- 1 History
- 2 Pronunciation of the Modern Filipino alphabet
- 3 The Orthography of the National Language (Filipino: Ang Ortograpíya ng Wikang Pambansâ)
- 4 Notes on Filipino orthography
- 5 Orthographic styles (old and new)
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Notes
- 9 External links
During the Pre-Hispanic Era, most of the languages of the Philippines were written in abugida, an ancient segmental writing system. Examples of this ancient Philippine writing system which descended from the Brāhmī script are the Kawi, Baybayin, Buhid, Hanunó'o, Tagbanwa, Butuan, Kapampangan and other Brahmic family of scripts known to antiquity. A controversial and debatable script of the Philippines is the Eskayan script.
Baybayin script began to decline in the 17th century and became obsolete in the 18th century. The scripts that are still in use today by the indigenous Mangyan groups of the Philippines are the Buhid and the Hanunó'o script.
Adoption of the Latin script
When the Spaniards arrived in 1521 and began to colonize the islands of the Philippines in 1565, they introduced the Latin script to the Catholicized Filipinos. When most of the Philippine languages were first written in the Latin script, they used the Spanish alphabet. This alphabet was called the Abecedario, the original alphabet of the Catholicized Filipinos, which variously had either 28, 29, 31, or 32 letters. Until the first half of the 20th century, most Philippine languages were widely written in a variety of ways based on Spanish orthography.
The writing system of the Muslim Filipinos in the different independent sultanates of Mindanao during the Spanish colonization shifted from abugida script to Arabic alphabet while the writing system of most of the Catholicized Chinese Filipinos shifted from Written Chinese to Abecedario alphabet.
Virtually unutilized from the Abecedario were the letters K and W, which are both used extensively in most Philippine languages today due to the imposition of the Abakada alphabet. Relics of this Abecedario alphabet can still be seen in the way "Castilianized" indigenous and Chinese-origin surnames are written. Some examples of indigenous Philippine surnames are Macasáquit, Guintô, Bañaga, Guipit, Abucajo, Abueg, Bangachon, Dagohoy, Valarao and Dimaculañgan. Some examples of Chinese-origin surnames are Guanzón, Cojuangco, Siapuatco, Yapchulay, Locsín, Quisumbing, Tuazon and Yuchengco. Many indigenous place names are also written using Spanish orthography, often either coexisting or competing with their indigenized forms if they exist (Bulacán or Bulakán, Caloocan or Kalookan, Taguig or Tagig, etc.). Parañaque would be written in the indigenized system as Paranyake, but the latter spelling is so far unaccepted and not known in use.
Quite notable are proper nouns wherein the letter Y is written before consonants and is pronounced I. Iloilo and Ilocos were spelled archaically as Yloylo or Yloílo and Ylocos. Surnames in the Philippines such as Ybañez, Ysagan, Ybarra, Yldefonso and Ylagan are evidences of the Old Spanish writing system. Ylang Ylang, a native Philippine tree valued for its perfume, is another example. The use of the letter Y at the beginning of words, however, gradually shifted to the letter I reflecting the revised Spanish orthography.
Archaic use of the letter X in the Old Spanish writing system that is pronounced as H is evident in surnames such as Roxas. Another example is México, Pampanga. The letter H was utilized in most of the indigenous words of the Philippine languages instead of the letter J in Spanish (the letter H in Spanish is no longer pronounced). Spanish loanwords like Jesús, Justicia, or Jardín, however, retained their original spelling in Spanish.
A common practice in the orthography of some of the Philippine languages during the Spanish Colonial Period up to the 1960s was the use of tilde written over g̃, a letter which was notably used to shorten the words nang (ergative case marker) and man͠gá (pluralization particle) into ng̃ and mg̃á respectively. No literature could be found that pertained to the rules that governed the usage of this letter or that explained its disappearance. Today, these two words are usually just simply written as ng and mga.
Originally, there was a large tilde that spanned both n and g (as in n͠g) when a vowel follows the Ng digraph. This tilde indicates that the n͠g and the vowel should be pronounced as one syllable, such as n͠ga in the three-syllable word pan͠galan (English: name) – syllabicated as [pa-n͠ga-lan], not [pan-ga-lan]. The use of the tilde over the two letters is now virtually non-existent.
Due to technical constraints, machine-printed variants of n͠ga emerged, which included ñga, ng̃a, and even gña as in the case of Sagñay – syllabicated as [sa-ngay]. The Ng digraph letter is similar to, but not the same as, the prepositional word ng (English: of/of the), originally spelled ng̃ with a tilde over the g only. The words ñg and ng̃ are shortened forms of the word nang. There are some words with no tilde written over the ng digraph as in the case of barangay (Filipino: baranggay Spanish: barangay) from the Tagalog word balan͠gay since it is syllabicated as [ba-rang-gay]. Ilonggo used to be written as Ylongo or Ilongo without a tilde over the ng since it is syllabicated as [i-long-go]. Another example is Zamboanga syllabicated as [zam-bo-wañ-ga]. Words that end in ng digraph such as ang (English: the), utang (English: debt) and saguing (English: banana) also didn't have tildes over the n or g or both ng.
Diacritic marks were also utilized. Acute ( ´ ), grave ( ` ) and circumflex ( ˆ ) were required and only used with the vowels. The latter two may only appear at the end of a word ending in a vowel. Diacritics had no impact on the primary alphabetical order. Possible combinations include: á, à, â, é, è, ê, í, ì, î, ó, ò, ô, ú, ù and û.
The vowels were pronounced in a short vowel length [A (ah), E (eh), I (ih), O (oh), U (uh)] while the consonants were pronounced as B (be), C (se), Ch (che), D (de), F (efe), G (he), H (ache), J (hota), K (ka), L (ele), LL (elye), M (eme), N (ene), NG (nang), Ñ (enye), Ñg or Ng̃ or N͠g or Gñ (ñga or ng̃a or n͠ga or gña), P (pe), Q (ku), R (ere), RR (er-re), S (ese), T (te), V (ve), W (wa), X (ekis), Y (ya or i griega or ye), Z (zeta). This alphabet gradually fell out of use since 1940 due to the imposition of the Abakada alphabet.
Punctuation marks were also borrowed from Spanish. punctuation marks like « » instead of the quotation marks (" ") were used. The inverted question mark (¿) and inverted exclamation point (¡) were also utilized at the beginning of phrases ending with either the regular question mark/exclamation point.
Collation of the Abecedario (32 letters):
|A||B||C||Ch||D||E||F||G||H||I||J||K||L||Ll||M||N||Ng||Ñ||Ng̃ or Ñg or N͠g or Gñ||O||P||Q||R||Rr||S||T||U||V||W||X||Y||Z|
|a||b||c||ch||d||e||f||g||h||i||j||k||l||ll||m||n||ng||ñ||ng̃ or ñg or n͠g or gñ||o||p||q||r||rr||s||t||u||v||w||x||y||z|
Abakada alphabet (1940–1971)
José Rizal suggested the "indigenization" of the orthography of the Philippine languages by replacing the letters C and Q with K. Rizal got the idea after reading an 1884 essay by Trinidad Pardo de Tavera about the ancient Baybayin script. On November 13, 1936, the Institute of National Language (Filipino: Surian ng Wikang Pambansâ) selected Tagalog as the basis of the Tagalog-Based National Language (Filipino: Wikang Pambansâ na Batay sa Tagalog) to replace Spanish due to its rapidly declining usage as the National Language (Filipino: Wikang Pambansâ) . The Abakada alphabet, which contains 20 letters, was created by Lope K. Santos in 1940. The alphabet was officially adopted by the Institute as an alphabet for the Tagalog-Based National Language to "indigenize" the writing system.
The Latin script (the alphabet) was introduced by the Catholic missionaries of Spain, leaving nothing to "indigenize". Reverting to the use of Baybayin, an abugida which was one the pre-Spanish Philippine writing systems, is one option to strictly "indigenize" Filipino orthography. However, more than 350 years of influence of the Spanish language, and about 40 years of influence of the English language to the indigenous Philippine languages in 1940 led to the addition of many consonants to Filipino orthography, such as Ch, F, Ll, Ñ, Q, Rr, V, X and Z.
The Abecedario alphabet is a phonetic writing system. Abecedario has been the writing system for more than 350 years since the start of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, along with Baybayin, which began to decline in the 17th century and became obsolete in the 18th century for the major languages of the Philippines. This continued to the time when Doctrina Christiana was published in 1593, during the time of Tómas Pinpin and Francisco Balagtas, and even after 1940, in most of the major and minor languages of the Philippines. The Abecedario was gradually wiped out since 1940, due to the imposition of Abakada. The Abakada orthography gradually influenced the languages of the Philippines.
The Abakada orthography was guided by the book entitled Balarílà ng Wikang Pambansâ (English: Grammar of the National Language), written by Lope K. Santos. Vowels were pronounced with a short vowel length, while consonants were pronounced by appending short A's at the end. Hence, the name Abakada, from the first 4 letters of the alphabet.
Collation of the Abakada (20 letters):
Pilipino alphabet (1971–1987)
In 1959, the Institute of National Language renamed the Tagalog-Based National Language into Pilipino. On October 4, 1971, the Abakada alphabet was revised and expanded in order to accommodate words of Spanish and English origin. It consisted of 31 letters — the 20 letters of the Abakada alphabet and the Spanish C, Ch, F, J, Ll, Ñ, Q, Rr, V, X and Z. Pilipino was defined by the 1973 Philippine constitution as one of the official languages of the Philippines. On July 30, 1976, the Department of Education Culture and Sports (DECS) issued Department Memo No. 194 starting the adoption of the Pilipino alphabet. In practice, the Spanish digraphs were considered as their two constituent letters.
Collation of the Pilipino Alphabet (31 letters):
Modern Filipino alphabet (1987–present)
In 1987, the official language called Pilipino was renamed to Filipino. Article XIV Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution states that "the National language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages".
The Pilipino alphabet was reduced to 28 letters, with the Spanish Ch, Ll and Rr digraphs being dropped, as these were not fully understood and had declined in use beyond proper names. The Association of Spanish Language Academies itself abandoned use of Ch, Ll, and Rr in 1994, and each digraph is now treated as a sequence of two distinct characters, finding occasional use as conjoined pairs.
The Modern Filipino alphabet is primarily English alphabet plus the Spanish Ñ and Tagalog Ng digraph; these are alphabetised separately in theory. Today, the Modern Filipino alphabet is used, and may also serve as the alphabet for all autochthonous Philippine languages and in writing Chavacano, a Spanish-derived creole spoken in Zamboanga.
Collation of the Modern Filipino Alphabet (28 letters):
Pronunciation of the Modern Filipino alphabet
The pronunciation of the modern Filipino alphabet is similar to the Spanish language, but the spelling of the alphabet is done according the English rules. This paradox makes the alphabet one of the most difficult to learn no native speakers that have to adapt their pronunciation to the English language rules.
|A||ey||/a/||Becomes [ɐ] in unstressed positions|
|C||si||/k/ or /s/||Substituted by the letters k or s or digraph ts in Abakada, depending on the sound the letter generates. It is only used for words of foreign origin that have not been assimilated into Filipino or Filipino words which were written using Spanish orthography.|
|D||di||/d/||/ɾ/ and /d/ are sometimes interchangeable|
|E||ee||/ɛ/||Sometimes pronounced [i ~ ɪ ~ ɛ]|
|F||ef||/f/||Substituted by the letter p in Abakada. It is only used for words of foreign origin that have not been assimilated into Filipino or Filipino words which were written using Spanish orthography.|
|G||dzi||/ɡ/; before [e] or [i] /dʒ/|
|I||ay||/i/||/i/ is usually pronounced [ɪ] in unstressed positions|
|J||jey||/dʒ/ or /h/||Written as the digraph dy or trigraph diy in Abakada when using the /dʒ/ phoneme or as h when using the /h/ phoneme. The sound varies depending on the language. It is only used for words of foreign origin that have not been assimilated into Filipino or Filipino words which were written using Spanish orthography.|
|K||key||/k/||/k/ has a tendency to become [x] between vowels|
|Ñ||enyé||/ɲ/, /nʲ/ or /nj/||Written as the digraph ny or trigraph niy in Abakada. It is only used for words of Spanish origin that have not been assimilated into Filipino or Filipino words which were written using Spanish orthography.|
|Ng||enji||/ŋ/||pronounced 'ng' as in sing, running, etc. Note its similarity with the word 'ng' (originally 'ng̃' with a tilde over the g), which is a propositional word that is pronounced 'nang'.|
|O||o||/o/||/o/ may be pronounced [u ~ ʊ], and tends to become [ɔ] in stressed positions|
|Q||kyu||/kʷ/||Written as the digraph kw or trigraph kuw in Abakada. It is only used for words of foreign origin that have not been assimilated into Filipino or Filipino words which were written using Spanish orthography.|
|R||ar||/ɾ/||/ɾ/ and /d/ are sometimes interchangeable|
|U||yu||/u/||When unstressed, /u/ is usually pronounced [ʊ]|
|V||vi||/v/||Substituted by the letter b in Abakada. It is only used for words of foreign origin that have not been assimilated into Filipino or Filipino words which were written using Spanish orthography.|
|X||eks||/ks/||Written as the digraph ks in Abakada. It is only used for words of foreign origin that have not been assimilated into Filipino or Filipino words which were written using Spanish orthography.|
|Z||zi||/z/||Substituted by the letter s in Abakada. It is only used for words of foreign origin that have not been assimilated into Filipino or Filipino words which were written using Spanish orthography.|
As of August 2007, the Commission on the Filipino Language has made available a draft version of Filipino orthography that is open for comment. This document is a result of a series of consultations with various teachers, instructors, linguists and others in the field that took place between 2006 and 2007.
The document begins by detailing the letters of the alphabet, their order and their names. One set of names is based on English letter names; the other, similar to the former Abakada. Some exceptional names are those letters which were not part of the Abakada: C, se, Q, kwa and X, eksa.
It goes on to name punctuation marks, and describes the use of the acute, grave and circumflex accents in Filipino. Words that already exist in the language are preferred over a borrowed term, for example, tuntunin vs. rul (derived from English rule). In terms of spelling, issues concerning the use of y-/iy- and w-/uw- are codified according to the number of preceding consonants and the origin of the word if it is borrowed.
Lastly, it provides spelling guidelines for words of foreign origin. It focuses mainly on the two languages that have provided a large number of lexical items to the Filipino language, namely Spanish and English. In short, regarding borrowings from these two languages, Spanish words of common usage are written in a manner consistent with Filipino phonology. These words are already in common usage, thus they will not revert to their Spanish spelling. On the other hand, if the words come from English or another foreign source or if the term is derived from Spanish that does not already have a phonetic spelling, the spelling should be kept intact; it should not be spelled phonetically.
- Spanish teléfono = telépono NOT *teléfono
- English psychology = psychology NOT *saykoloji, but:
- Spanish psicología or sicología = sikolohíya
- Spanish silla = silya
- Spanish cuchara = kutsara
- Spanish caballo = kabayo
Notes on Filipino orthography
- C, F, J, Ñ, Q, V, X, and Z are used mostly for loanwords or regional words.
- The vowels are A, E, I, O, and U.
- Usual diacritic marks are acute ( ´ ), grave ( ` ), circumflex ( ˆ ), which are optional, and only used with the vowels. The latter two may only appear at the end of a word ending in a vowel. Diacritics have no impact on the primary alphabetical order. Possible combinations include: á, à, â, é, è, ê, í, ì, î, ó, ò, ô, ú, ù, û. Historically, the tilde was used with <g> (g̃) in many Philippine languages. It was notably used to shorten the words nang (ergative case marker) and man͠gá (pluralization particle) into ng̃ and mg̃á respectively. Today, these two words are usually just simply written as ng and mga.
- Ñ is considered as a separate letter, instead of a letter-diacritical mark combination.
- The alphabet also uses the Ng digraph, even originally with a large tilde that spanned both n and g (as in n͠g) when a vowel follows the digraph. This tilde indicates that the "n͠g" and the vowel should be pronounced as one syllable, such as "n͠ga" in the three-syllable word "pan͠galan" ("name") – syllabicated as [pa-n͠ga-lan], not [pan-ga-lan]. The use of the tilde over the two letters is now rare. Due to technical constraints, machine-printed variants of "n͠ga" emerged, which included "ñga", "ng̃a", and even "gña" (as in the case of Sagñay, Camarines Sur).
- The Ng digraph letter is similar to, but not the same as, the prepositional word ng ("of"/"of the"), originally spelled ng̃ (with a tilde over the g only). The words ng and ng̃ are shortened forms of the word nang.
- Ë is a new variant of e introduced in 2013 to represent /ɯ/ in Austronesian words of non-Tagalog origin.
- The D and R interchange depends on where is the letter is located. Letter "D" will change into "R" if there is a vowel before it. For example: Dagat to Mandaragat, Dunong to Marunong however this doesn't apply on other Filipino language and especially foreign loan words.
Orthographic styles (old and new)
Below is an example of the difference in orthography between the Old Tagalog (Spanish system) and Modern Filipino system. The text used for comparison is the Filipino version of the Lord's Prayer. The phrase in square brackets is the doxology "for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever".
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