New Bikol Orthography – Part 3

This page is under construction, a rough draft. Comments is disabled for the moment. Please do not quote yet as the phrasing will definitely change..

This part will discuss handling loan words or borrowed words from any language, which is very important as Bikol has substantial borrowings from Castellano and English, and more is to come from other influential languages.

Loanword phonology for the borrowing language has 2 issues: (1) what phonemes it will accept and adopt and (2) what sequences and combinations these phonemes must take.

Allowed Phonemes

As of now, the following phonemes are contrastive in the onset and coda of Bikol syllables: 16 consonants: m, n, ŋ, p, b, t, d, k, g, ч, s, h (not contrastive in coda), l, r, w, y ( plus 1 more consonant for Buhinon and Viracnon: ƥ / λ ) and 3 vowels: a, e/i, o/u ( plus 1 more vowel for Central Bikol: ɷ). The vowels e and i and o and u are constrative in borrowed words only. There are many more phonemes contrasted in other possible language donors than these 21 phonemes and any one of them could find their way into Bikol through borrowings. In the coming globalized world, these donor languages could possibly include those languages with large populations and unique cultures, as well as the other indigenous languages of the Philippines (Tagalog, Sugbuhanon, etc.) and other Austronesian languages (Javanese, Malay, etc). These could also include the dead languages Latin, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit and Pali. Please refer to the table below for the possible word donor languages to Bikol with large populations. Apart from what Bikol already has, what other phonemes are we going to allow into the Bikol phoneme inventory? The answer of course would depend on a lot of factors and on personal preferences, or make that social preferences. I will hazard here my very own personal preferences. I want to identify first what should not be allowed. Most of my choices will be arbitrary of course.

In current phonetics, airstream mechanism for all sounds are either pulmonic egressive, glottalic egressive, lingual ingressive or glottalic ingressive. I will only recognize 2 airstream mechanism: Ingressive and Egressive. My opinion of glottalic egressive is a combination of egressive and one of phonation types: closed phonation. Since the glottis blocks the airstream from the chest, the glottis alternates to produce the airstream. Closed phonation nonsonorants are normally called ejectives and closed phonation sonorants are called glottalized consonants. Ejectives and glottalized consonants are mostly found in smallish languages in Western North America with a few in Asia & Pacific (like Ubykh), South America and Africa. Only egressive phonemes will be admitted into Bikol and ingressive will be converted to their egressive counterparts. Phonation will be limited to closed ( “ч” ), modal/voiced ( “ɦ” ) and voiceless ( “h” ) so breathy, slack, stiff, creaky, plus the laryngeal states harsh and faucalized phonation should not be imported into the language as phonemic modification. Advance tongue root and retracted tongue root, being laryngeal modifications, will not be imported into Bikol sound system. Breathy and slack will be subsumed under voiceless ( “h” ) as an allophone and stiff and creaky to voiced ( “ɦ” originally a murmured symbol) in the same way. Closed phonation, either as ejectives or glottalized consonants, will be permitted, like that of Vietnamese. Aspiration will be treated as consonant cluster with ‘h’. This is found in Mandarin, Hindustani, English, Bengali and Hokkien. In German dialects, this is treated as a consonant cluster. Pre-aspirated stops ʰp, ʰt, ʰk are found in Icelandic and are treated as clusters as well. Susurration (the use of murmured phonation instead of open phonation in aspiration) will be treated as consonant clusters and occurs in Hindustani and Bengali.

For the complex or co-articulated consonants, my view is that any borrowing of these will be treated as a consonant cluster much like secondary articulation and double articulation. Secondary articulation is co-articulation of a weaker consonant and in a different manner.

  1. Labialization – treated as consonant cluster with “w”. Example: Scottish English “wh” or ʍ like that of “which” will be written as “hw”. Eastern Arrernte or Ikngerripenhe has labialization at all places and manner of articulation as explained in Wikipedia.
  2. Palatalization – treated as consonant cluster with “j”. Found in Russian as soft consonants and other Slavic languages. Palatalized alveolar will include ʑ > zj and ɕ > sj as well.
  3. Velarization – treat as consonant cluster with “ƥ” or “x”. Found in Russian as hard consonants. Irish makes distinctions between velarized and palatalized consonants. ɫ is treated as velarized alveolar, so written as lƥ.
  4. Pharyngealization – treated as consonant cluster with ʕ. Found in Arabic as emphatic consonants. Ubykh distinguishes labialized and palatalized consonants as well as pharyngealized consonants.

Doubly articulated consonants will be treated as consonant clusters as well if borrowed. Other ways of releasing plosives are also treated as consonant clusters: lateral release (treat as consonant cluster with the corresponding voiced/voiceless lateral on the point of articulation), nasal release (treat as consonant cluster with voiced/voiceless nasal of similar place of articulation) and fricative release (treat as consonant cluster with voiced/voiceless fricative/sibilant of similar place of articulation). Affricates will be treated as consonant clusters as well. Rhoticity will be treated as a cluster with retroflex consonant, like English ɝ and ɚ. Rhoticity in vowels I think is a co-articulated vowel and retroflex consonant.

Nasals may be imported like Burmese voiceless nasals. Taps will be subsumed under flaps since there is no language that distinguish them, and trills will be subsumed and converted to flaps in each point of articulation (ʙ, ʋ/ѵ, ʀ, ɹ/r/ɾ). All trills will be treated as consonant clusters, like Spanish trilled r as a consonant cluster of several tap or flap r’s (long r). All geminate consonants will be treated as consonant clusters. There will be no distinction between approximants and fricatives. Lingoulabials will not be imported into Bikol. Lateral will be distinguised from nonlateral consonants, with both having nasal, plosive, fricative, flap and glides. Lateral nasal, lateral glides, lateral plosives, lateral fricatives, lateral flaps may be imported but only as a possibility in the future. All places of articulation may be distinguished like other nonlateral consonants.

Bilabial, alveolar, retroflex, palatal, velar, uvular can be used for nasal and oral plosives and fricatives. Labiodental, interdental and palato-alveolar will be restricted to fricatives/sibilants. All sounds produced at pharyngeal and epiglottal and epiglotto-pharyngeal areas will be combined and not distinguished at all. Bikol already has 2 glottal sounds which will be maintained.

So here is the list of the same languages with their individual consonant phonemes not found in Bikol and how to treat them (not exhaustive). Their consonant clusters will be treated as such but modified in accordance with the table below.

Languages Native Speakers Single Phonemes Phonemes treated here as Clusters
Mandarin 843M ɥ, f, x, ʂ, ɻ ts, tʂ, tɕ, ph, th, kh, tʂh, tɕh
Hindustani 366M f, z, ʃ, ɦ, ʈ, ɖ tʃ, dʒ, ph, th, ʈh, kh, tʃh, bɦ, dɦ, ɖɦ, gɦ, dʒɦ, lɦ, rɦ, mɦ, nɦ
Spanish 358M ɲ, ʎ, f, β, ð, ɣ, θ, x tʃ, rr
English 341M f, v, θ, ð, z, ʃ, ʒ tʃ, dʒ, ph, th, kh
Arabic 206M q, f, θ, ð, z, ʃ, x, ɣ, ħ, ʕ tʕ, dʕ, sʕ, ðʕ, lʕ
Portuguese 178M ɲ, ʎ, f, v, z, ʃ, ʒ, x
Bengali 171M f, z, ʃ, ʈ, ɖ, ɽ tʃ, dʒ, ph, th, ʈh, kh, tʃh, bɦ, dɦ, ɖɦ, gɦ, dʒɦ
Russian 170M f, v, z, x, ʂ, ʐ ts, tɕ, mj, nj, pj, bj, tj, dj, kj, gj, fj, vj, sj, zj, xj, rj, lj
Japanese 122M ɸ, f, z, ʃ, ɕ ts, dz, tɕ, dɕ
German 100M f, v, z, ʃ, ʒ, ç, x, ʁ, pf, ts, tʃ, dʒ
French 80M ɲ, ɥ, f, v, z, ʃ, ʒ, ʁ
Javanese 76M ɲ, ʈ, ɖ tʃ, dʒ
Korean 74M tɕ, ph, th, kh, tɕh
Vietnamese 68M c, ɲ, f, v, z, x, ɣ, b’, d’ th
Tamil 66M ɳ, ʈ,, ɻ,, ɭ ʈʃ
Italian 62M ɲ, ʎ, f, v, z, ʃ ts, dz, tʃ, dʒ
Turkish 61M c, ɟ, ɫ, f, v, z, ʃ, ʒ, ɣ tʃ, dʒ
Hokkien 47M ʑ, ɕ ts, dz, tɕ, ph, th, kh, tsh, tɕh
Persian 40M ɢ, f, v, z, ʃ, ʒ, x, ɣ tʃ, dʒ
Malay 40M ɲ, f, v, z, ʃ tʃ, dʒ
Burmese 32M θ, z, ʃ, ɬ, voiceless m̥, n̥, ɲ & ŋ̊ ph, th, sh, tʃh, kh, tʃ, dʒ
Hausa 25M
Amharic 18M ɲ, f, z, ʃ, ʒ, p’, t’, k’ ts’, tʃ’, tʃ, dʒ
Hebrew 10M f, v, z, ʃ, ʒ, χ, ʁ ts, tʃ, dʒ

To summarize, these will be the list of additional phonemes: Stops ( voiceless m̥, n̥, ɲ, ŋ̊, voiced ɲ, c, ɟ, q, ɢ), glides (ɥ), laterals (ɬ, ʎ), fricatives (ɸ, β, f, v, θ, ð, z, ʃ, ʒ,ç, x,ɣ, χ, ʁ, ħ, ʕ, ɦ), retroflex ( ɳ, ʈ, ɖ, ʂ, ʐ, ɻ, ɽ, ɭ ), ejectives (p’, t’, k’ ) and glottalized (b’,d’). Other consonants are found in smallish languages (e.g.: ɴ, ʡ, ʝ, ɮ, ʟ), so would take time to be influential in Bikol. Here is a tabular graph of all the simple consonants that will be allowed into Bikol:

<> will insert table here later <>

For the vowels, we can allow other vowels but not with too many distinctions. So 3 distinctions in height (Close, Mid, Open), 3 in backness (front, central, back) and 2 in labialization (spread, rounded, with compressed merged with rounded). Nasalization may be imported later. Phonation distinction on vowels may also be imported but should be restricted to voiced, unvoiced and glottalized only. There is no need to include too much distinctions, such that certain phonemes need to merge into 1 phoneme if borrowed, although they can remain as allophones: The following are all oral voiced vowels indicating what other vowels will be subsumed into what: i/ɪ › i , e › e , ɛ/æ › æ , y/ʏ › y , ø › ø , œ/ɶ › œ , u/ʊ › u , o › o , ɔ/ɒ › ɒ , ɯ › ɯ , ɤ › ɤ , ʌ/ɑ › ʌ , ɨ › ɨ , ɘ/ə › ə , ɜ/a/ɐ › a , ʉ › ʉ , ɵ › ɵ , ɞ › ɞ. Each of these vowels may have nasal voiced, oral glottalized and oral voiceless counterparts.

Vowel clusters will be limited to succession of syllables without intervening consonants (long vowels or with a very slight transitional glide) similar to Squamish which appears to have vowel clusters consisting of distinct vowels with apparently neither glottal insertion nor diphthongization of vowels to break up the hiatus. Semivowels in diphthongs and triphthongs are treated in Bikol as glide consonants, so will not be considered a vowel cluster. The following Castellano dipththongs and triphthongs will be converted to a vowel+consonant or consonant+vowel sequence: ai › ay, ei › ey, oi › oy, au › aw, eu › ew, ou › ow, ia › ya, ie › ye, io › yo, iu › yu or iw, ui › wi or uy, ua › wa, ue › we, uo › wo, iai › yay, iei › yey, uai › way and uei › wey. Centering diphthongs in English will be treated as vowel sequence, but both vowels needs to be clearly articulated.

Here’s the list for each language of vowels after conversion to the various allowed vowels (not exhaustive):

Languages Single Phonemes
Mandarin i › i , e › e , ɛ › æ , y › y , œ › œ , u/ʊ › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ɤ › ɤ , ɑ › ʌ , ə › ə , a › a
Hindustani i/ɪ › i , e › e , ɛ/æ › æ , u/ʊ › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ɑ › ʌ , ə › ə
Spanish i › i , e › e , u › u , o › o , a › a
English i/ɪ › i , e › e , ɛ/æ › æ , u/ʊ › u , o › o , ɔ/ɒ › ɒ , ʌ/ɑ › ʌ , ə › ə , ɜ/a/ɐ › a
Arabic i › i , u › u , a › a
Portuguese i › i , e › e , ɛ › æ , u › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ɯ › ɯ , a/ɐ › a , ĩ, ẽ, ũ, õ, nasal ɐ
Bengali i › i , e › e , æ › æ , u › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , a › a , ĩ, ẽ, ũ, õ, ã, nasal æ, nasal ɔ
Russian i › i , e › e , u › u , o › o , ɨ › ɨ , ə › ə , a › a
Japanese i › i , e › e , o › o , ɯ › ɯ , a › a
German i/i:/ɪ › i , e/e: › e , ɛ/ɛ: › æ , y/y:/ʏ › y , ø/ø: › ø , œ › œ , u/u:/ʊ › u , o/o: › o , ɔ › ɒ , ə › ə , a/a:/ɐ › a
French i › i , e › e , ɛ/ɛ: › æ , y › y , ø › ø , œ › œ , u › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ɑ › ʌ , ə › ə , a › a , nasal ɛ, nasal œ, nasal ɔ, nasal ɑ
Javanese i › i , e › e , ɛ › æ , u › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ə › ə , a › a
Korean i/i: › i , e/e: › e , ɛ/ɛ: › æ , ø/ø: › ø , u/u: › u , o/o: › o , ɯ/ɯ: › ɯ , ʌ/ʌ: › ʌ , a/a: › a
Vietnamese i › i , e › e , ɛ › æ , u › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ɨ › ɨ , ə: › ə , ɜ/a/a: › a
Tamil i/i: › i , e/e: › e , u/u: › u , o/o: › o , a/a: › a
Italian i › i , e › e , ɛ › æ , u › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , a › a
Turkish i › i , e › e , y › y , ø › ø , u › u , o › o , ɯ › ɯ , a/ɐ › a
Hokkien/Minnan i › i , e › e , ɛ › æ , y › y , u › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ɤ › ɤ , ɨ › ɨ , ə › ə , a/ɐ › a
Persian i › i , e › e , æ › æ , u › u , o › o , ɒ › ɒ
Malay i › i , e › e , ɛ › æ , u › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ɑ › ʌ , ə › ə , a › a
Burmese i › i , e › e , ɛ › æ , u › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ə › ə , a › a
Hausa i/i: › i , e/e: › e , u/u: › u , o/o: › o , a/a: › a
Amharic i/ɪ › i , e › e , ɛ › æ , u/ʊ › u , o › o , ɔ › ɒ , ɨ › ɨ , ə › ə , a › a
Hebrew i › i , e › e , u › u , o › o , a › a

The full vowel phoneme inventory could result in the following 17 phonemes (IPA symbols):
Front Unrounded : i, e, æ
Front-central Rounded : y, ø, œ
Back Rounded : u, o, ɒ
Back-central Unrounded : ɯ, ɤ, ʌ
Central Unrounded : ɨ, ə, a
Central Rounded : ʉ, ɵ, ɞ
Counting their nasal voiced, oral glottalized and oral voiceless counterparts, we have a total of 68 vowels.

Level tones, contour tones, registers and stress (whether primary or secondary) is not to be imported as a phoneme. Bikol has no stress but has a chroneme or phonemic length, I suppose.


Since these phonemes do not exist in isolation but are combined in different ways to form syllables and words, we must also define permitted syllable structures, consonant clusters and vowel clusters. The syllabic structure of native Bikol base words, if disyllabic, is CVC’CVC. The values of the coda C of the first syllable can be consonants but can also be a chroneme and the coda C of the last syllable is obligatory but could evaluate to null if “h”. My view is that onset C is not optional for the initial syllable since the glottal stop is an obligatory default onset on base words that are traditionally written with vowel initials. I will explain my view further in a future post.

There is no consonant cluster whether initial or final within syllables in native Bikol words, only in syllable boundaries. Internally, all sorts of consonant combination is possible, except geminations. The question would be, should we allow consonant clusters into Bikol? Before answering that question, there is minor constraint against consonant clusters and a major one for vowel clusters in Bikol. There is no vowel clusters as w and y are treated as consonants and not as semivowels or parts of diphthongic sequence vowel+semivowel. If a glide is eliminated, a glottal consonant ‘ч’ or ‘h’ will appear thus treated as separate syllables.

Bikol: uang › чuчaŋ ‘bettle’, not *waŋ
Bikol: abaana › чabaчanah ‘too much’, not *чaba:nah

For consonant clusters, its presence is a source of irregularity for partial reduplication, at least in word initial position:

Castellano borrowing: planchar › plantʃah › nagplaplantʃah or nagpaplantʃah?
English borrowing: practice › praktis › nagprapraktis or nagpapraktis?

Either we standardize how to deal with partial reduplication or we avoid borrowing words with clusters and replace those already borrowed. If possible, I suggest the first recourse would be to borrow another word from another language with no consonant clusters. If we must borrow words with clusters, then my preferred reduplication would be the just the 1st consonant of the consonant cluster and not the entire cluster, or the 2nd alternative shown above. This is also after considering how -um- is infixed (see below).

In syllable final position, consonant clusters are not a problem at all, so we can borrow to our hearts content:

Castellano borrowing: extra › чekstrah › nagчeчekstrah
English borrowing: golf › golf › naggogolf , gogolfan

Glide+vowel combination in the initial syllable would not be a problem even with an infix -Vr- since it will just copy the vowel and semivowels are treated as consonants. The same applies with the infix -in-.

Castellano borrowing: piano › pyanoh › pyaranohon and not *paryanohon nor *piryanohon
Castellano borrowing: toalla › twaʎah › twaraʎahan and not *tarwaʎahan nor *turwaʎahan
Castellano borrowing: toalla › twaʎah › twinaʎahan (twinatwaʎahan), not *tinwaʎahan (tinwatwaʎahan)
Castellano borrowing: piano › pyanoh › pyinanohan (pyinapyanohan), not *pinyanohan (pinyapyanohan)

But with infix -um-, there seems to be a different rule: the infix is inserted after the first consonant and not after the glide of the cluster.

Castellano borrowing: piano › pyanoh › pumyanoh, not *pyumanoh
Castellano borrowing: toalla › twaʎah › tumwaʎah, not *twumaʎah

It is not just Castellano, English, Nihonggo or Mandarin with clusters, so words borrowed from these other languages must be accepted as well, as I find no reason to exclude them. Initial two-consonant clusters that are very common in Austronesian languages are initial geminates (Chuukese, Pohnpeian, Dobel, Sa’ban, Taba, etc). Dobel has these geminates: //bb dd tt ɸɸ ss mm nn ŋŋ ll rr ww jj чч//. Taba allows 11 different geminates in initial positions: /bb dd gg tt kk mm nn ŋŋ ll hh ww/ plus many other combinations. For a full list of possible consonant clusters in Taba, Leti and Roma, click here . Here are examples from Taba, an Austronesian language in Indonesia.

wwe ‘leg’
hhan ‘you (pl.) go’.
ddoba ‘earth’
rsuri ‘they pour’.

Geminates not in word initial positions would not be a problem so we can import them from Japanese, Italian, Arabic, Russian and even Ilokano and Bontok. There are also Austronesian languages that have preploded & postploded nasal clusters and prenasalized stops like mb, nd, ɲdʒ, ng. And some languages have prestopped nasals.

If we must borrow words with clusters, then should there be a minimum number of consonant series in a cluster that we can take in? Georgian can have up to 8 initial consonant clusters. Georgian brt’q’eli (flat) has 4 consonants, English glimpsed has 4 consonants word finally. Or take Russian zdravstvujtye ‘hello’ and vzglyat ‘opinion’ or the Polish initial consonant clusters here. Personally, I would like to limit consonant clusters to a series of 2 consonants only in syllable initial positions but 3-4 consonants in syllable final positions.

Words without vowels should not be allowed into Bikol, like Nuxalk xłp̓x̣ʷłtłpłłskʷc̓ ‘he had had a bunchberry plant’ or Tashlhiyt Berber tftktstt ‘you sprained it’. Also we should not allow words words with syllabic consonants, like Slovak žblnknutie. These vowelless consonant series should be inserted with vowels if to be borrowed. These example words are taken from Wikipedia.

Form of Borrowed Word
Apart from the sounds of the words to be naturalized in the borrowing language, there is another issue at hand with borrowed words: whether the words to be borrowed are just base words, or base words with inflections. The disadvantage of borrowing a fully inflected word is that it will force a change in the syntax of the borrowing language, by either bringing in new affixes (if there are a lot of borrowed words with such affix), the old affixes can not be used together with the borrowed word if of the same meaning thus rendering them obsolete, and forcing changes in word orders as well. Because of these, I am more inclined to borrow just the base words.

This page is under construction, a rough draft. Comments is disabled for the moment. Please do not quote yet as the phrasing will definitely change..

New Bikol Orthography – Part 1

I am currently working on a new orthography that can be used for both Coastal Bikol and Inland Bikol. My intent is to use this for the macro-language as well as the individual languages themselves and their dialects. All my works on these languages will use this new orthography.

What is are the features of this new orthography? The most important feature, which I will show in this Part 1, is the principle of regular 1-to-1 correspondence between the letters of the alphabet and each phonemic sounds.

  1. The following symbols will remain in use and unchanged: m n p b t d k g s h l r w y a e i o u.
  2. The digraph “ng” will be replaced by the IPA symbol “ŋ”.
  3. Phonemes not currently represented by any letter will be provided with one. The glottal stop by “ч” and word stress, which is phonemic, by a raised dot “•”.
  4. The glottal stop will be represented in word initial and intervocalic positions. H will be represented in word final position.
  5. Other member languages of the Bikol macrolanguage can use this as well. I have added the lateral “λ” for the Southern Catanduanes dialect of Coastal Bikol, and the schwa (represented as “ɷ”) for Iriga, Buhi and Miraya dialects and the velar fricative “ƥ” for Buhi dialect, all dialects of Inland Bikol.


Coastal Bikol (all dialects)

English Current Proposed
Meaning Orthography Orthography
name ngaran ŋa•ran
wrong sala salaч
head payo payoh
dirt on face musing muчsiŋ
wave alon чa•lon

Coastal Bikol, Southern Catanduanes dialect

English Current Proposed
Meaning Orthography Orthography
study adal чa•daλ
sour alsom чaλsom
buy bakal bakaλ
bring dara daλah
run dalagan daλa•gan
tall halangkaw haλaŋkaw
wait halat haλat
fight iwal чi•waλ
man lalaki laλa•kih
walk lakaw λakaw
one saro saλoч
talk taram taλam
three tulo tuλoh
cockpit bulangan buλaŋan

Inland Bikol, Iriga & Miraya dialects

English Current Proposed
Meaning Orthography Orthography
rice bugas bɷgas
blade tarum tarɷm
rice plant paroy pa•rɷy
black itum чitɷm

Inland Bikol, Buhi dialect

English Current Proposed
Meaning Orthography Orthography
itch gatol gatɷƥ
long duration aloy чaƥɷy
repent solsol sɷƥsɷƥ
wait ulat чɷƥat
sour alsom чaƥsɷm
snake alas чa•ƥas
worry andal чandaƥ

This is in essence my proposed orthography, when rendering native words in each of the dialects and individual languages of the Bikol macrolanguage. I will be posting samples of Bikol songs, poetry, and other literature written in this new orthography in the future to exemplify its usage.

If there is any wrong word, spelling or stress for some of the dialects’ words, I would welcome any corrections. I welcome other words which you might want to contribute showing the same sounds too.

The other features of this new orthography I will explain in succeeding posts. Part 2 of my proposal will deal with the orthography of the Bikol macrolanguage, not the dialects and individual member languages, which was discussed here. Part 3 will discuss handling loan words or borrowed words from any language. This part is very important as Bikol has substantial borrowings from Castellano and English. Part 4 will be about obligatory word edge phonemes as well as stress. Part 5 will be about pronunciation and order of all the letters and origin of the new ones and any other sundry items depending on what questions and clarifications will be raised through comments. Cheers.