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Some Notes on the Modernization of Ilokano (Part 14)

Why bother going back to the Doctrina Christiana’s imperialist and colonizing agenda when we do not need it in this respect? Unmask the empire and the colony, and in extensu, the imperialist and colonizer in sheep’s clothing in the Ilokano language. It is high time that we did this. If we do not do it now, when are we going to do it? We take only what we need along the way as we march on, together with our Ilokano language, to the beating of the drums of Ilokano language moderni-zation and development.

(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)

(This work is part of a larger work on Ilokano language, literature, and culture. The Tawid Magazine serialized a popular version of the work in its magazine and in its e-zine; another electric form is found in the author’s website).

Why bother going back to the Doctrina Christiana’s imperialist and colonizing agenda when we do not need it in this respect? Unmask the empire and the colony, and in extensu, the imperialist and colonizer in sheep’s clothing in the Ilokano language. It is high time that we did this. If we do not do it now, when are we going to do it? We take only what we need along the way as we march on, together with our Ilokano language, to the beating of the drums of Ilokano language moderni-zation and development.

3. The question of a “pure” language and debunking Anima

If we look closely at the arguments presented by Nid Anima in his one-man act of crying foul against the defilement of the Bannawag people of the Ilokano language, we could come up with a riposte that argues as well that his position on the Ilokano language does not offer a plausible perspective on how we are to view the language and how are we to develop it. His position, thus, flawed as it is, eventually self-destructs.

There are certain things that we have to look into here, in the way he presents the logic of his argument.

One, his guerilla metho-dology or his lack of method in pursuing the logic of his cause, if he has any, or in pursuing both his logic’s end and his cause.

Two, his position lacks a neat and nifty understanding of what scholarship ought to look like such that we can hardly believe him when he tells us things that are not backed up by solid research but by “impressionistic” impressions.

Let me point out the facts from the paper he read at the 2002 GUMIL Filipinas-GUMIL Oahu Conference held in Honolulu, Hawai‘i and which was reissued by Jim Agpalo in his blog, kamalig.blogspot.com

a) On the Jose Villa Panganiban directive, he says: “A directive by the then Director of the Institute of National Language , Jose Villa Panganiban, brought about the cause of protest. This possibly occurred in the late 50’s or early 60’s.”

Here we see a classic Anima way of putting ideas together in a manner and fashion that is truly convoluted. If we go back to the meat of the two sentences, we do not know exactly what is being referred to. Is he referring to the Panganiban directive or to the protest that came after or both?

Why, for heaven’s sake, did he use the phrase “possibly occurred in the late 50’s or early 60’s”? How are we to believe him if he cannot even tell us exactly where he is getting his facts? “Possibly” has a lame reference, it has empty claims. It is at best impotent in the context it is used by Anima.

b) On the scope of that directive, he says: “The scope of that directive embraced as well as encompassed all local languages and dialects, including Ilocano. (JVP) theorized that the local dialects derived their origins from Bahasa Indonesia, which uses the letter k, and thus must conform, for authenticity’s sake.”

Here we go again. We see here a confused mind and a confused reasoning. Does Anima really know what he is talking about? Does he know the basic difference between a language and a dialect?

In the first instance, he talks about the Panganiban directive “(embracing) as well as (encompassing) all local languages and dialects, including Ilocano.” In the next instance, he talks about “the local languages (deriving) their origins from Bahasa Indonesia.” We cannot argue along fuzzy lines.

c) I am skipping his vengeful afterthought on Bannawag. The Bannawag people can defend themselves.

d) He then talks about the genesis of the “Iluco” language, which he inconsistently referred to in the first part of his argument as “Ilocano”.

He talks about the flaws of the Panganiban directive, thus: “One, the Iluco as much as Tagalog language did not derive from Bahasa. Rather, they came of their own. They thrived, grew and flourished under Hispanic influence. Two, if the Iluco dialect must be subject to influence at all might it not be better if the influence is wielded by a superior language and not an inferior one? Between Bahasa and Spanish or English, there is no doubt as to which is more superior: it is quite obvious.”

Anima is confused about the Ilokano language “coming of its own” like Tagalog. Here, we see an Anima illusion of grandeur: that once there was a pristine and primeval language we call “Iluco”, his own term.

In the next breath, he speaks of “Iluco dialect”. Here, we see clearly a confused reasoning, sans logic, sans a solid understanding of the concepts of Linguistics 101 that any Tom, Dick and Harry could take in college. He cannot distinguish clearly between “language” and “dialect”.or cannot even explain in what contexts these are being used. In another breath, he speaks of “superior language” such as Spanish and/or English and an ‘inferior one” such as “Bahasa”.

What are his standards for saying that a language is more superior to the other, or conversely, more inferior to the other?

Here we see a neocolonial mind and mindset in operation, and without that mind and mindset knowing that it has been colonized anew. And then, what “Bahasa” is he referring to? Does he under-stand the very concept of “Bahasa”? Does he know that ‘Bahasa” is not only for Indonesia ?

e) He talks about the “English language” growing by accretion, and then the dynamic of this accretion such that “the word coiners arrived at the exact term required.”

He then contrasts this with word coiners of the “Iluco” language, saying “their counterparts in Iluco does it through sound association and arrive at something absurd and ridiculous. For instance, they adopted football into putbol. There is nothing in this word that denotes and/or connotes with foot and ball. Ditto with birth certificate locally represented as bert sirtipikit.”

(To be continued)