Ilocano language, culture, literature

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Othography: Elegance vs. Practicality

“Awrelyo Solber Agkawili” is one way to spell “Aurelio Solver Agcaoili”. But we do not use “Awrelyo Solber Agkawili” simply because the latter spelling is, er, more esthetically elegant. That’s why we prefer “Monique” to “Munik”, “Juan” to “Hwan”, “Zacarias” to “Sakarias”, “Parañaque” to “Paranyake”, “Quezon” to “Keson”, etc. Also, we use the “elegant” spelling because they are proper nouns, and as such, they are an exception to the “rule”—the use of the orthographically-challenged 20-letter Tagalog ABAKADA of Lupe K. Santos.

It's probably easier to illustrate elegance than to explain it. Say, you have a beautiful dining table covered with a beautiful linen or damasque piece on top of which are your regal plate settings. Well, it's beautiful as it is. But add a flower vase with a decent (gorgeous is even better) flower arrangement in the middle--wow, that's elegant! Probably the same thinking that goes into why the French are who they are and why they'd probably restore the use of the guillotine for the first soul who'd dare say something about changing the way they spell...

Well, it is a given that we prefer the “elegant” spelling of our names, places, etc., but are we nuts to think “fiesta” is not that elegant and so we spell it as “piesta” or “pista”? Is “general” less elegant than “heneral”? Is “giñebra” less elegant than “hinyebra” [what's that?] Is “cemento” less elegant than “semento”? Is “pancit” less elegant than “pansit”?

We have since dropped the use of “quen”--we use “ken” instead. Now we use “dagiti” instead of “daguiti”, “awan” instead of “aoan”. It’s all right in these cases because esthetically, there is no loss in--yup, you guessed it--elegance. In fact, it makes sense. However, I'd probably prefer "querida" to "kerida". Somehow, "kerida" has the effect of removing the sense of adventure innate in "querida"! So there you are: the one thing that should be standard rule is to have the spelling such that the resulting word looks and sounds elegant with nary a loss in the intended meaning!

As for the use of hard “c” as in “Ilocano”, well now, that’s simply elegant! Using “Ilokano” is, um, like you’re having a hard time moving your bowels!

Saluyot, anyone?

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