Any living language or a language that is in current use will always change.  The fastest to change are the words used in the language.  New words will be added, some words will change in meaning, some will be incorporated in new words, some will be forgotten and some will be forgotten and resurrected.

Next to the changes in words are the changes in grammar.  The changes in syntax and morphology are much slower, and the slowest to change is the psychology or philosophy of the language.  The classification or type of the language will hardly change at all.

Changing Words

In the 1960s the word “gay” was always used to mean being happy, lively, and cheerful.  Nowadays the word “gay” already means homosexual.

When I asked my students what is a “mouse”, everybody will refer to the “mouse” used in a computer.  Nobody will answer the “mouse” that is a kind of rat or bagtók in Binisayâ.

In Tagbilaran City, the Island City Mall or ICM is a popular marketplace.  Do you know that its name does not really identify the place?  ICM is not and island, it is not a city, and it is not a mall.

When I tell people this information, they will admit that it is not an island or a city but they will be aghast to know that it is not a mall.  In the popular mind, a mall means a huge department store.

According to the dictionary, a mall is a promenade, a walk way that is shaded with trees, with benches and some shops along the walk way.  It is practically a public park.

In the Philippines, the first to popularize the word “mall” was the “Ali Mall” in Cubao, Quezon City.  When the Ali Mall started in the 1970s, it was really a mall.  It was composed of covered walk ways with shops at the sides.  When it became popular, people forgot why it was called a mall and transferred the meaning to its being a marketplace. Soon the huge SM City Mall in Quezon City was constructed.  It made permanent the connotation of mall to a big department store.  Now if you will say that a mall is a promenade, you will be the one who will be wrong because everybody else will say that it is a huge department store.

Changes in Grammar

The English language has already a well developed grammar.  According to the rules of English grammar a name should begin with a capital letter and a sentence must begin with a capital letter.  However modern electronic and computer communications have changed these rules.  There are now words such as e-Mail, iPad, e-Commerce, etc. If you will use these words at the beginning of a sentence you will have a sentence that begins with a small letter.

In English and Spanish grammars, you must indent the first sentence in a paragraph.  However, I have read many Sugboanon Bisaya documents written during the Spanish era in which the first sentence is out-dented or the first sentence starts outside the margin.  I’m not sure if it was only a Spanish imposition because during the American era, Sugboanon Bisaya documents were already indented.

Forgotten Words

There are many English words that were popular in former times that are not popular nowadays.  However, I am not interested in forgotten English words but in forgotten Sugboanon Bisaya words.

It took me some time to complete my research about Bisayan words regarding the placement of the hands.  I completed it a few days ago.

Here are the words:

ákmò – It is when you place the palms of your hands under the chin.  The elbows are usually resting on the table, chair, etc.

ákop – It is when you clasped your hands and placed them on the table, especially when seated.

báklid; wáha – It is when you place your hands together behind the back.

dáop – It is the situation when you clasp or place your hands together when praying.

hinúkbò – It is when you place your hands at the hips.

kiyúgpos – It is when you place your hands and arms folded at the breast.

kúwin – It is the situation when you clasp your hands together and shake them in order to greet someone.  It is our equivalent to the European’s handshake.

salápyaw – It is when you place your clasped hands at the belly.

sinágpò – It is when you place your clasped hands at the crotch or genital area.

tighawák – It is when you place your hands at the waist.

tinangkugô – It is when you place your clasped hands at the nape or back of the head.

The Bisayan words still commonly used are báklid, hinúkbò, kiyúgpos, and tighawák.  The other words are now forgotten even though the actions are still very common.  It would be to our benefit if we will revive these words because they are the precise terms of the actions still performed.

The only Bisayan word that I found with English equivalent is hinúkbò = akimbo.  All the others are just “clasp the hands”.




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  1. Emiliano C. De Catalina says:

    I read this article only today, as the result of my search for the email add of Dr. Jes B. Tirol. This is a very enlightening article. I hereby express my gratitude to Dr. Jes B. Tirol for taking time in searching for this material for our Binisaya-Sinugbuanon language.

    I am a Cebuano, a lover of our language. I am a member of BATHALAD, CEBU and DAGANG FOUNDATION INC, under the chairmanship of Atty. Cesar Kilaton, Jr., two organizations of writers in the Binisaya-Sinugbuanon language.

    I am an author of two books, one on philosophy (ISMS in Education) and the other on history (Rizal: A Textbook for College Students). Presently, I am undertaking a scholarly research on our Binisaya-Sinugbuanon language, trying to gather all available materials about the BATADILA (Grammar) of our language. One of the things I plan to include in this work is the article produced and published by Dr. Jes B. Tirol on “Mathematical Terms.”

    In connection to this work, I would like to ask you a favor. Can you please help me get into contact with Dr. Jes B. Tirol through the internet. I would like to ask permission from him to use his article as part of my book.

    Thank you very much.

    Sincerely yours,

    Emiliano C. De Catalina

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