Sambal (halita), and Tina Sambal (salita).

On a side note, I once proposed this name for a group defending Philippine languages. But it was turned down. They went with dila (tongue), which is a word found in virtually all Philippine languages.

Are you Filipino?

Yes, I am. Three of my grandparents are Filipinos and my late maternal grandfather was an American of Cornish, Irish, German, and Swiss descent.

However, I was born in the United States. I did live in the Philippines in Angeles City & Clark Air Base, Pampanga for five years during my childhood.

My ancestors come from various parts of the Philippines and came to settle in the Metro Manila area in the 20th century, particularly in places like Makati. They're from Batangas, Cagayan (Ibanag-speaking part), Camarines Norte (Daet), Camarines Sur (Libmanan), and Quezon Province. My great-great-great grandmother Luisa Orlanda was born in the Philippines, and she reportedly spoke only Spanish.

So, you're a US-born Filipino. Do you speak Tagalog?

Yes, I do speak Tagalog but this was not always the case. Although my parents have been speaking Tagalog among for as long as I can remember, they speak to me in English. As a result, I saw no need to speak Tagalog as a child even if I could understand it. I started strengthening my Tagalog during my teenage years and I speak it rather well with occasional mistakes. Tagalog is part of my everyday life.

What other languages do you speak?

I started learning Spanish 11 years ago and French 8 years ago. I speak the two rather well and am fairly confident with them. I have also studied many other languages. To keep it short, I have devoted a lot of attention to Catalan, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, Bulgarian, and German. Not to mention Philippine languages like Bikol, Kapampangan, Cebuano, Ilokano, etc.

Are you a linguist?

I'm not a linguist in the professional sense. That is, I don't have a university degree in linguistics (though that'll change in a few years). My knowledge of linguistics over the years is self-taught. I'm a linguist in the sense that I study languages and know a thing or two about'em (or at least I'd like to think so!).

What's your job?

I am currently a teacher assistant at a private elementary school. One of my jobs is teaching Spanish.

What else do you do?

I go to school full-time at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington. I am taking math, physics, and history. I have just recently returned to school on January 3, 2005.

That free time I spoke of? It's gone! ;-)

I graduated with my Associate in Arts & Sciences Degree on June 16, 2006. I am going to be studying in the University of Washington in Seattle in Fall 2007.

Have you written anything about Philippine languages?

I wrote a book called In Bahasa Sug: An Introduction to Tausug. My friend & linguist Jason Lobel is in the Philippines right now having it published and doing research.

My book is now available at

I've also written an essay about languages and dialects.

I have also helped out in editing Dr. Carl Rubino's Tagalog Dictionary.

What is your pet peeve?

Phrases such as "the Cebuano dialect."

Life must be rough living out in the sticks. Where would you rather be right now?

Either Barcelona, Spain or Montréal, Québec.

Gawd, you're such a language nerd. What else do you like to do?


That's it for now. Stay tuned for more posts. I'm still getting used to this Blogger site.