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?


rapatú said...

is an invented language really the solution for the linguistic situation in the philippines?

unknown said...

Do you know of a language from other multi-ethnic countries that has been started from scratch? I looked up your info about Bahasa and you're right, it is based on Malay, the language from Riau, in Indo. Riau is right smack in the center of the the Malaysia Indonesia trading world, so this lingua franca grew rather "organiacally" than did Tagalog. It was easier for Indos and Malaysians to accept Riau Malay I guess because it is a true lingua franca that's been used to facilitate trade for centuries. In our pre-hispanic history we spoke this lingua franca when we still traded with the Indo archipelago and Malay peninsula.

Anyway, Tagalog is now the lingua franca in the Philippines. And all this backlash against it is due to the fact that it has been forced upon (http://dingeab.blogspot.com/2005/01/root-of-tagalog-backlash.html)

I say people should speak Tagalog like the one spoken on TV.

If anybody ever talks to me like this,
"Dahil malakas ang ulan ay inisip naming na mas mabut[i] kung muhawa na lang mi kay jusog[?] lagi ang ulan", I'll be like "What the fuck you talkin' "bout?"

Anonymous said...

got ur blog from searching on davao bloggers hehehehe..

im from davao and i can atest to that certain "language". the city is very well diverse.. you hear bisaya people talking, tagalog, ilonggo.. say it we have it. i guess it also with the many tagalog people inhabiting the city nowadays..

the bisalog sounds like one of those posers trying to be tagalog even if they are actually bisaya. well cant blame them.


Christopher Sundita said...

Answering your comments...

is an invented language really the solution for the linguistic situation in the philippines?My concern really is to give more status to minority languages in the Philippines particularly in education. I feel that, wherever possible, a language should be used in schools.

My other solution is for the main languages to be taught as second languages. In Visayas, one learns Tagalog as a second language. Which is what is happening now. But I think Tagalogs should learn Cebuano or Ilokano in school.

To dingeab - I more or less agree with you.

And to anonymous - Do you feel that the Bisalog in the post is an accurate portrayal of what is going on in Davao? Ganoon ba talaga diyan sa inyo?

balikbayan_box said...

ive been searching for fellow biasay bloggers and came across your blog.

Though my parents were from Ilocos and Pampangga, I was born and raised in Davao. Sa loob ng bahay speak either Ilocano or Tagalog. Kahit na sa eskwelahan we speak in Tagalog na merong halong Bisaya or yan cguro yun tinatawag mong Bisalog. Funny i often referred to it as Tagalog ng Davao. I guess thats makes us unique from others.

Since Davao become a haven for kababayan from different provinces san the introduction of new dialects after another.

Perhaps you can come and visit Davao City one day and experience what you call Bisalog. Ibang iba talaga.

Unknown said...

Did you invent the word "Bisalog"? Cool. If that's what's needed to tame the Bisayans, I would agree to a Bisalog National Language. Then again, in the way Filipino is defined in our constitution, Bisalog can already be considered Filipino... it's the amalgamation of different languages used in the Philippines.

janet said...
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janet said...
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Anonymous said...

It is noteworthy to remember that the 1936 Constition called for a National Language based on Tagalog, Ilocano and Cebuano. So I would say that the sole purpose of having a National Language is to be able communicate to another Filipino of a different ethnic origin. So when we speak the National Language we do not have to try to speak a correct Tagalog because what matters is that the other person understands us.

Anonymous said...

for me there is only one solution in this language issue in the phil..im a bisaya (cebuano speaker) and for me, i dont lose anything when i speak tagalog...instead i gain a lot...i think all other non tagalog speakers gain a lot than the tagalogs...

phil has lots of major languages, not only tagalog..like cebuano, hiligaynon, ilokano, maranao, etc. why not teach these languages in our filipino subjects at school? i believe there's no harm at that...in fact it is very useful...

Anonymous said...

ü..this is useful.. i just discover the difference bet. filipino and pilipino, hmm, new. ;) we have an upcoming debate too, and it's english vs. tagalog, somehow like that, but not exactly. well. just pass by and got hooked by your blog. tc.=D

Anonymous said...

Hi. Davao Tagalog (which you refer to as Bisalog) is not exaclty like the one in Lizada's article. I'm from Davao and grew up speaking Davao Tagalog. It's really the Cebuano grammar using Tagalog vocabulary. That's what I think. For example in Tagalog you use the gitlapi "in" to express past tense such as "kinain." In Cebuano you use the prefix "gi." Kinuha in Cebuano is "gikaon." In Davao Tagalog its "gikain." In Tagalog you say "naghihintay," in Cebuano you say "nagahulat," in Davao you say "nagahintay."

Anonymous said...

Sorry the sentence which reads: Kinuha in Cebuano is "gikaon" should have been "kinain in Cebuano is gikaon"

Anonymous said...

Plus in Davao Tagalog, we use the Cebuano expressions like uy, gani, lagi, man. In Tagalog it's "Ano ka ba?" In Cbuano it's "Unsa man ka?" In Davao Tagalog it's "Ano ka man?"

Anonymous said...

Mas Filipino nga ang Davao-Tagalog kesa sa Filipino.

Anonymous said...

seen on the net
This forum is the "home court" of DILA members based in the Philippines, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, Dubai and other countries.
DILA, which stands for Defenders of Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago, is a union among patriotic Pangasinenses, Pampanguenos, Bicolanos, Warays, Karay-as, Ilongos, Cebuanos, Ilocanos, and other ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines who feel aggrieved by the language policy of their country, and whose passion in life centers around promoting their dear languages (and other aspects of their culture) and saving them from extinction. Their related activities include studying their languages and doing language translations, interpretations and comparisons in a scholarly way. They work for the intellectualization of their languages and aim to have them be made languages of instruction and regular subjects in the school curriculum. Love and pride for their languages motivated them into forging this grand alliance. All members of minority groups, as well as exceptionally sympathetic Tagalogs, are strongly encouraged to join us and participate in our intellectual discussions. We are here to destroy the growing Tagalista mentality that is marginalizing all native languages to no end. "United, we shall overcome!"

i will post later when i have time but this paragraph summarizes my view on this matter

dDdeadzZZz said...

i learned a lot from this site bout languages ...
but i have a question hu invented the word BISALOG ???

Anonymous said...

Personally, I hate using bisalog. Being a Davao native, it gives me goosebumps hearing it (it's one of my pet peeves). It screams of "conyo" and "pa-class".

Having lived in Manila for a long time (for college and work), I guess I wasn't exposed to this type of language when it was becoming famous and instead use another variation with the use of tagalog expressions in place of bisaya ones (i.e. "astig", "kulit"), the ever famous "eh" (i.e. "kapoy ko eh", "eh wala man ka nag-ingon sa ako") and using tagalog words for some words that I don't know the bisaya words for. Which leads me to say that it is sad that we never got to have formal education in bisaya and what we know is just learned outside the school.

Unknown said...

anonymous: In my opinion, the National Language Institute chose Tagalog as basis language for the wrong reasons. I read these reasons on wikipedia. But please don't get all Tagalophobe and rant about "Tagalog imperialism". (You may get angry about Imperial Manila instead.)
Tagalog is co-equal to the other languages of the Philippines; it is vastly rich, and the people are friendly, like those of Dumaguete City, where I happen to have relatives.
I believe that Tagalog is the best grammatical basis for the Tataramonan na Nasyonal (National Language) because it is the language most influenced by Northern and (other) Central Philippine languages. It borrowed word-forming from Ilokano and Kapampangan. It is related to Cebuano, Kinaray-a, Bikol, and other Central Philippine languages.
Just DON'T push for English as a national language. I can forgive you for Tagalog-bashing but never will I if you push for English. Okay?

Anonymous said...


Those aren't really good reasons for a national language when they marginalize non-Tagalog speakers. Even the USA doesn't have a national language supported by the gov't. Their US citizenship tests come in various languages beside English.

The Philippines should do what India does. They have multiple official languages on the federal and state levels. They understand and appreciate the lingual and ethnic diversity of their country.

Anonymous said...

borneo bisaya
Amahan namu nga itotat ca sa langit:
:Ipapagdayet an imong ngalan:
:Moanhi canamun an imong pagcahadi:
:Tumanun an imong buot dinhi sa yuta,
:maingun sa langit.
:Ihatag mo damun an canun namun sa matagarlao:
:Ug pauadun mo cami san mga-sala namu,
:maingun ginuara namun,
:san mga-nacasala damun:
:Ngan diri imo tugotan cami maholog sa manga-panulai:
:sa amun manga-caauai.
:Apan bauiun mo cami sa manga-maraut ngatanan.

philippine bisaya(sugbuanon)
:Amahan namo, nga anaa sa mga langit,
:pagadaygon ang imong Ngalan,
:moabot kanamo ang imong gingharian,
:matuman ang imong pagbuot
:dinhi sa yuta maingon sa langit.
:Ang kalan-on namo sa matag adlaw
:ihatag kanamo karong adlawa.
:Ug pasayloa kami sa among mga sala,
:ingon nga nagapasaylo kami
:sa mga nakasala kanamo.
:Ug ayaw itugot nga mahulog kami sa panulay
:hinonoa luwasa kami sa dautan.
:Kay imo man ang gingharaian,
:ug ang gahumug ang himaya,
:hangtod sa kahangturan. Amen.

Anonymous said...

stop tagalogism hehe, it sounds more spanish than ethnic anyway, go federalism....bisaya ipadeyeg ug ipadayon!

Anonymous said...

Amay Namon, nga yara sa mga langit,
Pangmuyoon ang Ngalan Mo,
Mapasaamon ang kaharian Mo,
Matuman ang imong kabubut-on, diri sa duta pakadto sa langit,
Tagai kami sa amung kalan un sa adlaw adlaw,
Kag pasayloa kami sa amun nga mga sala,
Kag mapasaylo man kami sa mga nakasala man sa amun,
Kag indi Mo kami ihatag sa mga pagsulay,
Hinooa luwasa kami sa mga panulay,
Kay sa Imo man ang kaharian, kag katakos, kag himaya,
Karon kag sa katapusan. Amen.

Anika said...

I really like you r blog. I've come across different sites 'bout Phil. language and it's just so interesting and more because of the controversies behind them. again, LOVE YOUR BLOG! It's very informative and useful for my essay.. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The Malay spoken as lingua franca in the Malay Archipelago originated from what is now Singapore, South Johore and Riau Sumatra. It was spoken thru out important cities in Philiphines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Borneo. Malay is not a dominant language unlike Tagalog. Malay also belongs to the philiphines as its part of their cultural heritage and roots. Perhaps implementing spoken Malay would be healthier for the whole Malay Archipelago. Visayas came from Sri Vijaya Sumatra and the ancient Philiphine Laguna copper plate is old Javanese and old Malay.

Christopher Sundita said...

Malay? No, I am totally opposed to that. Filipinos were thought to be Malays, but that is not true anymore. It stems from a German back in the 18th century who labeled us Filipinos that way in his dissertation.

Anonymous said...

Ba't niyo man kasi gina-pag awayan kung ano talagang dapat gamitin na language eh kung pwede naman halu-in, nganong dili gud! hahaha! "BISTAG" as i put it is not really that exclusive in Davao. I'm Davaeno but I'm based in Cebu and sometimes, in some other parts of the Visayas region. I frequently hear Leytenyos speak the same way, so the language ain't that unique though. Anyways, my opinion about what language must be used nationally? I say it must be Cebuano because it is predominantly used in more parts of the country. It's accent actually even sounds closer to the accents of southern Luzon. But I bet people from the capital region would find this hard to accept due to their "Manila Complex". :)


rafielttx@gmail.com said...

All i can say about that, we must be neutral, we can use tag-alog, this is our national lanquage. English speaking we need also becouse commmon.

Anonymous said...

Sa palagay ko, wikang Tagalog ang malakiping tawag sa mga wikain tulad ng Pilipino at Filipino.

Ano ngayon ang Pilipino? Sa aking pagsasaliksik, hindi ito dalisay na Tagalog tulad ng paratang ng iba. Sa madaling sabi, mailalarawan ang Pilipino bilang Tagalog na hinaluan ng mga hiram na salita buhat sa Espanyol.

Ano naman ang Filipino? Ito ang 'pamantayaning' Tagalog sa kasalukuyan na kakikitaan ng maraming hiram na salitang English. Para sa akin pa nga, ito ang Tagalog ng Maynila na matatawag ding Taglish.

Ano ngayon ang mga iminumungkahi ko upang malutas ang suliranin natin sa wika (bilang panturo at pantanggapan)? May naiisip akong tatlo.

Una, ang pagsasagawa ng mga patakaran na binalak ni Eusebio Daluz noong 1915. Para sa mas malawak na paliwanag dito, maaari mong pindutin ang kawing na ito: http://www.pilipino-express.com/history-a-culture/in-other-words/911-the-filipino-language-that-might-have-been.html

Hindi makadalisay ang patakarang ito sapagkat maraming mga salita sa talasalitaan ang kusang hiniram sa iba't ibang wika sa Filipinas.

Ikalawa, kung hindi sang-ayon ang marami sa naunang patakaran, bakit hindi natin sundin at gamitin ang mungkahing talasalitaan ng Dalubgurong si Gonzalo Del Rosario noong 1969. Siya kasama ang Lupon ng Agham ay umakda ng isang aklat, Maugnaying Talasalitaang Pang-agham, na nagtatala ng mahigit-kumulang na 7 500ng salita na ipampapalit sa mga salitang English at Espanyol na tuwirang hiniram. Hindi rin ito makadalisay sapagkat marami sa mga salita ay nagmula sa iba pang wikang Filipino. Halimbawa, 'dagsin' (Ilokano) para sa 'gravity', 'baylo' (Bisaya) para sa 'change', 'agamahan' (Maranaw) para sa 'religion', atbp.

At ikatlo, kung labis na tinutuligsa ang mga nabanggit na mungkahi, bakit hindi na lang isapamantayan ang Taglish? Tutal naman ay ito na ang laganap ngayon. Ako mismo ay may patakaran hinggil dito. Ang mungkahi ko ay ang tinatawag kong Modarn na Tagalog. Sa akin, mas dapat natin bigyan ng pansin ang pagbabaybay at pagbabanghay ng mga hiram na salita. Para sa mas malawak na paliwanag hinggil sa Modarn na Tagalog, dalawin ang: http://modarnnatagalog.blogspot.com/