Sunday, December 25, 2005

Ang Pasko ay Sumapit...

My usual Christmas greetings...

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 :-)
Philippine Spanish: Pelis Nabidad :-)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ilokano & Waray Wikipedias / Tayabas Tagalog / Why?

[insert apology for justifying my neglect of this blog]

There are two items of interest that I would like to get out there. On Wikipedia, there were two proposals to get Wikipedias for two Philippine languages, namely Waray-Waray and Ilokano.

The proposal was approved; there are now 5 Philippine-language Wikis (Tagalog, Cebuano, and Kapampangan in addition to the aforementioned two). I was quite surprised and quite puzzled about Ilokano - there is a huge Ilokano presence on the internet as well as being the 2nd-most spoken Philippine language in the United States (with university courses to boot). But yet, it's last one.

In any case, both Wikipedias have been very active; the Waray one has 482 articles and the Ilokano one has 105 (the owner of Mannurat.Com, Roy Aragon, being very active). Very impressive!

The URL's for the encyclopedias are:

Ilokano Wikipedia -
Waray Wikipedia -

So, congratulations.

In other news, I have borrowed a book called A Lexicographic Study of Tayabas Tagalog written in 1971 by E. Arsenio Manuel of the University of the Philippines.

The author relies on dozens of informants from all over Lucena City - he elicited information starting in the 1940's until 1953. The author mentions some sociolinguistic factors as to when the non-standard dialect is used - and the reactions (i.e., laughter and ridicule) it gets.

He considers the dialect to be "Central Tagalog" (what about south?) which is based on geography. He also makes mention of what appears to be subdialect areas such as Tayabas-Pagbilao-Sariaya, Unisan-Gumaka-Pitogo, and San Narciso-Katan-awan.

He also briefly mentions some phonological features particularly the preservation of the glottal stop when it occurs between a consonant and a vowel (called malaw-aw) - tam-is, ngay-on, dinug-an, but-o, and big-at. There is also the tendency to pronounce oo as uu and noo as nuu.

The rest of the book is basically a one-way dictionary from Tayabas Tagalog to Manila Tagalog and English. It wasn't quite as I expected, but I guess it's useful in a way.

Here are some sample entries:

. (Kat[an-awan].) Ba, baga. Ano ga. Kumusta!
An interrogative postpositional article

náay. 1. Naiyon, naayon, ayon. HIndi mo ba makita? Naay! Naay mandin sa sahig!2. Naay pa (gin. sa pagsusumbong ng mga bata sa magulang kung inuulitan o inaatig ng iba, at nagpapatuloy ng pag-uulit pagkatpos sawayin o pagsabihan).
1. There it is. Same as náiyon, náayon, ayón. 2. Náay pa, to call attention to the fact that someone is still bothering him after the other boy has been told not to (an expression often used by children addressing their plaint to their parents).

sabád. Sagot ng di kausap, ng di tinatanong. Sumabad, magsalita nang di kinakausap. Sa dalawang magkapulong, ang humalo sa usapan nang di inaanyayahan ay sumasabad sa usapan. Pasabadsabad, pásalitsalit o pasangit-sangit sa usapan. Sabát, o abát, din.
Reply of a person not asked or spoken to. Sumabád, to take part in a conversation without being invited; to speak or talk without being called to participate; to intercept the talk of two or more persons. Pasabád-sábad, to interrupt the conversation frequently. Sábat or abat also.

suwís (from Spanish. juez, judge). Magsusuwis, dadalaw ang pinunong-bayan sa bukid, linang, o nayon; ang pinunong-lalawigan sa bayon o nayon. Suwisan, ang ganiyang pagdalaw o pagsisiyasat na tinutugunan ng piging at kasayahn ng mga tagalinang o tagabayan. Wika ng isang makata:

Sa mga soisan, ibang pagtatao
kasalan, binyagan, ....
pag walang achara'y pati taga Centro
di lubhang ganahan sa piging na ito.
- Aurelio Obispo, "Tulang Paligsahan" (1929)

Term derived from juez (de ganado), judge of pastures, who during the Spanish regime inspected livestock of the farm and outlying barriors for the purpose of taking a census of animals, etc. Suwís has now a political significance, being an official visit or inspection of the barrio, by a municipal authority, or the town by the provincial governor or other high officials. Suwisan, the official visitand the popular reception combined used to be the biggest event in the lives of barrio folks.

Perhaps the most interesting entry was this:

tanó (at and + ano what). Bakit?
Why? What for? And so why? And so what?

The reason why I find this interesting is that in Naga Bikol, they use taano or ta-no for "why." In Legazpi, it is ngata - other Bikol dialects have hadaw, nata and ta-daw.

I also learned that in Tagalog, bakit is composed of bakin at. I wondered, then, if there was such a phrase as bakin at ano. I looked at the University Michigan's site, and found no such phrase.

However, I did find both of them mentioned side by side. In Joaquín de Coria's 1872 Nueva gramática tagalog, teórico-práctica, I found that, curiously, bakin meant because and at ano meant why.

On another page, it defined bakin to mean "why, and it is also an unusual verb. It is used in the negative. Examples. Forgive the enemies, don't you guys see that God forgives sinners, his enemies? Patauaring ninyo ang manga caauay, ¿di baquin ang panginoong Dios ay nagpapatauar sa manga macasalanang tauong caauay niya? You reprimand me for my sins, but why do you do the same? Aco,i inaauyang mo nang casalanan co ay, baquin icao ay gayon naman ang gaua mo? -- And why you too? Baquin icao? Why you all? Baquin cayo?

In Constantino Lendoyro's 1902 Tagalog language, bakin, bakit, and at ano are listed as words for "why."

So, very interesting stuff. I wish I could find the answer to all this, but so far, it's still a mystery. Why were there two why's?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Baybayin & Coca Cola

I made this partly out of a fit of boredom as well as a picture made by online friend Viktoro Medrano.

The English version of the Coca Cola thing says "Enjoy Coca-Cola" but I decided to use the French & German version which say "Drink Coca-Cola."

So, it says "uminom ng Kuka-Kula."

After many failed attempts doing it by hand (I suck at computer graphic design, apparently), I used Paul Morrow's stylized Tagalog Baybayin font.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Hear me speak Kinaray-a!

In the Kinaray-a mailing list, a Ronald Panaligan announced that he's planning to publish a Kinaray-a dictionary. Kinaray-a, just for a reminder, is a West Visayan language spoken in Antique province on the island of Panay. It is one of the 13 most spoken Philippine languages.

Anyway, there was one problem.

How is he going to graphically represent the "schwa" vowel? This vowel is found in many Philippine languages and once existed in virtually all of them.

Many Karay-as usually write the letter "u."

But it's ambiguous with the /u/ sound.

People have proposed û and ö.

I have proposed simply e. That's how it's used in a number of Philippine languages, and the rate of ambiguity is less. For one, the average Joe (or José, in this case) are usually not inclined to write accent marks on words.

Furthermore, in textbooks aimed at teaching Kinaray-a, one cannot indicate stress by placing accent marks on "û" and "ö" since there are already ones. But one can do so with "e." For example, is it pronounced "béket" or "bekét"?

Anyway, there was some discussion on whether or not this sound is similar to Ilokano and Pangasinan. The Karay-as claimed there is a difference. I asked if they could record their voices, but no one stepped up. So I offered to record mine using the same vowel I pronounce Ilokano words with. One of the list members Dixcee promised me her California Golden Balls. Did I win them?

The link is here:

I said:

iririmaw tatûn (let's get together)

Bûkût takûn Karay-a (I am not Karay-a)

Ang bûdlay kanatûn nga mga Pinoy, kon diin pa ang gûtûk rudtu pa
tatûn gustu magdasûk. (I have no clue!)

She said I didn't pronounce "tatûn" and "takûn" correctly and it's a draw on the balls. Darn. What the hell are California Golden Balls, anyway?

But yes, now you all have the honor of listening me speak Kinaray-a with quite possibly a heavy Tagalog accent laced in with an American twang here and there.

Whatever Mr. Pinaligan chooses, I will just have to accept. I really would like a Kinaray-a dictionary. :-)

In other news - I am done with summer classes. I did extremely well. I am off from school for the next month. In the fall I will be finishing up the 3rd installment of intermediate French along while exploring philosophy and anthropology. I'm quite excited about the anthropology class.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Languages of the Southern Gateway

This entry is the seventh and last in a series of articles in the first annual Seven-Day Salita Blogathon. For more information, please see this entry.

The third book I bought from SIL was Languages of the Southern Gateway. It is basically a polyglot phrasebook intended for those going to western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

Since this book was first printed in 1979 and reprinted two times in the 1980's, I am not going to review it. Instead, I am just going to publish excerpts so you guys can get an idea on how the languages spoken in this area are like.

The languages are:

Tagalog - we all know this one.
Chabacano - the Philippine Creole Spanish spoken in Zamboanga, in particular.
Sinama (Samal) - A Sama-Bajaw language spoken in parts of Borneo and the Sulu Archipelago. This book focuses on the Siasi (Central) dialect.
Yakan - Another Sama-Bajaw language spoken mainly in Basilan province.
Tausug - A Southern Visayan language; genetically closer to Tagalog than any of the languages in this region but heavily influenced by them.

What I found particularly interesting in this book is that the apostrophe in Sinama has two uses. First, it represents the glottal stop. And second, it represents the "schwa" vowel (actually high back unrounded). It's easy to tell them apart, according to the book. If the apostrophe is between two vowels, then it's the glottal stop. if it's between two consonants, then it's the vowel. I wonder if there are any occasional disambuguities? For example, is there a word that consists of BOTH the glottal stop and this particular vowel consecutively?

Here are some examples of its use in Sinama. It makes clear the schwa vowel is /o/ in northern dialects so it offers that alternative for foreigners who cannot pronounce it.

b'ttong - stomach
d'nda - woman
d'ppa - fathom
l'lla - man
a'a - person
kello' - crooked
magka'at - ruined
ta'u - know

Eng: What place are you from? I live in Malaybalay, in Bukidnon.
Tag: Taga-saan kayo? Nakatira ako sa Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
Cha: De donde lugar tu? De Malaybalay, na Bukidnon.
Sin: Maingga lahatnu? Iya lahatku ma Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
Tau: Dayn diin kaw? In hula' ku ha Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
Yak: Antag lahatnun? Lahatkun la'i si Malaybalay si Bukidnon.

Eng: I do not understand.
Tag: Hindi ko nauunawaan.
Cha: Hende you ta entende.
Sin: Mbal aku makahati.
Tau: Di' aku makahati.
Yak: Ga'i tasabutku.

Eng: Open the door. Close the window.
Tag: Bukisan mo ang pinto. Isara mo ang bintana.
Cha: Abri el puerta. Cerra el ventana.
Sin: Ukabun lawang. Tambolun tandawan.
Tau: Ukaba in lawang. Tambula in tandawan.
Yak: Lukahun ko' gawangin. Dindingun tendewanin.

Eng: Have you just recently arrived? Yes, I came just yesterday from Zamboanga.
Tag: Bago ko lamang dumating? opo, kahapon lamang ako dumating galing sa Zamboanga.
Cha: Ahora lang ba tu ya llega? Si, ayer lang yo llega de Zamboanga.
Sin: Baha'u kat'kkanu? Aho', iyampa aku at'kka di'ilaw min Sambuangan.
Tau: Iyan pa kaw dimatung? Huun. Dimatung aku kahapun dayn ha Zamboanga.
Yak: Ba'ahu du tekkanun? Awe', d'ilew du tekkakun amban Sembuwangan.

Eng: Your child is beautiful. So healthy.
Tag: Maganda ang iyong anak. Malusog.
Cha: Bonito di tuyo anak. Bien gordo. (WHAT??)
Sin: Alingkat anaknu. Al'mmok isab.
Tau: Malingkat in anak mu. Matambuk tuud (this one means fat too)
Yak: Hap anaknun, lemmek.

Eng: May I borrow your pen for a moment?
Tag: Pahiramin nga ang ball pen ninyo sandali?
Cha: Puede yo presta tu bolpen un rato?
Sin: Makajari aku angindam bolpennu dai'dai'?
Tau: Makajari aku mamus sin bulpin mu hangkarai'?
Yak: Indamanun ku ko' bolpen.

Eng: She is upstairs but her mother is downstairs.
Tag: Siya ay nasa itaas, ang nanay niya ay nasa baba.
Cha: Talla le na arriba'y casa, pero su nana taqui abajo.
Sin: Wa'i iya mariyata', bo ina'na wa'i mareo'.
Tau: Yadtu siya ha taas ba sa' in ina' niya yaun ha baba'.
Yak: La'i iye diyata' luma', sa'inen tu'u diyawa'.

Eng: You're late; the ship has gone.
Tag: Huli na kayo! Umalis na ang bapor!
Cha: Atarasao ya tu; ya sale el barco.
Sin: Atrasaw kam. Wa'i na kappal.
Tau: Natarasaw kaw. Timulak na in kappal.
Yak: Tarasaw kew. Patulak ne kappalin.

Eng: Show me the way to the market.
Tag: Ituro mo sa akin ang daan patungo sa palengke.
Cha: Enseña conmigo el camino para na tiangue.
Sin: Panduin aku kono' lan tudu ni tabu'?
Tau: Haunu in dan pa tabu'?
Yak: Panoanun ku ko' lan hap tiyanggihin.

Eng: Where are you going? To the market. I am going to buy fish.
Tag: Saan po kayo pupunta? Sa palengke. Bibili ako ng isda.
Cha: Donde man tu anda? Na tiangue. Ay compra yo pescao.
Sin: Piinga ka ilu? Ni tabu' aku. Am'lli aku daing.
Tau: Pakain kaw? Pa tabu'. Mami aku ista'.
Yak: Tungan kew? Hap tiyanggi ku. Tiya'ku melli kenna.

Eng: You speak English well!
Tag: Mahusay kayo magsalita ng Inggles!
Cha: Ta conversa tu Ingles buenamente!
Sin: Ata'u toongan ka amisala Ingglis!
Tau: Matu'lid kaw magbissara bahasa Anggalis!
Yak: Ta'u kew teed magininglis!

Monday, August 08, 2005

My ideal language policy

This entry is the sixth in a series of articles in the first annual Seven-Day Salita Blogathon. For more information, please see this entry.

For those of you who already know me, you probably have an idea of what my ideal language policy for the Philippines is. But most likely, you only know part of it. In this entry, I outline a draft copy of my ideal language policy for the Philippines.

As outlined by the 1987 Constitution, both Tagalog (under the name Filipino) and English are official languages. Tagalog/Filipino is the national language. And the regional languages are "auxiliary" languages in their respective home regions. And Spanish & Arabic are to be promoted on an optional basis.

Here is what I propose.

Official Language at the National Level

I am not sure what the best answer is here. For an ethnolinguistically diverse country as the Philippines, I am totally against the idea of one sole official and national language. Sure, there are arguments that we should have a unifying language. But why can't more than one language help with this process of unification? To me, being limited to one language is, in a word, unfair. It's disprectful. And I think it has fostered resentment among non-Tagalogs.

Some have proposed that there be no official language at all. The United States is this way - but English is the de-facto official language. It's an idea that' sworth thinking about, but so far I have not been too fond of it. For one, I think it will inevitably lead to the de-facto officialization of one sole language - and that is Tagalog.

I am leaning towards systems in other countries where there are more than two official languages. Switzerland is one, with 4 (German, French, Italian, and Romantsch). But, India is another with 22 official languages.

There are over 160 languages in the Philippines, but clearly all of them cannot be the official languages.

So maybe the 13 major languages? They each have at least 1 million speakers and all of them represent at least 90% of the country. It is more inclusive than just 1 language that natively represents about a quarter of the country.

Regionally & Provincially

I think this one is simple - whatever major language is spoken in the respective regions and provinces. Places like Romblon would have Romblomanon, Asi, and Onhan. Cagayan would be Ilokano, Ibanag, and Gaddang. Batanes would be Ivatan and Itbayat, and so on.


As it stands, only Tagalog & English are taught in schools and those are the languages in which textbooks are available. In theory, the regional languages are taught from an early age and then Tagalog & English are used as the media of instruction.

This horrible pratice must come to an end.

Research has shown that students learn better in their native languages. Makes sense, doesn't it? I am taking a class on Statistics now. It is rather challenging. I speak Spanish quite well. However, I'd be at a disadvantage if I learned about statistics in Spanish. I'd much prefer English to ensure that I understand everything. Similarly, why force a Bikolano child to learn about math in Tagalog & English - languages that are not his own? It'd be much more better in the long run to learn in his own language.

The medium of instruction should be - wherever possible - the native language. Think about it, learning about physics in Kapampangan. There are the nay-sayers who say that it cannot be done. But you know what? It's possible. If the Indonesians, Thais, and Japanese can do it - then so can we.

One of the arguments against this was that there are no native scientific vocabulary. Well, I have news for you - neither does English. Most of its scientific vocabulary is from Latin and Greek. Tagalog, Kapampangan, and whatever else can do the same.

I illustrated this points months ago in a discussion forum where I took a sentence from my physics textbook to explain the concept of acceleration with a falling object:

"Isang bagay na nahuhulog ay bumibilis nang 9.8 m/s bawa't segundo kung
kakaunting-kaunti lamang ang resistensya ng hangin. "

(A falling object gains speed at a rate of 9.8 m/s per second if there is very little wind resistence.)

Now, that wasn't hard.

So, am I advocating the removal of English in the school curriculum. Of course not! I see a lot of value in English, and its loss would be detrimental to Filipinos.

If anything, English should be treated as what it really is to most Filipinos - a foreign language. English shouldn't be used to teach math and sciences.

But when should English be taught? As early as possible. English should be taught to children - a vital time to be learning foreign languages.

On the subject of foreign languages, two foreign languages should be taught. They fall into two categories.

A Philippine language - Get the three major Philippine languages - Tagalog, Cebuano, and Ilokano. Tagalogs would have the choice of learning Ilokano or Cebuano. Visayans would have to learn either Ilokano or Tagalog. And Ilokanos would have to learn, you guessed it, Cebuano or Tagalog. I don't believe in forcing someone to learn a language. HOWEVER, I believe that we should force the learning of a language that one's countrymen speaks just as we force children to learn math and history. The choice of the language is up to them.

A non-Philippine language - English is the obvious choice. However, it would be a choice among other non-Philippine languages. I also propose Spanish. Perhaps Chinese and Japanese.

Now, there are limits. It's typical that someone will complain that "Oh, we can't translate documents and books in all 160 languages."

I know that.

Let's try one step at a time. Tagalog is already done. We'll ease into Cebuano .. then Ilokano ...

It doesn't have to happen overnight.

One argument I encountered - and it's pretty silly, ludicrous even - it came from a guy named Antonio (comments of this type here). He claimed that my proposals have a selfish reason. By preserving the languages and calling for their use in all areas of societies (the Catalans call it "normalization"), we linguists are out to get a profit by translating and making money off of making books and dictionaries about these languages. Yes, Antonio, I am learning to become a linguist so I can get filthy rich.

Another argument I hear is "but the Philippines has so many other problems! This is the last you should be thinking about!"

That may be the case, and I understand that. And what can I say? The topic is about language policy and not about poverty and overpopulation. My "thing" is languages. And thus, languages I will discuss. If I want to discuss poverty and the other problems in the Philippines, then I'll have another blog for that where I'd advocate the use of contraceptives and the like. I just don't believe in a pathetic and irrelevant cop-out. Yes, language policy is the furthest on the mind of Filipinos - but perhaps there will be a time in the future.

So yes, these are my proposals. Albeit in a very rough form. It's bound to change as time goes on and as I come into contact with new information. I encourage you to comment constructively.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Who are the Tagarugs? The Tagarug Mystery...

This entry is the fifth in a series of articles in the first annual Seven-Day Salita Blogathon. For more information, please see this entry.

During the Christmas season of 2003, I ran into an old newsgroup posting by a Dr. Rodrigo "Rudy" Dar. In 1996, he mentioned doing research with linguist Dr. Ted Llamzon in the Limutan River area of Rizal province. The name of the language they were researching was called Tagarug. The speakers refered to themselves as "Sinauna" (original). Thirsty for more information, I finally got into contact with Dr. Dar after New Year's 2004.

Dr. Dar told me about the story how he and Dr. Llamzon went about looking for this language. They took some notes and made a Swadesh list (list of words). Unfortunately, Dr. Dar immediately left the Philippines when martial law was instituted by Marcos in the 1970's, so all his notes are gone.

There seem to be some discrepancies which add to all these mysteries.

First, Ethnologue lists a language called Remontado Agta. It's classified in the same subgroup as Kapampangan and the Sambal languages. Also, its alternate names are Hatang-Kayey and Sinauna. Dar told me that Llamzon would shorten the name to Sinauna rather than Tagarug, and that is the name that stuck with SIl and the Linguistic Society of the Philippines.

However, Dar said that the Tagarugs were certainly not Agtas or Negritos.

Second, Dr. Lawrence Reid mentioned in a mailing list that there are people called Sinauna Tagalog (Original Tagalog) in Tanay, Rizal province. This variety shared the pronoun tamu (we; tayo in Tagalog) with Kapampangan.

Third, I have a paper written in 1973 by Dr. Llamzon called The Importance of Dialects in historical Linguistics: Conant's Pepet Law as a Case in Point. He mentions a dialect called "Puray Tagalog" which has the "schwa vowel" found in other Philippine languages. It is spoken in the town of Montalban, Rizal.

Fourth, Dar showed me excerpts of a master's thesis by Pilar Santos. She identifies the Sinauna Tagalog-speaking area to be in: Barangay Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal as well as barangay Kaybilukay, Makidata, Paymihuan, and Pinutian, which are only available by foot. She mentions that Llamzon researched these areas. (so I guess that rules out the third reason above). She says that Tagalog is not intelligible with Sinauna Tagalog.

So are we dealing with 3 different languages or one different one? Unfortunately, I have no native speaker texts of this language, so it is hard to tell.

I do have some words. Mark Rosenfelder's Zompist.Com has Sinauna Tagalog. The numbers are: isâ, dar-á, tatlú, á-pat, limá, á-num, pitú, walú, siyám, sangpú.

I also have my own copy (bought it in a place in India, of all places) of Fe Aldave Yap's A Comparative Study of Philippine Lexicons (I reviewed it here), and there are Sinauna Tagalog words. Yap says it's spoken in Tanay, Rizal.

Many of the Sinauna Tagalog words resemble Tagalog, which is probably due to contact with Tagalogs. But there are words that are different.

They are:
kumawatumakyatto climb
migbunumag-awayto fight
sarapawlumpiadto fly
ngatte ngayontoday

That's the gist of it ... there's more. But it still would be nice to have actual sentences because the words alone do not tell the whole story.

Also, to make matters more mysterious - Dar mentions that he saw on a map called "The Filipino People" - released by the National Museum in the 1970's - that there are people who call themselves Tageilog in Quezon province.

Google reveals this page. It's an altername for DUMAGAT: Kabulowen language. It gives the Ethnologue code of Alta, Southern. However, the Tageelog/Tageilog names aren't mentioned.

It makes me wonder who the original Tagalogs really were. Could it be that Southern Luzon was populated by these Tageilogs and Tagarugs, and then the Central Filipinos came in from the Visayas and adopted the name of these people and conquered their land and intermarried with the locals? Who knows. I could only speculate. If only there were evidence.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Book Review: Central Tagbanwa

This entry is the fourth in a series of articles in the first annual Seven-Day Salita Blogathon. For more information, please see this entry.

The second book I ordered from SIL is Central Tagbanwa: A Philippine Language on the Brink of Extinction by Robert Scebold.

Central Tagbanwa is a language spoken in northern Palawan. It is a member of the Meso-Philippine group of languages. Other branches in this family include the Central Philippine languages, which is a very large group of widespread and well-known languages such as Tagalog, Cebuano, and Bikol. Ethnologue reports that 2,000 people spoke it in 1985. According to Scebold on page 7, he "estimated the total Tagbanwa population to be between 800 and 1000." While the number reduced by 50%. But there are a couple of caveats. The Philippine census counts 16,300 Tagbanwa speakers, however there are different varieties of Tagbanwa. Also, there may be other Tagbanwas outside the area he researched. Despite this, the results are alarming.

I care about language extinction. And I care for their preservation and the rights of their respective speakers to use them in any possible way. In 163 pages this book succeeds in its two missions - to give us a detailed status of the language as well as to describe the languages for those of us language geeks who are interested in such things.

In the first two chapters, he gives important background on Central Tagbanwa's history and present situation. Interestingly enough, he says that two SIL linguists "discovered" the language in the course of their research in 1979. He places the blame on why Central Tagbanwa is a language destined to death. He points to other Filipinos who migrated to Palawan. He also points to the American presence and education system from 1898-1946. He also points to the Japanese occupation during WWII. In chapter two he outlines his methods for getting a rough estimate of Central Tagbanwa speakers. Three Central Tagbanwa are presented as case histories. Also, most of Scebold's research was in Barangay Binga, San Vicente, Palawan.

Scebold did a good job on the third chapter, phonology. Central Tagbanwa posseses four vowels; one of which is a high central vowel. This is surprising, considering that the fourth vowel in other Philippine languages such as Ilokano and Kinaray-a is a high back unrounded vowel. The fourth Central Tagbanwa vowel is similar in pronunciation to the Russian letter ы as in язык (yazihk, meaning "language"). This sound is also found in Romanian, represented by the letters â and î as in the word română (meaning, "Romanian").

Also, there appears to be an extra consonant. He interprets this consonant with the Greek "beta" - β. It is technically called a "voiced bilabial fricative" and a weakened version of it exists as a variant of the Spanish /b/. He admits that there is "trace evidence" for this particular phoneme and points to words such as /bulβol/ which has both sounds. Furthermore, he says that native speakers prefer writing this sound as the letter v. Judging from the examples in which this letter is found, I have reason to believe that it is simply an allophone and that there are certain environments where this is pronounced in. But, I have never heard spoken Central Tagbanwa, so I cannot say for sure. I should note, that [β] exists in Tausug as an allophone and I can hear the sound loud and clear in spoken Tausug.

With 50 pages, chapter 4 is the largest chapter in the book. He deovtes this chapter to a "brief" grammatical sketch of the language. He outlines each grammatical concept with an explanation and some sample sentences. The sample sentences include a phrase in Central Tagbanwa, followed by a breakdown of the morphemes, then a word-for-word translation, and finally a free English translation. Here is an example:

" Noun Marking Particles"

"Nominative noun markers are used to mark the participants in focus in verbal clauses, and to mark topics in nonverbal clauses.."

"(49)Ti Andres ay ipagamot niya ka doctor.
ti Andres ay i-=pa-=gamot niya ka doctor
N Andrew COP NB.NAF=CAUS=medicine 3SG O doctor

'He will have Andrew treated by a doctor.'"

"(50)Doon ka Malaya ti Beto.
doon ka Malaya ti Beto
D30 O Malaya N Beto

'Beto is over there in Malaya.'"

"(51)Ka Puerto napadong ya barko.
ka Puerto na-=padong ya barko
O Puerto POT.CMP.AF=dock N ship

'The ship docked in Puerto."

Chapter 5 is a sort of mini-dictionary. It's not intended to be a comprehensive dictionary. It is two-way, English-Central Tagbanwa and vice-versa.


Central Tagbanwa-English

biring v. to be astonished. Nabiring kanya ing ono ya pogdikal. He was astonished, wondering what shone with such luster.

English-Central Tagbanwa

pig bavoy

And finally, the end of the book features an appendix which contains three stories. They were contributed in February of 2000 by Roberto Lerona. The stories are "The Tagbanwa Man Who Found Gold", "The Boy That Was Gotten by a Crocodile", and "Conservation about the Ashfall from Mt. Pinatubo."

Here is a photo of the book. It was published in 2003 and SIL is selling it for just $5.70

To Robert Scebold and other people who make books about Philippine languages - keep'em comin'!

Friday, August 05, 2005

13 Major Languages And Numbers in Ilokano and Kapampangan

This entry is the third in a series of articles in the first annual Seven-Day Salita Blogathon. For more information, please see this entry.

A little more than a year ago, I wrote an entry titled Eight Major Languages No More. My intention was to update the oft-repeated claim that there are "eight major dialects (sic)" because they are based on at least one million speakers.

With the release of the 2000 Census figures, I found that there were 12 instead of four.

The ball started in 2002 when linguist Jason Lobel added up census figures for towns he knows speaks certain languages. In the end he came up with 12 languages.

I did the same thing when the National Statistics Office released their mother tongue statistics and I myself came up with 12 languages.

But Jason's and my 12 languages did not match. He had forgotten Tausug and I had neglected the Southern Bikol language.

Yes, I did have Bikol in the list. But a fellow member in another mailing list I belong to reminded me by asking me if Bikol was like Visayan - a language group rather than a single language. The answer is yes, but on a smaller scale. There are 4 Bikol languages in contrast with Visayan's 3 dozen.

So, I did a recount of the Bikol speakers.

Northern Bikol (includes the Naga & Legazpi) standards number over 2.1 million.

Southern Bikol has over 1 millino speakers. I compared Northern and Southern Bikol here.

Bisakol (Visayan Bikol), which includes Masbatenyo, has about 850,000 speakers(!).

Northern Catanduanes Bikol has 80,000 speakers.

Total: About 4 million.

The census lists 4.5 million speakers throughout the Philippines, so there are a half-million speakers unaccounted for. The figures I cited above are those who speak it within the Bicol region.

But if I allocate the figures proprotionately (52.5% of 500,000 + 2.1 million), that gives Northern Bikol about 2.4 million speakers. Southern Bikol has 1,125,000.

In other news, I explored the number systems again in two Philippine languages; Kapampangan and Ilokano. I looked up grammars that date to the Spanish era. They did count their numbers similar to the way Tagalogs and Warays did.

Page 205 of Diego Bergaño's early-18th century Arte de la lengua Pampanga it mentions that there is adwang pulu for 20 however 21 is mekatlung metung. 31 is mekapat. 91, however, is mecarinalan metung. The rootowrd use is dinalan, meaning 100.

Bergaño admitted that Kapampangans also counted the "Spanish way" - adwang pulu ampun metung instead of mekatlung metung.

Bergaño gave examples of higher, more complex numbers.

387,000 - mekapat walung libu pitung dalan
67,853 - mekapitung libu walung dalan ampon mecanam atlu
425,000 - lawit apat a laksa't mekatlung limang libu
914,257 - lalung siyam a laksa't macapat apat a libu at adwang dalan ampun mekanim pitu

For Ilokano, I refered to page 31 of Francisco López Gramática ilocana

With Ilokano, they started with the teens!

So, rather than saying sangapulo ket maysa for eleven (Tagalog: labing-isa), they said kanikadua pullot maysa. The rootword of kanikadua is dua, which is the number 2.

Some more numbers -

21 - kanikatlo pullot maysa
22 - kanikatlo pullot dua
31 - kanikappat a pullot maysa
41 - kanikalima pullot maysa
51 - kanikannem a pullot maysa
61 - kanikapito pullot maysa
71 - kanikawalo pullot maysa
81 - kanikasiam a pullot maysa
91 - kanikagasut iti maysa
100 - sangagasut
101 - kanikadua gasut iti maysa OR ma
111 - kanikadua gasut iti kanikadua pullot maysa

Interesting stuff! I tried looking for Cebuano & Hiligaynon examples, but there are no resources in the online archives.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Counting in pre 20th-century Tagalog and Waray-Waray

This entry is the second in a series of articles in the first annual Seven-Day Salita Blogathon. For more information, please see this entry.

I belong to a mailing list devoted to Baybayin, the script used by certain Philippine ethnic groups (such as the Tagalogs and the Visayans) until the earlier portion of Spanish rule in the Philippines.

One of the members is Paul Morrow, who resides in in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He runs the Sarisari website devoted to Baybayin and other subjects relating to the Philippines.

A month ago, Paul announced that he had posted two 17th-century Baybayin documents on his website. The first one was written in 1613 and the other was supposedly written in 1615.

Paul pointed out that Dr. Ignacio Villamor - the man who transliterated the documents in 1922 - translated "may ikatlong lima" as 15. The rationale was "three fives" equal fifteen.

Having previously encountered this construction in old Tagalog grammars, I concluded that Dr. Villamor was incorrect in his translation. The correct translation is 25. So the document was written in 1625. Many Filipinos today are unaware that Tagalog speakers used a different way of counting in their language.

In Tagalog, the word for 20 is dalawampu. To say 21, we say dalawampu't isa. 22 is dalawampu't dalawa, and so on.

In pre-20th century Tagalog, 20 was written as dalovang povo. In modern spelling (which I will use throughout for simplicity), dalawang puwo.

However, for the numbers 21-29, there was a choice. To say 21, one could choose dalawang puwo't isa which is how it is said today or maykatlong isa (originally written: meycatlon isa).

If you speak Tagalog, you can see that the rootword of maykatlo is tatlo, meaning 3. You may ask, if it is 21, then why is there a 3 in there?

The answer is that the Tagalogs had another way of looking at their numbers back then.

Look below,

01 - 10 constitute the first group of ten.
11 - 20 constitute the second group of ten.
21 - 30 constitute the third group of ten. 25 has the third five, hence it is maikatlong lima.

Note that the maika- series is not used for the first and second groups of ten. 5 is simply lima while 15 is labinlima.

Here are the rest of the numbers until 100.

31 - maykapat isa
41 - maykalimang isa
51 - maykanim isa
61 - maykapitong isa
71 - maykawalong isa
81 - maykasiyam isa
91 - maykaraan isa

Now, 91 appears to be irregular. The root word of maikaraan is daan, meaning 100.

Furthermore, this way of counting wasn't restricted to the those numbers. It extended into the hundreds and into the thousands.

100 is the same now as it was then - either sandaan or isang daan.
101 - 199 were constructed with labi sa raan. so, labi sa raan isa., labi sa raan dalawa, etc. Today we usually say sandaan at isa, sandaan at dalawa, etc.

Also, 200, 300, 400, 500, all the way to 900 were said as they are said now; dalawandaan (dalawang daan), tatlundaan (tatlong daan), and so on.

However, 201-299, 301-399, 401-499, and so on used a system similar to above.

201 - maykatlong isa (today: dalawang daan at isa)
355 - maykapat na daan maykanim lima (today: tatlong daan at limampu't lima)

I wanted to translated 999, but would 900 be maykaraan or maykalibo?

Update: I checked out the 1832 Arte y Reglas de la lengua tagala and 901-999 are indeed prefixed by maykalibo. So 999 would be maykalibong maykaraang siyam.

The thousands were the same.

1000 - sanglibo
1001 - labi sa libong isa
2000 - dalawang libo
2001 - maykatlong libong isa
10,000 - sanglaksa
10,001 - labi sa laksa isa
20,000 - dalawang laksa
20,001 - maykatlong laksa
100,000 - sangyuta
100,001 - labi sa yutang isa
200,000 - dalawang yuta
200,001 - maykatlong yutang isa

And one million was either sang-angawangaw or sampuwong yuta.

Paul pointed out to me the section in Fr. Benjamin Totanes's 18th-century Arte de la lengua tagalog (Art of the Tagalog language) talking about the numbers. I found a sentence that was particularly interesting:

"Aunque ya con la comunicación de los españoles, muchos cuentan como nosotros, y así dicen: Dalauáng pouó at isá, veinte y uno. Sang dáan at isá, ciento y cinco. Limáng dáang dalauáng pouó at limá, quinientos y veinte y cinco, y así de los demás números."

In English -

"Although now with the comunication with the Spaniards, many of them count like us, so thus they say: dalawang puwo at isa, twenty-one. Sang daan at isa, one hundred five. Limang daang dalawang puwo at lima, 525, and it is that way with the rest of the number."

So, the stage was set 300 years ago for Tagalogs to start counting the European way.

I was curious if this system existed in other languages. I have only checked Waray-Waray so far. Thanks to Harvey Fiji, I have a copy of Arte de la lengua bisaya de la provincia de Leite (Art of the Visayan language of the province of Leyte), written by P. Domingo Ezguerra in in 1747.

The short answer - it was indeed used in Waray-Waray. On page 67, it mentions how to make ordinal numbers. It goes on to say in the the towns of "Oton and Palapag, they add the lower number in this way."

The examples they give are:

24 - may icacatloan nga upat OR hingangatloan nga upat.
18 - icacaduhaan na iduha OR hingarohaan na iduha
33 - pipito na ihingapatan

But there seems to be a discrepancy. 24 appears to be literally "20 and 4" but 18 appears to be "2 less than 20" and 33 is "7 less than 30."

Unfortunately, Ezguerra does not go into more detail.

I plan on checking to see Spanish-era grammars for other Philippine languages to see what I can find out.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Book Review: A Masbatenyo-English Dictionary by Elmer Wolfenden

This entry is the first in a series of articles in the first annual Seven-Day Salita Blogathon. For more information, please see this entry.

Back in February I ordered three books from the Summer Institute of Linguistics. I waited until May to find out what was going on, only to find out that they had mailed the books in March and should've arrived in April. I e-mailed again in July, and they sent them to me again. They arrived in a matter of days from the Philippines. So now, I finally have my books.

One of these three books is Elmer P. Wolfenden's A Masbatenyo Dictionary-English Dictionary, published in 2001.

Dr. Wolfenden has been studying Philippine languages for over 50 years. One page mentions that he was a Bible translator for the Isnag language in northern Luzon back in 1954. I first encountered his name in his 1971 Hiligaynon Reference Grammar.

In any case, the Masbatenyo dictionary itself will not disappoint. It is over 736 pages. And is a culmination of work by Dr. Wolfenden from 1972 to 1992.

The first few pages of the book mentions Masbatenyo's known history and genetic classification to other Philippine languages. He considers the language very close to the Bisakol of Sorsogon in Bikol and he considers their grammars to be close to Hiligaynon. Masbatenyo itself has a lot of influence from Bikol, Waray-Waray, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Tagalog which is why, he states, that "many semantic concepts in Masbatenyo can be expressed by from two to five alternate and different words for a single concept." Dr. Wolfenden also identifies three major dialects of Masbatenyo.

He does a good job of explaining Masbatenyo phonology, however my complaint is that he uses a modified - and in my humble opinion, rather odd - system of the Tagalog accent marks throughout the book. It is not a major obstacle, but it takes a while to get used to. For example, he writes tàóy when simply taóy will do. Furthermore, he uses a similarly modified version of IPA notation where he puts the accent mark before the vowel rather than before the syllable; i.e., [k'ita`] rather than ['kita`]. Again, not a major obstacle but it is odd.

Although it probably is not necessary, I am extremely grateful that Dr. Wolfenden included a very meaty grammatical sketch of Masbatenyo. He was very thorough; he devoted pages 11 through 82 to give his readers a thorough treatment of Masbatenyo grammar.

He puts the various articles, demonstrative & personal pronouns, and verbs in easy-to-read tables. I myself am a fan of looking at these tables, which are found in articles concerning Philippine languages. He makes it easy to compare the differences between Masbatenyo and other languages.

For good measure, he includes several example sentences outlining the words found in these table. For example, under the table for genitive pronouns he has these examples:

31. Kun igwa sin itlog ginabaligya man gihapon ninda.
If there-are eggs they are-selling them also.

32. An tiya ko an akon maninay.
My aunt-is my godmother.

33. Damo kami na urupod kaya kasurusadya namon.
We-excl had many companions so we-excl were-very-happy.

Another pecularity by Wolfenden, as evidenced by the above three examples are the dashes that connect these words. Again, this is used throughout the dictionary. In a nutshell, these are to show that these phrases are one word in Masbatenyo. Somehow, I think it's unnecessarily distracting, but I guess they are used in aiding the reader.

Dr. Wolfenden certainly covered a lot of ground; his grammatical sketch more than satisfied my curiosity and it also gave me some more insight about the nature of Visayan languages.

As for the actual dictionary itself, it is divided into two sections. Pages 85 - 531 is composed of the Masbatenyo-to-English section. What I like is that he sorts the entries by rootwords. He further includes subentries if the word has a different meaning based on a particular infix - many touristy-targeted dictionaries for Philippine languages do not do this.

Here are two sample entries:

miya [míyà] n. cat. Pakauna an miya. Have the cat eat. Syn: iding 'cat'. magpamiya-míya v [c2]. MAG- act. act cat-like. Nagapamiya-miya si Nino sa sini. Nino acted-like-a-cat in-the movie.

tangkas [tángkas] v [c8]. MAG- ag; -ON pat; -AN goal/ben; I- acc.
tangkasón v. be removed, be extracted, be detached. Nano kay gintangkas mo an mata san manika?. Why did you remove the eye of-the doll. Lit: Why was the ey of-the doll removed by-you? Dili mo pagtangkason an imo habay kay basi magsakit an imo tiyan. Do no tremove your girdle because your stomach might become-painful.
pagtángkas n. detaching, releasing, freeing. Nadugay an pagtangkas san iya matris. The detaching of her uterus took-a-long-time.
paratángkas n. remover. One whose job is to remove something.
pangtángkas n. remover, eradicator. Refers to a tool or solution. Adi an pangtangkas san mantsa. Here is the stain remover.

Pages 533-734 include the English-Masbatenyo portion of the dictionary. The entries themselves are numerous, but carry less information, which seems to be the norm among the English section of a Philippine-language dictionary.

Here is an example.

when adv. san1; conj. kun (1); interr prn. san-o; rel prn. kun sán-o, Cf; san-o.

All in all, this dictionary was well worth the money. At $22.50, it was a great bargain. It is my hope that Masbatenyo literature will grow. The sad thing is that on page 3, Dr. Wolfenden states "... this dictionary is only the second published work on the Masbatenyo language." This book I have is just the second? I am hoping that it will not be the last.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sale on my Tausug Book & Salita Blogathon!

My dear readers (do I have any left?),

I am having a summer sale on my Tausug book. But before I let the general public know about it, I am going to let readers of my blog know first.

Paperback copies of my book are now on sale for $19 if you're a resident of the United States. Shipping is included. It was originally $24.50. If you're interested, please e-mail me at This sale is for summer only. If you're not in the United States, e-mail me for shipping rates. It shouldn't be expensive. It's like $4.50 to mail my book to the Philippines, I learned.

Since I have been neglecting this blog lately, I've been feeling guilty. To make up for this abuse, I am going to have a 7-day Salita Blogathon. This is not affiliated with the Blogathon that is raising money for charity.

I am going to write one article a day for the next seven days. This is something that I am going to commit to. I don't know what I am going to write yet, but there will be a mix of essays, book reviews, analyzing certain Philippine languages, and whatever. The point is, I have to write something of substance once a day for the next seven days.

Am I crazy? I guess so! I still have homework and I am also in the process of writing a couple of articles for Wikipedia.

I am going to start the Salita Blogathon tomorrow on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005 and ends on Tuesday, August 9th, 2005. So this post does not count.

So, if you're into Philippine languages the next seven days will be a treat. :-) Spread the word!

See you tomorrow,


Saturday, July 02, 2005

MUTDA: Mga Tulang Asi

I apologize again for the length of time between posts. I attribute this to being busy with school and work (and partly to laziness, but don't tell anyone. Ok?). I am off from work for the next six weeks, and there are a bunch of projects that I'd love to get finished during this summer.

I am in school again and am currently taking French, statistics, and political science for the summer quarter. My spring quarter grades surprised me. They were much better than my winter quarter grades; I got a 4.0! So, I was extremely happy. Usually there's that one cursed B that ruins the whole streak. Hopefully I can pull this off again, but statistics, which involves math, really isn't my forté.

Moving on... During my hiatus from this blog, I purchased a copy of a poetry anthology in the Asi language of Romblon province. The title is Mutda: Mga Tulang ASI (Pearl: Asi poems). It was compiled by Ishmael Fabicon, a native of Banton Island whom I first met over 5 years ago in a Bikol mailing list. Lyndon Fadri and Abner Famiano also edited the anthology.

Asi is really a minority language; a little over 70,000 people speak it. So it's a real treat to have a publication in a minority language such as this since they are really hard to come by.

Here's a song that was included in the anthology. It's Kita Ay Magsadya by Quirino Ferranco.

Kita ay magsadya ag magkanta
Sa tunog, sonata't gitara
Kasubo'y war-on sa hunahuna
Maglibang kita sa kasadya
Masri kali'k damot, Oh palangga
Ag puso nakong nagyuyuha
Pag ako pinisil, kaling imo damot
Di ka mahangit it kaling pakipot

Maasran ka ak yuha
It ako mga mata
Ka naging dahilan, buksi ka ak rughan
Nak ka ak paghigugma ay gikan

Cool, huh?

What I love about Asi is its historical phonology as far as its consonants are concerned; I think this is why it is tentatively considered a separate branch in the Visayan language family.

Linguist Jason Lobel explained Asi's consonants in his Sanrokan paper, but I'll give a brief run-down here.

Many of the words that normally start with /d/ in other Philippine languages like Tagalog, are rendered as /r/. So rather than dagat, isda, and sunod there is ragat, isra, and sunor.

Where other Philippine languages have /l/, Asi has /y/. So there is yamig, yang, suyat, mahay, and wayo for lamig, lang, sulat, mahal, and walo.

Medial /y/ in most Philippine languages is /d/ in Asi. Examples: hadop (hayop), maado (maayo), nidog (niyog), and sida (siya).

And then there are a lot of familiar words that have undergone at least two of these changes: badar (bayad), raya (dala), layo (yado), and yud-a (luy-a).

What a beautiful language - I hope there will be more Asi books in the future.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Waray Songs & Contractions

Just a quick update.

So I have a collection of songs in Tagalog (of course), Bikol (in the Viracnon & Legazpi dialects), Cebuano, Ilokano, Pangasinan, one in Hiligaynon (I think), and now I have a CD in Waray-Waray.

It's called Lubi-Lubi & Other Waray Folksongs.

Brackets indicate where I fixed the spelling, where known.

There are 12 songs: Lubi-Lubi, An I[r]oy nga Tuna, Daw Nasusunod, Kon Harapit na An Adlaw Matunod, Di Ak Nahuhulop, An Bulan, An Lubi, [Ginhilom] Ko, Lawiswis Kawayan, [An] Mga Hoyohoy, Limukon ug Punay, and Daw Sugad Hin Bukad.

The singers are the Mabuhay Singers. So it has that familiar traditional feeling.

One day I'd like to see pop songs in minority Philippine languages. I understand there is Cebuano rap!

And something linguistic related. I noticed one of the titles is Di Ak Nahuhulop (I am not discouraged). Until fairly recently (say, last year or so), I always associated the di ak part with Ilokano, which is written diak. So when I first bought the CD today, I was wondering why there was an Ilokano song on it. :-D

Anyway, Waray-Waray usually contracts pronouns.

ako (first person singular, absolutive) becomes ak. And in some cases, usually after a vowel, it's simply k.

kami (first person, exclusive plural, absolutive) becomes kam

kita (first person, includive plural, absolutive) becomes kit

nakon (first person singular, ergative) becomes either nak or ko.

nimo (second person singular, erg.) becomes nim or mo

imo (second person singular, oblique) becomes im

In Tagalog, it happens less frequently, it seems. I personally contract ako to ko following a word that ends in /a/. Cebuano does anywhere regardless. Also ninyo (2nd person plural ergative) is contracted to nyo.

Speaking of Cebuano, I am still sometimes confused by its speakers' contractions. KO could either come from AKO (1st person sg., absolutive) or NAKO (1st person sg., erg.). NAKO from either KANAKO or NAKO. The same with MO/KANIMO/NIMO and other oblique pronouns resembling ergative ones.

That's all for now.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Changes to Ethnologue

SIL has recently made some changes to its Ethnologue. It's now in its 15th edition.

I was curious to see if there were any changes to its page on the languages of the Philippines. The first I noticed is that where were no longer 169 living languages as stated in the 14th edition, but instead there were now 171. And instead of three extinct languages, there were now *gasp* four.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no way of automatically seeing what the changes are, so I had to manually make a comparison between the two versions.

So, here are my findings. Please direct any corrections to me.


Seven of the existing languages were renamed.

Bontoc, South is now Finallig
Sama, Abaknon is now Inabaknon
Adasen is now Itneg, Adasen
Kalanguya, Keley-i is now Kallahan, Keley-i
Magindanaon is now Maguindanao
Sama, Balangigi is now Balangigi


One language was removed from the living languages portion and moved down to the extinct language. This language is Agta, Villa Viciosa formerly spoken in Abra Province.


There were three additions.

Itneg, Banao
Itneg, Moyadan

Filipino?! I was surprised to see Filipino. If you've been reading my posts for a while, you know that I consider Filipino a dialect of Tagalog. But upon further investigation of the language tree, Filipino has been grouped as a dialect of Tagalog along with the current Tagalog dialects. I don't think that's an accurate way of putting it. Neither do I think Filipino merits its own entry.

On related news, I've ordered some books from SIL-Philippines. One of them is a Masbatenyo dictionary. But it's taking so long for them to arrive. SIL told me they sent it via airmail on March 7th, but it's already May. I hope they didn't get lost or anything. I had to pay extra for airmail shipping so they'd get here quickly instead of 2-6 months.

Until next time...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Old Books on Philippine Languages Available Online

Hi folks, it's been a while!

I recently completed the winter quarter of college and I did really well! I'm glad, I was seriously pessimistic about my grades. Anyway, I just started the Spring Quarter about two weeks ago and have been busy - it's a good thing I just had a week off from work for Spring Break. I am currently taking a composition class, psychology, and 2nd-year French. I need French and another language as requirements for the linguistics major. I plan on taking three quarters of Korean starting in the fall.

Anyway, last month ding_eab (what happened to his blog?) told me about important historic documents about the Philippines avilable online. They're available from the University of Michigan under the theme The United States and its Territories: 1870-1925.

This collection is extremely impressive. It's something that I have been waiting for. You and I now have instantaneous access to old books about the Philippines. But also, it helps knowing Spanish. Many of the books are from the Spanish colonial era and many books are aimed at Spaniards who wish to know Tagalog, Cebuano, Kapampangan, and whatever else. However, the are also books about the Philippines in English, Dutch, German, and French.

Here is just a small sample of what they have:
And there are plenty more. This site has proved useful in some recent debates with the HispanoFilipino group concerning the revision of the Tagalog alphabet as well as the supposedly insulting origins of the word Pinoy (there aren't).

This site has served a very useful on a very personal (i.e., genealogical) level for me. I managed to locate the police employment record of my Bicolano great-grandfather Lucio de los Santos Buenpacifico. According to my grandmother and her siblings, he was a policeman who held a high position. The records I found pertained to when he was a rookie on the Manila police force and was paid 440 pesos a month back in 1912. There's also a city directory for Manila in which I found the address of the house my great-grandfather lived in before he married my great-grandmother Antonia Javier Dakila. That was great and it's something I shared with my grandmother.

There are also Filipino-American magazines from the 1920's to the 1930's. It's fascinating to read about the manong generation recounting their lives here in the states.

On my current have-to-read-when-I-have-time-list is Shall the Philippines have a common language? An address .. delivered before the Catholic women's league of Manila August 31, 1931. by George Butte.

So check it out and pass it on to your friends! You will not be disappointed.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Studies in Philippine Linguistics available online!

Man, it's already March. I'm kind of glad, because on the 15th is the end of the winter quarter at my college. I have so much stuff to do in the next 10 days. Then I'll be done, only to repeat the process for the spring quarter starting March 28th. I've already registered for classes, which I'll mention in a later post.

In any case, I've already known this for the past several weeks, but I waited to announce this until they've put a lot more issues up... SIL has converted their out-of-print journal Studies in Philippine Linguistics to PDF format and uploaded them to their website for everyone to download. For free!

They're available for your perusal at

Perhaps of particular interest are two articles about Tagalog. The first one is a very condensed version of Rosa Soberano's monograph The Dialects of Marinduque Tagalog. This one is my most favorite. It shows the grammatical features, such as conjugations, found in Visayan & Bikol languages that Luzon Tagalog lost but are preserved in Marinduque Tagalog. Though reportedly these features disappearing due to the popularity Manila Tagalog.

Another one of interest is Gloria Chan Yap's Hokkien Chinese loanwords in Tagalog. I liked this one a lot as well because it not only identifies the loanwords but also gives the hanzi (Chinese characters). This helped me in writing the section about foreign loanwords in Tagalog in the Wikipedia Article I wrote.

So enjoy. When I have time I'll be sure to check out the articles about Bolinao and Tina Sambal - two languages which are tentatively classified as being close to Kapampangan. Should be interesting

Wish me luck on my finals!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Lien du jour: Books on Philippine languages

My friend/publisher/mentor/etc. Jason Lobel has opened a new website for his inventory of books he authored about the languages of the Philippines. Jason is currently obtaining his Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and has spent mid-2004 doing tons of linguistic research in the Central Philippines.

The URL is:

His newest book is Bikol Literature Anthology Volume Two, which he published along with my In Bahasa Sug book. I have volume 1 of his book and let me tell you it was a fascinating read. Jason went to libraries in the Bicol region and scoured decades-old, long-forgotten literary Bikol magazines to put into his anthology. These pieces were written from a different view and are thus of historical value especially for those, like myself, who have roots in Bicol.

Of greater historic interest are the old grammars and dictionaries authored by the Spanish centuries ago. Jason has archived them in CD form. There are CDs for Kapampangan, Cebuano , Pangasinan, and of course Bikol. The oldest of which is Bergaño's 1732 Kapampangan dictionary and 1736 grammar. I've only looked at similar publications for Tagalog and Waray-Waray, and it's interesting to see how much these languages have changed over the centuries.

Jason also has put books that he intends on publishing in the future. There's a polyglot Visayas phrasebook in the works; it'll include the three most-spoken Visayan languages - Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Waray-Waray. I personally am looking forward to his book about the languages of Romblon.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Lien du jour: Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database

I recently borrowed Dr. Zorc's Core Etymological Dictionary of Filipino, which Sauvage Noble mentioned in his blog. Fascinating read and quite a refreshing change from poking my nose in non-linguistics textbooks for school. ;-) There are some Tagalog words that I hadn't realized were foreign borrowings via Malay (though can't remember them offhand...).


Here's today's link of the day (or at the frequency I post, perhaps link of the month!):

I saw it mentioned in an AN-LANG post by Simon Greenhill. It is the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database. Even if it just opened up, it seems to be very comprehensive!

It is basically a database of common vocabulary words of Austronesian languages such as Philippine languages like Tagalog & Ibanag to non-Philippine ones like Madurese, Paiwan, and Hawaiian. Heck there's even Proto-Austronesian and Proto-Central Malayo-Polynesian.

The full list is here and as of now there are 282 languages, though there are new languages being added regularly. I hope it grows some more! Apparently many of the sources were culled from works by Drs. Bob Blust, Laurie Reid, David Zorc, and other Austronesian linguists.

And just for a start, you can see what the word for day is in other Austronesian languages.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Filipino vs. Tagalog debate: Bisalog

First I made some slight changes to my Obligatory Introductory Post.

I apologize for not having written in a while. I returned to school (taking three classes; history, math, & physics) and am still working, so I haven't had the right mood for writing any meaningful entries for this blog. I am at home, sick today. So I think I can muster up some strength to write an entry. ;-)

My blog has been mentioned in two other blogs recently; Languagehat & Sauvage Noble. I'm a regular reader of LanguageHat - the information about various languages in there simply fascinates me. I'll start reading Sauvage Noble, too, which is incidentally run by a Filipino named Angelo Mercado who's a doctoral student. I've read his blog on a couple of occasions, particularly when Language Log was having those "guess the language" quizzes. In any case, I'm grateful that they've mentioned my blog. :-) Welcome!

Anyway, I've been involved (again) recently in a bitter debate about the Philippine National Language, Filipino.

In a nutshell, Tagalog was chosen as the national language in 1937. In 1959, it was renamed to Pilipino (note the P). This was reaffirmed in the 1973 constitution (but set the spark to develop a language called Filipino). The 1987 made Filipino the national language, which "shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages."

From my understanding, this was supposed to be some sort of Philippine Esperanto but instead Tagalog was used the base while vocabulary from other Philippine languages was to be imported. And in a sense, it kind of has. There has been a Filipino dictionary (which I've not yet seen) published by the University of the Philippines that has imported these words. But judging from the examples that I have seen, they're not in common use.

Previously I said I debate with people about this. My view is that Filipino is a dialect of Manila Tagalog - it's virtually the Manila dialect. On the other hand, they believe that Filipino and Tagalog are two separate entities and they claim to be able to judge whether or not a sentence is in Tagalog or not. They have given me examples that they say is exclusively Filipino. But the examples are equally valid in Tagalog! I am guessing that while they see that Filipino is to be Tagalog with foreign borrowings, they see Tagalog as a language without any borrowings - even Spanish ones - and they point to the supposedly "pure" Tagalog of Batangas, Bulacan, or some rurale locale on the outer fringes of the Tagalog dialect continuum (standard Manila Tagalog & Filipino are somewhere in the middle.

If you've studied Philippine languages in depth, both you and I know that a pure Tagalog simply doesn't exist. Even before the arrival of the Spaniards, Tagalog absorbed many words from languages spoken in Luzon like Kapampangan, Ilokano, and Pangasinan. Even the Tagalog spoken in Batangas & Bulacan have their fair share of borrowings. Are these "Filipino," too?

So that is the gist of the debate. There's too much confusion and too much wishful thinking.

To further add to the confusion, someone sent this article about the Filipino dialect of Davao (down in Mindanao, far from Tagalog's homeland in Luzon) is being pushed as the Philippines' national language by outgoing University of the Philippines president Francisco Nemenzo.

Davao is home to many languages, the major ones are Davawenyo (a Central-Philippine language related to Mansakan), Davao Chabacano (a Spanish creole closely related to the Chabacano of Zamboanga), and Davao Visayan (essentially a Cebuano dialect).

This isn't the first time I've heard of Davao. It has come up in debates and I've been told that it's a whole different language. I've been under the impression that it's simply Tagalog with Visayan words thrown in. Someone has been able to locate a recent article written in Davao Tagalog. The article, written by Rene Lizada, is located here.

Here are some excerpts.

The second sentence of the first paragraph says:

Pumunta ako sa kalapit na park para mag dagan dagan
I went to a neighboring park to go running around.

Dagan (dalagan) is the Cebuano word. In Tagalog, it's takbo. And in the next sentences, takbo-takbo is used.

And the rest I'll put in a list. The Tagalog equivalent and an English translation is in parenthesis.

  • hoy bumaba ka na pare dahil kanina pa kaming naghulat (naghintay; wait) dito

  • tinali ang aso at nilipat yung iring (pusa; cat)

  • Wag kang bastos iba ang ibig kong sabihon (sabihin; say. In this case it was a different suffix)

  • Dahil malakas ang ulan ay inisip naming na mas mabut[i] kung muhawa na lang mi kay jusog[?] lagi ang ulan (umalis na lang kami kasi malakas[?]; ... for us to just leave because it's raining hard)!
And so on. If this is story is really representative of the Tagalog spoken in Davao, then to me it's nothing more than Tagalog as spoken by a Bisaya-speaking Davaoeño who codeswitches by putting Cebuano words into his Tagalog. In other words he's speaking what I affectionately call Bisalog (Bisaya & Tagalog). The randomness and word choice remind me of Taglish (Tagalog & English).

Furthermore this phenomenom is hardly exclusive to Davao. It exists everywhere in the Philippines where Tagalog is spoken as a second language. It is hardly new, either; this has been going on long before the existence of Filipino and Pilipino.

Maybe if people really want a national language for the Philippines that's really inclusive of other languages, they should just start from scratch.

A Philippine auxlang, anyone?

Friday, January 07, 2005


Looks like someone may be hacking me.

I wonder what they're looking for, though. There's no secret Philippine language stuff in my account. WYSIWYG here, folks. :-D

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