Monday, June 4, 2012

Beautiful Piece on Isinay from a Young Isinay

NOTE: We interrupt our regular programming, as it were, to feature an essay by a young lady who, at the time this piece was being written, was studying in Bangladesh. Insofar as your Isinay Bird is concerned, this beautifully crafted piece is most probably the first of its kind to ever come out in defense of the Isinay tongue and of being an Isinay coming straight from the heart of a budding writer and language activist with Isinay blood. We're just too glad to publish it here in ISINAY BIRD for at least two reasons: 1) to show our appreciation for the efforts and aspirations of the author as well as, oh well, for the nurturing guidance of her Isinay mother; and 2) to inspire other youngsters and their parents, be they full-blooded Isinays or half-bloods or "muggles" (to use a term in the Harry Potter movies) like Isinay Bird. We also included selected feedback from those who read the original essay on Facebook, including corrective comments from the author's Catholic nun grandaunt, Sister Concepcion Daran, a pure-blood Isinay working in Africa. The author and her parents and sister are now back in Belgium.

A Small Effort to Save the Isinai Language

by Rica Duchateau
September 23, 2011

MY USUAL INTRODUCTION is that I am half-Belgian and half-Filipino, but many do not know that I have tribal ancestry. 

My Filipino grandmother is a genuine member of the Isinai indigenous people’s group that inhabits southern Nueva Vizcaya in Luzon. Hence I am one-fourth Isinai, and proud to be so. 

Unfortunately, the traditional costumes and dances (which we often associate with ethnic groups) in the Isinai culture have been pushed aside by globalization in the form of jeans, television and mobile phones. 

Nevertheless, there are still certain customs that survive, and the generation of the elderly is still able to fluently speak the Isinai language (to point out, the language is considered as a tribal one and not a dialect). This language is in a vulnerable position, though, as only Tagalog and English are being taught at local schools. 

Apparently current students with Isinai origins can understand the language, but are abandoning it as it is considered old fashioned.

My lola (grandmother) and her siblings are part of the last generation of fluent speakers of Isinai. My mother has a working knowledge of the language and uses it with her mother, but she claims she does not speak it in its pure form. 

I just know a couple of expressions and words, mainly (not very severe) swear words I picked up from the elderly cursing at naughty youngsters hanging around in Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya. In fact, I hardly spend much time in the Philippines so there are not many chances for me to use and practice this language on a daily basis. 

But then again, my cousins who have lived there all their lives aren’t particularly fluent in it. 

Observing this dramatic decrease in its usage, the Isinai language might just disappear in a couple of generations. In addition, according to the Facebook group “Isinai Global Association”, formal Isinai is based on the Dupax del Sur version of the language, but now another IP group, the Gaddangs, are attempting to push it aside and name it “just” a dialect. 

Below is a small effort to document and save the Isinai language. The following are Isinai words and expressions I know off the top of my head, and their English meanings. A special acknowledgement goes to Sr. Ching Daran, my lola's sister and a member of the last generation of fluent Isinai speakers, who helped correct the notation and meaning of words. 

Now, I wish I could add Isinai as a language on Facebook, but sadly there is no page for it and I cannot create one.

  • "i" is pronounced as an English "ee"
  • "j" signifies a firm Spanish "g", or a Germanic "ch"
  • "u" is pronounced as an English "oo"
  • An apostrophe signifies a suspension on the consonant when followed by the same consonant; when followed by another consonant, it signifies an abrupt ending.
  • "^" signifies an abrupt ending to the previous letter.
  • A dash means the syllables are connected, but pronounced separately.
  • Underlined letters signify a stress.

  1. am'mai = large
  2. ana = children
  3. ba-ak = old maid
  4. baket = old woman
  5. ba-u-u = turtle
  6. beya = charcoal
  7. beyoy = house
  8. bojas = rice
  9. bongas = cuts at the heel
  10. butongero = alcoholic
  11. dalaj = fish
  12. e-eng = clothing
  13. gulir = butt
  14. isiraj' = viand
  15. itungu = firewood
  16. lajay = old man
  17. lujit = chicken poo
  18. ma-al'ali = good in despising
  19. ma-e-as = lazy
  20. mahuv = smelly
  21. man-dam'ot = to be pregnant
  22. man-lutu = to cook
  23. man-os'oseya = to be united
  24. man-taro^ = to dance
  25. marot'lot = voracious
  26. maserot = pretty, beautiful
  27. mata-aw = gossiper
  28. matava = fat
  29. matung = hot
  30. maveveha = noisy
  31. mulagat = big eyes
  32. muwar = your
  33. nay-yir = nothing
  34. navutong = drunk (effect of drinking too much alcohol)
  35. paltat = catfish
  36. perensa = iron
  37. pod'da = really, extremely
  38. sang'gup = soup
  39. sa-urong = squat
  40. tatahu = people
  41. umat'tay = to poo
  42. u-u = nails

  1. aboleyam = never mind
  2. adday mayat pod'da sa-urong muwar = "What a nice squat!" Expressed when people in a group are talking, especially referring to those talking on the street, maintaining the traditional squat position
  3. addu payla = expression directed at someone who is being over-dramatic
  4. amoy tau mot = "Come, let's go."
  5. ande niye? = "What is that?"
  6. ande tiye? = "What is this?"
  7. ay apu! = expressed when you are pleasantly amused at someone's silliness
  8. ayan yu? = "Where are you going?"
  9. bakbaketan = expression directed at a person who does something he/she is too old for
  10. mara^da^waw!= "Liar!"
  11. dahom a = a swear-word directed at someone who is trying to be funny by doing crazy things
  12. daraten tatahu/ana! = "These people!" Expressed when irritated at the naughty or reproachable acts of people/children.
  13. eytu = an expression similar to "umm..."
  14. ilam de! = "Look at that!"
  15. Hesus Mariya Kusep! = Literally means "Jesus, Mary, Joseph!". It has a meaning similar to "Oh dear!"
  16. luj'dit = a swear-word directed at an unpleasant person
  17. mahuv gulir muar = "Your butt smells"
  18. man-amos amot = "Go and take a bath"
  19. man- ... aytu tau = "Let's (activity)"
  20. man ilo aj' si ihar = Literally means "go and scratch yourself with a coconut grater." It is expressed when someone believes that something will never happen
  21. man-sor a! = "Wait!"
  22. mangan tau = "Let's eat"
  23. mawawa' = "I'm thirsty!"
  24. meyasa! = Similar to "Oh my!", but with a negative connotation
  25. meyo^ amot = "Go to sleep."
  26. naveyanduj = a swear-word closely related to "darn it"
  27. naveyangit = a swear-word closely related to "darn it"
  28. navitila^ = "I'm hungry!"
  29. poha! = expression directed at someone who seems to be daydreaming/hallucinating, or does something wrongly
  30. punyemes = a swear-word directed at someone who is not behaving properly
  31. sanat' sinot'tom = "That's what you know." Expressed when reproaching someone who constantly participates in abominable or dishonorable acts.
  32. sayang = "It's a pity"
  33. sibijbihat = "Good morning"
  34. si-ejaw = "Good day"
  35. silawi = "Good evening"
  36. udi = "There"
  37. udiet' si ... = "There is (name)"

CHING DARAN: That is awesome to hear Rica. You are such a very authentic and a beautiful heart. Yes, indeed you are very international in your blood and you made us so proud of you. I keep you in my prayers and Nina too .

RICA: Hi lola Ching! Thank you! Since you are a member of the last generation of fluent Isinay speakers, could you please correct the Isinay words I wrote?

CHING DARAN: Adday,de-e mot tuwa di amtamar an ba^ba^ an Isinai a. Here are some minor corrections: 
am'ma-i (instead of am'mai) 
maveveha (use V instead of using W), 
umat'tay instead of tumak'ki (this is Ilokano) 
addu payla. 
ayan yu? -where are you going? 
meyo^ mot - go to sleep! 
amoy tau mot - come let's go. 
poha! - means are you daydreaming, or are you hallucinating? (or say to someone who does things wrongly?) 
si bi^bihat - good morning. 
mara^da^waw - liar. 

In our dialect we also use this punctuation (^) a lot. It sounds like an abrupt breaking. Otherwise, you are doing well Rica. Keep learning our dialect. Am'ma-i on addawi ri maratong di bilay muar, Eteng. Mav'ves podda ri ap-apyomar. Keep smiling too.

HAYDEE ESQUIOJA-TUCAY: I am proud to be an Isinay!Spread it that we are genuine!!!!!!

MARITES JALLORINA: Wow, Rica. I am proud of you and i am proud to be an isinay. Maserot podda di inapyamar. Mari min kaya an apyon di inapyamar.

SHAZEEN KARIM: Rica this is sooooo cool! spread the indigenous culture that are being blanketed by globalization. Once we lose something by time then for sure we will be saying "why didn't we do anything about it!" i hope you are successful in your journey to preserve this wonderful aspect of who you are and family's history.

RICA: Hi Shazeen, I'll continue this "project" in June, once I'm done with IB exams. I'm trying to set up a Google site where I put together all sorts of information related to the Isinai.


NIDA GRUTAS BASTERO: Wow, I'm so impressed Rica!!! Here you are, half-Belgian yet so proud of being an Isinai and really making an effort to trace her roots and living up to it by embracing the culture and speaking its native tongue. Isn't this a big insult to some of us who easily could say… I couldn't speak the language anymore because I have no one to converse in Isinai with? And so we pretend not to know anymore and easily make an excuse to speak other languages. Of course, this is not bad as long as we keep in our heart the truth that we are Isinais and part of being so is embracing the culture as I have previously mentioned and most importantly knowing how to speak the language... so no excuse please!!! And thank you so much, Rica, for the awakening!!!

RACHEL ZAMORA DUCHATEAU: Yap! Sobrang proud yang anak ko na may Isinay root siya.Somehow yong every day na nakakausap ko siya ay laging may nakasingit na Isinay words kaya lahat ay tinatandaan niya yan and grabe ang memory niya.I am really so proud of her!Ayan sinabi ko sa kanya na lola ka niya.Thank u auntie for encouraging her!

NIDA GRUTAS BASTERO: I salute you Eteng as well as your husband for the very good up-bringing of your kids... so impressive really!!! Congratulations again, Rica!!!

CHARLZ CASTRO: Eh, Rica, sangkanan besan u lojom navatar tiyen nabalitu-an an in-itnur mu? Bendisionan daa otyat Apu Tauwar an Namalsa, Eteng... And may there be more young people like you who are not only proud of their Isinay roots but also make the effort to contribute to the revitalization of the Isinay language (yes, it is a distinct language!). Rachel, manpagayjayam podda toy sinalinuwam tiye mariit muar Rica an mangita^doj si puli tauwar an Isinay.

1 comment:

  1. please join - The ISINAY's - Taon'Ya Isinai - at facebook group... manvah-vah taut isinai.. :)