Ilocano language, culture, literature

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Intellectualization of Ilocano

I am quoting "The Intellectualization of Filipino" by the late Dr. Bonifacio P. Sibayan in its entirety here to establish some parameters in the sometimes convoluted dialogue on the "intellectualization of Ilocano". Sibayan's article was originally published in "The Sociology of Language" in 1991.

To assume, as some quarters have, that I am one of those behind the talk of "intellectualizing" Ilocano or "reintellectualizing" it (as if it was an intellectualized language before!) is to create a label that I don't deserve yet since I haven't really begun to consider crossing the line, however tempting that might be. It's simply not that I am not in favor for the intellectualization of Ilocano. Won't it be a hoot to be able to earn an accounting degree or a veterinary degree using Ilocano solely as the medium of instruction from start to finish? To illustrate Sibayan's point about the building up of various knowledges and skills (or registers) in the language that is intellectualized, the accountant (tenedor-de-libro) would tend to his "liblibro" (books) while the vet, examining the "liblibro" (tripe) of a goat, would not exactly be crunching numbers but would likely be staring at a cud of semi-chewed-up foliage!

No, I haven't formally advocated the "intellectualization" of Ilocano under the proper parameters cited by Dr. Sibayan. That doesn't mean I won't advocate intellectualization of Ilocano in some future time--but only with certain conditions which would make the intellectualization process pragmatic and less agonizing than certain quarters would envision it to be. The intellectualization of Ilocano would be a salutary development for a regional language to assert itself in recognition of the importance of mother tongue-based schooling for educational quality as suggested by UNESCO and other studies.

As of now, the present Philippine Constitution of 1987 provides that Filipino and English are the official media of instruction at our schools, with the regional languages as auxilliary media of instruction in their respective regions (unfortunately, the latter part of the provision is accordingly not yet widely implemented). With English, we've got a global language which a growing number of the people of the world appears to want to learn. Why waste scarce resources reinventing the wheel if only to come up with some "Filipinized" [or "Ilocanized"] English or other foreign words some of which look so out of this world.

No, I haven't advocated the "standardization" of Ilocano either, aware that language has a way of evolving as influenced by government and its network under the constitution's authority--the so-called controlling domain of language, the non-controlling domain that includes you and me, the semi-controlling domain which includes religion, politics and entertainment (media like television, radio, print such as Bannawag). I think the term "standardization" is a bit stiff and restrictive. I prefer "rules of common usage" which tend to change rather unpredictably. Remember the built-in "exception(s) to the rule" thing that almost anybody can invoke to break the rule? The capacity to lay down a rule in order to break it is the one human character trait that distinguishes us from the rest of God's creations!

If English were "standardized", for example, and the standarization were enforced, I bet Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors, wouldn't have been that brilliant in the adventures of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn and most of his writings. Take the first paragraph, Chapter 1 of "Huckleberry Finn":

YOU don't know about me without you have read a
book by the name of The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was
made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth,
mainly. There was things which he stretched, but
mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never
seen anybody but lied one time or another...
Or the fourth paragraph, Chapter 2:

"Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats
ef I didn' hear sumf'n. Well, I know what I's gwyne
to do: I's gwyne to set down here and listen tell I
hears it agin."

The illustrious Filipino-American poet, Jose Garcia Villa (sometimes referred to as the comma poet), stretched the rules even further in "The Anchored Angel":

And, lay, he, down, the, golden, father,
(Genesis’, fist, all, gentle, now)
Between, the, wall, of, China, and,
The, tiger, tree, (his, centuries, his,
Aerials, of, light)—
Anchored, entire, angel!
He, in, his, estate, miracle, and, living, dew,
His, fuses, gold, his, cobalts, love,
And, in, his, eyepits,
Under, the, liontelling, sun –
The, zeta, truth—the, swift, red, Christ.

That's why I won't dare breathe "standardizing Ilocano" for our writers either. Being creative with the use of language, I think, is a talent we should encourage, not restrict with "standardization".

Like it or not, Filipino, Ilocano, and the other languages are evolving language sets heavily laced with code-switching, thanks to television, radio, the print media, the Internet and the ubiquitous cellphone text-messaging phenomenon. And some people think that language should be standardized? It's like trying to catch the wind with a net!

Dr. Sibayan's piece, which could just as well have been entitled "The Intellectualization of Ilocano", is as follows:

The Intellectualization of Filipino

Bonifacio P. Sibayan

Language has domains, ones that have human populations and support institutions, structures, and services. There are three classes of language domains, namely: non-controlling domains (NCDs) those of the home and the lingua franca; semi-controlling domains (SCDs)controlling domains (CDs) chief of which are (1) government with sub-domains of executive, judiciary, and legislature, (2) education with sub-domains of elementary, secondary, vocational-technical, and higher education; (3) the professions such as law, medicine, accountancy, etc.; (4) science and technology; (5) business, commerce and industry; (6) information technology which includes mass media, (7) literature and (8) international relations (Sibayan 1991, 1994a). which include religion, politics, and entertainment.

The language(s) and language varieties used in the NCDs, SCDs, and CDs differ in many significant respects. In the NCDs of the home and the lingua franca, there is no restriction on what language or language variety that may be spoken or written although reading and writing are optional. Any language, for example, English, Filipino, Ilocano or any mixture may be used in the NCDs. The lingua franca of the Philippines before 1940 was English. Today it is Filipino or a "mix-mix", what is technically called code-switching variety popularly called Taglish. The rules of acceptability and correctness are very liberal. A ‘fractured’ variety may be acceptable. One does not need to go to school to learn the language of the home and the lingua franca.

The language(s) and language varieties used and the rules that apply in the SCDs of religion, entertainment, and politics are more strict than those in the NCDs of the home and the lingua franca. The population in religion, for example, consists of various categories of persons and different levels of education such as the well-educated priests, nuns and ministers who have to learn an intellectualized language required in their denomination for their education. On the other hand, many of the participants in religious services may be passive as to the language used. Many participants may not be able to read and write.

The main language used in the CDs of language is always an intellectualized language. An intellectualized language is that language that can be used for giving and obtaining a complete education in any field of knowledge from kindergarten to the university and beyond. An intellectualized language is written, thus making reading and writing necessary skills. Knowledge and information on any subject are stored in and retrieved from various written sources and information storage such as books and CD-ROMs and most recently, with some languages, the internet. New knowledge and information as a result of research are reported in an intellectualized language. By this definition, English, Russian, German, French, Japanese, to name just five, are intellectualized languages. By the same definition, Filipino is not (yet) an intellectualized language. The only CD of language where Filipino is intellectualized is literature. There is a respectable body of literature in Filipino, there are substantial writers in Filipino literature and there are support organizations and publications for the development of Filipino literature. However, one cannot acquire a college or university degree with the use of Filipino only; the needed subjects to fulfill the requirements of a B. S. in Filipino such as math and social science subjects are not available in Filipino.

Process of Intellectualization

The process of intellectualizing a language, say Filipino, so that it may be used as the language in the CDs of language involves, among other processes, the building up of (1) various populations who possess different knowledges and skills in Filipino, who have a good command of the registers needed in the domain and sub-domain, for example, agricultural scientists, medical doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. The language used in medicine differs from the language of law, that is, the two differ in registers so that even if both use English, the medical doctor may not understand the register of law and vice versa. This is what is crucial in the development of an intellectualized language: each domain, sub-domains and sub-sub-domains (fields of specialization) have specific registers. The registers for practically all areas of knowledge are available in intellectualized languages, but not in Filipino. The task of developing the registers of the various areas of knowledge in Filipino and educating the populations who can command and use these registers are formidable tasks in the intellectualization of Filipino.

A second task is the building of (2) support institutions and various structures such as colleges and universities, hospitals; learned organizations that publish journals in Filipino; service agencies such as publishing houses and other structures. The population of a CD, say the sub-domain of medicine, consists of physicians, nurses, technicians, nurse aids, and others who speak and write the language required in medicine, in the Philippine case, English, an intellectualized language. One cannot learn medicine in the Philippines with the use of Filipino. The principal support institutions in medicine are Colleges of Medicine, hospitals, pharmaceutical labs, etc. The computer programs for CT scans, hospital records are in English. The intellectualization of Filipino as the language of medicine and the medical profession and other CDs of language is a giant undertaking. Medical doctors say that it is impractical and impossible.

Consider the other CDs of language such as the sub- and sub-sub domains of science and technology, e.g. mathematics, physics, chemistry, the agricultural sciences, and other areas of knowledge. The task of building the populations, support institutions and services using Filipino to replace English is a task of the greatest magnitude.

Source Language(s) for Intellectualization

A developing language needs a source language for intellectualization (SLI). The source languages in the intellectualization of English were Greek, Latin, Old French, Arabic, among others (see etymological entries in large dictionaries of English). The SLI of Tagalog during the 16th to the 19th centuries was Spanish (Hispanismos 1972; Gonzalez 1985). The SLI of Filipino in the 20th century and beyond is mainly English. One can’t read modern and intellectualized Filipino (nee Tagalog) without encountering borrowings from English. Those who have a good command of written and spoken English and other intellectualized languages may fully contribute to the intellectualization of Filipino; monolingual speakers of Filipino can hardly do so.

Language Replacement and Language Shift

The replacement of English and the shift to Filipino as the national lingua franca was easy because the variety of language, a mixture of Filipino, English, and the local language, known as Taglish did/does not require schooling nor reading and writing; the rules of acceptability are loose. On the other land, the replacement of English by Filipino in the CDs of language require a high level of education, a mastery of the register or registers in the domains and sub-domains (areas of specialization). The rules of acceptability in reading and writing and mastery of both subject matter and register are strict; there are various "gatekeeping agencies" and requirements for entry into the domains, e.g. College entrance examinations, the Professional Regulation Commission, Civil Service examinations, etc. In addition there is the matter of attitude by the people on the replacement of English with Filipino. At present, English is the perceived language for socio-economic advancement and is the language of aspiration in the CDs of language.

In order that Filipino may be intellectualized it must be used in the CDs of language which means it must replace English. But for Filipino to replace English, it should be intellectualized. Therein lies the dilemma in the intellectualization of Filipino.

About the Author:

Bonifacio P. Sibayan was internationally recognized as one of the world's pioneer scholars in sociolinguistics. He was a recipient of the Social Science Achievement Award - Sociolinguistics (1986) from the National Research Council of the Philippines and National Social Scientist Award (1990) from the Philippine Social Science Council. He died in 2005.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Philippine Ergativity... er, errors

I read Ricardo Ma. Nolasco's DRAFT for What Philippine Ergativity Really Means at the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino website and found what I believe to be errors in the Ilocano examples and inaccuracies in their English translations.

[In case you're wondering what ergativity means, this is Wiki's take on the matter: The distinguishing feature of an ergative language is that it maintains an equivalence between the object of a transitive verb and the subject of an intransitive verb, while treating the agent of a transitive verb differently. This contrasts with nominative-accusative languages (such as English), where the subject of transitive and intransitive verbs are treated like each other but distinctly from the object of a transitive verb. Too technical? You bet! I won't go, however, into ergativity at this time; that will be the subject of another blog.]

On Table 4 (Personal Pronouns), there's something wrong with the code "12" for 1st person ("I") and 2nd person ("You"). You and I would be the plural "We", and this, if I remember my grammar (Ilocano or English or Tagalog) cannot be singular! The possessive "natin" under A (Agent) Sg (singular) for "12" under Tagalog implies more than one--and is therefore plural, NOT singular. I think Mr. Nolasco means the singular possessive "akin" for "mine" in this instance, instead of the possessive plural "natin" (ours). Of course the suffixes he listed under singular 12 are all plural!

Here are some samples:

Example 8:

"Rinugianna ketdi ti nangisuro" actually translates better into "He/She started, however, to teach."

"Rinugianna manen ti nangisuro" means "He/She started again to teach."

Example 14:

"Nagisagana a dagus ni baket iti pangaldaw mi" sounds stiff compared to "Nangisagana a dagus ni baket iti pangaldaw mi." This translates into: "My wife prepared our lunch immediately."

Mr. Nolasco's English translation, "My wife went to prepare our breakfast", actually is most nearly, "Napan nangisagana ni baket iti pamigat."

"Pamigat" and "pangaldaw", give or take an hour or two, are on the average 6 hours apart!

Example 15:

"Nangaldaw kami" more accurately translates into "We had lunch".

Mr. Nolasco's English translation, "We took breakfast", as pointed in the previous example, is wrong. "We took lunch" would indicate an act of physically taking/bringing lunch from one location and probably eating it somewhere else.

Example 20:

"Dayta a lalaki, sinerraknak ket kayatnak a gundawayan."

Mr. Nolasco probably means "Dayta a lalaki, sinerreknak ket kayatnak a gundawayan". "Serrek" is from the word "sumrek" or "sumbrek". The sentence literally translates into: "That man, he entered me and wanted to abuse me." Idiomatically, the sentence translates into "That man, he violated (raped) me."

"This man, he forcibly entered my house and he wants to abuse me" more accurately translates into "Daytoy a lalaki, nagpilit a simrek iti balayko ket kayatnak a gundawayan."

Example 21:

"Inserraknak" should be "Inserreknak."

Example 24:

"No ania ti makunam, Marian, ulientanto a dua." The "ulientanto" is a future tense form. And the "dua" thing implies either the two of them are going to climb something or that they will climb two whatever. In other words, the sentence could be construed: "Whatever you say, Marian, the two of us will climb it" or "Whatever you say, Marian, we will climb the two."

Example 29:

"Tinakderanna ti dadaitenna", is the idiomatic equivalent of "He/She stopped sewing."

Example 30:

"Bimmangon ni Ponso sana matmatan ti bola" should be "Bimmangon ni Ponso sana minatmatan ti bola" to mean "Ponso got up then looked at the ball."

Example 31:

"Nabayag a nagtakder iti asideg ti tawa ti kuartoda" most nearly translates into "He/She stood for a long time near their room window."

Example 36:

Same as Example 14.

Example 37:

"Insagana aminen dagiti masapsapul." There's a missing suffix to "insagana" to clarify the agent. "Insaganana aminen a masapsapul" translates most nearly into "He/She prepared all that is needed."

Example 43:

"Sinitsitan ni Diputado Agaton ti guardia. Immasideg daytoy." most nearly translates into "Congressman Agaton called the attention of the guard." To imply that it is the guard who moved toward the Congressman in the latter sentence is obviously an invocation of social rank protocol.

You tell me what kind of imagination went into Mr. Nolasco’s translation of the above: “Congressman said “psst” to the guard. He (the guard) drew closer.”

Example 50a:

"Sipapalubosak nga agkasarkayo ngem masapul nga isublim ti nagastok iti panagadal na. Lima ribu!" most nearly translates into "You have my permission to get married but you have to return what I spent for her education. Five thousand!"

Mr. Nolasco's translation "I agree, but you must return the money I spent in sending her to school. Five thousand pesos!" translates more nearly into "Umannugotak, ngem masapul nga isublim ti cuarta a nagastok a nangpaadal kencuana. Lima ribu a pisos!" Entirely missed what "I" was agreeing to.

Articles, pronouncements, etc., coming from the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, especially those posted on its website are usually taken by people like you and me (I?) as official position papers or declaration of public policy. We urge then that the information posted on the KWF website, draft or whatever, be carefully researched, rechecked or authenticated to merit our trust.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Support for Philippine eLib

When I learned through Filipino Librarian that the Philippine eLib was in some kind of funding trouble, I initiated a mini-letter (email actually) campaign to the members of the Philippine Senate and officers of eLib. Here’s the email I sent to our Senators:

Reading Prof. Fortunato T. dela Pena's presentation before the 1st ENGAGE European Union-Southeast Asia ICT Research Collaboration Conference last March 29-31, 2006, plus all the glorious writeups about the Philippine eLib gave me the highs because I thought this is precisely one of the catalysts Filipinos need to move forward. Only to be saddened by the recent Inquirer press release, "RP e-Library project faces possibility of being shutdown," on June 18, 2006.

I can only imagine the enormous impact of the eLib (and its multiplier effect) on our people and future generations. That's why I'm hoping that you and the Members of Congress would be able to allocate the needed funds to support the Philippine eLib and keep it afloat for all of us and for posterity.

However, in the event that government funding fails, I would like to suggest an alternative recourse which, in the litany of nationalist rhetoric, is probably not the 'nationalist' thing to do, but a survival recourse nonetheless: the Philippine eLib may apply for a grant, say from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is flush with additional money from Warren Buffett's recent $37 billion donation. Excluding that part of eLib that makes available--and leverages--international publication subscriptions, the body of knowledge that's stored and that will be stored in it should, for egalitarian reasons, be accessible 24/7 AND free for all Filipinos and not just FREE for the five-member government agencies behind eLib.

The type of undertaking that Philippine eLib aims to do is one of those in the top funding priority by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In the past few years the Foundation approved grants of over $301 million for library-related projects, almost a quarter of it ($68 million) for international initiatives. Mexico alone obtained a grant for $30 million "to help ensure that Mexico residents have no-cost access to computers and digital information...and provide computers and Internet access, staff training, and technical support for libraries throughout the country." This is just one of many cyber-library initiatives supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

I am counting on your support for this national resource--whether through government funding or through a magnanimous private grant.

Of the 23 sent to our Senators using publicly available email addresses posted on the Internet, 4 were returned (Senators Mirriam Defensor-Santiago, Kiko Pangilinan, Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., and Alfredo S. Lim). Three (13%) responded:

Evaristo O. Gana, Chief of Staff of the office of Senator Panfilo Lacson, wrote:

This is to acknowledge your opinion paper on the RP e-Library issue. Please be assured that we will accord this letter utmost consideration.

Thank you and kind regards.

Senator Sergio Osmeña III wrote:

This is with regard to your email of August 18, 2006 asking the members of Congress to allocate funding to the Philippine e-library project.

Please be informed that we will do our best to include the needed funding for the said project in the national budget.

Kindest personal regards.

Luis T. Cruz, Director/OIC of the office of Senator Mar Roxas, wrote:

Thank you for your letter requesting financial assistance for the establishment of an e-Library in the Philippines.

Much as we would like to help, we regret to inform you that we have no funds allocated for this purpose. We shall, however, remain on the lookout for other ways by which we can be of help in the future.

I sent similar emails to two officers of the Philippine eLib. The one sent to Prof. Fortunato T. dela Peña, Chairman, Steering Committee, Philippine eLib, and Undersecretary of Sciuence and Technology Services (DOST), was returned. Ms. Salvacion Arlante sent the following reply:

Thank you for your letter of Aug. 19th and your concern. The Phil Elib project is still ongoing and functioning. We have taken note of your suggestions and the Steering Committee is well informed of our requirements.

We are working on proposals for other funding sources, one of which is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Your letter will be presented to the next Steering Committee first week of Sept.

Thank you once again.

A similar email sent to Congresswoman Imee Marcos was returned.

Judging from his response, Luis T. Cruz of the office of Senator Mar Roxas most likely didn't even read the entire email I sent. Or he might not even be aware that there already is a Philippine eLib.

Well, I tried. I thought the idea behind eLib is great. It is a tremendous and welcome investment for the future of our people, especially the young. I just hope that those in a position to see to it that this cyber library, this repository of knowledge keeps going and growing could also justify that it becomes more accessible to the general public, especially our school children and students, and not only to the financially elite who can afford to pay for the subscription or access fees. May be a massive letter-writing to appeal for more generous support for eLib will help. Or an application for a grant…