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Some Notes on the Modernization of Ilokano (Second part)

2. In a shrinking world, we cannot deny the drone and dreariness of the ‘globalized’ sounds of the present, this Present as Presence suggesting sounds from Czech Republic to Hezbollah in Beirut. Thanks to the far-reaching arm of CNN on your cable.

So what is the way to go? Admit Z in zero; X in X-ray, J in Jesus and Jerusalem (why spell them in H, aver?), Ch in China, C in (pancit Canton), and all the others.

In this way, you enrich the language. Our ethical act should be one that enriches us all and not one that renders us impotent, inutile, and impoverished. The way to go, really, is appropriating all of these.

(Aurelio S. Agcaoili, PhD, teaches at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and coordinates the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program of the Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures. You can email him at: [email protected] or log on to his website: asagcaoili.blogspot.com for other articles on Ilokano life, culture, and society.  – Ed)

2. In a shrinking world, we cannot deny the drone and dreariness of the ‘globalized’ sounds of the present, this Present as Presence suggesting sounds from Czech Republic to Hezbollah in Beirut. Thanks to the far-reaching arm of CNN on your cable.

So what is the way to go? Admit Z in zero; X in X-ray, J in Jesus and Jerusalem (why spell them in H, aver?), Ch in China, C in (pancit Canton), and all the others.

In this way, you enrich the language. Our ethical act should be one that enriches us all and not one that renders us impotent, inutile, and impoverished. The way to go, really, is appropriating all of these.

3. On Ilokano being pure.

Come on, Jose the purist. Back off a bit. Ilokano as a completely fenced off, completely insular, fully isolated linguistic phenomenon, clinically deodorized and Lysol-ed/Gladed? The facts of the case show otherwise.

Admit that you are ignorant and you are masking off that ignorance with the mangled faux meditation on what pure language and pure culture ought to look like. In social psychology, they call this act ‘compensation’, one way of self-defense in order to hide that you do know something but not enough to hide your ignorance.

And so you want the language to be pure, spotless, and without any blemish. Are you an agent of some laundry soap company, with all those claims to ultra- and/or calamansi ‘cleanness’ and ‘whiteness’? Awaganka iti ahente ti kinapuraw ken kinapudaw. Change careers. Be a laundry-person—or some kind of an agent of all these mutinational companies that always flood and bombard us with notions of whiteness, and, if you so wish, germ-free life: clean, white, pure, conscience-stricken.

Now, now, admit that you are ignorant. In this way, you are able to name the disease in your mind: that ignorance with the big, big ‘I’.

Simply put: you do not know your premises and therefore, you cannot account the il/logic of your argument. Or your lack of an argument, ab initio. The Romans would say: Distinguo, amico. How to move from premises to a conclusive conclusion is really your problem, not ours.

You want a sermon, Jose the purist? I will give it to you: There is no pure language, no pure culture, no pure anything. Your name, Jose the purist, is as impure as the breeze down in Gumamugam as in Laoag and Vigan. Or Bangued. Or San Fernando City.

All of human acts, customs, traditions, and languages are ‘polluted’. Here and there we borrowed something and we never returned.

Remember the ‘Ilokano pride’ in the word ‘arak’? Hehehe, admit that you did not know where that word came from, di ngamin?

The most difficult thing to learn and to understand and to see is our own very nose. And yet the irony is that it is too close to our eyes. Why? Beats me.

But the reality is this: we need some mindful consciousness to understand those that are supposed. I present an argument here: That the way to go to modernize the linkers and/or conjunctive markers `ket’ and `ken’ is not to go back to the way they wrote two generations ago, with their Castilian penchant for the impossible ‘Q’ for ‘quen’ and ‘quet’.

The way to go to modernize our language is to adopt the ‘k’ sound more obviously in keeping with the kur-itan/kurditan phones and with the more contemporary usage of many publications, to include Bannawag, Sirmata, Tawid, the Bible with many versions and other textbooks and literary materials. Here, widespread usage dictates; it is some form of a dictatorship, alright, but here we go: Why fix that which is not broken? I do not understand.

Then again, we have to accept the dynamic of language use and usage: that those who use it in writing will eventually win out, at least for a time, until some other stronger forces will challenge that and unless a real, hard to undermine-kind of standardization has been put in place. The English language went through this a lot and we have to learn, learn, learn.

We cannot argue for defilement here, as if the pollution of language does not happen everyday.

The clinicalized and deodorized way of looking at the Ilokano language is borne by a certain nostalgia for that which is untenable and illogical today, but a nostalgia nonetheless for a time past that is not our own time in the first place. And this time is not even ideal because it evokes the real defilement that we have to resist, and keep on resisting, this colonization and neocolonization of the Ilokano mind.

[ To be continued ]

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