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!


Anonymous said...

Have you tried exploring the distinctions that exist in the following Tagalog sentences, which would tie in nicely with your other investigations?

1. Maghihintay ako ng aso sa lansangan.
2. Maghihintay ako sa aso sa lansangan.

3. Siya ang kumain ng mansanas kahapon.
4. Siya ang kumain sa mansanas kahapon.

Christopher Sundita said...

Thanks for pointing that out.. I hadn't thought about that, but you're right.

I also say for some reason "Pupunta ako ng tindahan" or "Pumunta kami ng Seattle" ... Instead of "Pupunta ako sa tindahan" or "Pumunta kami sa Seattle."

And it makes sense.. since we can turn it into a locative focus sentence: Pinuntahan namin ang Seattle / Pupuntahan ko ang tindahan."

Anonymous said...

"Unsa'y" is a contractions of "Unsa may(with)", "Unsa naay(have)" or "Unsa diay(is)".

Randa Gilanne said...


Just wandering aimlessly on the web and i happened to stumble upon your blog. For some unknown reason, i can understand tausug and samal, although i cannot really speak it. My mom is from Jolo and my dad is from Manila. Every time my mom talks to my grandma in samal, my dad cannot comprehend what they say. Keep up the great work!

xciovolk89 said...

eigh... cool and nice blog. galing ah. ano ba tagalog ng holidays? ala lang

mery christmas
happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

Hello po..

I love this article and the you conclude it.. hehe.. :P

Proud to be a waray-waray.. The style of the language is different from tagalog.. :P

Anonymous said...

i'm an american missionary among the warays. please help me to be able to speak waray waray. any kind of grammar book out there? thank you! your help would be much appreciated

Anonymous said...

hi there! i need your help, i need more information about waray language especially thier morphology, and syntax.... thanks! God Bless! ^_^

irhille said...

proudly pinoy.
proudly waray.
from tacloban city, philippines.

Bryce Wesley Merkl said...

This blog on Waray-Waray is so interesting and helpful! It took me a while to find this rare gem of a blog!

Here's a great site in Waray-Waray that you might want to share with others:

Waray-Waray wiki browser

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