Kapampangan roots-A A +A
Monday, August 6, 2012
KAPAMPANGANS have more common words with Indonesians than Tagalogs have, such as mother (indu), brother (kaka), providence (upaya), old (tua), fire (api), cooked rice (nasi), moon (bulan), wind (angin), earthquake (ayun), delicious (nyaman), beauty (santing), torch (sulu), itch (gatal), blanket (ulas), whistle (suit), to die (maté), to drink (minum), to plant (tanam), to punch (tumbuk), to blow (tiup), and who knows how many hundreds more.
Did our languages have the same source, or did one borrow from the other? If yes, who borrowed from whom?
We’ll probably never know, because even experts contradict one another, some saying Kapampangans came from Madjapahit rajahs who sailed from Java and Sumatra, and others saying we descended from Austronesians arriving here first from southern China before proceeding to Indonesia.
The truth is probably a combination of the two: our ancestors from China reached the Philippines first, but after proceeding to Indonesia and settling there, some of them returned here.
I would imagine them sailing back and forth between the two archipelagos, criss-crossing the seas, island-hopping, and frequently returning to their kins abroad to visit, vacation, attend reunions, intermarry, trade and barter—very much like what sailors, overseas contract workers, and traveling business people do today.
If you look at the map, you can see how someone living in Java and Sumatra can easily reach Luzon by way of Borneo and Palawan.
No wonder Prince Balagtas, Panginoan, Si Ache, Si Banau, Malangsik, Pansomun and all those noble men and women who founded Kapampangan towns and ruled Manila kept close ties with their kith and kin in Borneo and Indonesia.
And no wonder Bahasa Indonesia and Kapampangan have overlapping vocabularies.
But, as Oscar Balajadia says in his new book O Jo Nu’ca Menibat? Suglung at Iamut ding Piling Amanung Capampangan, Vol. II, word meanings tell only half the story. To really understand the nature, structure and origin of the Kapampangan language, we should go beyond vocabulary and make a real effort to study the structure of words.
His book, which is the second in a series published by the Center for Kapampangan Studies, breaks Kapampangan words down to their most basic units, or roots, to identify their source (the iamut or yamut in the title) and discover all the related words (the suglung in the title) stemming from those roots.
How do we, who are not linguists, do that?
Well, we can start by picking one Kapampangan word at a time and give it one long hard look, until we discover its root. It’s usually a syllable or syllables imbedded in the word, which gives the word its meaning and provides a clue to the meaning of other related words.
For example, the Kapampangan dish kilayin—what could its root be? Is it kilay? ila? ilay? ayin? Could it be related to the more generic dish, kilawin, which we often confuse it with?
Kilayin is pork, liver and lungs stewed in vinegar and salt, while kilawin is raw fish and meat blanched with vinegar and salt.
Their root must be kiláo (kilaw). In Kapampangan that would be kiló, because we have a tendency to glide a diphthong (two successive vowel sounds sounding as one, like /balai/ sounding as /bale/ and /laktaw/ sounding as /lakto/). Kapampangan got that from Sanskrit.
In his book, Balajadia breaks the root kilao further down to iláo (iló), which means “raw, uncooked” (hilaw in Tagalog, kiraw in Bahasa, which means “unripe”). Thus, we have words like taguiló, which is fermented rice (buru) with a less salt than usual, thus connoting raw, and bantilo (Tagalog bantilao), which means “half-cooked.” We wouldn’t have these two words if the root is kilao, not ilao.
It’s actually the same thing with the English language. We can see that the root of words like interrupt, abrupt, disrupt, corrupt, erupt and rupture must be rupt, but its meaning has been lost and so it is now just a syllable and no longer a word, and you won’t find its meaning in any English dictionary.
The same thing will happen to our Kapampangan words if we don’t identify their roots. Someday we won’t know anymore that suku means “indeterminate end,” and that sumuku (“to surrender”) came from that root because it means “to reach an end,” and that Sinukuan (Kapampangan mythical god) means either “almighty” (to whom everyone surrenders) or “eternal” (whose end is indeterminate).
In his exciting, wondrous journey to get to the bottom of things, Balajadia has also discovered the Mandarin and Sanskrit origins of our language.
For example, he found out that Himalaya comes from two Sanskrit words hima (“snow”) and alaya (“home, abode”), which of course raises the possibility that our alaya, which Bergaño defines as “dawn or east,” may actually mean “home” (which makes sense, because Bunduk Alaya, or Mount Arayat, has always been considered Sinukuan’s abode).
We all know that Pampanga came from pangpang or pampang (“shore” or “riverbanks”), but how many know that pangpang came from the Mandarin word pang, which means “beside something”?
Balajadia, who was born in Magalang but now lives in Macau, also points out that the Kapampangan word for uncle, bapa, must have come from the Cantonese term ba fu (“your parent’s eldest brother”), not from Sanskrit bapu (“father”).
The bapu in Bapu Maria (“Hail Mary”) is a contraction of aba (“hail”) and apo (similar to Tagalog ginoong). The word apo is actually two Mandarin words, po (“old person”) and the honorific a, which is always attached to the name or title of a respected person (similar to the Japanese san as in Papa-san).
Our respectful terms po and opo (short for oo po) came from this Mandarin word.
Likewise, the Kapampangan terms of endearment inang (for girls) and itung (for boys) came from Cantonese nan (“daughter”) and i tung (“child”).
Among Kapampangan scholars today, Balajadia enjoys a quite unique position because he is skilled in Kapampangan, Tagalog, Chinese, Sanskrit and Bahasa languages all at once, having acquired a linguistics master’s degree from the University of Macau (where he teaches) and an English bachelor’s degree from Holy Angel University, way back when I was still his College Dean. In fact, the first book we ever published was his.
Balajadia’s nom de plume is the patrician-sounding Papa Osmubal, but because his books will soon upset the way we look at our language, he might as well be the enfant terrible of Kapampangan linguistics.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 07, 2012.