Kankana-ey being replaced by Iloko?

By Firth McEachern

I WAS standing in a school courtyard in Sagada, Mountain Province. Some boys, not more than 10-yrs-old, were noisily playing a make-shift bowling game. A few of their words sounded Ilokano, but I assumed it was my imagination. When I spoke to them, I was just as much surprised that they understood Ilocano as they were surprised to hear a foreigner speak it.

“Aren’t you Kankana-ey?” I asked them.

“Yes” they replied.

“So how come you are speaking Ilokano?”

“Because most of the people around here are speaking Ilokano. It’s mixed.” Continue reading

Quest for a multi-culture

By Firth McEachern

I WAS at the supermarket a month ago and decided to try out my fledgling Ilokano on a pretty staff girl. “Manu daytoy?” I asked her, as I picked up a can of corn beef. I don’t even like corn beef, but it was a convenient opportunity to gain a smile from a cute girl.

“Oh, you speak Tagalog!” She said, impressed.

“Actually, Ilokano” I told her, confused.

“Oi!” she bleeped in that universal Filipino exclamation of surprise. I assumed the wrong word came out, and didn’t think anything more of the incident.

The same bizarre thing has happened five times since. Granted, my skewed accent probably makes it difficult for listeners to identify certain words, but I don’t think that “Agyamanak” could possibly be construed as “Salamat,” no matter how bad my accent is. There was even a time when a person who had mistaken my Ilokano speaking for Tagalog continued to rattle away in the latter language, despite my showing no signs of comprehension and repeatedly addressing him in Ilokano. I finally had to directly tell him, “Look buddy, I don’t speak Tagalog so I don’t know why you keep talking to me like that.” He acted surprised, as if all the evidence pointed to the contrary. Continue reading

Millenium Development Goals: Why Languages Matter

Click “Why Languages Matter” for the complete MDG booklet.

Designing an Alphabet for an Unwritten Language


Roger Stone and Neri Zamora

(Presented at the 1st MLE Conference, “Reclaiming the Right to Learn in One’s Own Language,” Capitol University, Cagayan de Oro City, Feb 18-20, 2010.)

ABSTRACT:  In this paper, we describe the process of developing an alphabet or orthography for an unwritten language.

What is an orthography?

Orthography is a technical term that simply means the system of writing. Its purpose is to facilitate communication.

As far as we in TAP and SIL are concerned, there are three types of orthography:  phonetic, technical and practical.  A phonetic orthography is typically a non-Roman-based transcription that is suitable for phonetically transcribing data.  An alphabet called the International Phonetic Alphabet (more about this in 3.2.1) is used for this type of orthography.

  1. A technical orthography of a language is typically a Roman-based transcription that is suitable for academic publication.  It should reflect the underlying phonemic representation of the language.  A technical orthography is typically Roman-based transcription that is suitable for the academic publication.
  2. A practical orthography is typically the language encoding used by readers and writers of the language.  For many languages there may be more than one writing system.  Some spelling systems are much easier to learn and use than others.  The most important consideration in a practical orthography is that writing system is adapted to the cultural trends, to the prestige, education, and political goals.

For the complete article, click on Orthographies paper

A Pedagogic Grammar for Cebuano-Visayan


Angel O. Pesirla

(Presented at the 1st MLE Conference, “Reclaiming the Right to Learn in One’s Own Language,” Capitol University, Cagayan de Oro City, Feb 18-20, 2010.)

Courtesy of J. G. Rubrico

INTRODUCTION: This academic paper is premised on the need for a Cebuano-Visayan pedagogic grammar based on descriptively adequate and powerful linear description as a required academic component in the General Education Curriculum for B.A. and B.S. programs per CNU B.O.R. approval in 2000 of the CMO # 44, s. 1997 full implementation.

A pedagogic grammar presents the structural description of a language for teaching-learning purposes. This includes basically the making of descriptive statements about the target language to be learned through teaching in such a form that its structures (sound, word, sentence) will be more readily learned (Corder,  1973).

This grammatical description must be observationally adequate (a measure of the degree to which the statements of a description accord with the observed relevant facts), and descriptively adequate (a measure of the degree to which it succeeds in corporating all the facts which the goals of the description consider relevant). Furthermore, it must be more economical or powerful in the degree to which it accounts for the same facts with a smaller number of statements or rules, or alternatively, more facts with the same number of rules (1973).

For the complete article, click on A Pedagogic Grammar for Cebuano-Visayan lecture.

How To Use The English-Visayan/Cebuano Dictionary


Cesar P. Kilaton, Jr.

(Presented at the 1st MLE Conference, “Reclaiming the Right to Learn in One’s Own Language,” Capitol University, Cagayan de Oro City, Feb 18-20, 2010.)


The main words or entries included in this dictionary English words and their meaning or equivalent in Visayan-Cebuano.  It’s recognized that English dictionaries also borrow foreign words.  And so are some Visayan words which are adopted, such as water ox or carabao from karabaw, cogon from kugon, lauan from lawaan, etc.  Various English dictionaries were used for etymologies; scientific and legal terms are likewise included.  Phrasal verbs are also inserted usually under the main entries of verbs.

Each main entry has an abbreviation for the appropriate part of speech.  However, the editors of this dictionary did not dare to create and classify the parts of speech of those words which the English did not so classify, as, for example, idioms and some archaic foreign maxims and phrases.


The Acoustic Properties Of The Vowels Of Pangasinan


Francisco C. Rosario, Jr.

(Presented at the 1st MLE Conference, “Reclaiming the Right to Learn in One’s Own Language,” Capitol University, Cagayan de Oro City, Feb 18-20, 2010.)

ABSTRACT:  Languages in the Philippines, though almost all belonging to the Austronesian language family, have unique ways on how sounds and sound patterns are realized. The number of phonemic sounds varies in each language.

The Pangasinan language, according to Richard Benton, has five significant vowel phonemes namely /a/, /E, /e/, /i/ and /o/ or /u/, and 13 consonant phonemes. The quality of these phonemes changes depending on the environment.

This study aims to use a scientific approach in describing the vowels of Pangasinan according to their acoustic properties and depending on the environments they are found.  These environments include stressed and unstressed positions. A software program will be utilized to analyze the individual characteristics of these vowels.

In general, this study aims to contribute to the development of linguistic materials in teaching Pangasinan language to its native speakers, and even to interested second language learners.

For the complete article, click on The Acoustic Properties of the Vowels of Pangasinan.