Bikol Phrase Markers, Part 1


In a three part series, Wilmer Tria talked about the use of Bikol nin and kan, that kan is specific and nin is general.

Examples provided in the first part of the series illustrate the usage:

#1. May I borrow a pencil?

Bikol Pasubli daw nin   lapis?
  IMP.borrow may GEN.INDEF pencil

#2. May I borrow your pencil?

Bikol Pasubli daw kan   lapis mo?
  IMP.borrow may GEN.DEF pencil GEN.2P.SGL

As Tria said “In the first sentence, lapis could refer to any lapis, while in the second, lapis is specific.

He further asserts in the 3rd part that

“Nin, on the other hand, is used when the object is not only non-specific but also indefinite….kan is used only when the object becomes specific.”

Tria did not clarify the meaning of his terms, but judging from his preceding statement, if something is specific even if indefinite, that would use kan; and if definite unspecific, then that scenario was not covered by his statement. To sum it up in a chart:

  Definite Indefinite
Specific kan kan
Unspecific ?? nin

More examples provided by him.

Bikol English
#3. Mainom ako nin tubig. I will drink water.
#4. Bugtakan mo nin suka. Put (some) vinegar.
#5. Kulang iyan nin asukar. That lacks sugar.
#6. Painom daw kan tubig na nasa baso mo. May I drink the water in your glass.

He give two instances when something is specific:

(1)  “kan … is made specific by demonstrative pronouns such as iyan or idto or by possessive pronouns such as sako or saindo or by any other modifiers making the object indeed specific. Without these indicators, nin is still the correct use.”, and illustrates with the following examples:

Bikol English
#7. sa ngaran kan sakong pamilya in behalf of my family
#8. tugang kan sakong ama brother of my father
#9. ina kan saiyang pinsan mother of his cousin
#10. pasubli kan saimong awto may I borrow your car
#11. pahagad man kan dokumentong iyan may I ask for that document

and

(2) “Kan … is specific by nature of its concrete situation, in that, the object referred to is specific already to both speaker and listener. This is natural in daily conversations, but rarely in writing.”

Bikol English
#12. paki-abot tabi kan papel please hand me the paper
#13. pakitao man saiya kan baso please pass on the glass

AN ANOMALY

In the second part, he pointed out a difficulty with the rule: “The difficulty arises, however, when the object referred to is the divine or the unknown. We will observe that in almost all of the texts available, nin is used instead of kan.”

Bikol English
#14. Ina nin Dyos Mother of God
#15. Tinapay nin Buhay The Bread of Life
#16. Tataramon nin Kagurangnan Word of the Lord
#17. Sampolong Tugon nin Dyos Ten Commandments of God
#18. Bunyagan nindo sinda sa ngaran nin Ama, nin Aki, asin nin Espiritu Santo. Baptize them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

And he asks:

Why is it that Bikolano speakers consistently use nin as a marker for the divine? Why does the use of it come out so natural in our speech, in our writing?” and he answered in the 3rd part: “I am inclined to believe that our ancestors never regarded God as an object so concrete and specific, but something that is mysterious and unknown. This, I think, is the reason why nin instead of kan is used to refer to God or anything that is divine. To the Bikol speaking community, God is not something we can refer to similar to the way we refer to concrete objects such as ‘ama ko,’ ‘sapatos mo,’ or harong ninda.’ He is not something definite and controllable, but a mystery that forever unfolds itself. Indeed, He is something that is immaterial and infinite. Kan is not used even, or perhaps rarely, when God or the divine goes with specifying pronouns. Observe the following examples: ‘Ina nin satong Kagtubos,’ (Mother of our Savior); ‘Ina nin satong Kaglalang,’ (Mother of our Creator).”

As noted by Tria, even if the referent is specific, still, ‘nin’ is used. A search for ‘nin’ in the online Bikol Bible reveals 1,117 occurrences of “nin Dios” , most of which have the “dios” not qualified by a determiner or adjective, and for some that are qualified to make them specific, still use ‘nin’. Some examples follow:

2 Cor 1:2 Mapasaindo logod an biyaya asin katoninongan nin Dios na satong Ama asin ni Jesu-Cristo na Kagurangnan
Gal 1:1 kundi sa paagi ni Jesu-Cristo asin nin Dios Ama na nagbuhay liwat ki Jesus sa mga gadan.
Gal 5:8 Bako iyan gibo nin Dios na nag-apod saindo.
Col 2:12 huli sa pagtubod nindo sa kapangyarihan nin Dios na iyo an nagbuhay liwat ki Cristo.
1 Tess 2:4 Naghihingowa kaming mawilihan bako nin mga tawo kundi nin Dios na nagbabalo kan satong mga puso.
2 Tess 2:16 Rangahon man logod kamo saka pakosogon an boot nindo ni Jesu-Cristo na satong Kagurangnan asin nin Dios na satong Ama, na namoot sato, na sa saiyang biyaya nagtao sato nin daing kataposan na kosog nin boot asin pusog na paglaom, tanganing danay kamong makagibo asin makasabi kan gabos na marahay.
1 Tim 6:13 Sa atubang nin Dios na nagtatao nin buhay sa gabos, saka sa atubang ni Cristo Jesus na nagpahayag kan saiyang pagtubod sa atubangan ni Poncio Pilato, pinagbobotan taka:
Titus 3:4 Alagad kan ihayag an karahayan asin an pagkamoot nin Dios na satong Paraligtas,
Fil 1:3 Mapasaindo logod an biyaya asin an katoninongan nin Dios na satong Ama asin ni Jesu-Cristo na Kagurangnan.
Heb 1:9 Namomoot ka sa katanosan asin naoongis sa karatan; kaya linahidan ka nin Dios, na saimong Dios, kan lana nin kaogmahan orog ki sa ibang mga hade.”
Heb 10:31

Makangingirhat an padusa nin Dios na buhay sa mga tawong naggigibo nin siring!

Heb 11:6 Huli ta an siisay man na minadolok sa Dios dapat magtubod na igwa nin Dios na nagtatao nin marahay na balos sa mga naghahanap saiya.
1 Pet 1:23 kundi sa kapangyarihan kan tataramon nin Dios na buhay saka nagdadanay sagkod lamang.
1 Pet 2:9 Pinili kamo tanganing magbareta kan mga makangangalas na gibo nin Dios na iyo an nag-apod saindo hale sa kadikloman pasiring sa saiyang makangangalas na liwanag.

Care must be taken that the na phrase modifier modifies “dios”, which might not be, like in the following cases:

Mar 9:1 “Sa katotoohan sinasabihan ko kamo, igwa nin nagkapira digdi na dai magagadan sagkod na dai ninda mahiling na dumatong an Kahadean nin Dios na may kapangyarihan.”
Luk 8:12 minaabot an Demonyo dangan inaagaw an tataramon nin Dios na isinabwag sa puso ninda tanganing dai sinda magtubod saka dai makaligtas.
Luk 12:24 Kamo pa daw an dai pakakanon nin Dios na mas mahalaga ki sa mga gamgam?
Acts 7:42 Huli kaini pinabayaan sinda nin Dios na magsamba sa mga bitoon siring sa nasusurat sa libro kan mga propeta
2 Cor 6:1 Kaya bilang mga kaiba sa paglingkod sa Dios, nakikimaherak kami saindo, na mga nag-ako kan biyaya nin Dios na dai nindo iyan pagsayangon.
2 Tim 2:14 Pagiromdomon mo kaini an mga paratubod asin patanidan mo sinda sa atubang nin Dios na
dai magparadiriskutiran dapit sa mga tataramon
,
Heb 7:28 alagad an panuga na sinumpaan nin Dios, na nangyari pakatapos niyang itao an Katogonan,

But there are uses of kan Dios as well, only there are fewer of them: 22 instances, with even some instances where “dios” is unmodifed:

(a) To show contrast between the Jewish God and other gods (6 instances).

Gibo 7:43 Pinagburuligan nindo an tolda kan dios-dios na si Moloc, asin an bitoon kan dios-dios nindong si Refan
Gibo 19:24 Naggigibo siya nin mga saradit na templong plata kan diosang si Diana.
Gibo 19:27 pwedeng mawaraan man nin halaga an templo kan dakulang diosa na si Diana; mahahale an kabantogan kan diosa, an diosa na sinasamba sa Asia asin sa bilog na kinaban!
2 Cor 1:4 Dai sinda minatubod huli ta binuta an saindang mga isip kan dios kaining kinaban, tanganing dai ninda mahiling an liwanag kan Marahay na Bareta dapit sa kamurawayan ni Cristo na iyo an kabaing nin Dios.
2 Cor 16:6 Paanong magkaoyon an templo nin Dios asin an mga dios-dios? Huli ta kita iyo an templo kan Dios na buhay! Siring sa sinabi nin Dios, “Mag-eerok ako sainda asin maglalakaw sa kaibahan ninda; ako an magigin Dios ninda, sinda an magigin banwaan ko.”

(b) Its an active entity that been referred anaphorically (1 instance).

Tito 1:3 2 basado sa paglaom tang magkaigwa nin buhay na daing kataposan. An Dios, na dai nagpuputik, nanuga sato kan buhay na iyan bago pa lalangon an kinaban. 3 Kan nag-abot an tamang panahon, ipinahayag niya iyan sa saiyang mensahe. Ipinaniwala iyan sako asin iyo an ipinaghuhulit ko huli sa pagboot kan Dios na satong Paraligtas.

(c) due to parallel construction (2 instances):

Mat 23:21 An minasumpa sa ngaran kan Templo, minasumpa bako sana sa ngaran kan Templo kundi sa ngaran man kan Dios na nag-eerok diyan.
Kap 22:1 Ipinahiling pa sako kan anghel an salog kan tubig nin buhay, nagkikintab siring sa kristal, na nagbubulos hale sa trono kan Dios asin kan Kordero,

(d) where “Dios” will have an adjectival modification that starts with “nin” , maybe due to euphony (5 instances):

Gibo 22:14 Pinili ka kan Dios nin satong mga ginikanan tanganing maaraman mo an saiyang kabotan
Rom 15:3 Panoon logod kamo nin kaogmahan saka katoninongan kan Dios nin paglaom
Rom 16:20 Dai na mahahaloy, roronoton kan Dios nin katoninongan si Satanas
1 Tess 5:23 Pakabanalon logod kamo nin lubos kan Dios nin katoninongan;
Heb 13:21 Itao logod saindo kan Dios nin katoninongan an gabos na marahay na bagay tanganing magibo nindo an saiyang kabotan;

These are not counter-examples because the nin phrase is a genitive of the verb, not “dios:

Gibo 7:10 Tinawan siya nin Dios nin kadonongan

and other verses of similar structure like: Gibo 17:30. Rom 2:7, Rom 12:6, 1 Cor 7:7, 1 Cor 14:30, Col 2:13, 2 Tim 2:25, Heb 6:17, Jud 1:13

(e) where Dios is modified (4 instances). (Note that nin is also used for modified “dios” in other verses.)

Col 1:15 Si Cristo an ladawan kan Dios na dai nahihiling.
Col 3:10 dangan naggubing na kamo nin bagong pagkatawo na danay na binabago kan Dios na Kaglalang sosog sa sadiri niyang ladawan tanganing orog na mamidbidan nindo siya.
Kap 7:12 Dangan nahiling ko an saro pang anghel na nag-iitaas hale sa sirangan dara an selyo kan Dios na buhay. Sa makosog na tingog inapod kan anghel na ini an apat na anghel na tinawan nin Dios kan kapangyarihan sa pagraot kan daga asin dagat.
Kap 16:14 Sinda an mga espiritu kan mga demonyo na nagpapahiling nin mga milagro. Dinuduman kan tolong espiritung ini an gabos na hade sa bilog na kinaban tanganing tiponon sinda para sa gera pag-abot kan dakulang Aldaw kan Dios na Makakamhan.

There are no occurrences of  “Dios na Kaglalang” and “Dios na buhay” with nin like that in In Col 1:15 and Col 3:10.

In Kap 7:2 , “selyo kan Dios na buhay”, Dios is modified, while an unmodified Dios uses nin in “selyo nin Dios”(Kap 7:4 and Kap 9:4:14).

In Kap 16:14, “Aldaw kan Dios na Makakamhan”, Dios is modified, while an unmodified Dios uses nin in “Aldaw nin Dios” (2 Pet 3:12).

(f) 4 instances that I still don’t know why, and could easily be written of as over-generalizations from the other uses.

Juan 6:27 Dai kamo magpagal para sa kakanon na nalalapa, kundi para sa kakanon na nagdadanay sagkod sa buhay na daing kataposan, na itatao saindo kan Aki nin Tawo; huli ta sa saiya ibinugtak kan Dios Ama an saiyang tanda.”
Rom 8:19 An gabos na linalang tudok sa puso na naghahalat na ihayag kan Dios an saiyang mga aki.
1 Tim 1:2 Para ki Timoteo na tunay kong aki sa pagtubod: Mapasaimo logod an biyaya, pagkaherak asin katoninongan kan Dios Ama saka ni Cristo Jesus na satong Kagurangnan.
2 Tim 1:2 Para ki Timoteo na namomotan kong aki: Mapasaimo logod an biyaya, pagkaherak asin katoninongan kan Dios Ama saka ni Cristo Jesus na satong Kagurangnan.

ANOTHER ANOMALY

Unfortunately, his conclusion about the divine cannot be used for another anomaly of nin use, that for something definite and specific yet not divine, like names of places:

Mat 2:1 Namundag si Jesus sa Betlehem nin Judea, kan si Herodes an hade.
Mat 2:6 Ika, Betlehem, sa daga nin Juda,
Mat 2:21 Kaya ipinag-iba ni Jose an mag-ina papuli sa daga nin Israel.
Mat 2:22 nagdagos siya sa daga nin Galilea.
Mat 3:1 duman sa kalangtadan nin Judea.
Mat 3:5 sagkod an mga nag-eerok sa mag-ibong kan Salog nin Jordan.
Mat 4:13 An banwaan na ini nasa tampi kan Danaw nin Galilea, sa teritoryo nin Zabulon asin Neftali.
Mat 27:42 Kun siya talaga an Hade nin Israel, humilig siya sa krus ngunyan asin matubod kita saiya!
Mat 3:2 “huli ta uya na an Kahadean nin langit!”

And can be heard as well in the phrase “syudad nin Naga/Legazpi/Iriga”.

COMPARISON WITH OTHER LANGUAGES WITH SUCH DISTINCTION

This behaviour in Bikol contrasts with languages to its south and west. Tagalog and Tausug do not make distinction, so are irrelevant for this post. Hiligaynon, Samarnon, Sugbuhanon and Romblomanon all have lots of indefinite genitive phrase markers used in their bibles. 

I’m not sure if Kiniray-a does not distinguishes definite and indefinite (“it”?) genitives, most of the occurrences is “kang Dios”. Masbatenyo and other Bisakol languages have sin and san, Aklanon has it and ku , Asi has it and it kag but there are no online bibles for these so I can’t check the frequency of usage. Chart courtesy of Jason Lobel here (Asi seems to have a distinction in the nominative with kag/ka vs. ling like Waray with an vs. in!).

image

In Hiligaynon, most expressions are “sang Dios” , but has 1 instance of “sing dyosnon” and only 2 instances of “sing Dios”. These are used only in negative expressions “wala sing Dios” in Ephesians 2:12 and 1 Timothy 1:9. Romblomanon has ning and ng, but seems to follow the Bisayan model based on their bible usage for placenames and “Dios”; it uses the indefinite in negative expressions: “wayà ning Dios.”

Samarnon has no instance of  “hin Dyos”, only 4 instances of “hin dyosnon” and lots of “han Dyos” and did not use “hin” in negative expresssions: “waray Dyos”. Sugbuhanon has none as well, its 4 instances of “ug Dios” mean “and God”, 1 instance of “ug dyosnon” and lots of “sa Dios” and none as well in negative expressions: “walay Dios”. For both Samarnon and Sugbuhanon, I think the y in waray is the equivalent phrase marker of hin here.

Here’s a comparison of these languages’ usage with respect to Bikol’s anomalous use:

Verse Bikol Romblomanon Hiligaynon Samarnon Sugbuhanon
John 6:1 Danaw nin Galilea Tinagong Dagat nang Galilea Linaw sang Galilea Lanaw han Galilea Lanaw sa Galilea
John 10:40 Salog nin Jordan

subà
nang Jordan

suba sang Jordan Salog han Jordan Suba sa Jordan
John 6:37 itinatao sako nin Ama ginatao nang Amay sa akon ginahatag sang Amay sa akon itinutubyan ha akon han Amay gihatag kanako sa akong Amahan
John 5:4 anghel nin Kagurangnan anghel nang Ginoo anghel sang Ginoo anghel han Ginoo manolunda sa Ginoo
Eph 2:12 mayong paglaom asin mayong Dios wayà ning paglaom kag wayà ning Dios wala sing paglaom kag wala sing Dios waray paglaom ngan waray Dyos walay paglaom ug walay Dios
Heb 11:6 magtubod na igwa nin Dios magpati nga may Dios magtuo nga may Dios tumoo nga may-ada Dyos motuo nga adunay Dios

The Bikol “igwa nin Dios” and “mayong (mayo nin) Dios” are not an anomalous use, they were included to compare use with the other languages.

ANOTHER EXPLANATION?

In his blog, Christopher Sundita stated that

Bikol has a more expanded system. an and si are both absolutive with si being the most "specific" of the two. Usually it refers to something that was already mentioned. nin and kan are the ergative counterparts, respectively….Kinakan kan lalaki an mansanas. (The man ate the apple. [again, refering to a previously-mentioned man.)

Actually, kan and si can be used at the same time, so they are not counterparts. Example: Hirak man kan si mga apektado.

I think the distinction between nin and kan is not just about specificity and more than that. Nin is used when (1) precise identity may be irrelevant, known yet not emphasized, or hypothetical, and (2) when the objective is to make general statement about any such thing. Even if the referent is already specific, there might be no need for it to be contrasted and identified from other generic, interchangeable referents similar to it with which it may get confused, thus will get marked with nin. Kan is used if the referring expression needs “contrastive definiteness”, if the referent needs to be contrasted or set-off thru (1) restrictive modification in writing, with the restrictive relative clause limiting it to a subset of the generic referent, or (2) saliency in  the given situational or discourse context. The restrictive relative clause that modifies the nominal provides the additional contrast with the other generic referents of that nominal, differentiate and distinguish it from the rest, and makes it noticeably prominent and set apart from the rest. Although the referent is highlighted, it need not be unambiguous or with precise limit or bounds.

I think this is the primary explanation for the difference between nin and kan, and explains the usages from Sentence #1 to #18. In nin lapis (#1), nin tubig (#3), nin suka (#4) and nin asukar (#5), the referents are interchangeable from others of its kind, any of its kind will do to satisfy. In kan lapis (#2), kan tubig (#6), kan pamilya (#7), kan ama (#8), kan pinsan (#9), kan awto (#10), kan dokumento (#10), kan papel (#11) and kan baso (#12), the referents have been singled out, or the object has been limited either by modification or by context.

This also explains the behaviour of nin+Proper names of places since “proper names are inherently definite” by being unique so there is no need to contrast. For example, in the phrase “syudad nin Naga”; Naga is marked with nin because in the Bikol Region, there is only one city named Naga. There is no need in day to day conversation to contrast or highlight from another Naga. There are other cities of Naga (Cebu) and when that is part of the conversation, then the one referred to will be the “syudad kan Naga”. Additionally, location names behave like mass nouns with cumulative property. Like mass nouns, if several places with same names are combined together, we don’t have a plural place name, but a singular name. If we have several places named Naga and we combined them together, we still end up with Naga and not “manga Naga”; the individual components become undifferentiated and lose their discreteness. “Nin Naga” focuses on its non-discreteness while “kan Naga” focuses on its definiteness.

In the same way in Sentences #14 to #18, the referents are already understood from context. Although “dios” is a Spanish borrowing, Pre-Hispanic Bikols already believe in a supreme God, called Gugurang, and “it was a matter of substituting figures for the highest god and the lesser forms of the divine”, according to most scholars.  Thus it’s possible that Gugurang would have been used with nin as well. Also, use of kan like “kan Dios” would indicate that there are several different gods that share a generic Godness quality. That idea is being eradicated when Bikolanos became Christians during Spanish times and that there is only 1 true god (Isaiah 46:9, John 17:3), especially that Nueva Caceres (Naga) was the seat of one of the suffragan sees of Manila and covers the Bikol Region, Tayabas and several islands in the eastern coast of Luzon. I think this project was so successful since an unmodified  “nin Dios” is understood to refer to a specific single God, thus “Dios” (the Jewish God) already has this primary meaning so there is no need to contrast it with another dios (demons, idols, etc.) with whom it might be confused.

That the word “Dios” is polysemous in Bikol, with the Jewish God as its primary meaning in most situations and the generic gods as its secondary meaning in restricted situations is obvious (again this is unusual compared with other Philippine languages that have this distinction, like Romblomanon, Hiligaynon, Samarnon and Masbatenyo, which always use a definite marker before “Dyos”.) Clauses modifying “dyos” are to be understood as non-restrictive, as the referent of the nominal would not change even if the non-restrictive clause is removed. This is understandable as the Godness of the Jewish God’s is thought to be unique to him in the Christian belief so that the unmodified word “Dios” is understood to refer to this single referent. But if the word “dyos” is used with its secondary meaning,  the modifying clause becomes restrictive, like in the expression “kan Diosa na si Diana”, kan is used because it is contrasted from either (a) the primary meaning, the Jewish God, or (b) secondary meaning, the other generic gods. This is possibly the reason as well for a few samples with “kan Dios” that refer to the Jewish God.

Unless we’re interpreting it with our modern pre-set Christian thinking. Its possible that “nin Dyos” originally has a meaning of a generic,  interchangeable god or an indefinite god in Bikol, as Tria has explained. But then again you will wonder why some other poorly understood ideas does not default to nin as well, or why “kan Dyos” is also felicitous.

CARRY THIS USE OVER TO THE CONLANG?

Is Bikol’s use of nin before “God” with a primary meaning of a specific God and before place names a good one to carry over to the conlang? In the use with God its aberrant because it deviates from its normal usage, where normal usage change referents in meaning from generic to specific if the case marker is changed from nin to kan. Lapis from “nin lapis mo” to “kan lapis mo” move from generic to specific pencil. Tubig from “nin tubig na nasa baso” to “kan tubig na nasa baso” move from generic to specific water. Meanwhile, dios from “espiritu nin dios” to “espiritu kan Dios” remains specifically the Jewish God. This should not be carried over to the Filipino conlang.

The same with its use with place names, although it is quite dynamic since its a matter of speaker’s point of reference, like Naga from “syudad nin Naga” to “syudad kan Naga” even if Naga remains specific, this is actually very little discernable distinction so will confound learners. This should not be carried over to the Filipino conlang.

In Part 2, we will explore the differences between anaphoric and non-anaphoric markers in Bikol.

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