Irregular Verb Forms for Patient Focus (<ən) and Actor Focus (<um>)

First of all, lets define the aspects for Central Philippine languages as we’ll be using these terms down below:

  1. Imperfective are actions that are viewed internally as ongoing.
  2. Perfective are actions that are viewed externally as a whole unit, irrespective of whether its ongoing or not.


I have always been struck by the irregularity of the conjugation of the <ən as the Begun forms do not show the infix <in>, unlike the other NAF affixes i>, <an, and the AF affix <um>. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Sagart’s “PAN MORPHOLOGY IN PHYLOGENETIC PERSPECTIVE” that mentions 4 languages still retaining the Austronesian original patient focus forms. I quote: “Yet in the An world the perfective aspect marker (PERF) *<in> and patient focus marker (PF) *-en are found attached to the same verb stem only in four West coast Formosan languages: Saisiat (-ən or -in), Pazeh (-en), Thao (-in) and Siraya (-ən). Elsewhere such forms are not found.”  And he gave a Saisiat examples from Zeitoun et al. 1996, like:

hiza ʔalaw maʔan minayʔangsow s<in>iʔael-ən
that fish 1S.Gen left <PRF>-eat-PF
That fish is what I have left of my eating

If this is retained in Bikol, the verb kakan ‘eat’ should have forms like the following:

Focus Affix Base+Focus Affix Base+
Imperfective(CA> Redup)+Focus Affix
Focus Affix
Imperfective(CA>Redup)+Focus Affix
<um> kumakan *kuma:kakan > ma:kakan kuminakan *kumina:kakan  > mina:kakan
<ən kakanon ka:kakanon *kinakanon > (kinakan) *kina:kakanon > (kina:kakan)
i> ikakan ika:kakan ikinakan ikina:kakan
<an kakanan ka:kakanan kinakanan kina:kakanan

Or for the verb lu:toɥ ‘cook’:

Focus Affix Base+Focus  Affix Base+
Imperfective(CA> Redup)+Focus Affix
Focus Affix
Imperfective(CA> Redup)+Focus Affix
<um> lumu:toɥ *lumulu:toɥ > ma:lu:toɥ luminu:toɥ *luminulu:toɥ  > mina:lu:toɥ
<ən luto:ɥon luluto:ɥon *linuto:ɥon > (linu:toɥ) *linuluto:ɥon > (linulu:toɥ)
i> ilu:toɥ ilulu:toɥ ilinu:toɥ ilinulu:toɥ
<an luto:ɥan luluto:ɥan linuto:ɥan linuluto:ɥan

The bold forms kinakanon / linuto:ɥon and kina:kakanon / linuluto:ɥon should have been the forms if the forms were not simplified, as Sagart explained further as the reason for dropping the <ən. The fact that it still exists in those 4 languages is a pretty good evidence why the conjugation should be brought back in the Filipino language for symmetry’s sake.


The other Bikol AF affix with irregular forms is <um> , which should have the bold forms kuma:kakan / lumulu:toɥ and kumina:kakan / luminulu:toɥ as indicated above. So how did we arrived at this reconstructed forms for the <um> infix?

Let’s first compare some Philippine-type languages’ conjugation of this affix based on aspect“:

Bikol Tagalog Old Tagalog Cebuano Waray Palawano Agutaynun
Mood/Aspect base kakan bili gawa palit sakay surong kuran
Unbegun Perfective <um>+base kumakan bumili gumawa palit nasakay sumurong kumuran
Unbegun Imperfective <um>+<RDP>+base ma:kakan bi:bili ga:gawa mupalit masakay susurong kumuran
Begun Perfective <um>+<in>+base kuminakan bumili gungmawa mipalit/nipalit sinmakay suminurong kiminuran
Begun Imperfective <um>+<in>+<RDP>+base mina:kakan bumi:bili gungma:gawa mipalit/nipalit nasakay sumusurong kukuran

As can be seen from the table, Begun is signalled through the <in> infix, Aspect by reduplication. <RDP> means the prefixation of the reduplicated CV: of the word base, with a long vowel in the reduplicated CV. Note that in Waray and Hiligaynon (not shown), the order of the infixes is <in>+<um> rather than <um>+<in> as in Bikol. Also note that the Bisayan languages has dropped the <RDP>. The Old Tagalog form <uŋm> was originally <umin>, then through vowel loss (elision) become <umn> and by dissimilation becomes <uŋm>. As for the Unbegun Perfective, I quote Guglielmo Cinque here which says that “As Will (1989) notes, “the perfective aspect is possible only with verbs in the past or in the imperative mood” (p.142).” on footnote 36.

From the illustration above, we can see that Bikol has irregular forms for Unbegun Imperfective and Begun Imperfective, or in other words in the Imperfective aspect . Tagalog has irregular forms in Unbegun Imperfective, Begun Perfective and Begun Imperfective, and  the Begun Imperfective form should have been the Unbegun Imperfective form. The old Tagalog forms are only irregular in the Unbegun Imperfective, and the irregularity in the Begun forms in current Tagalog was brought by the simplification of the <ungm> infix. Cebuano has all forms irregular. Waray and Palawano  are regular only in Begun Perfective. Palawano’s Begun Imperfective should have been the Unbegun Imperfective form. The right form for the Unbegun Imperfective is present in current Tagalog and Palawano, but in both languages these forms function as Begun Imperfectives.

Although Ilokano tense/aspect does not correspond with the Central Philippine languages tense/aspect semantically, it has regular forms and with an additional Uncompleted Perfective aspect  which is not regularly formed with an <um>. Check out the table below:

Ilokano Pangasinan Kapampangan
Aspect base gatang inom
Neutral (Infinitive/Imperative) <um>+base gumatang
Uncompleted Perfective (?)gatangto oninom muran
Uncompleted Imperfective <um>+<RDP>+base gumatgatang oniinom mumuran
Completed Perfective <in>+<um>+base gimmatang inoninom minuran
Completed Imperfective <in>+<um>+<RDP>+base gimmatgatang

I will fill the slots for Kapampangan and Pangasinan later. Note that Ilokano’s <RDP> is only CV:- if the base word has a medial glottal stop and regardless of stress patter of the base word, otherwise it is CVC- (according to Reid), and the order of affixation between <um> and <in> is reversed. What I find in the Ilokano forms is that the Uncompleted Imperfective and the Completed Imperfective forms are regularly formed, corresponding to Unbegun Imperfective and Begun Imperfective, respectively in Central Philippine languages.

Which Aspect Forms Are More Original?

One thing that we can notice is that in the Ilokano system which we call here as General Philippine system, the infix <in> is not added to the Imperfective, only to the Perfective. Also, the infix <in> meaning is “Completed”, unlike “Begun” in the Central Philippine languages (Tagalog, Bikol, Bisayan, Mansakan, etc.) . Laurence Reid in his “ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ASPECT SYSTEM IN SOME PHILIPPINE LANGUAGES” compared the the aspect system between General Philippine and Central Philippine systems and concluded that they have “little systematic correspondence”  and that  the original aspect and voice system in the General Philippine system was the more original for these reasons:

  1. It is found in the other different groups, apart from Ilokano, like Bashiic, Cordilleran, Sambalic, Manobo and Danao languages.
  2. Some Bisayan languages exhibit a General Philippine system in restricted parts of the verb (Potential Mode) and not in the “General Mode” which has the innovations.

Data from Formosan languages seems to agree with him, as another author, Dorinda Tsai-hsiu Liu, who wrote “Tense and Aspect System in Kanakanavu” said: “The tense and aspect system in Formosan languages is generally understood to demonstrate a two-way contrast of future vs. non-future (also known as realis vs. irrealis) (see Ogawa & Asai 1935; Tsuchida 1976; Huang 1995; Zeitoun et al. 1996; among many others). For instance, a verb affixed with an AT or non-actor trigger (NAT) marking (the so-called ―neutral‖ form) is mostly indicative of a past or present action/situation in Atayal, Bunun, Paiwan, Puyuma and Saisiyat when no tense and/or aspect marker is present in the clause (Zeitoun et al. 1996:24).   Meanwhile, the future tense is normally lexically or morphologically marked in these languages.”  In the same way, the Ilokano system has a separate future marker. Also according to Reid, <in> marks the completive aspect in Proto-Extra-Formosan.

Other Issues discussed by Reid

Reid also discussed what is the original order between <um> and <in>: whether aspect affixation first before voice affixation ( and would result in ɥi-C<in>V / C<um><in>V- forms ) or voice affixation first before aspect affixation (which would result in ɥ<in>iCV / C<in><um >V- forms ) and concluded that the original order  is <um><in>  (like the Bikol form) rather than <in><um> based on the following in spite of languages with different patterns in the same subgroups in the different groups:

  1. languages that have ɥ<in>iCV / C<in><um >V- have frozen forms with ɥi-C<in>V / C<um><in>V-, (no examples given).
  2. languages that have ɥ<in>iCV / C<in><um >V-  have ɥi-C<in>V / C<um><in>V- in restricted forms, like Kalinga in the <um>, Balangaw for <um> with non-syncopated initial base word vowel and Sarangani Manobo for verbs with initial labial or glottal stops.
  3. languages where the original forms of nag> is minag>, like Northern and Southern Alta, and Casiguran Dumagat.

I don’t think the last evidence that Reid supplied is acceptable, because this implies that voice was affixed first, before the aspect. If its the other way around, the form would have been  magC<in>V- and not m<in>ag>CV-. Although if the source of mag> is  pag><um>, then he might be right: Pag> pinag> puminag> minag. He quotes in footnote 10: “De Guzman (1978 : 150) analyzes the mag- prefix as a combination of a derivational prefix pag- plus an m- inflectional prefix, an analysis which neatly captures the historical development of the prefix. Wolff (1973: 74, 84) also notes the similarity in form and function of (um) and mag- and considers mag- to be the surface form of a deep structure pag- + (um).” In Footnote 26, I also quote: “From an earlier *p(um) (in)a- sequence. In Proto-Extra Formosan (if not in Proto-Austronesian), when (um) was infixed into words with initial bilabial stops, the first two segments of the infixed word were deleted. This rule is still present in languages such as Tagbanwa, Palawano, some Manobo languages, and Blaan (see also Wolff 1973: 84). Frozen forms such as matay die (from p(um)atay) occur in various other languages, such as Tagalog.

Reid also discussed which of the <RDP> form is the more original, concluding that it’s the CVC- (like the Ilokano form) rather than the CV:- since:

  1. It is necessary to reconstruct CV- reduplication to mark noun plurality, as this is reflected widely in the family.
  2. The Cordilleran languages, like Ilokano, distinguish between the form CV- for noun plurality and CVC- for continuative verb forms.
  3. It is probable that the CV:- form in Central Philippines arose out of similar constraint of disallowing  –ɥC- in Cordilleran languages, where in the Central Philippine languages, the loss of the glottal stop –ɥ– resulted in vowel lengthening to finally have CV:- and generalization of this form to all consonant position.

I partially do not agree with the last reason as:

  1. Not all Central Philippine languages disallow –ɥC- implying that their parent language does not disallow –ɥC- either. Example is Bikol which has such words, for example with –ɥC- : (1) yaɥpit “narrowness”, (2) baɥlak “split”  (3) buɥbuɥ “let the contents out” and (4) kiɥlay “walk with a limp”.
  2. In Tagalog since –ɥC- is disallowed, the –ɥ– should not be there in the base word, so nothing to disallow. Example are : “new” : Tagalog /ba:go/, Bikol /baɥgo/,
  3. In other languages like Bisayan languages, there is metathesis, so –ɥC- becomes -Cɥ– , so also no –ɥ– to disallow. Example: “new” : Cebuano /bagɥo/

But I do agree that the vowel length signals that some other consonant was removed from there and generalized, maybe for ease of pronunciation, as some Central Philippine languages has compensatory vowel lengthening when a consonant is deleted. Tagalog for example, shows vowel length where there is –l- in Bikol. Example: “sun” : Tagalog /ɥa:raw/, Bikol /ɥaldaw/. Also as Reid also mentioned, Bontok generalized the CVC form to have geminate consonants for those with medial glottal stop, glides and liquids. Overall, I would have to agree that the original form would have been CVC- with –ɥC-allowed.

The discussion above indicate the possibility of the conjugation in the proto-language as follows (using the Bikol word base but not implying that its the proto-form):

Mood/Aspect base kakan kakan luto:ɥ luto:ɥ
Irrealis Perfective (Infinitive/Imperative) <um>+base kumakan magkakan lumuto:ɥ magluto:ɥ
Irrealis Imperfective <um>+<RDP>+base kumakkakan magkakkakan lumutluto:ɥ maglutluto:ɥ
Realis Perfective <um>+<in>+base kuminakan minagkakan luminuto:ɥ minagluto:ɥ
Realis Imperfective <um>+<in>+<RDP>+base kuminakkakan minagkakkakan luminutluto:ɥ minaglutluto:ɥ

The above forms easily explains why the <RDP> is CV:-: Central Philippine languages does not allow geminate consonants and possibly that’s the underlying cause of the simplification to CV:-. As a matter of fact, some of Pangasinan’s vowel length is derived from loss of geminate consonant, as described by Zorc in “On the Development of Contrastive  Word Accent: Pangasinan, a Case in Point”.

Other Referrences:

1. Daniel Kaufman, “Interpreting the geography of TAM marking across Indonesia”.

2. Henry Chang, “Rethinking the Tsouic Subgroup Hypothesis: A Morphosyntactic Perspective

3. JONATHON ERIC CIHLAR, “Compositional Interaction of Sub-Event Aspectual Markers, –in- and Reduplication, in Tagalog


Interdental Lateral

While browsing the web, I came across this page about Minangali (“a variety of Lower Tanudan Kalinga spoken in the town of Mangali, Kalinga Province, Philippines”), in that it possesses a consonant similar to Southern Catanduanes:  “the interdental approximant, a rare speech sound found in about a dozen Philippine languages, including Kagayanen, Karaga Mandaya, Kalagan, Southern Catanduanes Bicolano, and several varieties of Kalinga (Olson and Mielke 2007). ” Some words are given as an example.

Minangali (Kalinga) English Bikol (possible cognate) Tagalog (possible cognate)
tuḻu three tulo tatlo
dakoḻ big dakula-  
aḻwa wide haluwag maluwag
kopaḻ thick kapal (swam) makapal
ansuḻpit narrow    
laḻaki man (adult male) lalaki lalake
uḻog snake ulod (worm)  
batoḻ worm atol (snail)  
bukoḻ seed bukol (lump) bukol (lump)
daḻa blood dugo- dugo
tung-aḻ bone    
uḻu head   ulo
ongoḻ nose dungo- ilong
kukkuḻung fingernail    
baḻukung breast   balakang (hips)
dongoḻ hear dangog dinig
anaddaḻan walk dalan (way) daan (way)
soḻag moon    
daḻaḻu snow, ice    
dapoḻ ashes dapog (hearth)  
kaḻsa road    
aḻgaw day aldaw araw
kak-aḻa new    
ambaḻu good    
naḻpos rotten    
natibukoḻ round    
bungdoḻ dull (edge) ngurol  

From the examples, it would be noted that the sound is never beside an i, or never a word initial sound but can be found syllable initial (word-medial) and syllable final. It would also seem that its counterpart is l in Bikol and Tagalog, with only 3 words (blood, hear, ashes) showing a g.

Further study of the sound is in here. The study described the manner of articular as approximant but noted that it is “L-colored”, thus making it an interdental lateral approximant. The more common lateral in other Philippine languages is an alveolar lateral approximant. The study also noted that it has a complementary distribution in Kagayanen with l, where l occurs word initially, or contiguous to i. It has the following reflexes in other languages: [ɣ] Aklanon, Buhi’non;  [ɻ] Madukayong Kalinga, Balangao, Mansaka, Upper Tanudan Kalinga; and [ɭ] Southern Kalinga. Some of the words mentioned there are: [uð̞u] ‘head’ and [pað̞ad] ‘palm’ . It’s hypothesized to have been a retention from proto-Philippine (Western Malayo Polynesian?). The sound is endangered due to pressure from outsiders who mock the use of the sound, so speakers avoid using the sound with outsiders.

In Aklanon, the sound is not in complementary disctibution with l, nor its not found at word initial, as here exemplified: [ɣinapas] (Bikol: linapas, Tagalog: sinuway); [ɣinamon] (Bikol: linamon, Tagalog: nilamon); and [ɣinuboŋ] (Bikol: linubong, Tagalog: nilibing). Although in the word bases of those examples, the i does not follow the [ɣ] but in here, it says it rarely occurs with i, which means that it does occur with i. And this gives an example of contrast:

[lasaw] – “syrup” (Bikol: tangguli, Tagalog: pulot)
[ɣasaw]- “not sticky, watery" (Bikol: lasaw, Tagalog: lasaw) 

I would be excited if true is if Bikol Miraya, a dialect spoken in and around Camalig Albay, also has this sound according to that page, but that is never corroborated in other linguistic studies of Bikol dialects. One word mentioned there is aļe’ (Bikol Naga: igwa)

Philippine Numerals 1-9 for a National Language

In this study by Elizabeth Zeitoun et al, they discussed Ca-reduplication in the numerals 1-9 among Formosan languages which indicate [+]human . According to Zeitoun, Saaroa, Kanakanavu, Kavalan and Takbanauz Bunun and Farangaw Amis make this distinction. Here is the data for Saaroa, showing only the serial counting and the non-human counting.

  One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine
Saaroa saoú
Siraya sat
Amis cecai tusa tulu sepat lima qenem pitu falu siwa

And here is a sample of Ca- reduplication, found in Bashiic languages:

    One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine
Iraralay enumeration asa dowa atlo apat lima anem pito wawo siyam
  non-human   adowa tatlo papat alima nanem apito awawo asiyam
  human   rarowa atlo apat lalima anem papito wawawo sasiyam
Imorod enumeration asa dowa teylo apat lima anem pito wawo siam
  non-human   adoa atlo apat alima anem apito awao asyam
  human   raroa tatlo papat lalima nanem papito wawao sasiam


This Ca- reduplication is also manifested in the following words from a few sample languages:

  woman man
PMP *báhi *láki
Tagalog babáqi, babae lalaki
Bikol babaye lalaki
Cebuano babáye laláki
Kapampangan babái laláki
Ilokano babai lalaki
    lakiʔ < lakay

These forms imply that lalaki and babahi are male and female humans, so to get the male and female gender forms, its just the plain láki or báhi. Masculine and feminine would be maláki and mabáhi.

If we apply that to Philippine languages, we can identify which numerals in which languages follow these reduplication (in green).  Here are the 11 Philippine languages with speakers of more than 1 million:

Tagalog isá dalawá, dalwa tatló ápat lima ánim pitó waló siyám
Cebuano usa duhá tulo upát lima onom pito walo’ siam
Hiligaynon isá duha tatlo apat lima anum pito walo siám
Ilokano maysa dua tallo uppat lima innem pito walo’ siam
Bikol saroq duwa tulo apat lima anum pito walo siyam
Waray usá duhá tuló upát limá unóm pitó walú siyám
Rinconada ʔәˈsad darwá toló ʔәˈpat limá onóm pitó waló siyám
Maranao isa doa telo pat lima nem pito walo siyaw
Magindanaw isá duwá télu pat líma nem pítu wálu síaw
Pangasinan sakey duara talura apatira limara animira pitura walora siamira
Kapampangan métuŋ adwáq atlú apát lima anam pitú waló siam
Kinaray-a sara / isara darwa tatlo apat lima anəm pito walo siyam
Tausug hambuquk duah tuuh qupat limah qunum pituh waluh siam

And here are a sample from minority languages:

Dumagat Casiguran qɛsaq qɨdu’waq qɨtɨ’loq qɨ’pat li’maq qɨ’nɨm pi’tuq wa’luq si’yam
Kallahan Keleyqiq/Kayapa hakɨy dewwaq telluq qɨpat limaq qɨnɨm pituq waluq hiyam
Tagbanwa, Kalamian Coron tasaq duruaq tuluq qɨpat limaq qɨnɨm pituq waluq siam
Subanon, Sindangan sala duaq tɨlu pat lima gɨnɨm pitu walu siam
Batak, Palawan qɨsa duwá tulóq qɨpat lima qɨnɨm pitu qualu siam
Manobo, Ilianen sɨβɨka dɨruwa tɨtɨlu qɨpat lɨlima qɨnɨm pitu walu siyɨw
Itbayaten qaqsaq duhaq qatluq qaqpat limaq qaqnɨm pituq waǥuq siam

The expected Tagalog form for four and six is ‘ipat’ and ‘inim’, but these are contracted forms : ʔaʔipat > ʔaʔpat > ʔa: pat, ʔaʔinim > ʔaʔnim > ʔa:nim, where the chroneme signals that a sound has been deleted there (the intermediate forms are attested in Itbayaten). The corresponding Bikol and Bisayan forms have the accent not in the penult. In Kapampangan and Itbayaten, the initial C was deleted and In Tagbanwa Coron and Manobo Ilianen, the vowel has changed.  Pangasinan numeral forms has a suffix –(i)ra, which I don’t know the origin or if makes any distinction at all.


Here is the reconstructed forms for these languages:

PAN *isa *duhá *telu *Sepat *lima *ʔĕném *pitú *walú *Siwa
PMP *esa *duha *telu *epat *lima        
P-Bisayan *qəsá *duhá *təlú *qaqpat *limá *qənəm *pitú *walú *siyám
P-East Mindanao *isa *duha *tulu *upat *lima *ɨnɨm *pitu *walu *siyam
P-Southern Mindanao *satu *lɨwu *tlu *(q,’)ɨpat          
National Language sarɨʔ
tɨluʔ ʔɨpat
limaʔ kɨnɨm pituʔ waluʔ siyam


I doubt if the reconstruction for this word is correct. There are also a lot of forms.  Majority (in yellow) are derived from the form *ʔɨsa, but other languages (orange: Bikol, Kiniray-a and Subanon) show possible source of  sara. This form is also found in Indonesian languages (Makassar : sɛʔrɛ; Buginese : seʔdi; Blaan : satu; Toba Batak: sade; Malay : satu). There is a link between these two forms:Rinconada Bikol and Kiniray-a: ʔɨ’sada (as reflected in Aklanon ʔisaɣáh). Pangasinan and Kallahan (aqua) have sakɨy which is related to Amis in Taiwan. Because the Bikol form has -ʔ at the end and the Aklanon has –h and Pangasina/Kallahan has –y, the form should end in a consonant. Is ʔi- then a prefix?


Is the right form duwa or duha? Apart from Bisayan languages, Itbayaten also shows: duhaq. Most of the minority languages has a consonant at the end. Possible form would be duha? with attestation from Taiwan languages (Atayal : rusaʔ, Seediq : daháʔ, Bunun, Pazeh: ḍuṣaʔ, Amis : tusaʔ, Siraya : duha , Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai: dusa). The path was dusaʔ > duhaʔ > duha > duwa.


All forms can be derived from tɨ’loʔ (Inibaloi has tɨdo): 


All forms could be derived from ʔɨˈpat (also attested in Inibaloi, Ilonggot,  Kankanay, Bontoc). But Taiwan languages have sɨ’pat (Paiwan : səpat, Saisiyat : ʃəpat, Pazeh:   səpát, Basay, Amis : səpat).


All forms can be derived from limaʔ. The form should end in consonant as attested in other Indonesian & Taiwan languages as well (Moken, Kayan, Iban, Seediq, Amis, Kavalan, Paiwan, Puyuma : limaʔ, Melayu Sarawak : limak, Rukai: rimaʔ).


All forms reflect the original *ʔɨnɨm (also found in Kankanay, Bontok, Itneg, Balangaw, Kalagan, Mansaka,Mamanwa: qɨ’nɨm, Amis: ʔənəm). But Siraya’s form is tunum, Atayal : matuuʔ, Saaroa : kənəmə, and Chamorro: gunum, pointing to a possible non-glottal initial.


Again, all languages have forms that can be derived from pitu? (also seen in Samal Siasi, bajo : pi’tuq, Rukai, Amis, Bunun, Atayal: pitúʔ).


Again, all of them have forms that can be derived from walu? ( also in Bundu Dusun, Samal Siasi, Bajo: wa’luq, Bunun: va’uʔ, Amis: faluʔ, Sakizaya: waluʔ, Puyuma : waruʔ).


Majority of the languages show *siyam. But others show *siwa.


It should be noted that Tausug has hambuuk, which is a concatentation of ham+buuk. Buuk is also found in Bikol, as in the expression “sarong (ka)buuk nin niyog” "(one coconut). Buuk then can be translated as ones, like puloq is tens and gatos is hundreds.  Here is the full list of numerals with their different forms. The ʔɨ prefix is a compromise between a- in the Bashiic languages and u- in the Formosan languages.

  Serial counting Non-Human Enumeration Human Enumeration
1 sarɨʔ
ʔɨ-sarɨʔ sa-sarɨʔ
2 duhaʔ ʔɨduhaʔ da-duhaʔ
3 tɨluʔ ʔɨtɨluʔ ta-tɨluʔ
4 ʔɨpat ʔɨʔɨpat ʔa-ʔɨpat
5 limaʔ ʔɨlimaʔ la-limaʔ
6 kɨnɨm ʔɨkɨnɨm ka-kɨnɨm
7 pituʔ ʔɨpituʔ pa-pituʔ
8 waluʔ ʔɨwaluʔ wa-waluʔ
9 siyam ʔɨsiyam sa-siyam


The non-human enumeration form was pattered after Kanakanavu and Saaroa and Thao.

Some examples of use:

90 men sasiyam nga puloʔ nga lalaki
200 women daduhaʔ nga gatos nga babahi
50 chickens ʔɨlimaʔ  nga puloʔ  nga manuk
1 2 3 4 5 sarɨʔ duhaʔ tɨluʔ ʔɨpat limaʔ

Which Romance Language?

Learning another language is not a haphazard activity. You need to have some reasons for choosing which languages you want to eventually speak. Here are my criteria:

1. Number of Speakers

The number of speakers is not a major consideration for me, unless I am in it for the money, in which case, the more speakers a language has, the larger the market would be and more opportunity for profit. I don’t discount the number of speakers though, in that a language has to have minimum number of speakers large enough for variety and possible social encounter in one’s lifetime. Realistically, I don’t intend to talk to each and individual person speaking a particular language, but only a select few that I find interesting or share similar interests with. I don’t even have to talk to people, I just might want to enjoy their creative output, like listening to their music, speeches, radios, or reading their writings, or watching movies or TV shows.  In other words, the language just has to have sizeable creative output I am aware of or was made aware of that interests me. In terms of speakers, any language with 1 million speakers or more already ticks my criteria for number of speakers. If I live for 75 years and I have 50 years free to interact with each and every person in a 1 million-speaker language, that would mean 20,000 a year or 55 person a day. So, 1 million speakers is just the threshold for me.

2. Culture.

My target language has to have a distinctive culture (food, technology, music, literature, other arts, science, religion, philosophy) the spirit of which can only be transmitted through that language. I think all languages are culture specific, in that the things valued in that culture are reflected in its vocabulary and grammar. So, being able to describe this culture in another language is not enough for me, its not the same as physically smelling, touching, seeing, hearing and feeling under that language. 

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The Filipino Language, Part 1: Existing Filipino Language is still Tagalog

This post is about the Filipino language of the Philippines. There are still a lot of people who do not know the difference or similarity between Tagalog and Filipino, who insist that Filipino exists already as an independent language from Tagalog. I say that’s a hat trick and more like an illusion.


Perhaps a little bit of history will remind us the evolution of the basis of the Philippine national language. I will be relying heavily on the book “Language and language-in-education planning in the Pacific Basin”  by Robert B. Kaplan and Richard B. Baldauf (2003) for most of the details in this short history.

1. On May 17, 1935, the 1935 Constitution was ratified, which stated in Section 3 that “The Congress shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.”.

Why did the then 1935 constitution mandated a national language based on one existing language, when the Philippines has several major languages at that time? Professional linguists of that period were divided into 2 camps: (a) the fusionist camp proposing that the various languages could be fused into a single national language, and (b) the Tagalog camp, proposing that Tagalog alone should be the national language. (Kaplan and Bildauf, p.69).

The basing of the national language on one language was something that a Tagalog President slyly orchestrated by urging changes to the draft Constitution, which originally had the following drafts in the Laurel Proceedings of the Constitution Convention kept at the Laurel Foundation Library, as Agcaoli wrote:

1st draft:  Article XIII, Sec. 2: "A national language being necessary to strengthen the solidarity of the Nation, the National Assembly shall take steps looking to the development and adoption of a language common to all the people on the basis of the existing native languages."

2nd draft:  Article XIII, Sec. 2.a: "The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on the existing native languages, and until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish be the official languages."

3rd draft: no revision.

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The Prefix HA-

When I wrote this post, I had a suspicion that its not just Bikol that has the prefix ha-, a prefix that is normally added to base words indicating some sort of spatio-temporal dimension. Although I have seen WarayWaray having this prefix as well in some of its adjectives, I never expected that it could be found in other Borneo-Philippine languages as well. I came across this database of Austronesian language words and it seems this is found in a number of other languages, but is slowly losing ground to ma– prefix.

Below is a table of comparison of 10 adjectives, 8 are related to spatio-temporal dimensions and the 2 others are not, for comparison purposes. I took the 11 largest languages in the Philippines, plus some more minority languages that have this prefix in at least a few of these adjectives.

English Gloss Tagalog Sugbuhanon Hiligaynon Kiniray-a Maranao Tausug Kapampangan Ilokano Pangasinan
wide malapad
lapad masaŋkad malapad mabelaŋ malakbaŋ malapad nalawa maawaŋ
narrow makitid hagipчot makitid malipчot masimpit masigpit makiput чakikid mainget
far malayoч layo malayoч rayo mawatan malayuч marayuч чadayu чarawi
near malapit duчol malapit rapit marani masuquk sípiŋ*


long mahabaч taчas kalabaчon labəg malabaч mahabaч makabaч чatiddog чanduquey
short maчikliч, maчiksiч
mubô malipчot lipчot
mababaч mababaq
makúyad, pandak чababa melag
thin manipis nipis maniwaŋ nipis manipis manipis maчimpís
naчiŋpis mabeŋ
thick makapal bagaч malapuyot daməl makapal marakmul makapal napuskol mataba
good mabuti maчáyo maчayo mayád mapia marayaw makayap**
naчimbag ma
bad masamaч daчután panuláy malaчin marataq maŋiq marók dakes maчoges

* according to my Kapampangan friend, malapit is the right word here. ‘siping’ actually ‘katabi’ in Tagalog.

** according to my Kapampangan friend, mayap is the right word here.

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I’m creating a conlang based mainly from Austronesian languages, but there will be interesting features incorporated from other language families as well as I come accross them. I will call the conlang as Remiŋgoч, and it will be using the Kawi script or Javanese script, mainly because Kawi script is the most beautiful script not only among Austronesian languages, but arguably in the whole world.

As of the moment, it will have the same base words as the reconstructed Austronesian root words. The morphology and syntax will be similar to Borneo-Philippine or Outer Hesperonesian languages and Formosan languages initially. I will post the grammar in the following weeks.