Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Eskaya

I first encountered Hector Santos's Philippine Leaf website about 10 or 11 years ago (man does time fly!). I don't remember seeing his page about the Eskaya script, though. Just recently, a fellow Wikipedia editor brought to my attention an article she has been working on about the Eskayas of Bohol and their language.

She also sent me a URL of a blog here on Blogspot with pictures of a person's trip to visit the Eskaya in Bohol. The photos by Perez Sez really caught my interest. They show the Eskayan script being used in everyday Eskaya life. The skeptical side of me wonders if these are real or doctored photographs, but I am leaning towards believing they're real barring any future research on them. The photographs are amazing, though.

According to Santos, the Eskaya claim their language is not related to any other. A look at the script reveals that there are a lot of consonant clusters (ble chda bro cro) which are not characteristic of most other Philippine languages. As a matter of fact, it reminds me of Tboli and Blaan with their unusual clusters in words like sdo (fish), kdaw (day), mkik (cry), and tnilos (to cut meat).

I tried deciphering the script so I can see if there are any relations to other languages, but it was rather confusing. Fortunately, one of the photos have some Romanized Eskaya which reads:

Samnet yo Bantilar
Samnat yo aantilac, Datong con bathala ya abeya chda cloper meboy siewes, menti chdi loning ya moy beresagui samnat eela-bolto, gona yonoy dolerkido.
bentod ya hondo yel moy sebar, chda adniam yel kenampay.
Ediac este mesesabla lo-o ya bac robas cheti ri esto ebitangki chda laraker ???? ya droser ya ?? do-o moy sam tener-go y ?? chda carno ya lacya ya bohol.
Interesting. I cannot make out any words. It does not appear to be related to any of the languages I know. However, it does remind me of Tboli, as I said.

Back to the script. It seems rather random to me. The origins of the script are unknown. Frankly, I believe the script to have been created by someone who happened to look at writing from either Americans or Spaniards and simply stole the letters from there while assigning them totally different phonetic values. I see letters like A, R, d, f, O (which is pronounced the same in Eskaya!), and u. I also see the letters 2, 4, and 8. There are also groups of letters like iss, Das, go, gn, leA, led, Ath, and Aas. Then there are syllabic characters which resemble Greek letters (φ, γ), Cyrillic letters (э), and something that even resembles the Japanese hiragana syllabic character お!

(Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Do you know what this reminds me of? The Cherokee syllabary invented by Sequoyah. He just took random letters from the Roman alphabet and gave them different sounds:

(Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

So was there an Eskayan version of Sequoyah? Hopefully more research can shed more light on this mystery.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Kapampangan music video

A "Millenium Version" of the popular Kapampangan folk song, Atin Ku Pung Singsing (I once had a ring) has been made into a music video by the Center for Kapampangan Studies at Holy Angel University in Angeles City, Pampanga.

It apparently is a part of a CD titled "Paskung Kapampangan" (Kapampangan Christmas). It was mentioned on Christmas Eve by Tonette Orejas in the Philippine Inquirer article Kapampangan carols now on CDs. Even though Christmas is basically over, I still would like a copy of this CD. In any case, the music video is below. Enjoy! I think it's the first time I've seen a music video in a non-Tagalog Philippine language (Scratch that - it's the second; I've watched the Kapampangan tourism video!).

Right under the video are the lyrics and a translation which Ernie Turla (author of the Classic Capampangan dictionary) helped me with back in 2003.

Atin ku pung singsing (I once had a ring)
Metung yang timpukan (It was a family heirloom)
Amana ke iti (I inherited this)
King indung ibatan (From my own mother)
Sangkan keng sininup (I pretended to hide it)
King metung a kaban (Inside a chest)
Mewala ya iti, (It just disappeared)
E ku kamalayan. (Without my knowing)

Ing sukal ning lub ku (The pain inside me)
Susukdul king banwa (Reaches up to the sky)
Pikurus kung gamat (My crossed arms)
Babo ning lamesa (Are on top of the table)
Ninu mang manakit (Whoever finds)
King singsing kung mana (My heirloom ring)
Kalulung pusu ku (My poor heart)
Manginu ya keya. (Will worship him).

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Jesus Film in Philippine languages

Since Christmas Eve is upon us, I'd like to show you a link where you can watch the Jesus Film dubbed in various languages - a lot of which are in many Philippine languages.

The link is

They are (as far as I can tell; there may be more that I may've missed):

  • Aklanon
  • Bicolano
  • Koronadal Blaan
  • Cebuano
  • Chavacano
  • Hiligaynon
  • Ibaloi
  • Ibanag
  • Ifugao
  • Ilocano
  • Itawis
  • Kankanaey
  • Kapampangan
  • Kinaray-a
  • Magindanaon
  • Masbateño
  • Pangasinan
  • Romblomanon
  • Southern Sama
  • Western Subanon
  • Tagalog
  • Tausug
  • Tboli
  • Waray-Waray
  • Yakan


As an added bonus, go check out Gospel Recordings.Com they have MP3 recordings of oodles and oodles of Philippine languages. There are simply too many to list. This is a great way to introduce yourselves to the languages of the Philippines.

Over and out!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Chavacano pronouns

Before summer started, there was a proposal to start a Wikipedia for Chavacano. My vote was in conditional support; the condition was that the type of Chavacano had to be specified (in this case, Zamboangueño). It passed sometime thereafter. One of the reasons why I had conditional support was that the three varieties of Chavacano are different from each other. And to illustrate this, I showed the pronouns in each of the three main living Chabacano varieties, Zamboangueño, Caviteño, and Ternateño. A chart of which is below (and now in the Chavacano article on Wikipedia):

1st person singulariyo
2nd person singularevo(s) (common)
vo(s) (common)
tu (familiar)
uste(d) (formal)
3rd person singularel
1st person pluralkami (exclusive)
kita (inclusive)
nosotros (formal)
2nd person pluralkamo (common)
vosotros (familiar)
ustedes (formal)
3rd person pluralsila (common & familiar)
ellos (formal)

Zamboangueño evidentally has the most complex pronoun system out of the three. Not only does it retain the inclusive and exclusive distinction in "we" which is characteristic of many Philippine languages but there are also various levels of formality.

In more polite speaking, the Spanish pronouns are used; tu, usted, nosotros, vosotros, ustedes, and ellos. Since nosotros is used, the inclusive/exclusive distinction is loss.

In more casual speech, not only Visayan pronouns are used (kami, kita, kamo, and sila) but also Spanish-based innovations (evos & ele).

Caviteño and Ternateño seem to the more Spanish-based innovations than Zamboangueño does. Vo seems to come from Spanish vos, which is an old way of saying "you" that survives in some South American (especially Argentina) and Central American dialects of Spanish.

The Ternateño mijotro (we) and lojotro (they) appear to based on the Spanish mis otros (my others) and los otros (the others). Ustedi and tedi are based on Spanish ustedes (plural "you"; you guys, you all).

As far as Caviteño nisos, busos, and ilos are concerned, I'm somewhat puzzled. I could be wrong, but they appear to be from nosotros, vosotros, and ellos but I'm not sure where the -os ending came from. It's most likely to mark the plural.

To end this entry, below is a photo taken by Guillermo Gomez Rivera on his trip to Ternate a few years ago. In English, it says "We receive all of you with all our hearts."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Language Barrier, a microdocumentary on Cebuano

During these past few years, I've been dreaming of having my own TV show on PBS in the distance future, after having established myself in the field of linguistics. The show I have in mind would be about languages of the world but in a Rick Steves-esque kind of format - just basically bringing awareness of the different kinds of languages. I even have a "The Languages of Bicol" section already planned out in my head - I'd demonstrate how words for a particular object differ whenever I cross a river in Bicolandia. Or I could cover the revival of say, Occitan, in France, the horrid state of the Ryukyuan languages in Japan, the sole living native speakers of various languages, the life of a translator/interpreter, etc. The possibilities are just endless!

Whether or not the show would garner a substantial audience is another matter altogether, but a guy can dream, can't he?

But I digress.

I did, however, find a video that's along the lines of what I want to do. While in the land of viral videos that is YouTube, I discovered a video titled Language Barrier, produced in Cebu City & Lapu-Lapu City by IAFT film student Ian Allen Lim. It is a "microdocumentary" (I think I just invented this word) which gives a sociolinguistic perspective by interviewing three native Cebuanos: writer/poet Michael U. Obenieta, UP student Roxy Jane Kaka, and media law professor Alfredo Buenaventura.

Each of these three have differing attitudes concerning their native language vis-à-vis Tagalog. Mr. Obenieta and Ms. Kaka seem to have diplomatic attitudes toward people speaking Tagalog in Cebu but at the same address the way that Cebuanos and their language have been mistreated. Atty. Buenaventura, on the other hand, passionately argues that Tagalogs should learn Cebuano when they come to Cebu if he has to speak Tagalog while in Manila.

Despite these different opinions, there seems to be a common thread among the three of them. They have their own rich language with its long-standing history and they are damn proud of it. It's also a matter of fairness. Until the late 20th century, there were more native Cebuano speakers than native Tagalog ones. Despite that, it was Tagalog that went on to be national and official language of the country and the only language to be officially taught in schools. Even today the mass media is by and large in Tagalog and English, though Cebuano seems to making ground, albeit slowly.

The point is that it puts a more meaningful background of how Cebuanos feel about the marginalization of their language in the face of Tagalog domination. It's very easy for Tagalogs to discard Cebuanos' feelings and quickly labeling it irrational and divisive regionalism and such.

I do support Atty. Buenaventura's idea of reciprocity to a certain extent, however it's not a Tagalog-speaker's fault they can't learn the language (Cebuano resources are difficult to obtain, and I speak from experience, as a Tagalog speaker). It should be up to the Philippine educational system to implement such a program. More on this can be found in my blog entry titled My Ideal Language Policy.

In any case, you can view the video at the end of this blog entry. You can also access it directly (as well as leaving the author a comment) by clicking here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Link of the day: Yami Language Learning Center

I wrote about Yami in this blog over two years ago in this entry. While it is spoken outside of the Philippines, it is, for all intents and purposes, a Philippine language due to its relationship to other Philippine languages, namely to Ivatan and Itbayat spoken in the Batanes Islands north of Luzon. Because of this, I feel (felt) that this has some relevance in my blog.

I ran across a website housed by Providence University in Taichung County, Taiwan. It is called the Yami Language Learning Center. It is basically a Yami language learning site.

The site is divided into three learning levels, beginning, intermediate, and advanced. Each level has 1 book (with 10 lessons each), with the exception of the intermediate level which has 2 books. There is also a grammatical sketch, learning games (with Jeopardy!), a final exam, and a dictionary. Awesome, huh?

What I like is that the dialogs have accompanying MP3 recordings with them. This allowed me to listen to this language for the first time. What I noticed is their pronunciation of /r/. It is retroflex as in Mandarin. Which leads me to wonder if Mandarin has influenced this.

I also noticed a Japanese word that made it to Yami, sinsi. It comes from 先生 (sensei) meaning "teacher."

One more thing I have found interesting is that they included the personal marker "si" in the dialogs. The sentence for example says "mo sinsi, ngongyod a tao si Paloy ang?" and in English it became "Teacher, is si Paloy a real person?" Normally, in the Philippines, the si is left untranslated This was also the case in the link I talked about in my last entry about Yami. They included the si in the Yami man's name, si-Mogaz. Now, I may not be Yami but from my Tagalog point of view this doesn't sound right.

Enjoy the site. I found it fascinating.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Two new Wikipedias in two Philippine languages

Hi folks, I am pleased to announce the opening of two new Wikipedias in two Philippine languages.

The first one is the Pangasinan Wikipedia at . In my previous entry, someone left a message in Pangasinan asking for volunteers to contribute to Pangasinan. So now that it's up, I hope the word gets out.

The second one is in the Zamboanga variety of Chavacano, which is now available at . I voted in support of this Wikipedia provided that "zam" be included as part of the domain name. There are three types of Chavacano (the other two in Cavite & Ternate), and each is different so it wouldn't really make sense to have three varieties in one Wikipedia. Of course, I still foresee the problem of Caviteños and Ternateños making edits in their respective tongues there.

So in addition to the two Philippine languages above, there are Wikipedias available in (along with number of articles as of now): Cebuano (1,366), Ilokano (2,003), Kapampangan (1,420), Tagalog (4,840) and Waray-Waray (1,645).

And also, two other Philippine Wikipedias are also on incubator status. This is usually the final step before becoming a full-fledged Wikipedia. I am not fully up to speed on the creation process, but I think they need more articles and more contributors before making that very step. These two languages, spoken on Panay Island, are Hiligaynon (aka Ilonggo) and Kinaray-a. So spread the word.

On a related noted, I think it's sad the first time these languages have an encyclopedia is only online.

PS: Hoy, sa sakuyang mga kahimanwang Bikolnon - naghahalat pa ako nin Wikipedia para sa tataramon na Bikol. Noarin maabot? :-) (translation: Hey! To my Bicolano kababayans - I'm still waiting for a Wikipedia in Bikol. When's it coming?)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The use of siya

I have not posted in over three months, sorry about the neglect. Do I even have any readers left? ;-) I did graduate in June and I ended up working almost all summer rather than taking my usual vacation. I also spent some time roughing it in northeastern Washington and the Oregon coast, so I pretty much had a full plate! Enough excuses, I'll try to update more, especially since I have no school for the next year.

I'd just like to mention that right now, my current interest is in Asi or Bantoanon whose verb system is highly fascinating! It's a Visayan language spoken by about 70,000 people who are native to just five municipalities on four small islands in the province of Romblon. I reviewed an Asi literature book in a previous blog entry. As soon as I have more info about the verbs, I will post my findings in this blog.

In other news...

A friend of mine who is a student at Ateneo de Manila University e-mailed me a couple of months ago. In it, one of the sentences he wrote read "narinig ko siya." I thought to mysef "sino ang narinig niya?" (whom did he hear?) However, due to the context of the message (which was about being able to listen to a high pitch tone), I immediately realized that he was referring not to a person, but to a thing.

I asked him if he seriously uses siya to mean "it." And he said yes, and that it's quite widespread. The only time I heard it used the way he used it was this YouTube video of an American LDS (Mormon) missionary named Daniel speaking Tagalog. He had used the word "Pastilan" and when asked what it meant, explained by saying "Bisaya po siya" (it's Visayan) and "yung ibig sabihin niya" (it means).

So my friend asked me what I would use instead of siya. I explained to him that I would use either one of the Tagalog words that mean "this" or "that," ito, iyan, iyon or simply no pronoun (i.e., narining ko) at all since the nature of the verb narining implies an object anyway, since it's an object-focus verb.

Now, my family hasn't been to the Philippines since the late 1980s, and so I wondered if this was a recent innovation happening back in the Inang Bayan. My mother said that it sounded rather awkward while my grandmother, who grew up in Manila and Minalabac, Camarines Sur, explained that it was wrong, and went off into a lecture saying that "siya" is only for people and that we should use "iyan." The funny thing is, two weeks later, while at my grandma's house, she gave me a fan that she didn't need and told me about its wobbly stand by saying "baka matumba siya" (it might fall).

In any case, since then I have been hearing siya to mean "it" in a variety of places, usually on The Filipino Channel. I haven't heard it much from Filipinos I come into contact with, but I'm keeping my ears open.

I had wondered if there were any studies done about this, so I asked and looked around. Dr. Hsiu-chuan Liao, a University of Hawai'i linguist specializing in Formosan & Philippine languages, referred me to her student from De La Salle named Evelyn Calizo. Ms. Calizo had presented a paper called Filipino Siya: A Case of Broadening at the 10-ICAL conference in Palawan back in January.

I recently got into contact with Ms. Calizo, and she forwarded to me her paper. She noted the presence of this phenomenon in well-known TV personalities such as Kris Aquino and Alma Concepcion.

An interview conducted by Mel Tiangco, a news anchor and reality show host, with Alma Concepcion, a movie actress about the latter’s coping with epilepsy:

Mel: Paano mo tinanggap ang sakit mo? ‘How were you able to accept your illness?’
Alma: Tinanggap ko na lang siya kasi kailangang maging malakas ako ‘I just have to accept it because I have to be strong’.
Calizo also recounted a problem in her field research; some native informants have claimed that they do not use siya to refer to objects, but have been found to do so as in the case of the librarian whom she elicited information from. This was apparently the case of my grandmother.

Summing up her data, the following groups are more likely to use siya this way were people from Metro Manila and Nueva Vizcaya (in contrast to Batangas, which was the other province surveyed), and people younger than 30. Males and females seem to be equal as far as usage is concerned.

One thing I would have preferred to have had seen in Calizo's study was the use a zero pronoun, which is my preference; she only compared siya and ito (this). Also, does the phenomenon extend to sila (them) as well? I find the use of sila used for objects to be as equally "jarring" as siya.

I wonder, though, if this phenomenon happens in other Philippine languages. I do know that in Kapampangan the use of ya and the plural la is obligatory, even when the antecedent is present. But Kapampangan is the exception, not the rule.

Another thing I have been wondering is "what if?" What if Tagalog had developed separate third person pronouns for objects, what would they be?

My guess is that they would be *angya or *aya for "it" while *ala or *anla for a inanimate "them."

How did I come to this conclusion? In Tagalog, si (as well as ni, kay) marks a person. This is reflected in siya and sila as well as the interrogative pronoun sino (who). On the other hand, ang (and ng and sa) marks non-personal nouns. The interrogative form is ano but there is no pronoun based on this.

Now, these are just the nominative (absolutive) forms. The genitive forms would probably look like *naya and *nala. The oblique forms would be *saiya and *saila. Bikol, for instance has saiya and sainda. Hiligaynon has sa ila and sa ila.

To take this a step further. There is a personalized interrogative form in the genitive case for sino, which is nino, but there is none for ano. It's not *nano but simply ng ano. In the oblique case, there's kanino and saan, which can also mean "what" but also doubles as "where."

Now wouldn't *aya (and *naya, *saiya), *ala (and *nala, *saila), and *nano be useful pronouns in Tagalog? I think they would. :-) But no, I am not campaigning for their use, since we probably get along just fine with the way Tagalog is right now.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Philippine Independence Day

I am probably a day late, but here in the Seattle area we still have about 6 hours left of June 12th. So Happy Philippine independence day!

Jed Pensar of SOLFED (Save Our Languages through FEDeralism) sent the Philippine national anthem translated into Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Kinaray-a, Manobo, and Butuanon. I have included the latter three versions on my webpage at

So while here in America there's controversy concerning the singing of the Star Spangled Banner in Spanish (which is ironic, since I learned the English lyrics, composed during American rule in the 1930's, of the Philippine national anthem FIRST, and didn't know the original was in Spanish until 10 years ago!) there's some controversy in the Philippines as well.

According to Chapter II, Section 36 of Republic Act 8491, the national anthem must "be sung in the national language." Chapter VII, Section 48 further outlines consequences in not complying with the provisions with this act; this includes.

This has prompted the passing of a resolution back in November of 2002 by the city council in Iligan, Lanao del Norte. It banned the mandatory singing of the anthem in Cebuano. My opinion at the time, as well as a copy of the article are archived here.

My opinion still stands that this RA 8491 needs to amended. It's stupid, really. This is considering the fact that the original anthem was written in Spanish and also the fact that the Philippines is ethnolinguistically diverse. Manuel Quezon III gave a passing mention about this in his blog.

I also found an article titled 3 versions of the unsung national anthem in Bicol. In response, a reader, Francisco San Miguel of Morong, Rizal, warned about violating the law.

In other news, I graduate in four days. So I'm rather pressed for time (amazing how I squeezed this in!). I did get accepted to the University of Washington's linguistics program, however I am going to put that on hold to work for one more year. It's a risky move, since it entails me reapplying (which could potentially mean being rejected), but I think I'll get in again.

I'll have a lot of freetime during the summer. I plan on writing about that Reid festschrift I mentioned earlier as well as Dr. Carl Rubino's new book on learning Tausug (which UPS should be delivering to me this Friday!).

Saturday, April 29, 2006

10-ICAL papers

Hi folks, as you can guess by my absence, I've been extremely busy with school and work. I am in my last quarter of community college and am taking two demanding psychology courses and another anthropology course. They're very fascinating! I graduate with Associate in Arts and Sciences degree in just 48 days. I'm excited - especially since I don't have to worry about homework and tests for a while. And I can finally concentrate on learning Russian. ;-)

In February, I submitted my transfer application to the University of Washington in Seattle so I can begin getting my degrees in linguistics (and possibly anthropology, though that's up in the air still). If I get accepted and if the financial situation is good, then I will be a UW Husky with junior standing this fall. I won't find out until June or July if I become accepted, which is rather annoying because I can't stand the uncertainty. Argh! So wish me luck.

Back in January, the Linguistic Society of the Philippines and SIL International hosted The Tenth International Conference on Austronesian Languages (10-ICAL)at Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

I, unfortunately, was not able to make it there but many other linguists well-known to me in Philippine & Austronesian linguistics were in attendance like Lawrence Reid, David Zorc, Andrew Pawley, Loren Billings, Michael Forman, Bob Blust, Hsiu-chuan Liao, John Wolff, Paz Buenaventura Naylor, and many others.

As someone who didn't attend, I found the webpage where they collected all the papers presented at the conference to be extremely useful. They are accessible at

There is so much to read and they cover a great variety of Philippine languages and other Austronesian languages. So far I have read Pangilinan's paper on Kapampangan orthography, Liao's presentation of dual pronouns in Philippine languages, McFarland's paper on deictic pronouns, and Zabolotnaya's paper about Philippine linguistics in Russia.

So that's it for now. When I have time, I'll do a review of Carl Rubino & Hsiu-chuan Liao's Current Issues in Philippine Anthropology: Parangal kay Lawrence A. Reid that I've been meaning to do.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Much ado about Pinoy

So I am a member of a group dedicating to promoting Hispanic culture and language in the Philippines. For what it's worth, my views are moderate. Though the more conservative members tend to say I am liberal as they are for instituting Spanish as the official language of the Philippines (I have over 160 reasons why). My views have to do with making Spanish an option in schools and perhaps forging relationships with Latin Americans for cultural exchange and the like, nothing too drastic, ¿no?

I am going off on a tangent, but one of the more extreme members is Guillermo Gómez y Rivera. He's a retired(?) educator in the Philippines, originally from Iloilo. He was involved somehow the constitutional convention of 1973 and he's been a very passionate advocate of reviving the Spanish language in Philippines; he blames the Americans, whom he refers to as the WASP USENSES (American WASPS).

In any case, one of his pet peeves is the term "Pinoy." No problem, I know some people aren't rather fond of nicknames. But he takes it a step further. He urges Filipinos to stop using it because it is very demeaning to us. For one, he asserts, that the Americans coined it, taking the PIN in "Pilipinong" and the OY from "unggoy" (monkey).

Of course, I am in complete disagreement. Gómez asserts that those of us who defend the word "Pinoy" are "sick" because we want other Filipinos to be seen as demeaning. He offers the latest show, "Pinoy Big Brother," as proof wherein one of the celebrities urinates on public television. He blames it on the Americans, but I dutifully pointed out to him that it is a Dutch invention which is now owned by Telefónica, a company based in Spain.

Now his son, Guillermo Gómez y Ordóñez, maintains a blog here on blogspot. I have encountered an entry from January 19, 2006 wherein he mentions his father's story. This time it's a different story; he claims Pinoy was actually coined by two American employers in Los Angeles during the 1970's:
And so it goes and now we adopt it as a norm without knowing where this idiom or street slang even ever came about. Hey, Bro..wake up and smell the coffee!! It was born in L.A.!! Imagine what it means!! It means Pilipinong ungoy! And you will say or sing: Pinoy, Pinoy ako..ibang iba ang Pinoy…and so the song goes. I wonder what those two guys back in the 70’s would be laughing at right now…The problem with us is that it’s always ‘ok’ with us because we choose it to be so then when we are made aware of it, it becomes easy to blametoss it to the concept of colonialism. But who in the first place is entertaining it??!! Now, ’think!’, where did the word ‘flips’ come from or how it was invented…wanna adopt that too? It came from L.A. These words didn’t even come from here!! Not that I have something against the Americans or the other nations. In the first place, it’s not their fault that we do not properly identify or respect our nationality. Will Rizal stand up for this or Bonifacio?? SO DO NOT USE IT!! BOYCOTT THE WORD ‘PINOY’!!
Never mind the fact that neither Gómez Jr. nor Gómez Sr. identify the names of these racist American pigs and neither do they provide any documentation.

Now, the usual story behind the origin of Pinoy is that it originated among the "manongs" - the early Filipino immigrants to America. Sources such as the Fililipino American National Historical Society say that it was coined to distinguish between the Filipinos living "back home" with the Filipinos living here in America.

I have perused the University of Michigan's collection of important Philippine historical documents (which I mentioned here) and found a lot of hits for "Pinoy" and "Pinoys".

The oldest hit in the database is from a Philippine Republic article written in January 1926 by Dr. J. Juliano, member of the faculty of the Schurz school in Chicago. You can say the article in its entirety here. I quote:

"Why does a Pinoy take it as an insult to be taken for a Shintoist or a Confucian?"
"What should a Pinoy do if he is addressed as a Chinese or a Jap?"

The oldest reference for the Philippines is from 1927. It's a book by Carson Taylor called History of the Philippine press. It's simply a brief mention of a weekly Spanish-Visayan-English publication called Pinoy based in Capiz. The publication date December 27, 1926. The publisher was Pinoy Publishing Company. Other than that, there's no further information.

Another reference is from 1930 in the Manila-based publication Khaki and Red: the official organ of the constabulary and police. The article, which is about street gangs, is located here and the relevant quote is "another is the "Kapatiran" gang of Intramuros, composed of patrons pools rooms who banded together to "protect pinoys" from the abusive American soldados."

There are a more results that span from the 1920's to the 1940's. Some take on social issues facing Pinoy, some are casual mentions of Pinoys at events, while some are advertisements from Hawai'i from Filipinos themselves saying "BILI KAYO SA PINOY."

You can see them for yourselves here:

Results for 'pinoys'.
Results for 'pinoy'.

There are hits for "Pinay" but they are for a French person's surname and does not mean "Filipina."

I should note that Professor Laurence Reid, a retired University of Hawai'i linguist specializing in Philippine languages, is the consultant for the newest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary; he looks for terms originating from Philippine languages that have made it into English. He says that Pinoy was mentioned in Carlos Bulosan's 1946 book America is in the Heart: "The Pinoys work every day in the fields but when the season is over their money is in the Chinese vaults." (Bulosan, 118)

If any of you know of references to Pinoy earlier than 1926, contact me.

Signing off,

--Chris Sundita
A proud Pinoy

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Use of linkers in Philippine languages

Happy New Year!

Since I am on Christmas vacation, just thought I'd get a major entry in before I return to work and school on Wednesday, then I'll be too busy to write in this blog. That's my new resolution - to write in here more often. Anyway, I will be taking astronomy, logic, and argumentation and research at school for the winter quarter - so I'm in for a challenging quarter.

Y'know, what I had in mind a few days ago was just to repeat last year's post where I wished you all a Happy New Year in 10 Philippine languages. But as I was "admiring" the translations, I was looking at the linkers that each of the Philippine languages used. So I thought, why don't I talk about how linkers are used in different Philippine languages?

Before I go on, I thought I'd explain what linkers are and use an example in Tagalog (linkers are in bold). In many Philippine languages, linkers (also called ligatures) are used to "link" (duh!) words together. They may link an adjective and noun (malaking bahay), verb and adverb (mabilis na tumakbo), clauses (sabi niya na hindi raw siya aalis), pseudo-verb and verb (gustong umuwi), number and noun (tatlong hari), prepositioned possessive pronouns and nouns (ang kaniyang asawa) and others.

Here are the uses and general guidelines in case there is more than one linker (which is usually the case). Any native speaker comment, correction, and clarifications are welcome. And if you speak a language not represented here, then by all means contribute to the list by leaving me a comment! :-)

Tagalog and Northern Bikol

  1. -ng: In Tagalog, this is suffixed to words ending in a vowel and glottal stop while it replaces /n/ in words that end with that. In Bikol, the same rules seem to apply except in the case of words ending in /n/, either that or there is a variation. Examples: bagong taon (Tag., new year), ba-gong taon (Bik. Naga, new year).

  2. na: This is used after words ending in a consonant (not a glottal stop or /n/) or a diphthong. Examples: itim na aso (Tag., black dog), itom na ayam (Bik. Naga, black dog)

Cebuano and Hiligaynon

  1. -ng: This is suffixed to words ending in a vowel, glottal stop, and even diphthongs (this is a departure from Tagalog & Bikol usage). Examples: bag-ong tuig (Ceb. & Hil., new year).

  2. nga: Used after words ending in a consonant. Sometimes this is used even after words ending in a vowel. Examples: itom nga iro (Ceb., black dog), itom nga ido (Hil., black dog).

  3. ka: This is a special linker used with numbers. Examples: tulo ka adlaw (Ceb., three days), tatlo ka adlaw (Hil., three days)

Note: The rules also ably to Romblomanon and Masbateño. However, with Masbateño, some speakers use -ng and nga while others use -n and na.


nga is the sole linker. bag-o nga tuig (new year).


  1. nga: Used after words, regardless of ending. However, this is prefered before words that begin with a vowel. Example: nangisit nga aso (black dog).

  2. a: Same as above, but usually prefered, though not obligatory, before words beginning with a consonant. Example: baro a tawen (new year)


  1. -ng: Same as Tagalog. Example: bayung banwa (new year)

  2. a: Equivalent of Tagalog na used after words ending in consonants. Example: anam a aldo (six days). A special note, before /a/ there is no glottal stop; there is a /y/ inserted between them so mayap a abak sounds like mayap a yabak.


  1. -n: Suffixed to words ending in vowels. Example: balon taon (new year).

  2. ya: Used before words beginning in a vowel. Example: sakey ya agew (one day).

  3. a: Used everywhere else, namely after words ending in a consonant and before words beginning in a vowel. Example: andeket a sira (black fish).


  1. -n: Suffixed to words ending in vowels. Example: ba-yon taon (new year)

  2. a: Used after words ending in consonants. Example: maabig a awro (good day [greeting]).

Sambal Botolan

  1. ya: Used everywhere, and sometimes after vowels. malake ya alahas (a lot of jewelry), katowa ya papwak.

  2. -y: Suffixed to words ending in vowels, but seems as if it is interchangeable with "ya". tatloy mipapatel (three siblings), pitoy olo (seven heads).


  1. -ng: Suffixed to words ending in vowels. Example: bag-ong tuig (new year).

  2. nak: Elsewhere. Example: itom nak isra (black fish).


a is the sole marker. Example: mala' a seda' (big fish).

Central Tagbwana

a is the sole marker. Example: bayo a taon (new year).


Wayruun (There is none)! Simply putting the words next to each other suffices. Example: baru tahun (new year).

And to end this post, here are the words "new" and "year" in a number of Philippine languages. Unfortunately, I don't know the linkers for all of them.


bago - Tagalog, Butuanon, Maranao, Buhid Mangyan, Cuyonon, Southern Bikol
ba-go - Northern Bikol
bag-o - Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kinaray-a, Aklanon, Masbateño, Romblomanon, Asi, Onhan, Cagayanon, Mamanwa, Surigaonon, Hanunoo
bagu - Agta, Pamplona Atta, Isneg, Kalagan, Mansaka, Ibanag, Maguindanao
ba-gu - Tausug, Palawan Batak, Aborlan Tagbanwa
bag-u - Binukid, Kinamigin, Tigwa Manobo
bag-ew - Agusan Manobo
begu - Sindangan Subanun, Western Bukidnod Manobo, Kakidugen Ilongot
bigu' - Casiguran Dumagat
bogu - Siocon Subanon
baha'u - Samal
bahu - Itawis
behu - Ilianen Manobo
buhu - Sangir
bado - Inibaloy
balo - Pangasinan, Guinaang Bontoc, Northern Kankanaey, Bayninan Ifugao, Kallahan
baklu - Kalamian Tagbanwa
baro - Ilokano
vuru - Sarangani Sangil
bawu - Gaddang
baya - Dibabawon Manobo
bayo - Sambal Botolan, Alangan Mangyan
bayu - Kapampangan, Iraya Mangyan
ba-yu - Tagalog Sinauna (Tagarug)
va-yo - Ivatan
va-yu - Itbayat
pa''ala - Amganad Ifugao
lomih - Tboli
lami - Obo Manobo
falami - Blaan
lafus lomi - Ubo Manobo
manto - Tiruray, Tagabawa Manobo
'iam - Ata Manobo, Tigwa Manobo
kaling - Sarangani Manobo
magtu - Ata Manobo, Tigwa Manobo, Tasaday Manobo
milalaw - Tadyawan Mangyan
nuevo - Chabacano


taon - Tagalog, Northern Bikol, Southern Bikol, Pangasinan, Sambal Botolan, Batak, Casiguran Dumagat, Cagayano, Kakidugen Ilongot, Sinauna Tagalog, Aborlan Tagbanwa
taen - Tadyawan Mangyan
taung - Sarangani Sangil, Sangir
tawen - Ilokano, Guinaang Bontoc, Balangaw, Binongan Itneg,
taw-en - Inibaloy, Kayapa Kallahan, Northern Kankanaey
tew-en - Northern Kankanaey
tawon - Ifugao, Guinaang Kalinga
tahun - Tausug, Samal
takun - Kalamian Tagbanwa
tuun - Keley-i Kallahan
toon - Sindangan Subanon
ton - Siocon Subanon
dagon - Cuyonon, Alangan Mangyan
dagun - Ibanag, Isneg, Atta
dag-on - Aklanon, Hanunoo
dag-un - Iraya
dawun - Gaddang
lagun - Maguindanao
ragon - Maranao
lahon - Obo Manobo
dahun - Itawis
rahun - Ilianen Manobo
tuig - Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kinaray-a, Masbateño, Asi, Onhan, Romblomanon, Butuanon, Surigaonon, Manobo, Mansaka, Binukid, Mamanwa
tuid - Kinamigin, Ata Manobo, Tigwa Manobo
awaan - Ivatan
hawan - Itbayat
fali - Sarangani Blaan
foli - Koronadal Blaan
omay - Sarangani Manobo
umay - Kalagan
halay - Tboli
segefalay OR gefalay - Kalamansig Cotabato Manobo
banwa - Kapampangan
bialun - Tagabawa Manobo
belintuwa' - Tiruray
fangaraw - Buhid
timpo - Hanunoo
año - Chabacano