Have you ever noticed that during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic the precise terms are used when people are talking in English but uses inaccurate words in Binisaya or Tagalog or the so-called “Filipino”.
We are talking about independence and freedom but our minds and behaviour are still colonized. We are still sagmak (lovers of things foreign).
Everybody will say the English word “pandemic” and when they say it in Binisayâ or Filipino, everybody will say the word “pandemya” as if imitating the Spanish language. There are still many Filipinos who can speak Spanish, but nobody reminded our leaders and the media men that the Spanish word for “pandemic” is pandémico. Therefore the word “pandemya” is wrong. It should be “pandemikó”.
The official advisory is “MASK, HUGAS, IWAS”. It is an example of the so-called Filipino Language. It is a mixture of words that will cause confusion to a Bisayan speaker.
The English word “Mask” refer to the item used to cover the face. The Binisayâ have many equivalent words for mask and the precise term for the cloth used to cover the mouth and nose is “hijàw” or “hiyàw”. Apparently the Tagalog has no equivalent term and the people in Manila used the English “Mask”. Face shield is Salímbong sa Nawong in Binisayâ.
“Hugas” is a general term equivalent to the English “Wash”. Since the demonstrations indicate the washing of the hands, the Binisayâ has the precise term “Hunaw”. If you will use the word “Hugas”, the Bisayan speaker may think that you are advised to wash the plate.
“Iwas” is not a precise Tagalog term. There is another Tagalog word “Ilag” or “Umilag”. In Sinugboanon we have the “Likay” and “Lihay”. “Likay” is to avoid by keeping away be at a distance. “Lihay” is to avoid by dodging but still continue to advance.
Now, what meaning will you give to “Iwas”? Is it “Likay” or “Lihay”. In my experience of the usage of “Iwas” I will translate it as “Lihay”, which is to avoid by dodging. No wonder that many people are still confused how to “obey” the advisory.
Portmanteau is the method of creating new words by combining morphemes or parts of two or more words to become a new word. The word COVID-19 comes from the words COrona + VIrus + Disease + 2019 = COVID-19. Now everybody says this new coined word COVID-19.
In my class in Bisaya 211 I asked my students to create an equivalent portmanteau of COVID-19. Corona is “puróng”, virus is “kamandag”, disease is “sakit”, and 2019.
The students came up with the new coined word “PUKASA-19”. So it is possible to create a precise translation in Binisayâ.
According to the French traveler Gean Mallat, in his book written in 1844, the European doctors came to the Philippines to observe how our local doctors or healers cure their patients.
The medical profession is not new in the Philippines. Our healers have already different terms that we do not know that it existed long ago. For example; a.) Alzheimer’s disease = Bangkong, b.) ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder) = Húgsaw, c.) Autism = Kulidó, d.) Diabetes = Balángot, e.) Psoriasis = Balíkis, etc.
Our medical terms can already translate into Binisayâ most of the terms used in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Blood pressure – Duót sa dugô
- Dose – Tákal
- Epidemic – Dámat
- Immune – Kublan; dili táblan
- Inject – Túpok; túlpok
- Inoculate – Gidapótan
- Mixture, proper – Dusáng
- Needle – Dágom
- Pandemic – Lákad ng dámat
- Quarantine (at home) – Lúblob
- Quarantine (for ship) – Gágat
- Quarantine (isolate) – Hílit, laming
- Refrigerator – Kamigán
- Serum – Lápsaw
- Symptom – Timól
- Syringe – Tadlóy
- Temperature (body heat) – Danggás
- Temperature (fever) – Hilánat
- Temperature (measure of heat) – Alinsúob
- Temperature (normal temp) – Kugbán
- Vaccine – Sumpà-takód
- Vial – Suyán
There are now many Bisayan Language groupings in social media. What I noticed is that the participants do not know that English and Binisayâ are two different types of languages. English is an inflectional language while Binisayâ is an agglutinative language. The grammatical rules are different and not interchangeable.
However, since about everybody is educated using the English language they would tend to denigrate the Binisayâ if it will not fit the English grammar.
It is the reason why native languages are treated as if a low class language and the English users would not care whether their use of their mother language is wrong.
People don’t realize that when you are bilingual, you tend to refer to your mother language for understanding. If you did not master your mother language, your logical and mental power will be of low level.