Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Draft of New Filipino Orthography--For Comment

Following is the announcement by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino inviting comments on a draft for the proposed Filipino Orthography:
Ang Ortograpiya ng Wikang Pambansa na binuo ng Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino sa pamamagitan ng serye ng mga konsultasyon sa mga guro, dalubhasa sa wika, superbisor sa Filipino at sa mga nasa larangang ito sa buong bansa noong 2006-07. Bukas ang KWF sa komentaryo, katanungan, pusisyon at mungkahi tungkol sa patnubay na ito. Maaaring ipadala ito sa rnolasco_upmin@yahoo.com at/o ortograpiyang_filipino@yahoo.com. Sisikapin ng KWF na ilabas ang pinal na bersyon ng patnubay bago matapos ang 2007.ORTOPDF.pdf
Click on ANG ORTOGRAPIYA NG WIKANG PAMBANSA for the complete draft for the proposed orthography.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On our Alphabet, the Nationalistic Ego Has the Face of a Hypocrite

Following is a list of the winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature who wrote in Spanish [country, year he/she won and citation]:
1. José Echegaray, Spain, 1904. Citation: "in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama."
2. Jacinto Benavente, Spain, 1922. Citation: "for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama."
3. Gabriela Mistral, Chile, 1945. Citation: "for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world."
4. Juan Ramón Jiménez, Spain, 1956. Citation: "for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity."
5. Miguel Ángel Asturias, Guatemala, 1967. Citation: "for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America."
6. Pablo Neruda, Chile, 1971. Citation: "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams."
7. Vicente Aleixandre, Spain, 1977. Citation: "for a creative poetic writing which illuminates man's condition in the cosmos and in present-day society, at the same time representing the great renewal of the traditions of Spanish poetry between the wars."
8. Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia, 1982. Citation: "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts."
9. Camilo José Cela, Spain, 1989. Citation: "for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability."
10. Octavio Paz, Mexico, 1990. Citation: "for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity."
There are more than twice the above number who wrote in English and are winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature as well. There are no winners who wrote in Ilocano or Filipino. There is no Thai winner. There is no Vietnamese winner. There’s a host of other countries who haven’t won either.
I submit that the orthography and language used is not necessarily an absolute index of the intelligence of a people, or their ability to write. The winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature are adjudged by a select few who, being humans, may have their choices filtered through their own prejudices or political leanings.
But for these 30 or so winners of the literature prize who wrote their works in English or Spanish, it just proves that using the English or Spanish alphabets is no handicap or disadvantage to write well and have a chance to win the prize. Contrary to the thinking of some ultra-nationalists in the Philippines who, for anti-colonial reasons, are out to thrash the use of the Spanish and English alphabets—using the 20-letter ABAKADA instead--on regular words in Filipino but do subscribe to a double standard allowing the continued use of both English and Spanish alphabets on their names and other proper nouns, there has to be some confusion in the mind of the uninitiated trying to attain a certain level of literacy.
Considering that English is the other national language, in addition to Filipino, in the Philippines, and considering that English is the primary medium of instruction from grade school to the tertiary level, and considering further the rampant code-switching phenomenon on the street, in the media, in school and at home, the continued use of the 20-letter ABAKADA to spell regular words in Filipino [or Ilocano and the other regional languages, except Chavacano, Ivatan] including loan words from English or Spanish is pretty confusing for our young students.
Aren’t we simply so stupid to let our learning process be more complicated than it should be because of our nationalistic ego?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pag-review ng “2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto” & H.B. 4701

Today is Nov. 6, 2006. I found the following item buried deep in the KWF website:

Pag-review ng “2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto,” Pinagtibay ng DepEd

Inilabas ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon ang Kautusang Pangkagawaran Blg. 42, s. 2006 upang itigil muna ang implementasyon ng “2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling ng Wikang Filipino.” Ito ay ayon na rin sa kahilingan ng Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino bunga ng negatibong feedback mula sa mga guro, estudyante at iba pang mga tagagamit ng wika.

Kaugnay nito, itinagubilin sa lahat na pansamantalang sangguniin ang “1987 Alpabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling” sa paghahanda o pagsulat ng mga kagamitan sa pagtuturo at sa Korespondensiya Opisyal samantalang ang Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino ay nagsasagawa ng pag-review sa “2001 Revisyon sa Alfabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling.”

Nakasaad din ang daglian at malawakang pagpapalaganap sa naturang kautusan.

The actual Department of Education order, DO No. 42, s. 2006, dated October 9, 2006, published at the DepEd website, is as follows:

1. Ang Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino ay kasalukuyang nagsasagawa ng pag-review sa "2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling ng Wikang Filipino". Ito ay bunga ng mga negatibong feedback mula sa mga guru, estudyante, magulang at iba pang tagagamit ng wika kaugnay ng nilalaman ng binagong patnubay sa ispeling at ang implementasyon nito.

2. Kaugnay nito, itinatagubilin sa lahat ng kinauukulan na itigil muna ang implementasyon ng nabanggit na revisyon habang nirereview ito at pansamantalang sangguniin ang 1987 Alpabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling (Kautusang Pangkagawaran Blg. 81, s. 1987) para sa paghahanda o pagsulat ng mga sangguniang kagamitan sa pagtuturo at sa mga korespondensya opisyal.

3. Kalakip nito ang 1987 Patnubay sa Wikang Filipino na binuo ng Linangan ng mga Wika sa Pilipinas na ngayon ay Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino.

4. Hinihiling ang daglian at malawakang pagpapalaganap ng Kautusang ito.

[The pdf. file copy of the above order is followed by 16 pages of "ANG ALPABETO AT PATNUBAY SA ISPELING NG WIKANG FILIPINO" which was previously attached to DO #81, s. 1987 dated August 6, 1987.]

I'm not quite sure if this action was influenced in any way by H.B. 4701 which recently passed on third reading. H.B. 4701 makes English the mandatory medium of instruction (MOI) "in all academic subjects in the elementary grades from Grade III to Grade VI and in all levels in the secondary." It's now up for consideration in the Senate.

In his article, "Improving English Competence" (also at the KWF website), Edilberto C. de Jesus assails the bill as an "unreflective, knee-jerk reaction to the problem" of declining English skills. "The current MOI in most public schools is Filipino," De Jesus notes, but, "for, perhaps, the majority of the children, Filipino is not the mother tongue. Most children... start their education in a language [Filipino] 'foreign' to them."

Some of the sponsors of H.B. 4701 come from various regions of the country whose mother tongue is neither Tagalog nor Filipino. "If they want the children in their respective regions to learn more effectively," de Jesus writes, "they should support a bill that would fund the use of the mother tongue as the MOI, ideally, through the six years of primary school, while the children are also learning Filipino and English as second and third languages."

De Jesus pointed out that UNESCO and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) had been supporting research on language learning for over fifty years--that their research studies reached an unsurprising conclusion: "Children who begin their education in the mother tongue make a better start, and continue to perform better, than those for whom school starts with a new language".

We definitely should take steps to improve English-language competence among Filipinos, according to de Jesus. He, however, cites the need to improve the level of English competence of teachers who teach English as a priority. "How... can a law that raises the bar beyond a level not yet achieved," says de Jesus, "help to improve performance?"

There is no doubt that English is the global language. Many countries around the world are investing heavily to promote the learning of English. However, we should not lose sight of the importance of mother tongue based-schooling for educational quality.

As for Filipino, it's still the current MOI in most public schools. H.B. 4701, if it eventually becomes law, is definitely going to affect it. We await the result of DepEd's review of the "2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto" with bated breath. As of now, there are very few clues as to where Filipino is headed except that thing about the "negatibong feedback mula sa mga guru, estudyante, magulang at iba pang tagagamit ng wika."

Thursday, August 31, 2006

"NG", Excuse Me, Is NOT a Unique Alphabet Letter, er Digraph

My high school Balarila differentiated the words ng from nang as used in the following examples:

Perlas ng silanganan (Pearl of the orient)

Nang si Jesus ay isinilang (When Jesus was born)

However, I believe ng started as a contraction or abbreviation of nang. Check The Project Gutenberg Ebook of Ibong Adarna, by Anonymous. Out of more than 19,000 words in more than 5,400 lines of this work, “nang” appears 618 times, 3 times in the subtitle:


On the other hand, “ng” appears only once, in the following stanza:

Cun aayao magpa-silla

ang cabayo’i, mag-aarma,

palo’t, dagoc na lahat na

ng gauin mo sa caniya.

Obviously, ng and nang may be used interchangeably. Whether the user wants to use either ng or nang to mean “of” or “when” should be determined by the context in which either word is used. As in other languages, there are words in Filipino that could mean different things under different contexts, e.g., bata for gown, or bata for child. So why the need to go out on a limb to differentiate ng from nang when, as in Ibong Adarna, they are one and the same?

[Coincidentally, “manga” appears 32 times in Ibong Adarna, while “mga” was not used at all. The conclusion is that “mga”, as used in current Tagalog/Filipino discourse, is a contraction or abbreviation of “manga”.]

I don't think, however, that the "NG" in the Filipino alphabet refers to the contracted or abbreviated "NANG". It is the digraph ng. A digraph, by the way, is a pair of letters used to write one sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the letters combined, as in the following example: Ngunit ang tugon niya'y dalangin na walang hanggan (But his answer was a prayer without end).

The digraph "ng", however, is NOT unique to Tagalog or Filipino. It also occurs in English as in the following example: The singer’s raspy voice impinging on one’s bingo concentration.

Yet the digraph ng is not considered a unique phoneme in the English alphabet, or in some other Roman languages that use it simply because they don't have words that start with the digraph, one of three tests that a digraph must pass to be considered as a unique phoneme (the other being that the digraph may occur in the middle of the word or at the end). Some linguistic technicality--which is probably why the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino insists that "language planning... should be a collaborative endeavor of scholars, linguists and practitioners in the study and use of the language." The ordinary language user--you and I--well, we're chopped liver! But then, that's another story.

While it may be difficult to find a "native" English word that starts with ng, the explosion of the Vietnam War into the global consciousness introduced us to non-native words that did so. Some of the words thrown about by the media during that war were proper Vietnamese names, like the Ngo's and the Nguyen's. Then 1976 saw the largescale migration of the Vietnamese--including the Ngo's and the Nguyen's--to the United States. Well, even as proper names starting with Ng may get entrenched in the public consciousness, they may not find their way into the lexicon of the English language to warrant the revision of the English alphabet to include the digraph ng.

I learned from a reliable language authority that the inclusion of ng in the Filipino alphabet is an effort to differentiate ours from others. Well, the Vietnamese have other ideas because they, too, have ng as one of 8 digraphs in their 37-letter alphabet where "A" with varying inflection marks is counted as 3 unique letters!

If we eliminate NG as a separate letter, er digraph, the 2001 revision of the Filipino alphabet is, for all intents and purposes, an adoption of the current 27-letter Spanish alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, Ñ, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z. In a nation where more than half the population have Spanish names, it certainly is difficult to understand the misguided bent of some of our intellectuals to try to distance you and me and themselves from the Spanish alphabet at some point and then grudgingly re-adopt it anyway.

So the Spanish alphabet is back. Plain and simple. And richer for the Filipino alphabet. In the exact words of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino: “The promulgation of this Department Order [2001 Revisyon] was regarded as a significant step in promoting more dynamic development of the language. The goal is lexical enrichment of Filipino by liberalizing word borrowings and translations largely from English and Spanish using eight additional letters of the alphabet, namely letters C, F, J, Ñ, Q, V, X, Z.”

In a pragmatic sense, the revised Filipino alphabet is basically what we had before, before the likes of Lope K. Santos (who changed his middle name from Canseco to Kanseco) thought it was the “nationalist” thing to do to rid the letters C, F, J, Ñ, Q, V, X, Z from the Spanish alphabet and proclaim the emaciated 20-letter alphabet (with NG) as the Tagalog ABAKADA, then the official alphabet for the then Wikang Pambansa, which became Wikang Pilipino, which morphed into Wikang Filipino.

The sequence of events from the time Tagalog was declared as the basis for the evolving "national language" just reinforces Alexander Neville’s theory in Language, Class and Power In Post-Apartheid South Africa that a [national] language does not develop “naturally” as it were, but is something planned by those in power either through executive order, decree or legislation. Even as there obviously were some missteps in our language planning and policies.

At any rate, I strongly recommend that “ng” be purged from the current Filipino alphabet as revised in 2001. We are not losing anything that’s worth a hoot, so let's just cut the mustard. Because it has a human-appendix-and-tonsil excuse for being. Purging "ng" certainly won't trigger cataclysmic fissures in the lexical landscape. It won’t diminish informal or formal discourse. From a learner’s standpoint, it’s one less letter (or whatever) to remember. Let the "scholars, linguists and practitioners in the study and use of the language" deal with their momentary grief on the loss of ng--and then let's all move on to meatier stuff. Such as refocusing our efforts in the development and enrichment of Filipino in the face of a runaway train called code-switching.

NG as a unique alphabet digraph, NO; as an ordinary digraph or as a contraction or abbreviation for nang, yes, ABSOLUTELY!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

2001 Alphabet Revision & Spelling Guide TABLE OF CONTENTS/NILALAMAN

[NOTE: The following is a copy of the book, 2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling ng Wikang Filipino, issued by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. It is re-published here in its entirety (a) for the information of those interested, and (b) to elicit comments, the enlightened and constructive variety I hope.

The contents were rearranged such that the English version (second chapter in the original publication) of the 2001 Revisyon comes ahead of the Filipino version (first chapter)--solely for the benefit of non-native-Filipino 'Net users. -- JP]

Friday, July 21, 2006

Foreword/Paunang Salita

[NOTE: Within the part of the 2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling ng Wikang Filipino that's written in Filipino, I took the liberty of highlighting words which I recognized as borrowed from English or Spanish for emphasis (I could have missed some). The words in red are either loaned "as is", or derived, from English. Those in blue are loaned "as is", or derived, from Spanish.

It is interesting to note that there’s a preponderance of borrowed words from English which are “transformed” into Spanish (which is to say Spanish borrowed them from English) and then adopted "as is" or re-spelled in Filipino in accordance with the guidelines. For example:



rent………………………… renta…………………………….renta





What's perplexing is that decades have passed since Spanish [as a required course] was taken out of the Philippine educational curricula and yet Filipinos continue to "transform" certain English words into Spanish in the same manner as above and adopt the result in their daily discourse. In "Filipino ng mga Filipino", Virgilio S. Almario, National Artist of the Year for Literature in 2003, explains:

"...Mas malapit sa ating wika ang bigkas sa mga salitang Espanyol. Sa gayon, malimit na isa-Espanyol ng mga akademista ang mga hiram nila sa Ingles..."
Take the English word "codification" in the example above. In the Spanish "codificación" the 'a' is pronounced just like your /a/ (as in katawan) in the Filipino alphabet. The Filipino "kodifikasyon" is pronounced exactly the same as the Spanish "codificación".

This English-to-Spanish-to-Filipino process, however, has spawned a phenomenon that Almario calls "siyokoy". Paul Morrow, an Irish-Canadian, described it best in "Mga Salitang Siyokoy":

"Tulad ng halimaw ni Dr. Frankenstein sa kuwento, na kaniyang ginawa mula sa mga bahagi ng katawan ng iba’t ibang tao, ang mga naturang salita ay binubuo ng iba’t ibang wikang banyaga ngunit hindi naman kinikilala ang mga ito saanman sa daigdig. Mga salitang siyokoy ang tawag dito ng manunulat at makatang si Virgilio S. Almario, mula sa kathang isip na taong-dagat na anyong lalaki ang katawan na may kaliskis at tila isda ang ulo. Ang tawag dito sa Ingles ay merman o kung babae ay mermaid."

Almario wrote:

"...Ngunit dito mas lumilitaw ang kanilang [mga akademista] kabobuhan. Dahil hindi bihasa sa Espanyol, nakalilikha sila ng mga salitang siyokoy – hindi Ingles, hindi Espanyol (gaya ng “aspeto”… na hindi aspect ng Ingles at hindi rin aspecto ng Espanyol)."

(See Morrow's article for his collection of the so-called "siyokoys".)

Of course, the current guidelines allow the “Filipinizing” of certain English words without the intermediate Spanish influence as in “awtor” [author], “ispeling” [spelling], “awtput” [output], “varayti” [variety], “literasi” [literacy], "intertransleytabiliti" [intertranslatability], etc.--adaptations which--to the uninitiated--could pose some recognizability problems. In effect, the goal of standardization, uniformity and consistency is compromized because the spelling guidelines allow multiple ways to spell certain borrowed words--for instance: community, komyuniti, or komunidad--all of which appear in the 2001 Revisyon on page 62 and page 11, respectively. One’s personal recommendation [and this is proposed by Rodie Marte Metin] is to stick to the original spelling in English and avoid the added problem of re-learning the re-spelled Filipino adaptations or eliminate any concern about intertranslatability.

Retaining the original spelling for English words adopted in Filipino is clearly the preferred method (called code-switching) in everyday conversation, in certain blogs by Filipinos [with a few of the coño flavor], in various Filipino-hosted 'Net chatrooms and forums, in “Standard Pinglish for Filipinos” [by Rodie Marte Metin]—an unabashed proposal that “Lahat ng foreign words—English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, etc.—kapag puwedeng gamitin at ginagamit na sa kapamaraanang Tagalog ay kabilang na sa Pinglish vocabulary…”

[A peek into YouTube.com (now a Google subsidiary) can give you an idea of how extensive the code-switching is on a popular television show in the Philippines. Try searching for "Philippine Idol" and play any of the videos that come up.]

This code-switching is allowed under the spelling guidelines for words containing any or a combination of the 8 letters, C, F, J, Ñ, Q, V, X, Z [added to the old ABAKADA]. One of the rules says the letter, and by extension, the word is maintained if the word is borrowed wholly in its original form. Well, the lexical dam broke and this specific spelling guideline has become an equal opportunity proposition for practically all borrowed words.

In fairness, the code-switching phenomenon is not a by-product of the 2001 Revisyon, although it legitimized it in more formal levels of discourse. We've used code-switching in informal discourse for as long as I can remember. We entered school and the medium of instruction was and still is English. When there was an English word which did not have an equivalent translation in the vernacular that we used, it was simply convenient to use the English word. Well now, we code-switch even if we do have an equivalent vernacular term for the English word.

In Language Planning and Intellectualisation, Andrew Gonzales observes "that tertiary level subject matter in the Philippines is taught in a code-switching variety of Filipino and English. Code-switching is used because of the difficulty for the teachers of explaining some concepts and difficulties for the students in comprehending these concepts when they are taught solely in English... This is especially true in many large universities which cater to lower middle and middle income students, although it has been found even in more expensive and prestigious universities. The increasing use of code-switching rather than English might lead to the evolution of a more formal and consistent variety of standardised Filipino as a medium of instruction. In this case... the intellectualised variety of Filipino might well turn out to be a better codified and improved variety consisting of the results of this massive code-switching. What may happen is a gradual devolution from a formal type of Filipino initially used in schools to a colloquial mixture of Filipino and English, after a period of code-switching, which may lead to the development of a mixed language which is likely to become the intellectualised variety of Filipino in everyday academic teaching. Whether this mixed language will spread into academic writing in publications and dissertations remains a question, however, as the more conservative forces eschew and even condemn such code-switching."


Well, please read on. You probably have your own view of the whole national language issue. Thank you for leaving your comments. -- JP]


2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling ng Wikang Filipino

Paunang Salita

Ang 2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling ng Wikang Filipino ay kumakatawan sa ikalawang bahagi ng final na awtput ng proyektong “Tungo sa Istandardisasyon ng Sistema ng Pagsulat sa Filipino: Mga Batas at Tuntunin na Nauukol sa Walong Dagdag na Letra ng Alfabetong Filipino: ng Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. Ginagawang malinaw ng mga tuntuning pang-ispeling ang batayang konseptwal sa pagdidisenyo ng sistema ng pagsulat. Lalo pang ipinaliliwanag ang mga konseptong ito sa format na tanong at sagot sa Primersa 2001 Mga Tiyak na Tuntunin sa Gamit ng Walong Dagdag na Letra.

Mapapansing ang revisyong ito ay nakafocus sa gamit ng walong (8) dagdag na letra na hiniram at nakapaloob sa kasalukuyang 28-letrang Alfabetong Filipino. Ang iba pang tuntunin sa ispeling ay pinanatili gaya ng nakasaad sa 1987 Patnubay sa Ispeling at/o hinango mula sa orihinal na sistema ng pagbaybay na ginagamit sa iba’t ibang institusyong pang-akademya at pampublikasyon.

Ang mga binanggit sa itaas ang bumuo ng orihinal na datos na naging basehan ng komparatibong analisis at siya namang naging batayan ng final na mga rekomendasyon. Pinananatili ang mga tuntunin sa ispeling na labas sa saklaw ng proyektong pag-aaral kaya hindi ganap na binabago ang sistema ng ispeling. Samakatwid, and mungkahing tuluyang reforma sa ispeling ay magiging kumulatibong proseso na tutulong sa pagpapatibay ng buong sistemang ortografiko. Binibigyang-diin din and pangangailangang masagawa ng seryosong siyentifikong riserts sa bawat problematikong detalye ng sistema sa pagbaybay bago magsagawa ng anumang ofisyal na revisyon o modifikasyon.

Inaasahan, samakatwid, na magsasagawa ng isang seryosong pagkilos ang mga gumagamit ng alfabeto sa pamamagitan ng implementasyon ng 2001 Revisyon ng Alfabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling ng Wikang Filipino.