Thursday, February 28, 2013

Isinay Dictionary in the Internet

JUST FOR FUN, I Googled "Isinay dictionary" a little while ago.

To my surprise, of the screenful and many more screens of Web Results, the following two items caught my fancy:

Isinay English Dictionary
  • Isinay English Dictionary. Search · Random Word · Add Word. Enter a Isinay or English word. 27 Entries. Enter text that you would like dictionary links to.
Isinay English and English Isinay Dictionary Free Online Translation
  • Free Online Dictionary Isinay English and Free Online Translation Isinay English Dictionaries.
Again, just for fun, your Isinay Bird clicked into these sites.

Know what? What I found was not funny.

The first indicated something like 27 entries. Yes, only 27. As in that's all the word population that the Isinay language has!

Of course, those of you who grew up or have been to Isinay land, know the truth. At the brink of extinction as it may be, the Isinay language has certainly thousands of words in its vocabulary, not only 27.

Okay, ever the flexible fellow, your Isinay Bird did try to give a break.

I typed "beautiful" in the slot its so-called Isinay dictionary had. Out came "maserot." 

Fine, I said to myself. 

Then I typed "ugly". Aha! No answer!

Curious as to what version of Isinay this website is supposed to be using, I typed the word "delicious". And out came the answer: "mamis".

Gotcha! I cheered inside me. It's using Aritao-Dupax Isinay.

I went to the next:

When I clicked it, out came this clickable note in blue: Isinay English Dictionary Free Online Translation

" is dedicated to furthering the understanding and appreciation of the people of the Philippines. We seek to promote a community that works together to provide information and educate people about things such as the history, culture, language, art, and geography of the Philippines. The Internet is the primary tool we are using to accomplish this."
Aha, the same! But that's not all. Below this ID of is an orange-colored and pill-sized boxed marked Donate.
Now, I don't know how you take it, but I am beginning to be afraid to pursue my earlier plan to share all my Isinay word findings on-line.
In particular, I'm tumaut (afraid) that if I'm going to do that, certain sectors that are "ectopic" to the serious efforts to revitalize my language would be so scheming as to dip their dirty fingers into the pie, puweson (grab) everything that should not belong to them, and if legitimate Isinays and language activists would approach them, they would be asked to shell out donations.

Beyandaj daranyen milelleleman si ba^ba^ tauwar an Isinay!

Update on the Isinay Dictionary Project

THIS POST should keep Isinay Bird readers up to speed on how many Isinay words I have so far rediscovered and/or resurfaced for the Isinay dictionary that has helped me drive Alsheimer's away for the past few years.

As of this writing, the words total 16,388 all in all.   

Not bad, considering that I only had a little over 2,000 when I started inputting and alphabetizing (in my Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop) all sorts of Isinay words -- be they Hispanized, Ilocanized, Anglicized, or Tagalized.

I admit there are hundreds or even a few thousands more Isinay words out there waiting to be dug out, dusted, or resurfaced as the case may be. Be they of the Aritao-Dupax version or of the phonetically and slightly lexically different Bambang version, many of them are still laying dormant in the now fading memories of Isinay Podda speakers, particularly those who have learned to embrace the culture of the migrants but did so without giving up their marginalized language.

The table below shows the distribution (according to their first letters) of the words I have compiled as of today. 

Among other things, the numbers should give you an idea which letters in the more-than-two-centuries-old and largely Spanish-influenced alphabet and orthography of the Isinay language are the most dominant and which once have very few members, insofar as the respective first letters of the words are concerned.

A – 1,124
B – 1,112
C – 37
D – 638
E – 191
G – 388
H – 60
I – 1,783
J – 23
K – 665
L – 504
M – 3,513
N – 1,840
O – 173
P – 2,209
R – 74
S  – 1,052
T – 599
U – 272
V – 37
W – 56
 Y – 38

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Consulting Other Dictionaries to Produce an Isinay Dictionary

IF YOU ARE a newcomer in the dictionary-making world and you wish to come up with one to help protect or prolong the life of the endangered language of your choice, it would do well if you consult other dictionaries.
Well, that’s what your self-avowed but amateur endangered-language warrior had been doing in spurts these past three years. I would look at the outputs of other lexicographers, take note as to what ideas they could give, then try to apply them in the dictionary of the Isinay language that I’ve been calling “a labor of love and a work ever in progress” since 2008.
This approach to learning new skills echoes a formula for improving one’s writing that over the years I had been teaching to technical personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ central and regional offices. The formula is simply this: Go look for good models of writing, pay attention to what makes them appeal so well to readers, and then when it’s time for you to write, try your best to summon and apply the secret ingredients you discovered.
My eavesdropping on pacesetting dictionary makers via their respective outputs has, indeed, given me tips on how to organize and format the contents of dictionaries. Yes, through them I gained enough leverage to now have the temerity to advise fellow greenhorn lexicographers that teaming up with other dictionaries is not only fun but also fruitful insofar as searching for inspiration is concerned.
Believe me, dictionaries of other languages can make you hit the ground running, as it were, on how to (1) find elusive words, (2) define in non-technical terms and use in “laymanized” sentences the word entries, and (3) give the rainbow to your would-be dictionary’s substance and appearance.
In a little while I’ll give the titles of the dictionaries that made my Isinay lexicographer’s life easy. But, as a backgrounder, I think my love affair with these books started when one cloudless day a quite disturbing thought gripped the better of me.
The thought was that, no matter how tectonic and how tsunami-like my desire was (and still is!) to produce a badly needed dictionary of (and for) the Isinay language, I knew next to zero in the art and science of dictionary-making. Yes, zero as in nothing.
Even as I thought that having Isinay blood in my veins and my growing circle of Isinay friends in Facebook were a great advantage insofar as knocking on Isinay doors and asking questions on Isinay are concerned, I still shuddered.
In the corner of my mind I thought of the educational powerhouses and think-tanks – e.g. UP Los Baños, UP Diliman, Ateneo de Manila, De la Salle, Asian Institute of Management, East-West Center, UN Food & Agriculture Organization – some halls of which I’ve set foot on as a knowledge-thirsty young man in the ‘70s up to the ‘90s attending workshops and seminars here and there on any subject under the sun.
I wondered if I missed learning events that these venerable institutions offered no matter how small, no matter how remotely connected they were to the serious business of making dictionaries.
Compiling words of a dying language -- not to mention checking/rechecking/crosschecking them and arranging them in a visually tasty and user-appealing form ­-- is indeed an extreme challenge. The gravity of it all stands out even more when we consider that what I have put myself out on a limb for since 2008 would be the first comprehensive Isinay dictionary ever attempted.
If I were in Isinay land right now, I would say to my fellow natives: Neyir tay poddan Isinay si nangapyat attu an librun si Isinay. (No Isinay has ever made a book like this in Isinay.)
All that, of course, is now water under the bridge. In what I like to call the “penultimate stage” of this dictionary-making mission, I’m almost ready to "migrate" my output to the printed format.
But before it gets too late to acknowledge their help, here then are the dictionaries I so far tapped for the dictionary I’m making:  
  • Collins COBUILD English Language Dictionary (published in 1987 by Collins Publishers, London).
  • IBALOY Dictionary, Phonology, Grammar, Morphophonemics (published in 2005 by DITENG, Inc. and the Cordillera Studies Center, UP Baguio, Baguio City).
  • KANKANAEY English Dictionary (authored and published in 2005 by Judge James P. Kibiten Sr., Bauko, Mountain Province).
  • The Oxford Companion to the English Language (published in 1992 by the Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York).
  • Larousse Spanish Dictionary (published in 2009 by Larousse Editorial, Barcelona).
  • Vicassan’s Pilipino-English Dictionary (published in 2009 by Anvil Publishing, Pasig City).
  • English-Ilocano Dictionary (published in 2012 by Isa-Jecho Publishing, Inc., Quezon City).
  • Modern English-Pilipino Cebuano Dictionary (published in 1987 by Merriam & Webster, Inc., Manila).
  • An English-Cebuano Visayan Dictionary (published in 2012 by National Book Store, and authored by Rodolfo Cabonce, S.J.)
  • Let’s Learn a Little Hawaiian (published in 1970 by Hawaiian Service, Inc., Honolulu).
  • Teach Yourself Welsh Grammar (published in 2007 by Hodder Education, London).
  • Children’s Illustrated Dictionary (published in 2007 by Parragon, UK).
Arranged in no particular order, the books mentioned above were my “silent partners in crime” for the dictionary I am making. I would summon them (or rather, they would beckon to me) particularly when I could not go visit my real human partners and advisers in Isinay land, as well as when I could not reach my fellow Isinay language advocates in Facebook.
How did these books come to the rescue of this amateur dictionary maker? Here are examples:
  1. Whenever I would face a blank wall in my recollection of Isinay nouns, verbs, adjectives, and expressions that I used to hear since I was little, I would leaf through the Ibaloy and Kankanaey dictionaries. It is always fun to learn new terms in these two Cordillera languages and to read vignettes on folk beliefs and traditions. But the joys double whenever I come across a dozen or so words (such as the Kankanaey atung, bujlaw, diyat, and asi asi) that sound or even look like Isinay. And pretty soon the words would morph into Isinay and trigger memories of those years when, oh well, my hometown’s grass was green, myriad birds were singing, and fish were jumping!
  2. Whenever I get chance to go home to Isinay land and, the day or so before the trip, I would jot down English, Ilocano, and Tagalog words the Isinay equivalents of which are not yet in my list. Again, to facilitate my list of words that I would take to Dupax for translation by much older and Isinay Podda senior citizens, I would turn to the Ilocano, Tagalog, and English dictionaries. For example, I found I do not yet have the Isinay words for the Ilocano barayuboy, the Tagalog kandirit, and the English trailblaze.
  3. As for the Spanish dictionary, well, I had to buy one when I could not comprehend the Spanish portions of Padre Joaquin Lazaro’s Introduccion al Estudio de la Lengua Castellana en Isinay (Imprenta del Colegio de Santo Tomas 1889) that I found in the Internet (after my attention was called to it by a now US-based Isinay from Bambang, Mr. Jimmy Genoves). Moreover, just like the Ibaloi, Kankanaey and Visayan dictionaries, Larousse’s Spanish dictionary showed me dozens of words that sounded like Isinay. I will turn to it again soon to make a section of Isinay words derived from the Spanish language.
What’s next?
In providing the definition of words, I think I would adopt the conversational style of my favorite Collins COBUILD that I bought in May 1989 yet. For example, it defined AMATEUR this way: “An amateur is someone who does something such as acting or playing a sport as a hobby and not as a job.” Another example that I came across with when I thought that a dictionary would be pivotal in the revitalization of a dying language but I wasn’t sure what PIVOTAL means: “A pivotal point, factor, role, etc is one that is very important and affects the success or development of the larger thing that is involved in.”
For appendices, I will most probably take the cue from the Cordillera Studies Center’s Ibaloy Dictionary and include Isinay terms/phrases used in such activities as rice agriculture, carabao raising, river fishing, hunting, kaingin-making, etc. as well as Isinay names of flora and fauna that are found (or which used to be abundant) in the wilderness of Aritao, Bambang, and Dupax.
As for page layout, I will definitely vote for the visually appealing, fact-sprinkled, and very reader-friendly format of Children’s Illustrated Dictionary. Yes, the pages will have drawings and photographs. Plus, the final copy will avail itself of the wonders that color and desktop publishing could lend.
Now, if only I could very soon write "finis" to this dictionary, so I can move on to other avvesan si Isinay projects.

I would not have thought of writing this particular blog had it not been for one of the personally-delightful-to-answer questions raised during the open-forum part of my recent UP Baguio talk on the Isinay language. Yes, this post is an expanded answer to the question on whether I use other dictionaries to help me with the Isinay dictionary I’ve been working on. While we’re at it, I must also thank Dr. Ikin Amores for inviting me to “take over” the two sections of her Anthropology 170 (Language & Culture) students so I could share my little experiences as a “language warrior” (to borrow her words), including my on-going journey into the exciting world of dictionary-making.

Isinay Words that Have No English Equivalents

ON THE INVITATION of Dr. Analyn Salvador Amores, I gave a PowerPoint-supported lecture the other day to two sections of Anthro 170 (Language & Culture) students of the University of the Philippines Baguio.

I titled my talk ISINAY: A PHILIPPINE LANGUAGE AT THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION and sub-titled it Ilang Karanasan sa Pakikialam sa Pagsagip sa Wikang Isinay.

Perhaps due to lack of practice, and even as I tried to spruce up what I wanted to convey with what I presumed were anti-sedative colorful photographs, my back-to-back (about 40 minutes each) presentations were admittedly soporific, to say the least.

Just like any classroom setting, however, there were those precious few who lent their ears and there were those who mercifully did not use my monotone as good excuse to catch up on sleep, or so I thought.

And thank my lucky stars, during the open forum there were those who raised very sensible questions or ones that were, oh well, expected to come from students of the Iskolar ng Bayan pedigree that UP was (and still is) known for... long, long before I myself became a student of the State University.

I forgot to jot down the questions, sorry. But among those that caught the "muggle" (to borrow a term from the Harry Potter books) Isinay in me flatfooted was one that wanted to know if there are words in the Isinay language that do not have equivalents in other languages.

Wow, I said to myself, that certainly hit me like the Juan Manuel Marquez punch that sent Manny Pacquiao to the canvas!

Not one to disappoint the maserot an mariit (pretty lady) who shot that killer question, I quickly summoned my guardian angel -- and, lo and behold, out came my reply: MASE^SE^LAT!

Mase^se^lat, I explained, is a one-word Isinay term the nearest meaning of which would be the two-word English term "crab mentality."

Had I time enough to elaborate, I would have come up with examples of how the word is used. Or went further to include possible long-winded but not yet exact equivalents in Iloko/Ilocano and Tagalog/Filipino.

The section where that question came out would probably remember that I also mentioned MANBOROBDANG as having no exact English counterpart but may mean agbannawag in Ilocano and bukang-liwayway in Tagalog.

I however went back to my draft list of Isinay words that start with Letter M and (my apologies to Ma'am Ikin and her Language and Culture class!), I was proven wrong when I said manborobdang has no English equivalent.

The Isinay manborobdang is simply dawn in English.

Anyway, the query on peerless Isinay words pretty soon played in my "man-Isinay podda" coconut. And just when I thought I could not come up with Isinay words other than MASE^SE^LAT that have no exact one-word equivalents in English (and possibly in other languages), out came the following:

  1. ANGIW -- tell-tale marks of dried saliva on one's face, indicative of careless or sound sleep
  2. MANPAYPAYODDO^ -- uncontrolled, usually involuntary action characteristic of one who has Parkinson's disease and manifested by waving hands and dancing feet
  3. MANGUM-UM -- rolling up grass and other pond debris to drive pond fish towards a net or in one corner where they would be easy to catch
  4. MANDAJMU^ -- when you say this, you mean "I don't give a damn" or "To hell with that/him/them"
  5. MILOMEMO^ -- to be harmed by evil spirits or by someone who practices witchcraft 
  6. NAMESANG -- woman who got pregnant without a known husband
  7. NOJENA -- when someone says nojena, he/she means "I would not dare do that"
  8. PANGI-ANGI -- the shameless act of one that either seeks attention or ignores proper conduct
  9. SINALONGSONG -- betel nut, lime, and chewing tobacco wrapped in betel leaf in such a way that the final product looks like a triangular object ready to put into one's mouth
  10. ULILI -- two pieces of dried bamboo used to create fire by rubbing them together

Of course, there certainly are some more candidate words that the only 25% Isinay in me has not included in the list. One day soon, too, I may even be proven wrong in saying the ones I cited here have no exact English equivalents.

What I intend to do is to pose this challenge in the form of a quiz or as a game for members of the three Isinay groups currently exchanging pleasantries and teaching one another Isinay via Facebook. Alternatively, I will also try to consult elderly Isinays more senior and more Isinay podda than me next time I go home. 

In the meantime, there may be fellow Isinays and "language warriors" out there who may disagree with my description of Isinay as "a language in the brink of extinction."

If all this means anything, it is that many things are not yet the way they should be in my hometown's native tongue.

Snake-Focused Philippine Tourism, Why Not?

Isinay Bird with a newly skinned cobra. (Jan 5, 2013 photo by Bonifacio Calacala)

I'M NOT REALLY a snake fanatic, but after posting that blog on my first encounter with snake soup in Isinay land, it dawned on me that snakes and their meat, blood, skin, bile, and – take this: maybe even their so-called "medicinal" bites – have extremely bright potentials for making tourism in the Philippines not only more fun but also unforgettable.
My point is simply this: Instead of (1) nurturing the fear of snakes among our fellow Pinoys and (2) poking fun on those stone-gizzarded few who have learned to love snake meat, why not think outside the box and for once consider the potentials of snakes to make life in the Philippines more fun if not wonderful?
After all, it is the Year of the Snake and it would probably do no harm if for a few moments we forget our ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) and take a long, hard look at the tourism and other development potentials of this reptile.
Snakes can attract not only the thrill- and adventure-seeking travelers (be they foreign or local) but also well-meaning small-scale entrepreneurs (including snake-growers, snake-catchers, cooks and restaurateurs) that should also be encouraged to actively join the move to make the Philippines a truly exciting tourist destination.
There’s no discounting the distributive – let alone the multiplier – effect of snake-based tourism on willing families in search of livelihood in the countryside. 
I remember seeing at the turn of the millennium, for instance, a yard packed with beautifully caged snakes behind the town hall in Alegria, Surigao del Norte. The snakes were of the dahong-palay (green pit viper) kind and were used by the owner as "medical assistants" to cure the sick.
That snake-using "clinic" attracted quite a number of visitors then, including us Community-Based Resource Management consultants on the lookout at the time for forest-focused livelihood opportunities to espouse. The town's Mayor then, Dr. Jesse Aguilera, told us that even if some locals were skeptical of the curative powers of snake bites, the "clinic" served as a magnet for people even outside Caraga Region to visit her tiny municipality.
As I implied in my blog immediately before this, snake meat is not only non-poisonous but delicious.
It’s not yet common in the Philippines, perhaps. But in China, Thailand, or elsewhere, serving snake meat (including blood and skin) for food is now a thriving business, especially catering to the more adventurous tourists.
I recently saw on TV that over there the repertoire of the specialty restaurants offering the “reality challenge” includes choosing the snake of your fantasy from a glass cage full of them slithering creatures – usually the dreaded species called cobra.
In front of the wide-eyed tourists, the cook would slit the throat of the reptile, catch its spurting blood on a glass, then offer the still warm scarlet liquid to the gutsy visitors. Then, while feeling how their veins and innards react to the so-called medicinal drink, the tourists watch how the snake is skinned and butchered, then flamboyantly spiced and sauteed,  and finally offered on the diner’s table.
Considering the availability of snakes in many rural areas of the Philippines, I assure you this reptilian delight enjoyed in our neighboring countries could easily be availed of very soon in Pinoy land. That is, if some entrepreneurs would venture into snake farming
Now, if only my friends at the DENR, particularly those in the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, could only relax their biodiversity-protection concerns a little bit – and allow the business of raising snakes for food and for tourism -- I'm sure many more corners in the Philippines would become better places to live in.