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.


Harvey Fiji said...


I reread Chapter IX of Ezguerra to find out if there's an explanation for the apparent discrepancy.

It is possible that Ezguerra's examples using 24, 18, 33 noted that 18 & 33 used a different system from 24. Note that it says "nga" for 24 but "na" for 18 & 33.

In current Waray there is a distinction between "na" and "nga". For example "Ini nga duha" means "This two" but "Ini na duha" could mean "This became two" or "This [is] now two".

Based on this it's possible to translate the following: 24 could be "Four in the third set of tens" while 18 is "the second set of tens that [is/is being/should be/would be] 'two-ed'[i.e., two taken away from the set]" and likewise the wording for 33 means "seven that would make a fourth [set]".

Of course I could be misreading the Spanish. I'll have to reexamine Ezguerra's Chapter IX.

Incidentally about the other numbers from Chapter IX in Ezguerra:

gatos = hundred
ribo/yukut = thousand
dumalan/malalang = ten thousand
mayucut = hundred thousand
napolo ca mayucut/yaba = million
napolo ca yaba/pamoraboraan = billion

In 20th-century Waray, "gatos" does mean "hundred" just like in Ezguerra's day, but "yukut" means "thousand" while "ribo" means "million".

Interestingly, the earlier 1616 dictionary of Fr. Matheo Sanchez (based on info from a past DILA post by Tom Marking) reportedly recorded "ribo" for "thousand" while "yukut" for million (cf. Cebuano's use of "libo" for "thousand"). Could this have reflected dialectal variations within the language at that time?

volts said...

if hingaroan already refers to 11-20, there is no need to put "nga." It should read like this: "hingaroan usa" and so on...and not "hingaroan nga duha." It sounds unpleasant to me and the word "nga" seems unnecessary.

Thomas Hanke said...

Hi Chris,

a friend of mine sent me your article - a clear and complete description of one of the best cases of overcounting.
First a question: is "mayka-" still used in Tagalog in ordinals?

I posted a summary on the occurrence of constructions often called "overcounting" (well, I'd prefer top-counting or something like that) on linguistlist:

Obviously, I haven't been aware of the former use of overcounting in Tagalog and related languages. Of the 50+ Austronesian languages in my sample, I found only one with OC, with the ordinal marker.

> I concluded that Dr. Villamor was incorrect in his translation. The correct translation is 15.
That should be 25, shouldn't it?

> 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.

From the tpological view, the 18-construction is rare, but not totally surprising, some other languages have subtractions of 1, 2 or a little bit more. But 33 is not expected at all - oh, even more: at first sight I mistook it as '40 minus 7'.
Bad luck there are no more details.

Christopher Sundita said...

> First a question: is "mayka-"
> still used in Tagalog in
> ordinals?

IKA- is used. MAYKA- isn't really used in that sense. However, someone pointed out to me there are other uses for MAYKA-.

For example "Maikatlong beses ko siyang tatawagin bago siya lumapit." (I'll call him three times before he came over.) But I'm probably more apt to say "Tatlong beses ..." (three times). I'm probably missing some nuance here..

Also, to say "the day after tomorrow" one would say "sa makalawa" (rootword: dalawa, two)

According to Dr. Laurie Reid, the MA is a verbal prefix and when paired with IKATATLO it means something like "the state of being third."

Also Schachter & Otanes's Tagalog Reference Grammar lists MAKA- as a frequentative for numbers.

In Ilokano, MAIKA- is used as an ordinal still.

> Of the 50+ Austronesian
> languages in my sample, I found
> only one with OC, with the
> ordinal marker.

Which language was that?

> That should be 25, shouldn't it?

Thanks. Correction noted and applied.

And thanks for your reply.


Thomas Hanke said...

Thanks for the info on ma- and ika-!

>> Of the 50+ Austronesian
>> languages in my sample, I found
>> only one with OC, with the
>> ordinal marker.

> Which language was that?
Oh, yes, it's Tamabo (Oceanic - Jauncey 2002: 613 in Lynch/Ross/Crowley: Oceanic Languages). Well, look at the "unwieldy and rarely used" construction:
32 ngalai-tolu ngalai-vati-na arua
'10-3 10-4-ORD 2'

Expressing both the upper and bottom limit is unique as far as I know...

Well, there could (or should) be more overcounting out there. It seems to be just another case of fascinating numeral constructions disappearing too fast. And they're just a tiny part of cultures...

Elena Delgado said...

Hello, I'm curious - 'dalovang povo' - did Old Tagalog have a letter V? OR Va in the abugida system? It seems rather strange that we would've lost it if we had it then since Spanish makes use of the letter 'V'. We don't seem to have had 'SH' or 'CH' or 'J' yet we easily pronounce these & seem to now adapt all 'SI' into 'SH' / 'TSI' into 'CH' / 'DI' into 'J' yet many Filipinos have problems with the 'V' still & filipinize it into 'B' instead.

Christopher Sundita said...

The "v" is just an orthographic convention. I am pretty sure it stood for "w." Spanish writing in the old days did not use "w" - they used "v."