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; [na.ga.da.lak] 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: http://www.pia.ops.gov.ph/philtoday/pt01/pt0109.htm

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 http://members.aol.com/linggwistik

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.