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Articles: Filipino and Tagalog, Not So Simple / How to Value Our Languages
I. FILIPINO AND TAGALOG, NOT SO SIMPLE
Ricardo Ma. Nolasco, Ph.D.
Chair, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
August 24, 2007
To most Filipinos, only the national language is a language, and all the rest are dialects. Not quite so.
Linguists have a way of distinguishing a language from a dialect. This is the mutual intelligibility criterion. When speakers cannot understand one another, they speak different languages. When they can, they speak the same language, or dialects of the same language. It doesn’t matter if the speech variety has only five speakers or a million; or if it has a writing system or not; or if it is spoken in only one barangay or in an entire province. All these do not count in defining a language.
On this basis, Ilocano, Cebuano, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Butuanon and Meranao to name a few, are not dialects but languages. Variations of a language, like Dumaguete-Cebuano, Davao-Cebuano and Iligan-Cebuano, are called dialects.
The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino or KWF has recorded around 170 languages in the country. The dialect count could reach 500. We are the 10th most linguistically diverse country in the world. Papua New Guinea is number one.
Are “Tagalog,” “Pilipino” and “Filipino” different languages? No, they are mutually intelligible varieties, and therefore belong to one language. According to the KWF, Filipino is that speech variety spoken in Metro Manila and other urban centers where different ethnic groups meet. It is the most prestigious variety of Tagalog and the language used by the national mass media.
The other yardstick for distinguishing a language from a dialect is: different grammar, different language. “Filipino”, “Pilipino” and “Tagalog” share identical grammar. They have the same determiners (ang, ng and sa); the same personal pronouns (siya, ako, niya, kanila, etc); the same demonstrative pronouns (ito, iyan, doon, etc); the same linkers (na, at and ay); the same particles (na and pa); and the same verbal affixes -in, -an, i- and -um-. In short, same grammar, same language.
Certain academicians equate Tagalog with “purist” usage and Filipino with “non-purist” usage. To them, “pulong” and “gurô” are Tagalog words, while “miting” and “titser” are Filipino words. Word borrowing however is not a reliable basis for language differentiation. Zamboangueño (Chavacano) borrowed heavily from Spanish but evolved a different grammar from Spanish. It cannot be understood by Spanish speakers.
“Purism” has its uses too. I am not talking here of the salumpuwit and the salipawpaw type of purism. Salumpuwit is short for pangsalo ng puwit (“ass catcher”) and salipawpaw came from sasakyang lumilipad sa himpapawid (“a vehicle that flies”). These terms were invented in the 1960’s to purify the national language. Because silya and eroplano were already being used, this kind of purism didn’t make any sense and was repudiated by our people.
I subscribe to “purism” of the gasang type. Gasang is Cebuano and Tagalog for “coral” and kagasangan is for “coral reef.” If we persist in using the English term for the concept, or be content with the phonetic respelling (koral rif), the local term will die. One must not be afraid of teaching our audience new words when they are exact and appropriate for the occasion.
But whether it is simple Tagalog or deep Tagalog, pure Tagalog or halu-halo Tagalog, it is still Tagalog. They all belong to one language.
Why then did we have to change the name from Tagalog, to Pilipino then to Filipino?
The reasons are largely socio-linguistic. From being a language confined to native Tagalogs and their provinces, Tagalog has grown into being the common language of an entire people. It has become nationwide. Non-native speakers of Tagalog outnumber native speakers. Based on the 2000 census, 9 out of 10 Filipinos now speak and understand it with varying degrees of mastery. Even as far south as Tawi-Tawi, there are speakers of the national language. Inter-ethnic communication through the national language has become a reality. Thanks to TV, radio, movies, comics, out-migration and the educational system.
However, most of our people speak a first language other than Tagalog. Cebuano as a first language has 18.5 million speakers, next is Ilocano with 7.7 million, followed by Hiligaynon with 6.9 million and Bicol with 4.5 million. Tagalog as a mother tongue has 22 million speakers.
Non-native speakers of Tagalog tend to be influenced by the pronunciation and grammatical habits of their first language. For instance, the word manî (with the glottal stop at the end) would invariably be pronounced as mani (without the glottal stop) by a Tagalog-speaking Ilocano. As a result, regional variants of Tagalog have sprouted all over the country and are gaining acceptance and legitimacy.
English is also a second language to most Filipinos. It is however more prestigious than Filipino. According to the 2006 Social Weather Station survey, 7 out of 10 Filipinos understand and read in English. Almost one half (48%) said that they could write in English and a third (32%) replied that they could speak in English.
This explains why Filipinos often code-switch and code-mix in English. The product is widely known as “Taglish.” To some, it is when you begin a sentence in either English or Tagalog, tapos nag-switch ka sa kabilang wika in the same sentence. “Taglish” is also when you use Tagalog grammar but English vocabulary. English borrowings in Filipino have become so extensive that more than 1,500 English words appeared at least three times in a Filipino corpus of one million words. This is according to a 1998 study which also suggested that the most frequent English words, like okey, mommy, pulis, daddy and mister, were already part of Filipino.
In 1987, our country’s leaders finally gave recognition to this idiom used by Filipinos as lingua franca. They named it “Filipino” with an “F” to signal that it will be a language based not only on Tagalog but also on other Philippine and foreign languages. They also wanted to dissociate this language from “Pilipino” which they believed to be “puristic”.
However, users of the national tongue, oblivious of and unimpressed by the debates, are not confused. Twenty years after their common language was christened Filipino, they still refer to it as Tagalog.
In many fora, I have also been asked what to call our language, our nationality, and our country. I always start by saying that it depends on the language you’re using. In English, our language is “Filipino”, our nationality is “Filipino” and our country is the “Philippines”. In the national language called Filipino, our language is called “Filipino”, our nationality “Pilipino” and our country “Pilipinas.” I won’t advise using “Filipinas” for our country and “Filipino” for our nationality because they are contrary to official usage.
II. HOW TO VALUE OUR LANGUAGES
The national language called Filipino is a convenient tool for inter-ethnic communication. One can go to any place in the country and communicate with fellow Filipinos through this language. Of the 76 million Filipinos, 65 million speak and understand Filipino, according to the 2000 census.
People however ignore the fact that most Filipinos speak Filipino or Tagalog as a second tongue. Only 22 million speak it as their first language. Twice this figure or around 43 million speak it as their second language.
Non-native speakers of Tagalog may not be as proficient in it compared to their first language. This explains the reluctance of some groups in embracing Filipino. They only accept it in sufferance. They would rather use English, because it is everyone’s second language. Besides, it is more prestigious than Filipino.
Historically, Tagalog has occupied a privileged position in this country compared to the other languages, except English. In 1937, Tagalog was declared the “basis” of the national language. In effect, it became THE national language. In 1959, the name was changed to Pilipino. In 1987 it was renamed Filipino with an “F”. It was also designated as one of the official languages and medium of instruction. The regional languages were named auxiliary languages in government and in education.
Having a national language does not mean giving up one’s first or second languages. It also doesn’t mean devaluing the other Philippine languages.
How is a language devalued?
One way is by calling it a “dialect”. By referring to the non-Tagalog varieties as mere “dialects,” their status as legitimate modes of expression is downgraded. The necessity for learning them is reduced. Because Tagalog is the national language, literary works written in it are passed off as national literature. The best Tagalog writers enjoy the status as national writers. On the other hand, non-Tagalog literature is invariably referred to as “regional” or “vernacular” literature, and their best writers, as “regional” or “vernacular” writers.
Look at it from the side of the non-Tagalogs. The Ilocano or Cebuano staying in Manila takes great pains in learning the metropolitan language. In contrast, the Tagalog visitor makes no effort to learn the local idiom.
Another way of devaluing a language is by telling everybody that by speaking the national tongue, you automatically become a patriot. This means that those who can’t speak it, or who choose to speak in English, aren’t.
Our people seem to think so too. In a 1996 Social Weather Station survey, 62% of Filipinos agreed that it was very important for a true Filipino to be able to speak Pilipino. Half of the Visayans (55%) agreed with this statement. And so did 67% of urban Mindanaons.
If that is the case, then our greatest patriots must be the Japanese who invaded our country in the 1940s. During that time, they made Tagalog the primary medium of instruction, together with Nihonggo. The use of English was completely banned. The absurdity of the argument is so obvious that it need not detain us here.
We also devalue our languages by adhering to the slogan of “one nation, one language.” This means one centralized nation-state with one standard language for official functions and education. Many people in this country are pushing for English to be that standard language, invoking globalization and modernization as reasons. Others demand that it should be Filipino because it is the national language and we are Filipinos.
None of these views is supported by reality in the Philippines and in the world. In the Philippines, everyone speaks three or four languages, except the Tagalogs who know their first language and English. In the world, knowing two languages or more is the norm, while knowing one language is the exception. There are only 200 nation-states but more than 6,000 languages. This means that many nations have citizens speaking several languages. The European Union has twenty three (23) official languages. Canada has French and English as official languages. Even the United States has not found it necessary to proclaim a national language.
The enabling law on language is Republic Act No. 7104. This law established the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and mandated it to “undertake, coordinate and promote researches for the development, propagation and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages.” The policy is to develop and enrich the national language on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages. In other words, the local languages and other languages are equally important and not subservient to the national language. The idea is to strengthen them in order to expand the knowledge and linguistic base of our national language.
The best way to put down any language is by preventing it from being used in the educational system. Children bring their home and community’s language to school only to have the bilingual system extinguish them. The favorite formula is to impose fines or punish students for speaking their home language. The message to our children is that their language and their culture are not important and therefore cannot be reproduced. Only the nationally prescribed languages and the knowledge encoded in them matter.
The usual reasons against using the home languages in school are that it allegedly promotes disunity and that it is impractical because we have so many “dialects”. Disunity results when there is no respect for each other’s cultures and languages. We can learn a thing or two from Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country in the world with more than 800 languages. But this did not deter that nation from developing literacy materials in a third of its languages. If they can do it, why can’t we?
Let’s move closer to home. Lubuagan is a district of Kalinga where the local language is the medium of instruction for primary grade subjects even for science and mathematics. Tagalog and English are taught as subjects. The Department of Education, the Summer Institute of Linguistics and the Lubuagan community are partners in this project. The 2006 reading test in the division of Kalinga showed remarkable results. Lubuagan pupils registered the highest scores in English (76.5%) and Filipino (76.4%), compared to pupils of the bilingual districts.
How do we value our languages?
A first and crucial step is to change our attitude towards them. Let us look at our local languages not as liabilities but as resources which we can harness to educate society and improve lives.
We need a national language much as we need our local languages and the languages of wider communication (i.e. English, Spanish). Through these languages, we gain a local identity, a national identity and a global identity. They help us to think globally, and act locally.
The indigenous knowledge systems stored in the local languages also complement our knowledge of Western science and technology. This integrated knowledge ensures that any development resulting from it will be sustainable and friendly to the ecosystem.
Our children have the inherent right to be educated in their home language. The home languages and local cultures have been found to be enabling factors to learning in the content areas. They also serve as two way bridges to learning other languages more effectively, as shown in Lubuagan. A learner gains self-respect when his experiences and the language in which they are expressed are acknowledged. The child can then builds from this knowledge, add new concepts and learn more remote and abstract ideas.
At the same time, our people should be given the opportunity to learn the national language and the other languages of wider communication like English. They should be allowed to explore into the exciting opportunities that the national and global economy has to offer. Linguistic diversity does not mean that indigenous cultures must remain unchanged.
By valuing our first languages, we learn to value our second languages, namely Filipino and English. It is the first step for our people to regain control of their environment and their inalienable right to exist.
Read the Tagalog version (pdf).
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i am a child of the sun
i am born of the man-earth
in the heart of Caboloan
the bamboo birth is not my myth
my body is brightly brown
and golden amongst the goldest green
that robes the ancient demesne
of my ancestors
i am the hunter of stags and wild boars
i am a farmer and a fisher folk
i am a lover and the loved
humbled before the unknown gods
i am the boatman of Sinocalan
i am the guardian of the Hundred Isles
forced to kneel before the Anchored Angel
and bound my soul for its primeval sins
i am risen O risen am i
my knees are blacked and numbed with pain
and my soul yearns for wanton revelry
in the land of my first birth
where it is most green and most sun
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Call for submissions to an anthology of Southeast Asian Literature
Southeast Asia has been a region long divided not only by geographical and cultural boundaries but by the question of identity and belonging. One anthology will attempt to present the shades of contemporary Southeast Asian experiences of cultural/sexual identity, globalization, immigrant/expatriate experience, third culture phenomena, and new technologies, among others.
The call for submissions is open to Southeast Asian writers and translators under 40 years old. The anthology will focus on works dealing with contemporary themes, or employing new forms in poetry; prose (fiction, travelogues, essays, blogs, text, etc); drama (one-act plays, short screen/teleplays); graphic arts and comics (under 30 pages long); and everything in between—literary experiments as well as genre works (horror, sci-fi, fantasy, etc, or combinations thereof). Works must be limited to 8,000 words and must be in English (translations must be accompanied by the original text). Previously published works are also welcome.
Please send submissions to email@example.com, as attachments in MS Word document format. Deadline for manuscripts is September 15, 2007. Contributors will get multiple copies of the book.
The anthology editors are Jerome Kugan (Malaysia) and Mervin Espina (Philippines)
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Bikol Writers Anthologized in ANI 33
The Literary Arts Division of the Cultural Center of the Philippines recently released the list of contributors for the 20th Anniversary issue of Ani, the CCP Literary Yearbook. Now on its 33rd issue, the volume once again explores Nature and Environment as metaphors of the human condition. Edited by prize-winning writer Herminio S. Beltran, it will be launched on September 14, 6:30 pm, at the CCP Ramp.
The volume features poems, short stories, essays, translations and a play by 77 contributors including Bikol writers Carlos A. Arejola, Abdon M. Balde Jr., Jose Jason L. Chancoco, Kristian S. Cordero, Marne L. Kilates, Niño Manaog, and Victor Dennis Tino Nierva.
Other writers of note are Merlie M. Alunan, Genevieve L. Asenjo, Herminio S. Beltran Jr., Dexter Bomediano Cayanes, Genaro R. Gojo Cruz, Jeneen R. Garcia, Luis P. Gatmaitan, Gelacio Y. Guillermo Jr., Sid Gomez Hildawa, Elyrah Loyola Salanga, Beverly Siy, John Iremil E. Teodoro, Enrico C. Torralba, Santiago B. Villafania and Camilo M. Villanueva Jr.
Rommel Manto did the book design and lay-out. He also used a photograph of a Junye Installation and a print by Neil Doloricon for the cover.
For more information please contact: Mr. Arnel F. Tabaranza, CCP Literary Arts Division, tel. no. 832-1125 locals 1706, 1707; mobile 0917-8379922. -- jjlc
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Pangasinan haiku for the rainy days
lirio ed danum
mareen ya dinmapo
argo ed delap
naanur ya tonger
atipon ya linaew
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On this day in 2004
I first posted the following poem on-line:
batak so salita’y umaanlong
tan katuron nginmalab ed ngoro
kada litra tan kada talurtur
liwawa tan linawa’y aristo
anlong man iya na panangaro
na pakauley tan pakayari
na kareenan tan kabaliksan
ono katuaan tan kalimgasan
dagem so salita’y umaanlong
tan danum ed apaet ya dalin
kada siplog tan kada daluyon
bilay so awit to’d kamarerwan
onaapuy ed egpang na berso
no ilulukon na uniberso
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Letter of Nomination to the Order of National Artist
The National Artist Secretariat
Office of the Deputy Executive Director
National Commission for Culture and the Arts
633 General Luna Street, Intramuros
The National Artist Secretariat:
We are hereby nominating Cirilo F. Bautista as National Artist for Literature.
Dr. Cirilo F. Bautista, described as a genius in language and imagination by National Artist for Literature (1973) Jose Garcia Villa, is a prolific poet, fictionist, essayist, literary critic and theorist, columnist and educator.
His published books include: The Cave and Other Poems (1968), The Archipelago (1970), Charts (1973), Telex Moon (1981), Sugat ng Salita (1985), Stories (1990), Breaking Signs (1990), Kirot ng Kataga (1995), Words and Battlefields: A Theoria On The Poem (1998), Sunlight On Broken Stones (2000), The Estrella D. Alfon Anthology Vol. I - Short Stories (2000), The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus (2001), Bullets and Roses: The Poetry of Amado V. Hernandez / A Bilingual Edition (translated Into English and with a Critical Introduction) (2002), Tinik sa Dila: Isang Katipunan ng mga Tula (2003) and Galaw ng Asoge (2004).
His works have been reprinted in Romania, Bulgaria, the United States, Hong Kong, China, Holland, Germany, and Malaysia. His epic poem Sunlight on Broken Stones won First Prize in the Epic Category of the Literary Contest sponsored by the National Centennial Commission in 1998.
We, the undersigned, respectfully recommend that you invest his contribution to Philippine literature with the acknowledged grandeur of the National Artist for Literature.
Thank you for your consideration of this nomination.
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UMPIL Congress on August 25
Literature and Writers' Welfare
The Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (Umpil) would like to invite writers and lovers of literature in its 33rd National Writers Congress on August 25, 2007, Saturday, to be held at the Pulungang Recto, College of Arts and Letters Building, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. The session will start at exactly 9:00am and will last until 5pm.
The Congress theme is "Literature and Writers' Welfare." Four noted writers will receive the prestigious Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, sculpted by renowned international artist Manuel Baldemor.
Senator Francisco Pangilinan III will be the guest of honor, and will speak about his legislative vision for writers and Philippine literature in general. Atty. Louie Calvario of Intellectual Property Office will expound recent developments in intellectual property rights agenda, while Ms. Debbie P. Gaite of Filscap (Filipino Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, Inc.) will discuss the model of a collective management responsible for collecting royalties of its members.
A general election of the new set of Umpil board of directors will be held afterwards. For inquiries, please call Vim or Joey at nos. 922-1830
Contact person: Vim Nadera
UP-ICW, College of Arts and Letters
Diliman, Quezon City
Tel: 922-1830/ email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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A Parade of Pangasinan Filipiniana Costumes
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Bulan na Lingguahi ed Lapag a Bansa
Say bulan na Agosto so nidatek a Bulan na Lingguahi ed lapag a bansa basi ed Proclamation 1041 ya dinatekan nen datin President Fidel Ramos nen On 15 July 1997. Peteg a kabiangan so amin ya awiran a pribado tan pampubliko ed pangisilibra ed sayan Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa ya kuan.
Manlapu'd igapo na ogaw ed abeban awiran ya angga ed kasumpal to ed kolihiyo, aralen to so salitan Tagalog ono Pilipino (Filipino la natan) lapu'd ta sikato lanti so sakey ya apilin lingguahi ya usaren ed panagbangat. Kaampar tonia so salitan English.
Kaloob na ogaw ed awiran ono iskuilaan nakaukulan ton aralen so simplin abakada, tan gramatika ya angga'd awaran, atagey a klasin panulatan tan litiratura na Tagala. Kapaway balet na ogaw ed awiran, duma la so saykolohikal ya kanonotan to tan nayari met ya epel la'y dila to ed abangonan ton salita laut la no agto sipur a salita so Tagalog.
Dia ed luyag tayo, impaneknek ed saray atateng tayo ya say salitan Pangasinan et sakey labat a dayalikto (dialect) balet dia'd say tua sakey iyan mayor a lingguahi ed pulok na Pilipinas. Lamet, no dialect so Pangasinan, dialect iya na anton salita ono lingguahi? Na Tagalog? Na Filipino?
Angga ni'd natan dayalikto so pakaamta da'ra'y atateng tayo tan inmonan kailalakan. Onong ed Article XIV Section 7 na Philippine Constitution (1987), sakey labat iya ed saray auxiliary official languages ed kawalaan dan rihion.
Pilalek na sayan sumusulat ya naitdan komun na imano na lokal ya gobierno tayo so pangiletneg na Pangasinan Language Month ono Bulan na Salitan Pangasinan. Aliwa yan mairap a gawaen no pampelengan tan birbiren tayon Pangasinenses so kanepegan.
(Gov. Amado Espino Jr., anto'y kuan yo ed saya ey? Agyo ibabagan dengelen yo labat iya ay so abayag ko lan yeeyag.)
Ompawil ed "Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa", mikakasakey ak ed sayan silibrasion anggano sakey ak ya advocate ono mangitatalindeg na salitan Pangasinan bilang litirarion lingguahi. No say Tagalog et dinmalan ed mabulaslas ya ibolusion, balbaleg so pananisiak ya dalanen met iya na salitan Pangasinan no ag labat komun nagimperan tan no ibangat met iya ed saray awiran tan unibersidad ed luyag na Pangasinan.
Malayug so pangilulugay ko laut la ed saray sumusulat tan umaanlong a Tagalog ta ontan la'y panangaro da ed dili ran salita. Alay palar a sinmulming ed boleg da so sakey a Francisco Baltazar (Balagtas), Jose Corazon de Jesus tan Virgilio Almario.
Tan anggano kugkugip ni labat so Bulan na Salitan Pangasinan, malayug met a pangilugay ed saray ikikinon kon sumusulat tan umaanlong a Pangasinan a sikara di Pablo Mejia, Catalino Palisoc, Maria Magsano, Juan Villamil tan arum ni’ra.
N.B. Nipalapag met iyan salaysay ed A Kabaleyen's Thoughts...
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Makata is off the virtual press!
Makata Issue No.8, August 2007 is now available online featuring the works of our home-grown and international poets: Aurora Antonovic, Roselier Levi G. Azarcon, Christopher Barnes, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, Placido Belardo, Junelyn Delarosa, Zig Dulay, Dennis Espada, Raul Funilas, C. W. Hawes, Rachel Chan Suet Kay and G David Schwartz.
Send all submissions / contributions for Volume 8 September 2007 issue to svillafania at yahoo [dot] com and to Jason Chancoco at tarusan22 at yahoo [dot] com (for Tagalog/Filipino & Bikol poetry). Also accepting poems written in other Philippine languages: Cebuano, Iluko, Hiligaynon, Waray, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, etc.
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A Tao 道 Sign
Santiago B. Villafania, a bilingual Filipino poet who writes in English and in his native language of Pangasinan, is the author of poetry collections Bonsaic Verses (2012), Pinabli and Other Poems (2012), Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles (2007), and Balikas na Caboloan (Voices from Caboloan, 2005) published by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) under its UBOD New Authors Series. He has been published in several countries and translated into several languages. Villafania is one of the 11 Outstanding Pangasinan conferred with the 2010 ASNA Award for the Arts and Culture (literature) during the first Agew na Pangasinan and also the 430th Foundation Day of the province on April 2010. He is a member of Philippine PEN. Read more »