Bikol Phrase Markers, Part 3

Nominative Forms

Apart from the Genitive forms previously discussed, Bikol has nominative forms for phrase markers.

Common Noun, Definite, Non-Anaphoric an
Common Noun, Definite, Anaphoric si  (Naga Dialect)
su (Legazpi Dialect)
Common Noun, Indefinite *in

The common noun indefinite phrase marker exists only in Old Bikol. As I have shown in an older post, there were four example sentences provided by Marco de Lisboa in his dictionary for this phrase marker. What’s noticeable is that all the examples he used were with the phrase “garo na” + ing. I will reproduce one here:

Old Bikol
Kiisay daw na agi ini, garo na ing aging bikas.
Who QUOT REL tracks this, like REL PM-Indef. tracks-REL hunt
English Whose tracks are these, they look like hunting tracks.

Ini is the subject complement in the sentence, with “ing aging bikas” the subject. With “aging bikas” having a generic referent, the indefinite ing is used. As a matter of fact, ing can be replaced with sarong (a in English) and the whole sentence makes grammatical sense (Kiisay daw na agi ini, garo na sarong aging bikas).

Samarnon Usage

Interestingly, another language south of Bikol still has this marker but is also slowly losing it, Samarnon. We will just summarize Samarnon’s use of in vs. an which I explored here.  I pointed out that definiteness can’t be differentiated from indefiniteness just by the presence of particular words or arrangement of such words; it depends on the intent of the speaker. Check the summary of my search about definiteness as explained by linguists.

In is the default marker if the referent is generic or has not been focused on distinct from the rest of other similar referents. When I say generic, what I meant is that the nominal or NP is interchangeable from similar referents. The expression does not refer to a particular instance, but to any one of possible instances. On the other hand, an is used when the noun referent is restricted to a subset of referents that the discourse participants can identify using context, prior discourse content or words that singles out the referent and limits its application


I’d like my conlang Filipino language to have definite vs. indefinite distinction in the nominative, that’s why I am exploring its usage in Old Bikol and Samarnon in the nominative and possibly other languages adjacent to them.

In the genitive case, Romblomanon, Hiligaynon, Bikol and Bisakol (Masbatenyo, etc.) have this distinction as well. For the anaphoric vs non-anaphoric distinction, it seems Samarnon, Bikol, Casiguran Dumagat, Paranan and Isnag have these. So its noteworthy that most of these distinctions can be found in either Bikol or Samarnon.


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