|Languages||Tagalog, Visayan languages|
|c. 13th century–18th century|
Baybayin (Tagalog pronunciation: [bai̯ˈba:jɪn]; pre-virama: , post-virama: , kudlit + pamudpod: ) is an ancient script used primarily by the Tagalog people. Baybayin is an indigenous Indic script that has been widely used in traditional Tagalog domains. It is one of many suyat scripts in the Philippines. It continued to be used during the early part of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines until largely being supplanted by usage of the Latin alphabet. Baybayin is well known because it was carefully documented by scribes during the colonial era.
The term baybayín literally means "to spell, write, and syllabize" in Tagalog. Baybayin was extensively documented by the Spanish. Some have incorrectly attributed the name Alibata to it, but that term was coined by Paul Rodríguez Verzosa after the arrangement of letters of the Arabic alphabet (alif, ba, ta (alibata), "f" having been eliminated for euphony's sake). For the Visayans, it is called Kudlit-kabadlit.
It is one of a number of individual writing systems used in Southeast Asia, nearly all of which are abugidas where any consonant is pronounced with the inherent vowel a following it—diacritics being used to express other vowels. Many of these writing systems descended from ancient alphabets used in India over 2000 years ago.
The Archives of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, one of the largest archives in the Philippines, currently possesses the world's biggest collection of ancient writings in Baybayin script. The chambers which house the scripts are part of a tentative nomination to UNESCO World Heritage List that is still being deliberated on, along with the entire campus of the University of Santo Tomas.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Usage in Traditional Seals
- 3 Other uses of the word
- 4 Characteristics
- 5 Modern usage
- 6 Characters
- 7 Examples
- 8 Unicode
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Baybayin was noted by the Spanish priest Pedro Chirino in 1604 and Antonio de Morga in 1609 to be known by most Filipinos, and was generally used for personal writings, poetry, etc. However, according to William Henry Scott, there were some datus from the 1590s who could not sign affidavits or oaths, and witnesses who could not sign land deeds in the 1620s.
The best known evidence of where this Indic script we call today as Baybayin came about is from the "abecedaries" evidence. It is an example of letters of the script arranged more or less in the order the Spaniards knew, reproduced by the Spanish and other observers in the different regions of Luzon and Visayas. Another source of evidence are the archival documents preserved and recovered.
From these two sources, it is clear that the Baybayin script was used in Luzon, Palawan, Mindoro, as far as Pangasinan in the north, and in Ilocos, Panay, Leyte, and Iloilo, but there are no proof supporting that Baybayin reached Mindanao. From what is available, it seems clear that the Luzon and Palawan varieties have started to develop in different ways in the 1500s, way before the Spaniards conquered what we know today as the Philippines. This puts Luzon and Palawan as the oldest regions where Baybayin was and is used. It is also notable that the variety used in Pampanga had already developed special shapes for four letters by the early 1600s, different from the ones used elsewhere. It is equally important to note that this ancient Baybayin Kapampangan variety is very different from the experiment called "modern Kulitan" which was taught in the late 1990s.
So we can say that there were three somewhat distinct varieties of a single script in the late 1500s and 1600s, though they could not be described as three different scripts any more than the different styles of Latin script across medieval or modern Europe with their slightly different sets of letters and spelling systems.
The only modern scripts that descended directly from the original Baybayin script through natural development are the Pala'wan script inherited from the Tagbanwa in Palawan, the Buhid and Hanunóo scripts in Mindoro, the ancient Kapampangan script used in the 1600s but has been supplanted by a constructed script called "modern Kulitan", and of course the Tagalog script. There is no evidence for any other regional scripts; like the modern Kulitan experiment in Pampanga. Any other scripts are recent inventions based on one or another of the abecedaries from old Spanish descriptions.
The confusion over the use of marks may have contributed to the demise of Baybayin over time. The desire of Francisco Lopez (1620) for Baybayin to conform to the Spanish alfabetos paved the way for the invention of a cross sign. Such introduction was uniquely a standalone event that was blindly copied by succeeding writers up to the present. Sevilla and Alvero (1939) said, "The marks required in the formation of syllables are: the tuldok or point (.) and the bawas or minus sign (-)." The bawas or minus sign (-) that is placed before the script to remove the paired vowel appears more logical than the cross or plus sign (+) of Lopez.
Influence of Greater India
Historically Southeast Asia was under the influence of Ancient India, where numerous Indianized principalities and empires flourished for several centuries in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam. The influence of Indian culture into these areas was given the term indianization. French archaeologist, George Coedes, defined it as the expansion of an organized culture that was framed upon Indian originations of royalty, Hinduism and Buddhism and the Sanskrit dialect. This can be seen in the Indianization of Southeast Asia, spread of Hinduism and Buddhism. Indian diaspora, both ancient (PIO) and current (NRI), played an ongoing key role as professionals, traders, priests and warriors. Indian honorifics also influenced the Malay, Thai, Filipino and Indonesian honorifics. Examples of these include Raja, Rani, Maharlika, Datu, etc. which were transmitted from Indian culture to Philippines via Malays and Srivijaya empire.
Laguna Copperplate Inscription, a legal document inscribed on a copper plate in 900 AD, is the earliest known written document found in the Philippines, is written in Indian Sanskrit and Brahmi script based Indonesian Kawi script.
It is a legal document with the inscribed date of Saka era 822, corresponding to April 21, 900 AD Laguna Copperplate Inscription. It was written in the Kawi script in a variety of Old Malay containing numerous loanwords from Sanskrit and a few non-Malay vocabulary elements whose origin is ambiguous between Old Javanese and Old Tagalog. One hypothesis therefore reasons that, since Kawi is the earliest attestation of writing on the Philippines, then Baybayin may have descended from Kawi or vice versa. It is the kawi inspired ancient alphabet of the people of Baybay in the Lakanate of Lawan used to write letters to relatives in far places where they migrate. Scott mentioned the Bingi of Lawan siday (local epic) originally written in Baybay, a place in ancient Lawan.It is believed that there were at least 16 different types of writing systems present around the Philippines prior to our colonization. Baybayin is just one of them, which was said to be of widespread use among coastal groups such as the Tagalog, Bisaya, Iloko, Pangasinan, Bikol, and Pampanga around the 16th century. One theory is that "Baybayin" got its name from a place or a word "baybay," or seashore in ancient Tagalog and present Waray dialect (Casal,CNN).
A second example of Kawi script can be seen on the Butuan Ivory Seal, though it has not been dated.
An earthenware burial jar, called the "Calatagan Pot," found in Batangas is inscribed with characters strikingly similar to Baybayin, and is claimed to have been inscribed ca. 1300 AD. However, its authenticity has not yet been proven.
Many of the writing systems of Southeast Asia descended from ancient scripts used in India over 2000 years ago. Although Baybayin shares some important features with these scripts, such as all the consonants being pronounced with the vowel a and the use of special marks to change this sound, there is no evidence that it is so old.
The shapes of the baybayin characters bear a slight resemblance to the ancient Kavi script of Java, Indonesia, which fell into disuse in the 15th century. However, as mentioned earlier in the Spanish accounts, the advent of the Baybayin in the Philippines was considered a fairly recent event in the 16th century and the Filipinos at that time believed that their Baybayin came from Borneo.
This theory is supported by the fact that the Baybayin script could not show syllable final consonants, which are very common in most Philippine languages. (See Final Consonants) This indicates that the script was recently acquired and had not yet been modified to suit the needs of its new users. Also, this same shortcoming in the Baybayin was a normal trait of the script and language of the Bugis people of Sulawesi, which is directly south of the Philippines and directly east of Borneo. Thus most scholars believe that the Baybayin may have descended from the Buginese script or, more likely, a related lost script from the island of Sulawesi.
Although one of Ferdinand Magellan's shipmates, Antonio Pigafetta, wrote that the people of the Visayas were not literate in 1521, the Baybayin had already arrived there by 1567 when Miguel López de Legazpi reported that, "They [the Visayans] have their letters and characters like those of the Malays, from whom they learned them." B1 Then, a century later Francisco Alcina wrote about:
The characters of these natives, or, better said, those that have been in use for a few years in these parts, an art which was communicated to them from the Tagalogs, and the latter learned it from the Borneans who came from the great island of Borneo to Manila, with whom they have considerable traffic... From these Borneans the Tagalogs learned their characters, and from them the Visayans, so they call them Moro characters or letters because the Moros taught them... [the Visayans] learned [the Moros'] letters, which many use today, and the women much more than the men, which they write and read more readily than the latter.
Old Sumatran "Malay" scripts
Another hypothesis states that a script or script used to write one of the Malay languages was adopted and became Baybayin. In particular, the Pallava script from Sumatra is attested to the 7th century.
Usage in Traditional Seals
Like Japan and Korea, the Philippines also had a sealing culture prior to Spanish colonization. However, when the Spaniards succeeded in colonizing the islands, they abolished the practice and burned all documents they captured from the natives while forcefully establishing a Roman Catholic-based rule. Records on Philippine seals were forgotten until in the 1970s when actual ancient seals made of ivory were found in an archaeological site in Butuan. The seal, now known as the Butuan Ivory Seal, has been declared as a National Cultural Treasure. The seal is inscribed with the word "Butwan" through a native suyat script. The discovery of the seal proved the theory that pre-colonial Filipinos, or at least in coastal areas, used seals on paper. Before the discovery of the seal, it was only thought that ancient Filipinos used bamboo, metal, bark, and leaves for writing. The presence of paper documents in the classical era of the Philippines is also backed by a research of Otley Beyer stating that Spanish friars 'boasted' about burning ancient Philippine documents with suyat inscriptions, one of the reasons why ancient documents from the Philippines are almost non-existent in present time. The ivory seal is now housed at the National Museum of the Philippines. Nowadays, younger generations are trying to revive the usage of seals, notably in signing pieces of art such as drawings, paintings, and literary works.
Other uses of the word
Cultural organizations such as Sanghabi and the Heritage Conservation Society recommend that the collection of distinct scripts used by various indigenous groups in the Philippines, including baybayin, be called suyat, which a neutral term for any script.
The writing system is an abugida system using consonant-vowel combinations. Each character, written in its basic form, is a consonant ending with the vowel "A". To produce consonants ending with the other vowel sounds, a mark is placed either above the consonant (to produce an "E" or "I" sound) or below the consonant (to produce an "O" or "U" sound). The mark is called a kudlit. The kudlit does not apply to stand-alone vowels. Vowels themselves have their own glyphs.
There is only one letter for D or R as they were allophones in most languages of the Philippines, where R occurred in intervocalic positions and D occurred elsewhere. The grammatical rule has survived in modern Filipino, so that when a d is between two vowels, it becomes an r, as in the words dangál (honour) and marangál (honourable), or dunong (knowledge) and marunong (knowledgeable), and even raw for daw (he said, she said, they said, it was said, allegedly, reportedly, supposedly) and rin for din (also, too) after vowels. This variant of the script is not used for Ilokano, Pangasinan, Bikolano, and other Philippine languages to name a few, as these languages have separate symbols for D and R.
As well the same letter is used to represent the P and F (or PH) which were also allophonic.
Beside these phonetic considerations, the script is monocameral and does not not use letter case for distinguishing proper names or initials of words starting sentences.
Traditionally, baybayin was written upon palm leaves with styli or upon bamboo with knives. The curved shape of the letterforms of baybayin is a direct result of this heritage: straight lines would have torn the leaves. During the era of Spanish colonization, most baybayin began being written with ink on paper, but in some parts of the country the traditional art form has been retained. Many of the baybayin writings in scrolls of paper were afterwards destroyed by Spanish priests as a form of fun. Otley Beyer wrote in 1921, "It cannot be said that such writings did not exist, since the early Filipinos were even more literate than the Mexicans... One Spanish priest in Southern Luzon boasted of having destroyed more than three hundred scrolls written in native characters."
The Ticao stone inscription, also known as the Monreal stone or Rizal stone, is a limestone tablet that contains Baybayin characters. Found by pupils of Rizal Elementary School on Ticao Island in Monreal town, Masbate, which had scraped the mud off their shoes and slippers on two irregular shaped limestone tablets before entering their classroom, they are now housed at a section of the National Museum of the Philippines, which weighs 30 kilos, is 11 centimeters thick, 54 cm long and 44 cm wide while the other is 6 cm thick, 20 cm long and 18 cm wide.
Two styles of writing
Virama Kudlit "style"
The original writing method was particularly difficult for the Spanish priests who were translating books into the vernaculars. Because of this, Francisco López introduced his own kudlit in 1620, called a sabat, that cancelled the implicit a vowel sound. The kudlit was in the form of a "+" sign, in reference to Christianity. This cross-shaped kudlit functions exactly the same as the virama in the Devanagari script of India. In fact, Unicode calls this kudlit the Tagalog Sign Virama. See sample above in Characteristics Section.
A single character represented "nga". The current version of the Filipino alphabet still retains "ng" as a digraph.
Words written in baybayin were written in a continuous flow, and the only form of punctuation was a single vertical or slanted line (danda signs in other Indic abugidas) fulfill the function of a comma, period, or unpredictably separate sets of words.), or more often, a pair of vertical or slanted lines ( ). These lines (similar to
Pre-colonial and colonial usage
Baybayin historically was used in Tagalog and to a lesser extent Kapampangan speaking areas. Its use spread to Ilokanos when the Spanish promoted its use with the printing of Bibles. Related scripts, such as Hanunóo, Buhid, and Tagbanwa are still used today, along with the Kulitan alphabet.
Among the earliest literature on the orthography of Visayan languages were those of Jesuit priest Ezguerra with his Arte de la lengua bisaya in 1747 and of Mentrida with his Arte de la lengua bisaya: Iliguaina de la isla de Panay in 1818 which primarily discussed grammatical structure. Based on the differing sources spanning centuries, the documented syllabaries also differed in form.
It is used in the most current New Generation Currency series of the Philippine peso issued in the last quarter of 2010. The word used on the bills was "Pilipino" ( ).
It is also used in Philippine passports, specifically the latest e-passport edition issued 11 August 2009 onwards. The odd pages of pages 3–43 have " " ("Ang katuwiran ay nagpapadakila sa isang bayan"/"Righteousness exalts a nation") in reference to Proverbs 14:34.
Baybayin influence may also explain the preference for making acronyms from initial consonant-vowel pairs of the component words, rather than the more common use of just the first letter.
A number of legislative bills have been proposed periodically aiming to promote the writing system, none of which have yet been passed into law. Among them is the "National Writing System Act" (House Bill 1022/Senate Bill 433).
The lyrics of Lupang Hinirang in Baybayin rendering.
Seal of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, with the two Baybayin ka and pa letters in the center.
Emblem of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with a Baybayin ka in the center.
Seal of the Philippine Army, with a Baybayin ka in the center.
Logo of the National Library of the Philippines. The Baybayin text reads as karunungan (ka r(a)u n(a)u nga n(a), wisdom).
Logo of the National Museum of the Philippines, with a Baybayin pa letter in the center, in a traditional rounded style.
Logo of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, with three rotated occurrences of the Baybayin ka letter.
|Independent vowels||Base consonnants (with implicit vowel a)|
Note that the first row of clusters (with virama) were a late addition to the original script introduced by Spaniards.
Punctuation and spelling
The words and sentences of Old Tagalog are the roots of the Modern Tagalog language. Some of the words and sentences have evolved over time (like the word babuy for pig, which became baboy in modern Tagalog), but some of the words in Old Tagalog (like budhi for conscience, and hari for king), have survived and are in common use in modern Tagalog.
Baybayin writing makes use of only two punctuation marks (originally only one), the Philippine single (Hanunóo script block. Space separation of words was historically not used on traditional supports, but is common today.) (acting today as a comma, or verse splitter in poestry) and double punctuation ( ) (main punctuation, acting today as a period or end of paragraph), which are similar to single and double danda signs in other Brahmic scripts. These signs (which may be presented vertically like Indic dandas, or slanted like forward slashes) are unified across Philippines scripts and were encoded by Unicode in the
- Yamang ‘di nagkakaunawaan, ay mag-pakahinahon.
- Remain calm in disagreements.
- Magtanim ay 'di birò.
- Planting is not a joke.
- Mámahalin kitá hanggáng sa pumutí ang buhók ko.
- I will love you until my hair turns white.
- In the Doctrina Christiana, the letters of Baybayin were collated (without any connection with other similar script, except sorting vowels before consonnants) as:
- A, U/O, I/E; Ha, Pa, Ka, Sa, La, Ta, Na, Ba, Ma, Ga, Da/Ra, Ya, NGa, Wa.
- In Unicode the letters are collated in coherence with other Indic scripts, by phonetic proximity for consonnants:
- A, I/E, U/O; Ka, Ga, Nga; Ta, Da/Ra, Na; Pa, Ba, Ma; Ya, La, Wa, Sa, Ha.
The Lord's Prayer (Ama Namin)
|Baybayin script||Latin script||English (1928 BCP)|
(current Filipino Catholic version)
Ama namin, sumasalangit ka,
Our Father who art in heaven,
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
|Baybayin script||Latin script||English translation|
Ang lahat ng tao'y isinilang na malaya
Sila'y pinagkalooban ng katuwiran at budhi
All human beings are born free
They are endowed with reason and conscience
Motto of the Philippines
|Baybayin script||Latin script||English translation|
|For God, |
For Nature, and
Baybayin was added to the Unicode Standard in March, 2002 with the release of version 3.2.
The Unicode block for Baybayin, called Tagalog, is U+1700–U+171F:
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
Representation of Modern Sounds
Although it violates the Unicode Standard, U+170D is becoming the de facto standard for representing the character "Ra" (), due to its use as such in commonly available Baybayin fonts. It reuses the glyphs representing the letter Da ( ) with a backward-slanted stroke (down to the right) added in the middle of the foot stroke, either barring it or attached below it (and with a shape similar to the slanted stroke already attached below the standard letter Pa). If not properly drawn, it may be confused by unaware readers with the vowel-less letter "D" (Da modified by a virama) or with the cluster "Do/Du" ("Da" modified by the u/o vowel sign).
A similar extension is proposed to distinguish the letters Pa and "Fa/Pha" (for the letter "Fa/Pha", the stroke will not attach below the borrom arm, but will bar it), and to properly reflect the change in the official name of the national Filipino language (previously Pilipino), as the two related phonems are now clearly distinguished.
Also the proposed letter "Za" is an extension of the base letter Sa, frequently simplified on its left side to look like the Germanic sharp s (ß), using the same additional slanted stroke barring the bottom-left stroke.
Another similar extension is also proposed to represent the common cluster "Nya" (or "Ña" for words initially borrowed from Spanish), based on the letterform for Na, but whose simplified central vertical leg (reduced to a non-wavy stroke) is also barred in the middle by an additional horizontal stroke (or tilde). However such cluster is not needed with Unicode, because it is perceived as a ligature of the cluster "N" ("Na" + virama) with the letter Ya, simpler to read visually and to draw manually.
Soft and Hard Vowels
For distinguishing the vowels "E" and "O" from the standard vowels I and U, the same proposal adds a small vertical stroke (above the standard vowel I or to the right of standard vowel U). No such extension is proposed for the vowel signs, assuming that the two vowel signs (and the virama) would become unneeded with this proposal, transforming the old Baybayin abugida into a plain "modern Baybayin" alphabet (where the vowel A would no longer be implied by base consonnants but would have to be written explicitly, and where the vowel signs "-i/e" and "-u/o "combined with base consonnants are to be replaced by the independant vowels "I/E" and "U/O"). But such proposal is more radical as it introduces a complete change of orthography in most texts (even if such event occurred in the past, with the introduction of the "virama" by Spaniards), and a different reading of existing texts using base consonnants with their inherent vowel -a ("I" instead of "-aI/-aE", "U" instead of "-aO/-aU"); the new reading could be disambiguated and implied by the (frequent) presence of the new independent vowels "E" and "O", or by the increased presence of independent vowel "A" (at non-initial positions in words, which are very uncommon in Tagalog with the existing Baybayin orthography, just like Tagalog in Latin has almost no occurrence of the "aa" digram in the middle of words, i.e. between two consonnants) and the total absence of combining vowel signs and viramas. It would also require the encoding by Unicode of two additional "independant" vowels "E" and "O" to the existing Baybayin script (alias "Tagalog" in Unicode).
Philippines Unicode Keyboard Layout with Baybayin
It is possible to type Baybayin directly from the keyboard without the need to use online typepads. The Philippines Unicode Keyboard Layout includes different sets of Baybayin layout for different keyboard users: QWERTY, Capewell-Dvorak, Capewell-QWERF 2006, Colemak, and Dvorak, all available in Microsoft Windows and GNU/Linux 32-bit and 64-bit installations.
The keyboard layout with Baybayin can be downloaded at this page.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Baybayin.|
- Ancient Philippine scripts
- List of India-related topics in Philippines
- Old Tagalog
- Laguna Copperplate Inscription
- Kulitan alphabet
- Hanunó'o script
- Tagbanwa alphabet
- Buhid script
- Kawi script
- Filipino orthography
- History of Indian influence on Southeast Asia
- India–Philippines relations
- Rajahnate of Butuan
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- UST Baybayin collection shown to public, Baybayin, retrieved June 18, 2012[permanent dead link].
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- The Life, Death, and Resurgence of Baybayin
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- Muddied stones reveal ancient scripts
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- P. Domingo Ezguerra (1601–1670) (1747) [c. 1663]. Arte de la lengua bisaya de la provincia de Leyte. apendice por el P. Constantino Bayle. Imp. de la Compañía de Jesús.
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- Ang Baybayin by Paul Morrow
- Unicode Tagalog Range 1700-171F (in PDF)
- Yet another Baybayin chart
- Baybayin online translator
- Baybayin video tutorial
- Baybayin Unicode Keyboard Layout for Mac OSX
- Snoworld™'s Baybayin Unicode Typepad
- Philippines Unicode Keyboard Layout with Baybayin, for Microsoft Windows and GNU/Linux both 32-bit and 64-bit
- Baybayin Keyboard extension for ChromeOS (Chromebooks)
- Online Baybayin Library
- Baybayin mobile translator application
- Nordenx's Baybayin Unicode Typepad
- Scott, William Henry (1984). Prehispanic Source Materials for the study of Philippine History. New Day Publishers. ISBN 971-10-0226-4.