Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

VI

THE TAGALOG LANGUAGE

EN

Tagalog is the principal dialect of the Christian and civilized Filipinos, who constitute about eighty per cent. of the inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago. Buckle ' quotes an opinion of W. von Humboldt that it is the most perfect form of all the Malayo-Polynesian tongues. According to Deniker, “it is largely superseding the other dialects, having already displaced Bicol in the north of the province of Camarine, Bisayan on Marinduque Island, etc.” Perhaps it would be better to say that dialectic variety is disappearing under the influence of closer intercourse and a common national spirit, for Bisayan, Ilocoan, Tagalog, etc., are in fact a group of related dialects springing from a single Malayan stock. Middleton," a Catholic priest who recently delivered a lecture on this subject before the Philobiblon Club of Philadelphia, says: “ The various dialects are twenty-seven in number, all, however, akin in their common stock, Malay, of which these idioms or patois are daughters, yet with countless sharply marked differences between one another."

Philologists classify Tagalog in the Malayo-Polynesian family. Its radical elements are dissyllabic, and reduplication is a marked feature in its grammatical structure. It belongs to the agglutinating class of languages, being exceedingly rich in determinative particles which modify meaning when added to roots. In its present form it shows the influence of Spanish and Chinese contact. Its very alphabet is Latin instead of the original Arabic. Except native scholars and a few foreigners like Blumentritt and certain Spanish monks, there are none competent to discuss a language which, for weal or woe, has become a part of American thought and life.

The following statements are based on a study of a Metodo i Civilization in England, vol. I, p. 221.

Races of man, p. 491. 3 Notes on bibliography of the Philippines, p. 16.

teorico-practico para aprender el Lenguaje Tagalo, published some twelve years ago and by some attributed, incorrectly, however, to the gifted and lamented Dr. José Rizal.

1 Phonology—Tagalog has the three primitive vowelsounds, a, i, u, which are characteristic of the European branch of the Aryan family. The other vowel sounds, e, and o, are used in printing, and chiefly in words of Spanish origin; but they are pronounced like i, and u, respectively. They were either introduced directly by the Spaniards or else developed by the same process and in response to the same needs as in Europeans tongues. There are no diphthongs nor other combinations of vowels.

There are fifteen simple and two compound consonantsounds, viz., b, c, d, g, h, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, y, ch, and ng. Of the compound consonants, ch occurs only in Chinese words, but ng is a characteristic Tagalog sound. Dr. Rizal proposed some modifications, for example, that k should be used instead of c and q, and they have been largely adopted. In Everybody's magazine, August, 1901, a facsimile of a pass issued by Aguinaldo is printed, and it contains four words in which k replaces c. This usage will probably grow under American influence. However, c keeps its hard sound, being used only before a, o, and u.

The theory of euphony as a constructive force in the development of language has been largely discarded by philologists. The insertions which we call euphonic are supposed to have had an intrinsic value at some stage of the development; so that they belong rather to morphology than to phonology. Be that as it may, the Tagals very often insert consonants (t, h, and particularly their beloved ng) between vowels which come together in the formation of words.

In speaking, the natives use a semi-falsetto nasal intonation, " as if,” says Rizal," they were gently scolding one another.”

2 Morphology—The most noticeable structural feature of the language is its wealth of radicals, which, by the addition of prefixes or suffixes or both, become capable of wide application. A radical becomes an adjective if ma is prefixed and an abstract noun if ca is prefixed and an suffixed. For example.

the radical buti, good;
mabuti lalaqi, good man;
cabutihan, goodness.

The well-known name of the Philippine Revolutionary Society, catipunan, is an abstract noun of this formation, and means society or union.

The suffix an, added to the name of a thing, signifies the container of that thing, thus,

bating, bell;
batingan, belfry.

The prefix mag, with the duplication of the first syllable of the name of a thing, denotes the person who deals in or does that thing, thus,

[merged small][ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]

The article is inflexible, as in English. The, ang.

Number and gender are not grammatical. The word manga is used to denote plurality, thus,

tauo, man;
ang manga tauo, the men.

Gender is based on sex, and hence is not expressed grammatically, except that, when a word is common to both sexes, distinction is made by adding the word lalaqi (man or male) or the word babay (female or woman).

The pronouns are never suppressed. They are numerous, and explicit, and even avoid the ambiguity of English pronouns. For example, we (meaning the speaker and the person addressed), is tayo: but if the hearer is excluded, it is cami. Like the old English and modern Germans, the Tagals use the second person plural in addressing others of equal social standing, and the second person singular for inferiors or for intimate friends or relations.

The numerals are complete, the units being expressed each

by a single word, the teens by the word labin before the corresponding unit, and the multiples by adding the word poo, after the unit. Ordinals are formed from the cardinals by prefixing ica. Thus,

ualo, eight;
labin ualo, eighteen;
ualong poo, eighty;
ica ualo, eighth

Adjectives are generally formed by prefixing ma to the root, tho there are of course many primitive adjectives. Comparison is expressed by duplication either of the first syllable or of the entire radical. Thus,

mabuti, good;
mabubuti, best.

The verbs are active, passive, reflexive, and impersonal. Their various moods and tenses are expressed partly by prefixes to the root and partly by duplicating one or more syllables of the root. Thus,

The root aral means study;
mag-aral, to study;
nag-a-aral aco, I study;
mag-a-aral aco, I shall study.

The particle pag prefixed to the root changes the verb into a substantive, thus,

ang pag-aral, the studying.

From all this it will be seen that the Tagalog language has reached a considerable development. But whether the development of a language is an index of the mental capacity of a people is not clear. Chinese is a poorly developed language, but the Chinese have a literature and a culture. On the other hand, highly developed languages have been found among the American aborigines who were devoid of both literature and culture. Whitney * says, “On the whole the value and rank

* Lectures on the science of language.

[ocr errors]

of a language are determined by what its users have made it do.”

That the Filipinos have only scant literature and that their culture (which is real) is not indigenous, must be admitted; but that they have great capabilities must also be conceded. That they are as a race superior to the Chinese should not be gainsaid by anyone who is not prepared to deny that three centuries of close contact with European civilization can have beneficial results. Their fondness for ballads, music, and drama (I speak of the uncultured natives) indicates the existence of soul which must find expression under favorable circumstances. The poverty of their genius is, to my mind, sufficiently accounted for by the fact that they have always been a subject race. “Freedom is the first lesson in self-government,” said a mural tablet at the Pan-American exposition. It is also the mold of character and the nurse of genius.

Whether the attempt which is now being made “to submerge the archipelago under a wave of English education " be successful or not, the Tagalog language will probably persist. I have been told by an officer of the first American troops sent to the Phillipines, who had many opportunities of meeting Aguinaldo, that the Filipino general resented being addressed in Spanish, and said that his people had their own language, which should be recognized. This spirit will keep alive Tagalog as it has kept it alive under three hundred years of Spanish dominion.

The Manila Renacimiento of June 26, 1902, states that a number of enthusiastic young Filipinos have organized a Sociedad de Escritores Tagalos, and gives a list of Tagalog works published by them. The Serranos, father and son (the latter being still alive and up to the American occupation being principal of the normal school in Manila), have published a good Tagalog-Spanish Dictionary. It may be also mentioned that there are several newspapers published at the present time either wholly or partly in Tagalog:

Tho the printing press was set up in the Philippines as early as 1603, its products up to recent years in the Tagalog language have been chiefly church- and schoolbooks written by

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »