What is Definiteness?

I have to read a number of works to better understand definiteness and indefiniteness, which can’t be decided purely by the presence or absence of certain words or their arrangements. So here’s a summary to lay out the defining characteristics of (in)definiteness. I have quoted heavily from these works which are all publicly viewable, and in no way would like to show having originality of these ideas.

Definiteness is signalled (from Heusinger) thru:

  1. Proper nouns or names – “refers to exactly one individual, namely the bearer of the name. The reference is purely conventional since no internal part of the expression points or gives any relation to its bearer. proper names are highly context dependent.” This is marked differently in Philippine languages.
  2. Personal pronouns -  “either as deictic or as anaphoric. In the absence of any linguistic context, the pronoun refers to an object that must be in some way prominent in the context or “easy to access”. This deictic interpretation of the pronoun is licensed if the pronoun is accompanied by a demonstration or if the non-linguist context contains some prominent or salient object. Background knowledge may play an important role, too. A pronoun is interpreted anaphorically, if it refers to an object that has been already introduced into the discourse.”
  3. Possessive constructions – “denotes exactly the object that fulfills the property that is expressed by the common noun and that further stands in a certain relation to the object that is denoted by the modifier. This relation can be determined by the lexical material of the head noun if it is a functional concept. If the head noun does not denote a functional concept, but rather a sortal one, the relation is usually the possessor relation.” John’s car is that object that is a car and has a certain relation to John, which is
    probably the car that John owns.
  4. Demonstratives – “refer to an object only if the linguistic utterance is accompanied by a non-linguistic demonstration or ostension. They identify their referent by combining a demonstrative action with descriptive information about the referred object.”
  5. Definite NPs – signalled in English by the articles a, the, and zero article. “They refer to their objects not by convention but due to their descriptive content and further information, like our shared background knowledge or contextual information about the place and time of utterance.” Has the following usage:
    1. Anaphoric linkage – the definite NP refers to an object that is explicitly introduced by the linguistic context. Thus, definiteness is based on the principle of coreference.””Once upon a time, there was a king, … and the king …”
    2. Relational Dependency – “the definite NP refers to an object due to another already mentioned object in the discourse. It establishes a relation to a mentioned object in discourse. Since nothing else than the relation is expressed the relation itself must unequivocally determine exactly one object. The relational concept of an definite NP must be lexically determined.” “I bought a new car. I had to change the motor.”
    3. Situational Salience – “the situation or the non-linguistic context delivers additional information to single out the referent.  This non-linguistic context can consist in the shared background knowledge or in the actual circumstances.” “The train left two minutes ago.
    4. Uniques – “nouns whose lexical content is such that only one object can fit it.  A unique can consist in a noun that expresses a functional concept, i.e. a concept that gives exactly one value for each argument, like “the sun”, “the time”. It can also consist in a complex nominal expression that due to its meaning refers only to one object (in the relevant context) like the first man on the moon.”

We will refer to various studies already done to summarize the distinction between the two with respect to so-called articles in English (a, the, zero article), like:

  1. Uniqueness Theory – According to Russel, definiteness marking (a) asserts the existence of the NP, and (b) this NP is not more than one, like the center of the solar system. Russell’s example “The king of France is bald” is found to be nonsensical and uninterpretable. Another example provided by Abbott: “That wasn’t a reason I left Pittsburgh, it was the reason.
    • This is refuted by Strawson who pointed out that existence is merely presupposed and not asserted.
    • Donnellan also refuted that the definite is quantificational but rather either referring or non-referring (attributive).
    • Hawkins also pointed out the problem of incomplete description, where  the descriptive content of the definite NP [ e.g. “the glass” (on the table) ] is insufficient to identify a truly unique referent and not existing in other entities on a universal scale, so he tried to remedy this using “pragmatic sets” or a pragmatically reduced context in which referents are to be evaluated for their uniqueness, but Lewis provided a counter-example “The dog got in a fight with another dog. – I’ll have to see to it that the dog doesn’t get near that other dog again.”, in which he said the definite NP is the most salient in the domain of discourse, according to some contextually determined salience ranking.
    • Other sentences called recall sentences were also furnished that break the non-uniqueness of NPs that they can be understood to be indefinite instead: “Towards evening we came to the bank of the river.” (Christophersen), “Take the elevator to the sixth floor and turn left.” (Berner and Ward), “The boy scribbled on the living room wall.” (Du Bois). Abbott defended this by saying these sentences  can be explained in terms of location. I think these are situationally definite.
    • This also neglects plural and mass nouns, which Hawkins addressed by proposing inclusiveness – the  NPs are unique but only in reference to the whole set: “Bring the wickets in after the game of cricket.”,I must ask you to remove the sand from my gateway.” “In the case of singular NPs, their inclusiveness is restricted to the one member that constitutes the set.”
  2. Familiarity Theory – According to Christophersen, definiteness marking is associated with some kind of previous knowledge by the hearer. This familiarity with the NP can be on both the speaker and hearer, or can be introduced thru text as a previously introduced indefinite NP (explicit contextual): “I live next to a scientist. The scientist keeps to himself though.” or thru non-textual basis, (implicit contextual): “The book is so ridiculous – the author must be crazy.” or (situational) “For instance, upon mounting a bus, one can talk of the driver, the passengers, the seats and so on.
    • According to Heim, “definites must be used to refer back to a familiar discourse entity, where familiarity is satisfied when an entity has been either explicitly introduced into the discourse (strong familiarity) or implicitly introduced by the context (weak familiarity)”.
    • Its been  shown that familiarity is not a sufficient condition and can be used on unfamiliar referents: “What’s wrong with Bill? Oh, the woman he went out last night was nasty to him.”(Hawkins) or “If you’re going into the bedroom, would you mind bringing back the big bag of potato chips that I left on the bed?” (Birner and Ward). I think the definite NP here is unique.
    • In “The book is so ridiculous – the author must be crazy.”, Birner and Ward presses that since most books typically have one author, this is more in favour of uniqueness theory.
    • Birner and Ward also give an example where familiarity is insufficient: “Professors Smith and Jones are rivals in the English Department, and each of them has received a major grant for next year. The other members of the department are very excited about the grant.” Although the definite NP was mentioned as an indefinite NP beforehand, it did not resolve the confusion as to which grant is being referred to in the definite NP.
    • Familiarity is also problematic for definite NPs that are non-referential (pick out a referent) but are predicational (denote a quality or characteristic): “Chan is a scientist. Chan is the leader.” (Declerk), Familiarity can’t account for the definiteness (“the leader”) and indefiniteness(“a scientist”).
    • This was remedied by expanding familiarity to identifiability by Lyons:”They’ve just got in from New York. The plane was five hours late.”  “Using an expanded form of previous knowledge (linguistic or non-linguistic), one is able to identify the plane. It may necessitate going beyond a one-to-one association between a referent and its recognition (in the loose sense of the word).” This is said to be effective for contextual and situational definiteness.
    • Recall sentences are both problematic for familiarity and identifiability, so Du Bois proposed the curiosity principle: “a reference is counted as identifiable if it identifies an object close enough to satisfy the curiosity of the hearer”.
    • This becomes discourse familiarity to Heim and Kamp who anaphoricly linked a definite NP to an already introduced or ‘familiar’ discourse referent.
    • This is the origin of Löbner relational theory and  Lewis’ salience theory.
  3. Mixed theories
    • Hawkins – definiteness is the (a) ability of the referent (or referents) to be located in some shared set of objects between the speaker and hearer, and (b) being the totality of the objects or mass within this set which satisfy the referring expression. This looks like a combination of inclusiveness and familiarity. This is also called the Location Theory. 
    • Abbott – definite NPs are firstly unique, but needs to be enriched/refined by the pragmatic context, in the sense of P-sets à la Hawkins (1991). “the use of the definite conveys to the addressee that they ought to be able to determine a unique referent from the description used plus contextual or background information, whether or not they had prior acquaintance with it”.  I think her explanations for non-unique definite NPs are forced, especially for “The contestant gave the wrong answer and had to be disqualified.”
    • Lyons -  definiteness has to do with whether or not a referent is familiar or already established in the discourse – thus identifiability rather than inclusiveness. “(the definite) by itself does not identify, but “invites the hearer to exploit clues in the … context to establish the identity of the referent”. Lyons proposes that definiteness is a grammatical category (of identifiability) and not a semantic/pragmatic category, which explains its variability.
  4. Relational Theory – According to Löbner, “the definite article has no lexical meaning, but just indicates the way the reference is established, namely that the expression refers non-ambiguously.” He merges anaphoric and situational use as pragmatic definite and relational use as semantic definite: “Semantic definites refer unambiguously due to general constraints; Pragmatic definites depend on the particular situation for unambiguous reference. An NP is semantic definite if it represents a functional concept, independently of the particular situation referred to. An expression is inherently functional if it needs a further argument to refer to an object.” The definiteness is considered as a local property of the link between the head and its argument. “He was the son of a poor farmer.”
  5. Salience Theory – According to Lewis, “consider the sentence ‘The door is open’. This does not mean that the one and only door that now exists is open; nor does it mean that the one and only door near the place of utterance, or pointed at, or mentioned in previous discourse, is open. Rather it means that the one and only door among the objects that are somehow prominent on the occasion is open. An object may be prominent because it is nearby, or pointed at, or mentioned; but none of these is a necessary condition of contextual prominence. So perhaps we need a prominent-objects coordinate, a new contextual coordinate independent of the other. It will be determined, on a given occasion of utterance of a sentence, by mental factors such as the speaker’s expectation regarding the things he is likely to bring to the attention of his audience.” “It is not true that a definite description ‘the F’ denotes x if and only if x is the one and only F in existence. Neither is it true that ‘the F’ denotes x if and only if x is the one and only F in some contextually determined domain of discourse. The proper treatment of description must be more like this: ‘the F’ denotes x if and only if x is the most salient F in the domain of discourse, according to some contextually determined salience ranking.” Sample sentence: “The pig is grunting, but the pig with floppy ears is not grunting.” Two individuals with the same property are introduced into the discourse. However, the definite NP should unambiguously refer to one object even if no functional concept plays a role, since pig and dog are sortal concepts (except one would claim a functional concept from situations into objects of the mentioned kind).
  6. In other words, a definite NP refers to the most salient object in the discourse that fits the descriptive content, and such salience ranking “depends on the context, i.e. it is not global in the sense that each expression gets its referent for global constraints nor it is local in the sense of Löbner, since once established it can keep its ranking during the whole discourse if there is no other salience changing expression.” Heusinger added two other ideas into this:

  1. The Prague school’s (Sgall et al. 1973, 70) dynamic view of the information expressed in a sentence. In this approach, the “stock of shared knowledge” or repertoire [of objects, relations etc., K.v.H.] common between the speaker and the hearer is the set of potential referents for definite expressions, which is divided into background and foreground information or relative activation (in the sense of being immediately ‘given’, i.e. easily accessible in memory). Wherever its position within the salience hierarchy depends on encyclopedic knowledge, context information and thematic structure of the sentence. Different ways of shifts in a discourse model (“hearer’s image of the world”) shift in different ways, like mere mentioning of an element in that “stock of shared knowledge” brings it into the foreground of the stock, thus the last mentioned element is more in the foreground than the elements mentioned before, its foregrounding recedes if it is not supported by some specific recent moments due to the given situation. “This view differs from Lewis’ concept in that salience is regarded as a property of the cognitive discourse model, rather than as a property of the discourse such. Furthermore, it concentrates on the use of pronominals rather than on the analysis of definite NPs.”
  2. The AI approach of Grosz & Sidner (1985, 3), where the general discourse model consists of three components: “a linguistic structure, an intentional structure, and an attentional state….The third component of discourse structure, the attentional state, is an abstraction of the participants’ focus of attention as their discourse unfolds. The attentional state is a property of discourse, not of discourse participants. It is inherently dynamic, recording the objects, properties, and relations that are salient at each point in the discourse.” “In contrast to the Praguian approach, this structure does not depend on the hearer or speaker, but it is a property of the context (like in Lewis’ view). Webber (1983, 335) distinguishes between the act of reference by the speaker, and the referential behavior of expression in a certain discourse: That is, “referring” is what people do with language. Evoking and accessing discourse entities are what texts/discourses do. A discourse entity inhabits a speaker’s discourse model and represents something the speaker has referred to. A speaker refers to something by utterances that either evoke (if first reference) or access (if subsequent reference) its corresponding discourse entity.”
  3. According to Heusinger, the situational use is central to definite NPs by incorporating contextual information using a salience hierarchy into the representation of definite expression, where “each context can be associated with an ordering among the elements of subsets of the domain of discourse. The definite NP the F denotes the most salient F according to the situation i… the context crucially contributes to the interpretation of the definite NP by forming a salience hierarchy among the potential referents. It is assumed that each context can be associated with an ordering among the elements of subsets of the domain of discourse. The definite NP the F denotes the most salient F according to the situation i . This representation completes the ideas of discourse representation theories by producing a more comprehensive picture: a definite NP is not only linked to an already introduced discourse referent, it is rather linked to the most salient discourse referent of the same kind so far.”
  4. Robert’s Retrievability and Incomplete Descriptions states that “In previous work (Roberts 2003) I argued for a revision of the classical Russellian treatment of definite descriptions, proposing instead that they conventionally trigger two presuppositions, one of weak familiarity (a form of anaphoricity) and a second I called informational uniqueness. These are the informational counterparts of Russellian existence and uniqueness, respectively. In other work, I argued that these same presuppositions are central to the meaning of pronouns (Roberts 2004) and demonstratives (Roberts 2002). Now I show that the general Gricean view of discourse sketched here permits a simplification of that theory: The uniqueness effect observed in certain contexts follows from Retrievability, with no need to stipulate even informational uniqueness.” He describes it as “In order for an utterance to be rationally cooperative in a discourse interaction D, it must be reasonable for the speaker to expect that the addressee can grasp the speaker’s intended meaning in so-uttering in D….When we understand the interpretive effects of Retrievability in conjunction with an anaphoric theory of definites, there is no need to stipulate uniqueness for any of these kinds of NPs. The general requirement of Retrievability of an aphoric antecedents will suffice to account for uniqueness effects, when those arise…In interpreting a definite, an addressee must determine exactly which antecedent the speaker intends, out of all those familiar to the interlocutor. The NP’s descriptive content is a both a constraint on and a clue to the intended antecedent (which must also satisfy that content). Antecedents are not NPs per se, but discourse referents — as that notion is spelled out in the Heim/Kamp/van der Sandt theories.  What is important for salience is not just that something be in the immediate visual field of the addressee, perhaps as directed by deixis, but that s/he be
    attending to it, hence that it be Relevant to her immediate goals and associated intentions. So long as the descriptive content of a definite NP, along with what is predicated of it, is sufficiently rich to uniquely determine one element in the interlocutors’ QUD – limited attentional field, in accordance with Attentional Masking and the Descriptive Content Condition, there is no sense that the NP’s
    descriptive content is incomplete.
  1. Salience is a partial order of the elements of DR (the set of Discourse Referents), determined by the degree to which those entities would be immediately in the attentional field of anyone cooperatively paying attention to that context.
  2. Factors in a salience ranking in discourse include the following, themselves ranked in descending order of importance: (1) High perceptual salience in the situation of utterance. (2) RELEVANCE to the evident current purposes of the interlocutors, especially the QUD (cf. Grosz & Sider 1986) (3) Coherence, reflected in felicitous rhetorical relations in a relevant strategy of inquiry, with consequent relations between thematic roles in the two utterances (Kehler 2009) (4) Relative recency (Terken & Hirschberg 1994).
  3. Attentional Masking Hypothesis: The search for an anaphoric antecedent among the accessible discourse referents proceeds as follows: Look first to the most salient entities, then to all those that are less salient but still Relevant, and finally to all elements of DR, the domain reflecting all familiar entities in the Common Ground. The antecedent is the first discourse referent you encounter which is informationally unique among the discourse referents ranked at its level of salience in satisfying the NP’s descriptive content (while being plausible in view of what is predicated of the NP).
  4. Descriptive content condition: To guarantee Retrievability in using a definite NP, a speaker should choose one whose descriptive content is just sufficiently rich to uniquely identify the intended discourse referent among all those which are at least as salient. ”
  • Other examples:
    1. Jane entered the cafe and looked around. She sat down. The table was slightly wobbly.
    2. The cat is in the carton. The cat will never meet our other cat, because our other cat lives in New Zealand. Our New Zealand cat lives with the Cresswells. And there he’ll stay, because Miriam would be sad if the cat went away.
    3. In the cafe, an angry toddler threw around his spaghetti near where he was sitting. After he left, the waitress came and wiped the tables.
  • A study concluded that definiteness is not primarily based on salience. The same study concludes that uniqueness and previous mention effects are not driven by general salience-based processes that would also be instantiated by visual salience, but operate independently. The study noted that “Although the cases Lewis (1973:114ff; 1979) discussed are cases where the salience of a referent arises from the utterance situation, rather than from the linguistic structure of discourse, the notions of salience that were developed with some success in subsequent work (Ariel 1985, Gundel et al. 1993, Grosz et al. 1995, von Heusinger 1995, Roberts 2003, and many others) have remained limited to linguistic discourse parameters… If a general notion of salience could be developed that covers such cases of visual salience and could also substitute for anaphora and uniqueness, we would
    be pretty close to a general notion of definite reference.” But the study did mention a caveat: “But with no theory of such a mechanism in place the general salience hypothesis is hard to test. What is feasible, however, is an experimental comparison of the contributions that uniqueness and anaphora make towards the identification of DRE referents and the contribution that purely visual salience in the utterance situation makes…. The experiment will perhaps not yet permit any conclusions about salience in general , but it will be informative at least with regard to the interaction of visual salience with anaphora, and uniqueness….Our results thus seem to suggest that salience is considered only after anaphora and uniqueness have failed to identify a suitable referent.” This experiment failed because salience is a property of the discourse in situ. The discourses in the test pertaining to salience failed to provide the most salient object in the text or answer the question “which one?”  among the other similar objects, thus textually ambiguous or vague. Uniqueness is a form of salience. 
  • A similar study by Ahern and Stevens has a different conclusion, that uniqueness is salience by proving that uniqueness (maximally unique object or unique under the greatest number of descriptions) is the primary factor when interpreting ambiguous definite NPs: “We have provided a direct comparison of definite and indefinite descriptions. By allowing a period of temporary ambiguity we were able to isolate the contribution of definiteness to interpretation. Eye movements during this period of ambiguity suggest that the online interpretation of definite descriptions is guided by uniqueness. When processing definites, but not indefinites, subjects look reliably more toward the candidate referent that is unique under the greatest number of descriptions. These results suggest a role of uniqueness not only in theoretical models, but also in processing behaviors. However, it remains unclear whether uniqueness is exactly the right notion to capture the full range of semantic and psycholinguistic generalizations. Rather, one could posit based on our results that salience, and not uniqueness, plays a special role in interpreting definite descriptions. After all, what we have dubbed the “maximally unique” referent is also the most salient possible referent within its category in that it stands out or “suggests itself”, to echo Schelling (1960). Perhaps interpretation of the definite article triggers an online search for the most salient appropriate referent. ..Uniqueness typically confers a particular kind of salience on a potential referent, and maximal uniqueness a privileged sort of salience. Future research may be brought to bear on whether uniqueness and salience should be distinguished, and on what role these notions play in both psycholinguistic and theoretical analyses of definiteness.”
  • Ward, Ahern and Heyden demonstrated that "The felicity of both the definite and indefinite embedded NP suggests that neither (weak) familiarity nor uniqueness per se accounts for article choice in the case of attributive-possession NPs(APNPs)…What is relevant for the (in)definiteness of an APNP is whether its referent is interpreted as a typical or atypical member of its class….When uniqueness is not satisfied, participants rely significantly on the atypicality of the referent, the more atypical the referent (as judged by the participants themselves), the more likely it is to be realized with a definite APNP. We propose that atypical APNPs are being interpreted more as object-denoting, while typical APNPs are being interpreted more as property-denoting (Partee ’87).
  • I think the Salience Theory has more explanatory power than the Uniqueness Theory, especially as outlined by Roberts. To summarize:

    1. Selection by Differentiation Theory– Definite marking is the selection of a limited set of objects among many similar or identical objects, and this is can be achieved by being differentiable from all possible similar or identical objects (individually for singular and collectively for generic referents) so that the hearer is able to figure out the intended referent. The definite marked NP is distinguished from the indefinite by selecting and restricting its members.
      • Indefinite marking indicates the genericity and commonality of all referents, and may be further marked individually (singular) or in totality (plural). The speaker shows the scope of possible referents. Definite marking indicates the selectability and differentiability of a few referents, and the speaker has already chosen or done the selection from among the many.
      • Selection or restriction is done in a number of ways alone or in combination:
        1. Numerical Sufficiency: limiting the NP meaning numerically : singular count noun for a unique referent, plural count or non-count nouns for the exhaustive totality of referents.
        2. Contextual Saliency: the first to satisfy the descriptive content from the saliency hierarchy.
          1. Body parts (situational): “Mary banged herself on the forehead.” (the one that got banged, defaults to Mary’s head, otherwise will have restrictive clause.)
          2. Immediate surroundings (situational): “The roses are very beautiful” (those in the garden they’re at)
          3. general knowledge (situational): “the Prime Minister” (the one currently in the applicable country)
          4. referents presented as if “familiar, though they have had no previous introduction (textual/situational):  “All this happened more or less. The war parts anyway, are pretty much true” (those that the storyteller has chosen to talk about)
          5. anaphoric reference-direct (textual): “John bought a TV and a video recorder, but he
            returned the video recorder.
            ” (the one he bought)
          6. anaphoric reference-indirect (textual): “John bought a bicycle, but when he rode it one of the wheels came off.”  (those of the bicycle.)
        3. Restrictive Clauses – mixes contextual saliency and numerical sufficiency through additional words to enhance retrievability.
          1. logical use: “When is the first flight to Chicago tomorrow?” (the one that’s unique)
          2. cataphoric reference: “The girls sitting over there are my cousins.” (situational)
      • Selection may refer to unique individual or to the whole class. Some languages may not use definite marking here.
        1. Uniques.
        2. Generic – identifies “the class as represented by its typical specimen”. Using indefinites will (a) focus too much on the lack of specificity if single referent, (b) focus too much on many referents if the sense requires a single referent, (c) there is no plural indefinite for generics, or (d) the singular is preferred for its ease of understanding. I think this is language specific, at least in English.
          1. sporadic reference:  “My sister goes to the theatre every month.
          2. A great deal of illness originates in the mind.” , ”the monkey is a curious animal”, “Some people sit for hours in front of the television.
          3. adjectives denoting the whole class. These does not have plural generics: ‘the rich and the poor’ ,  ‘the Atlantic’ , ‘the Chinese’  (denoting nationality)
          4. In many idioms: ‘kick the bucket’, ‘grab the bull by its horns

    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.

    Tausug Prefix Hi>

    While looking at the forms of the various Philippine languages for PMP *ika-pitu (seventh), I noticed that Tausug uses a verb prefix hi> while others mostly uses i>.

    This page shows 3 of such prefixes using hi>.

    (1) Theme focus hi>

      Tausug Tagalog Sugbuhanon
    Infinitive (h)i>… i>…  
    Future (h)i>… i><CV>…  
    Initiated …<iy>… i>…<in>…  
    Progressive C><iy>V>… i><C<in>V>…  

    (2)  Instrument focus hipang>

      Tausug Tagalog Sugbuhanon
    Infinitive hipang>… ipang>…  
    Future hipang>… ipang><CV>…  
    Initiated p<iy>ang>… ip<in>ang>…  
    Progressive p<iy>ang><CV>… ip<in>ang><CV>…  

    (3) Reason focus hika>

      Tausug Tagalog Sugbuhanon
    Infinitive hika>… ika>…  
    Future hika>… ika><CV>…  
    Initiated k<iy>a>… ik<in>a>…  



    Example of use of hika> in Tausug is hikahangpu’  tenth.

    From the above table, we will notice that:

    1. Tausug hi> is only present in the infinitive and the Future, and has been dropped in the Initiated and progressive. We know its been dropped since this also happened in the other verb prefixes ma>, mag> and <un as well but not in other affixes, and its sister languages retains the affixes in all forms. In <an it was not dropped as it will get confused with the <un forms. For <um> and m>, in <um> was not dropped as it inside the verb, and in m> the addition of <iy> did not result in more syllables.
    2. The n in <in> infix (Realis marker or marker for Inceptive Aspect?) was also dropped and replaced with a semivowel y <iy> for the Realis Mood. This happened in the other affixes (<un, <an, m>) and <um> ( with <im> from <inum> so expected is <iyum> then <im> after dropping <u>) but not in ma> (with nag> from mina> so expected is miya> then ya> by dropping mi>) and  mag> (with nag> from minag> so expected is miyag> then yag> by dropping mi>) . Is it likely that the syllable dropping (#1) occurred first before the change of <in> to <iy>?
    3. There is no distinction between infinitive and future. This behavior is similar to what is found in Kapampangan and Ilokano. Could it be that the Tausug future form is the proto Bisayan language future form or the original form since it does exists in the progressive form and only there, or Tausug dropped the progressive aspect indicator (CV reduplication, which may have a present and past interpretation) in the future form? Can the progressive form be used with future interpretation as well?
    4. It uses reduplication to indicate progressive aspect, which is not common in other Bisayan languages like Sugbuhanon, Hiligaynon, etc. Sugbuhanon is supposedly closer to it but uses <a> for a few prefixes like mag> to indicate progressive aspect like  naga> or ga>. Example: galakaw (nagalakaw; naglakaw)   (walking) ; gakaon (nagakaon; nagkaon) (eating). Tom Marking said that Sugbuhanon uses naga> for present to indicate ongoing actions, and maga> or mag> can be used interchangeably for future.

    Another unusual thing in Tausug is that it has a few similarities with Kapampangan apart from the Future form:

    1. It uses in and sin for Common noun phrase markers, while Kapampangan uses ing, ning, and king.
    2. It has (alveolo)palatal phonemes j,ch,ny while Kapampangan has ny.
    3. Some words have <l> or lost it in both while Bikol and Warayan languages have <r> or <l>.

    Possible Origin

    From the same page, it is also noticeable that some of Tausug forms starting with h> has an s> counterpart in other languages:

    Personal Phrase marker, Singular hi Tagalog: si
    Bikol: si
    Personal Phrase marker, Plural hinda Tagalog: sina
    Bikol: sa
    Locative Phrase marker


    Tagalog: sa
    Bikol: sa
    ”in what order”


    Tagalog: pang-ilan
    Bikol: ikapira
    Ten hangpu Tagalog: sampu
    one hambuuk Tagalog: sambuo
    one hundred hanggatus Bikol: sanggatos
    one thousand hangibu Tagalog: sanglibo

    Except of course:

      Tausug Tagalog
    Nominative pronoun 3rd person, Singular siya Tagalog: siya
    Bikol: siya
    Nominative pronoun 3rd person, plural sila Tagalog: sila
    Sugbuhanon: sila
    Genitive Phrase marker, Specific


    Hiligaynon: sing

    So the s > h change could be a recent and existing change in Tausug (like in Samarnon?) and does not explain h> initial prefixes. According to Blust, the prefix hi> was the more original form in the Philippines:

    Like *Sa-, *Si- is reflected in several Formosan languages, as with Atayal s-, Bunun is-,
    and Paiwan si- ‘instrumental voice’. In the Philippines it is reflected as i- (Itbayaten,
    Ilokano, Bontok, Pangasinan, Tagalog, Bikol, Cebuano i-), where either singly or in
    combination with other affixes it marks instrumental voice, benefactive voice, or
    sometimes other relationships. In the central Philippines the expected reflex of PAN *Si- is
    **hi-, but like *Sika- ‘prefix of ordinal numerals’, and some other high-frequency
    morphemes (PAN *Sepat, PMP *epat ‘four’) this affix shows an irregular loss of expected

    Thus, the Tausug forms (hi>, hika> and hipang>) may be the original ones, and the following conjugated Tagalog forms may indicate what were the original forms for hi> as an example.

    Past ibigay hibigay
    Present ibinibigay hibinibigay
    Infinitive ibigay hibigay
    Future ibibigay hibibigay

    Other Language Features

    Other features in Tausug that is different from Tagalog are:

    (1) The presence of j (native words) , ny, and ch (allophone of ss). Gemination of non-glottal consonants.

    (2) The Reciprocal <i suffix (which is also present in Hiligaynon, Sugbuhanon, Samarnon and other Bisayan languages) and full reduplication of stem (reciprocal, diminutive).

    (3) The presence of dual pronouns. Also present in Tagalog but with different origin.

    Bikol Phrase Markers, Part 2

    This is a continuation of an earlier post.


    In Another Look at the Marking of Plural Personal Noun Constructions in Austronesian Languages, Laurence Reid mentions some Bikol dialects that distinguishes nonpast/nonreferential vs. past/referential phrase markers:

    ”some of the dialects of Southern Bikol in the Central Philippines, part of a different primary branch of Austronesian, have a “virtually identical system” of genitive marking: nu ‘genitive of common nouns, +referential ~ +past’, ni ‘genitive of persons (singular)’, na ‘genitive of persons (plural)’.” 

    Chris Sundita calls this “something that was already mentioned”. Malcolm Mintz also mentioned that

    nin nonsubject agent and object marker occurring before general nouns and marking those nouns as nonspecific; may also be used to express the concept ‘some’ ..also used with si as nin si to show possession by s/o or s/t previously referred to in a conversation or known by both speaker and listener, and to make nonsubject objects specific]”.

    This is referred to by Matthew Dryer as an aphoric function:

    There are, broadly speaking, two functions associated with definite articles. One of these is an anaphoric function, to refer back to something mentioned in the preceding discourse. The other is a nonanaphoric function, to refer to something not mentioned in the preceding discourse but whose existence is something that the speaker assumes is known to the hearer. This assumed knowledge may be based on general knowledge (as in the sun) or it may be based on inferences that the hearer can make in context (for example, inferring from mention of a house that the house has a door, thus making it possible to use a definite article in referring to the door of the house). In some languages, the morphemes treated here as definite articles appear to be restricted to anaphoric usage in that descriptions assign them translations like ‘previously mentioned’.”

    These anaphoric forms in Bikol are:

      Nominative Genitive Non-Definite Genitive Definite
      NonAnaphoric Anaphoric NonAnaphoric Anaphoric NonAnaphoric Anaphoric
    Naga an si nin nin si kan kan si
    kaso (past)
    an su nin nin su kan kan su
    kaso (past)
    Guinobatan an su nin nu kan ??
    Rinconada a su ki / kin ?? ka ku (past)



    In On Reconstructing the Morphosyntax of Proto-Northern Luzon, Lawrence Reid described some languages north of Bikol with phrase markers that distinguishes +remote and –remote, which may be analogous with either anaphoric vc. non-anaphoric or definite vs. indefinite based on the descriptions of usage.

    (a) Casiguran Dumagat – found in east coast of Luzon, Aurora Province.


    “Headland and Headland (1974) has two distinct sets of common noun markers. The singular Nominative forms are i and tu. The distinction between these forms is somewhat complex. The first marks nouns that are “alive, known, actual, in sight, present in time…” (ex. ??). The second set marks nouns that are “dead, unknown, out of sight, past in time…” (ex. ??) (ibid p. xxxii). In addition Headland (p.c.) notes that "these definitions are grossly inadequate and in some contexts these labels are not only incorrect, but the opposite of what they imply." Thus although i is said to mark nouns that are general, and tu marks those that are specific, it is tu that marks indefinite nouns after existential verbs (ex. ??), but i which marks indefinite nouns when they are first introduced into a discourse. Furthermore although i is said to mark nouns that are general, the enclitic determiners =eh and =a occur only on nouns that are marked with i. The clitic “adds the meaning of definiteness or exactness to the thing or place referred to.” Casiguran Dumagat genitive no and locative to appear to have developed from sequences of *na+u and *ta+u respectively, rather than from *nu and *tu with vowel lowering, since high vowel lowering only occurred when the vowel was stressed.”

    (b) Paranan – found in the east coast of Isabela.  A few description by Reid in “Historical linguistics and Philippine hunter-gatherers” of Paranan:

    “Paranan, on the other hand, although showing considerable influence from Tagalog, with 45 percent shared vocabulary (Headland 1975), clearly retains case markers and pronouns which are very conservative. Specifically, it appears to be the only language in Luzon that still retains a di locative preposition for common noun phrases, e.g., di bilay ‘to the house’, alongside proper noun locations, such as di Manila ‘to Manila’ (Finkbeiner 1983:6). Although di occurs in many languages with various other case-marking functions and occurs widely as the initial formative of locative adverbs and demonstratives, it is as a locative preposition that it is reconstructible for Proto-Extra-Formosan.”


    “In Paranan (Finkbeiner 1983:9) i marks nominative common noun phrases whose referents are "present, seen, specific, or actual". These features define what I referred to above as PROXIMATE. On the other hand, nominative common noun phrases that are "absent, not seen, unspecific, or non- actual", features which define REMOTE, are marked by en.”

    Robinson and Lobel further comments in The Northeastern Luzon Subgroup of Philippine Languages:

    “"The Paranan case markers pose a particular problem. Most of the Paranan forms are similar to forms found in the Agta languages (for example, *i NOM, *ti GEN/OBL), usually Pahanan Agta, but a few of the forms (en‘ NOM.DEF’, nen ‘GEN.DEF’, and ten ‘OBL’) do not appear to have an origin in PNELUZ. Taking into consideration that en, nen, and ten are likely from earlier *in, *nin, and *tin (since Paranan [e] often corresponds to Central Philippine *i in closed syllables), the first two forms (*in and *nin) both have cognates in Central Philippine languages: Old Bikol had both *in ‘ NOM. NONREF’ and *nin‘ GEN.NONREF’, while *in also has cognates in Waray-Waray and other Warayan languages, in Tausug, and in the Kamayo dialect of Barobo town. Genitive *nin has cognates in most Bikol languages and in Romblomanon. The *tin form could be from Pahanan Agta ti, with the final *-n being the result of analogy with the *in and *nin forms. Note that the *ʔ- : *n- : *t- contrast (where *ʔ- corresponds to the phonemically vowel-initial form) is also found in Southern Ibanag, whose case markers are iC ‘ NOM’, nəC ‘GEN’,and təC ‘OBL’ (with the final segment being a copy of the first consonant of the following word). However, the vowels do not match, as Paranan /e/ is not cognate with Ibanag /ə/. final *-n being the result of analogy with the *in and *nin forms. Notethat the *ʔ- : *n- : *t- contrast (where *ʔ- corresponds to the phonemically vowel-initial form) is also found in Southern Ibanag, whose case markers are iC ‘ NOM’, nəC ‘ GEN’,and təC ‘OBL’ (with the final segment being a copy of the first consonant of the following word). However, the vowels do not match, as Paranan /e/ is not cognate with Ibanag /ə/.”

    Paranan (as PAR) and Casiguran Dumagat (as CAS) as shown in Robertson and Lobel relabeled and fitted in the same categorization:


    Casiguran indefinite tu/no/to functions differently from Paranan definite en/nen/ten.

    (c) Isneg or Isnag – found in Northern Apayao, Luzon.


    (d) Another possible language is Northern Subanen mentioned by Reid in a footnote:


    I have not seen phrase markers in  Sugbuhanon, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan and Ilokano that distinguish anaphoric vs. non-anaphoric or +remote vs. –remote. Tagalog seems to have yung and nung and Samarnon has it and hit.


    Examples of usage in the internet are shown below for Coastal Bikol:

    from here:

    1. Olay nin si lalaking nagbobonbon pighahapot sya kun anong ginigibo nya kaya nagsimbag "BOMBON".
    2. Kan enot na pagtuntung kan si mga kastila sa lugar na ini, an Bombon bantug na dakulon an mga layas na manok.
    3. Alagad dai ini nahaloy. Huli ta kan dumatung si mga Americano kan Febrero 11, 1990, dakulang pagbabago si nangyari.
    4. Sarong aldaw may lalaking nagbonbon nin paroy nganing magdulok si mga manok.
    5. Hominapot liwat si Kastila kun ano an ngaran kan lugar. Si daraga hona gayod gustong maaraman kun masain sya.
    6. Na kadtong pinag-gigibo pa sana ining kampanaryo kan simbahan si pundasyon nagbaba pasiring sa sarong direksyon kaya bakong tanos.
    7. Si mga tawo nagpetisyon na harahaton tolos ta kun dagoson tibaad ma tumba, alagad si kura paroko nag-insistir na padagosonan trabaho kun kaya nahaman sa bakong tanos na tindog-huraray sa solnopan.

    from here:

    1. Kaso sarung aldao. Nag-ataman akong punay. Nakasangle, nakaribay Nin si ogma ko kasakitan
    2. Tominaas, bominaba, Nagtoro si sakung luha.
    3. Dagos ako bangon si sakuyang mata binuklat.
    4. Dae ako pigtao sa nakabakal nin si planta nin cemento, kutana, para na rin akong nagtatrabaho sa abroad. (from here)
    5. Pinahidan mo an sakuyang payo nin si lana (from here)
    6. Magpost ka kuya ning mga picture kan si mga previous na mga andas ni Ina (from here)
    7. Hirak man kan si mga apektado, asin si mga nagadanan. (from here)

    from others:

    1. Kaidto may nagpasabong saiya na giraray na ibalik na sana an sira sa danaw, kan su pagbalikan niya, hidaling nag-ulaptik an sira sa tubig asin naglangoy parayo. (from here)
    2. Dai ko malilikayan na dai maghapot kun anong espesyal sa lugar na ini para iyo an tawan kan suanoy na ngaran kan Partido de Tabaco kan su ibang banwa nagsaradiri naman ki pangaran. (from here)
    3. Kan su mga misyonerong Kastila naka–ukod man mag–Bikol, su edukasyon kan mga suanoy na Bikolnon gabos na naiba, tinangad ninda su mga Kastila, napa–ugos sainda.(from here)

    Examples of usage in the internet are shown below for Inland Bikol:

    from here:

    1. Narigos kami nu akos ko sa solong usad na aldaw.
    2. Sabi nu  pinsan ko, tibad ngaya kuya bogs nasibang?
    3. Bata grabe an pagtipid ta, nakastan pa kita nu bulong.
    4. Bigla ngana nagsabi su para inibang, nasibang ngaya noy si nene mo.
    5. Pakatapos kaito, linayd su duga sa payo.
    6. Su pinaka simple ko sana itao.
    7. Ilalayd ngana su duga sa manlaen-laen na parte nin  lawas kina su narunot na dawn, ibubutang sa  pusod.

    from here:

    1. Gusto ko sana kayang mamate su dati kong buway ku panahon na diri pirmi nakaporma o pantalon o sotana.
    2. Di man siguro kaipuwan maggibo kin milagro nganing maitao a pangangaipo ka mga tawo arog ku ginibo ni Hesus.
    3. Ikarwang sinabi ni Hesus ku nakapako siya sa krus
    4. Ku ginibo na si adan saka si eba, ariglado na ngamin.
    5. Ginibo uyan ku parataban.
    6. Sa kadakul na ribok sa palibot ni Hesus ku siya nakapako, usad na boses sana a narungog niya
    7. Bagana sinda su mga disipulos ni Hesus na nagtibwasan ku sya rakupon.
    8. Arog ku pagmate ni Dimas ku siya sinabiwan ni Hesus.
    9. Ading ikarwang sinabi ni hesus ku nakapako siya sa krus, parumrom adi kanato ngamin.
    10. Bisi na naman a mga nganga sa pagbisara na tatawan kana kaipuwan su mga nakanga-nga ta uda na makaon.
    11. Balikan ta su mga nangyari sa daan na tipan.
    12. Pero ngamin uyan nauda kawasa si Adan ag si Eba, mas pinili ninda su pansadiri nindang kagustuwan.
    13. Nagpoon na su kasalan.  Nakamate na sinda kin kadipisilan, nag-alop, nagtios, buko nang magayonm agko na problema, agko na kagranan a tawo.
    14. Su gibo niyang pagsolsol nagdara kanya sa paraiso.
    15. Dapat malinaw a kanatong isip sa pagpili kana mga gusto tang magdara kanato sa paraiso, su mga tawo na pwede man pagsakripisyo nganing mabayad ta su paraiso.
    16. Sari na su katuninongan, hustisya ag pagkaon sa  mga nag-aalop?

    from here:

    1. Kakulor nu bandera su bandilyong kaogmahan.
    2. Sa kastigo nin bagyo, su kusog iyong tukod.
    3. Sumirang su liwanag sa kadlagan kan gamgam.
    4. Kan pigsurok nu ulod su kuwebang daing paros.
    5. Buminuklad su dahon sa pisog nin paglalang.
    6. Sa musika nin ogma, su pagmondo nawarak;
    7. Nu Agosto sa oma, binayubo nin paghigos
    8. An atang ka’ning burak bulawan man su kakolor.
    9. Nu Hulyo sa solnupan, paglaom an nagin timon.

    from here:

    1. Lin-nuwas su ngaran bigla ku alkalde sadto stage, ku gobernador sadto atop, ku kongresman sadto alad, ku kapitan sadto basuran.
    2. Alagad ku mag-brigada eskwela ku usad na semana, ag gamiton su madyik na pintura na kaamu man sa kolor kadtung sadto pabaloy na kuru-kalinga.

    from here:

    1. Su gira nu gitara Pigsusog ta ning kanta (The foottracks of glad guitars We retrace with melodies )
    2. Su hadok nu sampaga Pigsaray ta sa plawta (The kiss of jasmine flowers We treasure in fervent flutes )

    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


    (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


    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.


    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”.


    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!).


    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

    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.


    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.


    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.

    Filipino Personal Pronouns

    Nominative Series

    I accidentally come accross this Botolan Sambal personal pronoun series and I was quite struck with the regularity of the nominative series:

    Number Person Nominative
    Genitive Oblique
    Minimal 1 (singular) hiko -ako/-ko ko kongko
      1+2 (dual) hita -ta ta konta
    2(singular) hika -ka mo komo
    3 (singular) hiya -ya na kona
    Augmented 1 (plural) hikayi -kayi nawen konnawen
    1+2 (plural) hitamo -tamo tamo kontamo
    2 (plural) hikawo -kawo moyo, yo komoyo
    3 (plural) hila -hila la konla

    Notice that all the Full Nominative personal pronouns starts with hi-, which was originally si-. Also the Oblique series all starts with k-.

    Genitive Series

    This reminds me as well of the Hanunoo Mangyan personal pronoun series where the Genitive all starts with ni-, as well as the Bisayan languages:

    Number Person Nominative
    Genitive Oblique
    Minimal 1 (singular) ako niko kangko
    1+2 (dual) * * *
    2 (singular) kawo nimo kanmo
    3 (singular) siya niya kanya
    Augmented 1 (plural) kita, ta nita kanta
    1+2 (plural) kami nimi kanmi
    2 (plural) siyu niyu kanyu
    3 (plural) sida nida kanda

    Samarnon has the following pronoun series:

    Number Person Nominative
    Genitive Oblique
    Minimal 1 (singular) ako/ak nakon/nak/ko akon/ak
    1+2 (dual) * * *
    2 (singular) ikaw/ka nimo/nin/mo imo/im
    3 (singular) siya,hiya niya iya
    Augmented 1 (plural) kita/ta
    naton aton/at
    1+2 (plural) kami
    namon amon
    2 (plural) kamo/kam niyu iyo
    3 (plural) sila/hira nira ira

    The na> of Samarnon in the Genitive for 1 singular and  plural and 1+2 plural developed from the sequence ni+akon, ni+aton, and ni+amon with accompanying vowel loss, and happened in Tagalog (namin, natin), Amis (nako, namo) and Sugbuhanon as well but not in Bikol (niako, niamo, niato), described by Reid on page 245.

    Sugbuhanon has this pronoun series.

    Number Person Nominative
    Minimal 1 (singular) ako/ko ako/akoha nako/ko nako/kanako
    1+2 (dual) * * * *
    2 (singular) ikaw/ka imo/imoa nimo/mo nimo/kanimo
    3 (singular) siya, sya iya/iyaha niya niya/kaniya
    Augmented 1 (plural) kita/ta ato/atoa nato nato/kanato
    1+2 (plural) kami/mi amo/amoa namo namo/kanamo
    2 (plural) kamo inyo/inyoha ninyu ninyo/kaninyo
    3 (plural) sila ila/ilaha nila nila/kanila

    Topic Series

    Kapampangan , on the other hand, has nominative series that starts with i-, which would be the equivalent Topic series in Amis below:

    Number Person Nominative
    Nominative(enclitic) Genitive
    Minimal 1 (singular) iaku/aku ku ku kanako, kaku
    1+2 (dual) ikata kata, ta ta kekata
    2 (singular) ika ka mu keka
    3 (singular) iya, ya ya na kaya/keya
    Plural 1 (plural) ikatamo, itamo katamu, tamu tamu, ta kekatamu, kekata
    1+2 (plural) ikami, ike kami, ke mi kekami, keke
    2 (plural) ikayu, iko kayu, ko yu kekayu, keko
    3 (plural) ila la da, ra karela

    Amis personal pronoun series is like this:

    Number Person Nominative
    Minimal 1 (singular) kako nako
    itakoan ako
    1+2 (dual)
    2 (singular) kiso niso
    itisoan iso
    3 (singular) cira nira iciraan cira
    Augmented 1 plural) kita mita
    itamian ita
    1+2 (plural) kami niam
    ititaan ami
    2  (plural) kamo namo
    itamoan amo
    3 (plural) kohni nohni
    itohnian ohni

    Oblique Series

    Northern Catanduanes, one of Bikol varieties, uses ki– in a few Oblique pronouns:

    Number Person Nominative Genitive Oblique
    Minimal 1 (singular) ako ko ako
    1+2 (dual) * * *
    2 (singular) ka mo imo
    3 (singular) siya niya kiya
    Augmented 1 (plural) kita nato ato
    1+2 (plural) kami namo amo
    2 (plural) kamo ninyo inyo
    3 (plural) sila nila kila

    And Agta Partido has ki– in these series as well:

    Number Person Nominative Genitive Oblique
    Minimal 1 (singular) ako ko kiyako
    1+2 (dual) * * *
    2 (singular) ka, ika mo kimo
    3 (singular) iya niya, ya kunya
    Augmented 1 (plural) kita ta kiyato
    1+2 (plural) kami mi kiyamo
    2 (plural) kamo yu kinyo
    3 (plural) ida ninda kunda

    Filipino Auxlang

    With this info, we can now construct a Filipino auxlang with a regular pronoun series such as: (* found in a natural language, same case, # found in a natural language, different case)

    Number Person Nominative
    (enclitic) Genitive
    Objective [ki]
    (Dative /
    Minimal 1 (singular) siko* -ko niko* kiko diko iko
    1+2 (dual) sita* -ta nita* kita# dita ita*
    2 (singular) simo# -mo nimo* kimo* dimo imo#
    3 (singular) siya* -ya niya* kiya* diya iya#
    Augmented 1 (plural) sito to nito kito dito ito
    1+2 (plural) simi -mi nimi* kimi dimi imi
    2 (plural) siyo* -yo niyo* kiyo diyo iyo
    3 (plural) sira* -ra nira* kira* dira ira#

    The Genitive prefix was assigned to ni– since its the most commonly used prefix for this case, same for si– .

    The enclitic form’s case is dependent on the focus of the verb. If actor focus (AF), its Nominative, if it’s Non-actor Focus (NAF), its Genitive.

    [di-] was chosen for Locative case since it patterns after demonstratives and locative case marker di. From Reid’s:


    The Oblique starts with [ki-] since Kapampangan oblique case marker common singular is “king”, Bikol singular proper noun marker is “ki”; the ka- prefixed is from “kay”. 




    Grammar differences for some Philippine languages, Part 1

    Constantino has produced a table of comparison for Philippine languages in his “Sentence Patterns Of the Ten Major Philippine Languages”. From these sentences, we can see the differences between some of these languages.

    I have tried to list down here some of these differences, based on the sample sentences only. It is quite possible that these languages can form sentences other than the one exhibited here.

    1. The infix <um>

    Affix Form

      Tagalog Waray Sebuano Tausug Ilokano Ibanag Pangasinan Kapampangan
    Infinitive / Imperative <um>
    -, mu>
    Sentence# 107,103
    Irrealis Mood or Future Tense CV> ma:> ma:> <um> maC> <um> mu>
    Sentence# 95,100 95,100 95,100 95,100 95,100 95,100 95,100
    Perfective Aspect, Realis Mood <um> <inm>
    <imm> <imin>
    <imm> me>,<in>,min>
    Sentence # 1,2,3,
    5,6,10, 57,58, 67,68, 97,101, 104
    5, 6,10,




    Progressive Aspect, Realis Mood C<um>V> na:>   <imm>,



    Sentence # 75,76,77, ,78,79,80, 108 75,76,77,
    79,80   76,77,
      Tagalog Waray Sebuano Tausug Ilokano Ibanag Pangasinan Kapampangan


    1. The languages that retained the use of the infix are Tagalog, Waray, Sebuano, Pangasinan and Kapampangan; while Tausug, Ilokano and Ibanag still use this but not uniformly or with some restrictions on use of <um> compared with other languages.
    2. The form “mangan” used in #103 used by Ilokano, Pangasinan and Kapampangan is difficult to say if using <um> or mag> or mang> affix. Same with Ibanag “miney” “went” in #6. In #103, Ilokano, Kapampangan and Pangasinan seemed to use mang> or mag>. Kapampangan word for “arrived” seemed not be be conjugated in <um> in #104. For #107, I do not know enough for the Ibanag and Kapampangan forms.
    3. In the Infinitive form, Cebuano and Kapampangan have similar form mu> while others have <um>. Tausug use of “my-” or <mi> in #6 instead of <im> could be related.
    4. Tagalog in the Perfective Aspect Realis Mood, in #4, used mag> with bigay, which does not combine with <um> with the meaning “give”.
    5. Waray used nag><CV> in the Progressive Aspect Realis Mood in #97. This is the only form that does not use <um> in Waray, so possibly there is an <um> form.
    6. Kapampangan exception in the Progressive Aspect Realis Mood is only #80, where it used ma><Ci>.
    7. Pangasinan in the Progressive Aspect Realis Mood only exception is the use of mang> in #108 and unaffixed stative verb in #75. In the Perfective Aspect Realis Mood, it seemed to use ang> in #2, #3, #58 and #68, and nan< in #4,#5.
    8. Ilokano used ag> in the Infinitive form in #107, in the Imperative form in #95, in the Irrealis Mood in #95 and #100, in the Perfective Aspect Realis Mood in #1 and nag> in #97. It also used it in the Progressive Aspect Realis Mood in #75,#76,#77,#78 in the form >ag<CVC> although there is another affix <um>base<in used in #79,#80 and just CVC> in #108. It used na> in #2, #6, and nang> in #4, #101.
    9. Ibanag forms for the Imperative Mood in #95 seemed to use the maC> affix, which has the naC> form in the Perfective Aspect Realis Mood in #1, #5, #10, #57,#67,#97. Ibanag seemed to use mang> in the form nang> in #4. In the Progressive Aspect Realis Mood, it uses either mag><CVC> in #75,#76,#77, or maC> in #78, #80, or CVC> in #108.
    10. Cebuano used nag><a> affix or its short form ga> for #75,#76,#77,#78,#79,#80 which are all weather/meteorological verbs. But also used ga> in #108. In the Perfective Aspect Realis Mood, it used nang> in #10.
    11. Tausug seemed to use na> in #3 and mang> in #4 in the Perfective Aspect Realis Mood. It used nag> in #97 and in the Progressive Aspect Realis Mood  nag><CV> in #78, unaffixed stative verbs in #75,#77, and na><CV> in #108. The form <imm> in #76 looks to me like a Perfective Aspect, not Progressive Aspect form, as well as the <im> form in #80.
    12. Bikol and Hiligaynon both used nag> prefix in all of the sentences above. Although in Bikol and Hiligaynon, there are Spanish grammars indicating that they used to employ <um> as well.
    13. Formation from the Imperative and Infinitive of the Perfective Aspect Realis Mood  is not uniform for all languages. Tagalog has the same forms (<um> / <um> ). Sebuano (mu> / ni>), Tausug (<um> / <im> ), Kapampangan (mu> / me>) seem to have vowel alternation. Waray (<um> / <inm>), Ilokano (<um> / <imm>), Pangasinan (<um> / <imm>) and Ibanag (<um> / <imin>) seem to indicate that the <in> and <um> are combined, but are in different order, with Ibanag infixing <um> after <in> unlike the rest. This Ibanag form <imin> actually matches the Bikol form <umin>.
    14. The formation from the Irrealis Mood of the Progressive Aspect Realis Mood is not uniform. Tausug (<um> / <um>) makes no distinction between the two. Cebuano (ma:> / none) and Ibanag (maC> / none) has no Progressive Aspect Realis Mood form. Ilokano ( none / <um><in>) makes no distinction on the Irrealis Mood. Waray (ma:> / na:>) changes the consonant.  Pangasinan (<um> / <un><CV>) has consonant and reduplication. Tagalog (CV> / C<um>V>) differentiates using <um>. And Kapampangan (mu>/ CV>) from prefixation to reduplication.
    15. Formation from the Perfective Aspect Realis Mood of the Progressive Aspect Realis Mood is not uniform. Sebuano (ni>/ none), Ibanag (<imin>/ none) have no Progressive Realis Mood forms. Tausug (<im> /<um> ) change in vowel. Waray (<inm> / na:>), Ilokano (<imm>/<um>base<in>) seemed to have split/combined the affixes. Tagalog (<um> / C<um>V>), Pangasinan (<imm>/<un><CV>) , Kapampangan( me> / CV>) all used CV> for the Progressive.
    16. Distinction between Infinitive and Irrealis Mood forms are not uniform as well. Ilokano( <um> / none) has no Irrealis Mood form. Tausug( <um> / <um>), Pangasinan( <um> / <um>), Kapampangan(mu> / mu>)make no distinction. Waray (<um> / ma:>), Sebuano( mu> /ma:>), Ibanag( <um> / maC>) seem to be related in the use of ma>. Tagalog(<um> / CV>) is the only one using reduplication.

    Phrase Markers used

    Phrase markers used with thematic relations in INTRANSITIVE (#1 agent – initiator of some action, capable of acting with volition), TRANSITIVE PATIENT (#2, #5 patient- entity undergoing the effect of some action, often undergoing some change of state; or theme – entity which is moved by an action, or whose location is described), TRANSITIVE RECIPIENT (#4 GOAL involved in actions describing changes of possession), TRANSITIVE LOCATION (#6 place in which something is situated or takes place ), WEATHER/METEOROLOGICAL VERBS (#75, #76, #77,#78, #79, #80, #104) , TRANSITIVE  with POSSESSOR (#10), TRANSITIVE REASON OR PURPOSE (#103), TRANSITIVE BENEFICIARY(#3 the entity for whose benefit the action was performed).  Beneficiary is a subtype of Reason or Purpose. Sample Verb below in Perfective Aspect Realis Mood.

        Genitive : P/P (PATIENT or POSSESSOR) Nominative Oblique
    Tagalog v<um>erb nang P/P (def. & indef.) ang ACTOR (def. & indef.) sa RECIPIENT , LOCATION
    para REASON
    para sa
    Bikol nag>verb nin P/P (indef.)
    kan P/P (def.)
    an ACTOR (def. & indef.)
    para sa
    Waray v<inm>erb hin P/P (indef.)
    han P/P (def.)
    an ACTOR (def.)
    in ACTOR (indef.)
    basi REASON
    para han
    Sebuano ni>verb sa P/P (def.)
    ug POSSESSOR (#3) (indef.)
    ang ACTOR (def. & indef.) sa RECIPIENT , LOCATION
    arun REASON
    para sa BENEFICIARY
    Hiligaynon nag>verb sang P/P (def.)
    sing P/P (indef.)
    ang ACTOR (def. & indef.) sa RECIPIENT , LOCATION
    para REASON
    para sa BENEFICIARY
    Tausug v<im>erb (#2) – P/P
    sin P/P
    ampa REASON
    para ha BENEFICIARY
    Kapampangan me>verb ya -ng/ning P/P (indef.?)
    (yang P/P def.? )
    na ning POSSESSOR
    ing ACTOR (#2) king RECIPIENT , LOCATION
    bangkanita REASON
    para king BENEFICIARY
    Ilokano v<imm>erb (#3) ti P/P (def. & indef.) dyay ACTOR
    ti ACTOR
    kadaydyay na RECIPIENT
    idyay/iti LOCATION
    tapnu REASON
    para kadaydyay BENEFICIARY
    Ibanag v<imin>erb (#3) tu PATIENT
    tapenu REASON
    para taC
    Pangasinan v<imm>erb (#1) (na) P/P (#3)
    na P/P
    su ACTOR,
    may ACTOR (#6)
    tapyan REASON
    Filipino v<inum>erb(?) or
    nang P/P (def.)
    ning P/P (indef.)
    (like Romblomanon)
    nu (distal, like Southern Bikol)
    — –Nominative
    sang ACTOR (def.) 
    (like Bontok, Kankanay)
    sing ACTOR (indef.)

    su (distal, like Bikol)
    ang ACTOR (def.) 
    ing ACTOR (indef.)

    (like Waray)
    kang RECIPIENT (def.)
    king RECIPIENT (indef.)
    para kang/king BENEFICIARY
    (like Bikol/Kapampangan)

    ta REASON (like Bikol)
    su TIME (past)
    nu TIME (future)

    Notes on Phrase Markers used:

    1. The genitive marker indicates that both the verb and the noun can have arguments, it shows as argument of either the noun or the verb. 
    2. Phrase markers for the beneficiary seems to be “para” + LOCATION marker. I believe “para” is a borrowing from Spanish. Waray beneficiary phrase marker is different than the others as it uses “para han” (“para” + PATIENT) instead of the expected “para ha” (“para” + LOCATION ) which all the others use. It’s like Tagalog using “para nang” instead of “para sa” in the following sample sentence: “Bumili ng bulaklak ang binata para *nang (sa) dalaga. ”
    3. Is “sa” originally from “san”? I got into this thinking because of the Cebuano data and the Waray data. In Cebuano, “sa” + PATIENT is counterpart to Hiligaynon “sang” + PATIENT. In Waray, the “para han” is maybe a para + RECIPIENT/LOCATION after all, so its possible that the original LOCATION common marker is “sang”, applied as well with RECIPIENT, then changed to become a PATIENT marker in the Bisayan languages, with Cebuano dropping the ending. Dropping of ending frequently happens in Waray, for example akon > ak (my/mine), lang> la (only). In Cebuano itself, the prefix gin> has become gi>. I would like to think the “sa” is a prefix in personal pronouns and “sang” is the marker particle.
    4. Tausug “in”, Kapampangan “ying/ing” and Ibanag “i” (y) seems to be cognate with Old Bikol/Waray “in” which is common indefinite nominative marker. Pangasinan “su/say” seems to be related to Bikol “su/si” for those that have previously been mentioned or specified in the conversation, (I termed distal above or common definite nominative distal marker), unlike “ang” which is proximal. Ilokano “dyay” I don’t know how to relate to other markers.
    5. Bikol “nin” , Waray “hin”, Sebuano “ug” are indefinite genitive markers. Sebuano “ug” might be related to Subanen “og” or “nog”. A similar process as what happened in Maranaw could have happened where Genitive form “nu/ni” has become “u/i”, so prior form nog > og in Sebuano. It seems that the right form in Sebuano is “og”, not “ug”.  Although Hiligaynon has “sang” vs “sing” distinction, it has fallen into disuse and encountered mostly in formal, traditional or conservative translations of the Bible. I am not sure of  Ibanag “tu” and Kapampangan “yang” if definite or indefinite.  
    6. Bikol “kan” “usually .. refer to something that was already mentioned” as the counterpart of “si/su”, thus can be used instead of “nin si/su”.
    7. For POSSESSOR marker, Kapampangan used “na ning”, and Ibanag used “na”, which is different from the PATIENT marker.
    8. Tausug and Pangasinan did not use any PATIENT marker.  Tausug use of “sin” for POSSESSOR may be a remnant of the old use of “sin” for PATIENT. In other examples, this language does not use a marker for its genitive. Same with Pangasinan which used “na” in the POSSESSOR.
    9. Ibanag form for nominative marker “i” (y), seems to have a coda of the initial consonant of the following word, like the other markers.
    10. Pangasinan has a different marker “may” for nominative (#6), and Kapampangan has “ya yin”.
    11. Phrase marker for Location and Recipient seemed to have merged, from the original Location marker.

    Middle Voice

    This is just a description of the <um> affix to differentiate it with mag>, ma> and mang>. Here I follow Maldonado’s conception of middle in his work, where the middle voice “tends to occur can be characterized in more general terms: motion (translational, non-translational and change in body posture), change of mental state (cognition, emotive speech and emotion), spontaneous events and self-directed actions (direct and indirect body care). Of all these categories the one that fluctuates between middle and reflexive marking across languages is self directed actions. Sample verbs in Tagalog, with definition from Nagaya:

    1. Translational Motion – “actions involving motion of an animate entity under its own power through space”, a motion of an agent. Ex:  umakyat (climb up), umalis (go away, leave), pumunta (went), tumakas (run away).
    2. Nontranslational motion – “those which denote actions of motor manipulation of the body”, an agent
      makes such a motion. Ex: umikot (turn oneself), umunat (stretch one’s body) [mag-unat is reflexive], lumiko (turn), yumuko (bow).
    3. Change in Body Posture –  forms of verbs of change in body posture indicate a situation where an agent changes its own body posture. Ex: lumuhod (kneel), umupo (sit down), Kumandong (sit on the lap)
    4. Change of State (inchoative) – an agent undergoes a change of state within its personal sphere, and the agent itself is affected by the process. Ex: tumigil (stop), sumara (close), lumaki (became big).
    5. Cognition Middle – umisip () (vs. mag-isip)
    6. Emotive speech acts –dumaing(whine), tumangis (lament)
    7. Spontaneous Events –  tumigil (stop oneself), umusok (produce smoke),
    8. Meteorological events – bumagyo, umulan, humangin, etc.
    9. Indirect Middle – no example.
    10. Grooming or bodily care – magdamit (get dressed), maghilamos (wash face), nagbihis (dressed), nagpulbo (put powder), nagsombrero (put on a hat)
    11. Emotion Middle – nagalit (got angry), natakot (got a fright), nabigla (got a shock)

    Following Maldonado said, Grooming or bodily care is not using <um> but mag> instead, showing presence of control over the action, and is reflexive. Emotion middle as well uses ma> for those that are externally caused showing lack of control.

    His Yucatec Maya observations seem to hold to these languages as well: “In reflexive constructions the subject acts volitionally and with control on the self inducing some change. In contrast, middles highlight the affectedness undergone by the subject as a consequence of some change which s/he undergoes. In the middle construction the change-of-state is not volitionally controlled by the subject. Thus the reflexive construction in (3b) designates the subject’s act of using some medicine to get better, while in (3c) the subject’s health simply improves with no particular effort.”  In Tagalog the verbs for that would be nagpagaling /pinagaling (transitive/reflexive cure) vs. gumaling (middle cure).

    “An outstanding feature of middles in YM is that they always depict an absolute event, one in which energy is not profiled. The event is thus seen as neutral or spontaneous. In (4) the decrease in energy is observed as we go from the transitive (4a), to the reflexive in (4b) where the cat stretches out, to the middle construction in (4c) where the clothes simply sag.” In Tagalog that would be inunat (transitive) vs. mag-unat (reflexive) vs. umunat (middle).

    What is interesting about the middle system in YM is that it shows notable irregularities from general tendencies of middle marking. First, grooming actions take reflexive not middle marking as is evident from the ungrammaticality of the middle construction in (5b).” . Tagalog equivalent would be maghugas (reflexive) vs. *humugas (middle) for “wash oneself”.

    Second, in cases of motion, again it is the reflexive, not the middle, the construction employed to signal that the subject controls his movements. In the first story (6a) the subject’s change of position is a routine action as expressed by the intransitive verb. In the second story (6b), the reflexive encodes a fast action that the main character of the story does to avoid being seen by the fox. The middle construction is precluded from both situations. “ Tagalog equivalent would be lumuhod (middle) vs. nagluhod (transitive/reflexive).

    Third, in cases of change of state again the reflexive contrasts with the intransitive form. In the reflexive construction (7b) the subject makes himself sick in order to avoid going to work. The absolute intransitive is a spontaneous uncontrolled event.” This can’t be applied in Tagalog since both uses mag> : magkasakit vs. magsakitsakitan. 

    “Moreover, in cases where both the reflexive and the middle construction can be used, the reflexive implies a reading of unexpectedness as in (8a). Crucially, the middle construction in (8b) would be chosen to depict natural occurrences like a firecracker bursting in the town festivities.” Tagalog equivalents would be nagputok (reflexive) vs pumutok (middle).

    The YM voice system is quite sensitive to the degree of control imposed by the subject. The examples so far offered suggest that the contrast between reflexives and middles precisely resides in the notion of control. While both develop from transitive roots, the reflexive is a case where the subject maintains control of his self-directed actions. In contrast, the middle develops absolute events with no subject control. In fact the middle aligns with the nuclear properties of intransitive verbs and contrast with reflexives in exactly the same manner. …….In fact the middle develops from transitive to contrast drastically with the reflexive construction. In YM the middle is a derived construction independent from the reflexive.”  Tagalog et al’s middle is not derived from the transitive, as Maldonado’s other statement applies: “In a variety of languages the middle is a basic, non-derivative form and it constitutes the basis to derive either reflexive or transitive constructions.”. This seems to hold in Philippine languages since it is reconstructed that mag> and ma> is derived from <um>.

    In Nagaya’s work, she used the term middle with 3 meanings:  middle (miiddle a), reflexive (middle b and middle c) [see illustration]. She said: “There is more than one affix for Actor Focus, -um- and mag- being the most productive. AF verb forms express non-active voice categories, representing the antipassive voice with extroverted verbs and the middle voice with introverted verbs, respectively.” Here she showed a verb form using <um> but with antipassive use: “Pumatay si Juan ng aso.” since the action is externally directed. “Bumili” seems to be of this type as well.

    The concept of introverted and extroverted verbs is useful in mag> and ma> for determining if they are reflexive or reciprocal/other transitive. “the distinction between “introverted verbs” and “extroverted verbs”. Introverted verbs “refer to actions which one generally performs upon one’s self” (ibid.:803); extroverted verbs “describe actions which the subject usually performs toward others” (ibid.:803). This contrast between extroverted and introverted verbs, we argue, plays an important role in the Tagalog middle voice as well. On the one hand, AF verb forms of extroverted verbs cannot express middle situations but only antipassive situations as in (57) and (58). Indeed, all the examples of antipassive constructions we have discussed are AF clauses with extroverted verbs: kumain ‘eat’ (15), pumatay ‘kill’ (16), uminom ‘drink’ (19), and mangagat ‘bite’ (20). On the other hand, introverted verbs can realize middle situations, but not antipassive situations, with AF verb forms like (59) and (60). In fact, the AF verb forms we have looked at in Section 4 are those with introverted verbs such as verbs of grooming and of change in body posture. ”  Mag>/ma> with introverted verbs are reflexive. Mag>/ma> with extroverted verbs either are transitive reciprocal or plain active.

    Nagaya further said that “To express a middle meaning with extroverted verbs, which is an unpredictable situation, it is necessary to employ the sarili reflexive construction. The situations the sarili reflexive construction realizes are middle situations in the sense that the development of an action is confined within the agent’s personal sphere and the agent him- or herself is affected (cf. English reflexives in 12). But they are “unusual” middle situations, where extroverted verbs have a middle meaning contrary to expectations, being distinguished from “usual” middle situations expressed by AF clauses like (59) and (60).”. I think this is a reflexive in NAF focus.

    She said that mag> is a middle voice affix: “Certain verbs of grooming (Section 4) can have a specific body part as a patient. For example, the AF verb form magsabon ‘wash (with soap)’ means that the agent washes her own whole body as in (25a). But it can also be used to mean that the agent washes her specific body part kamay ‘hand’ as in (25b). In this case, the body part has to be interpreted to belong to the agent; the interpretation that the agent washed someone else’s body part is not possible. Note that the body part patient here is interpreted as part of the agent and within her personal sphere, and is different from a “distinct patient” involved in active situations.” Following Maldonado, mag> is actually not a middle affix but reflexive in her example.

    She further said : “Another example of transitive AF middle clauses is a “causative middle”. Let us compare (27a) and (27b). Both of them mean that the speaker was kissed by Kathleen, but are different in terms of who benefits from the action. The AF causative middle clause in (27a) [Nagpahalik ako kay Kathleen] denotes that the action of kissing was carried out for the benefit of the speaker/agent.” This actually looks like a “causative reflexive” to me, as also noted by Nagaya in Lyons’ work. Other examples in here are: nagpagupit (had a haircut), nagpaluto (had cooked for oneself), nagpasama (had accompanied).

    In Nagaya’s work, mag> also has a naturally reciprocal meaning for certain verbs (where multiple participants act on each other, are also realized by an AF verb form) as well. Ex: Nag-away (quarrelled with each other), nag-usap (talked with each other), naghiwalay (separate), and nagtalik (copulate).

    So I have recasted Nagaya’s table here as :

    Verb Type Affix Actor Focus
    Introverted Verbs <um> Middle Voice
    Extroverted Verbs <um> ??
    Introverted Verbs mag> Reflexive Voice
    Extroverted Verbs magpa> Causative Reflexive
    Extroverted Verbs mag><an Reciprocal Voice
    Extroverted Verbs mag> Active Voice
    Extroverted Verbs magpa> Causative Active

    Although Nagaya classified of one  <um> use as antipassive, this might be difficult, just as it is in Tongan: “For one thing, as mentioned earlier in this chapter, morphological evidence argues against the antipassive analysis: it is not likely that a middle verb is derived from a transitive verb. Rather, it seems that the transitive verb is derived from a middle verb by affixing -‘i. This morphological fact argues against the antipassive analysis of the Tongan middle.” Aldridge offers reasons why this is an antipassive, although <um> is not derived from a transitive verb.