Issue of October 1, 2017
Mt. Province

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"What is the Ibaloi of..?"

A.G.A.I.N, THIS MODE of a question. Latest was last week: someone I know very well texted me, “What is the Ibaloi of Congratulations(!)?” I simply replied:

‘MOST LIKELY, THERE is none. It is English, and a Western concept, etc., which we “learned”, or adapted, and thus should be rendered as has always been’.

BUT SOMETHING MORE, I wanted to tell her regarding her Query, I now share to you for deeper and more exhaustive reflection.

TO IMAGINE THAT every English word or expression is translatable to any language is just purely ‘amusing’; for, why is it called ‘English’ in the first place?

BASICALLY, SO THAT it may not be ‘mistaken’ for any other language, thus the identification: the English language.

ENGLISH HAS LARGE borrowings from Greek and Latin; that’s why you speak of a ‘cardiac arrest’ (Gr. Kardia, heart) vis-à-vis a ‘coronary disease’ (i.e. L. cordis, heart), don’t you?

ASIDE FROM THOSE two, later from others: Dutch reef, Spanish embargo, French hors d’ouvre; even from Malay sago, or Japanese samurai, and so on. So

AS ENGLISH DID not have terms for those ‘concepts’, it borrowed those, ‘in the process’, di po ba? And we are saying: ‘let’s borrow the [English] expression ‘Congratulations!’ instead of say.. complicatedly finding or coining(!) an Ibaloi translation or ‘equivalent’. But wait:

EVEN THE ENGLISH Congratulations! is not from Old English, or Anglo-Saxon – the ancestor of what we speak today and from which we say “~is derived our Modern English”, dating back c.1455

IN TODAY’S GERMAN language, they say for the same expression: Ich gratuliere Sie! (lit. “I congratulate you!”). German and English are kin languages descended from the Germanic branch of the larger Indo-European family.

FRENCH AND SPANISH are examples of ‘Indo-European’, yet they do not share with German and English, gratulieren and congratulate, which dovetail from Latin. Rather, their speakers say: félicitations! And enhorabuena! respectively

ALL THREE LANGUAGES belong to the Indo-European family – as English does; yet, they express the same concept or idea of wishing well someone for an achievement or so, in different ways.. in different ‘shades of meaning’ – especially if pieced literally. And now, we search for an Ibaloi translation? How so sad – or unfortunate, we cannot produce any – be it a true, or false, cognate!

PERHAPS YOU CAN say to the winning, achieving, or successful one you are addressing, the likes of: “we’re happy you won!” or, “[It’s good] you achieved your goal after all!” or, “we’re here to witness your success!” and so forth; but

A ONE-TERM, ONE-WORD expression in Ibaloi to be an ‘equivalent’ of the English “Congratulations!”? Come on, don’t be pedantic any. There is none! But

FOR SELF PURSUIT, why don’t you try – or try asking others; for the Kankana-ey, the Iluko, etc., of the English Congratulations! and compare your findings? Again,

FOR PARALLEL ARGUMENT, we can take the English daily Question-expression: “What time is it?”

IN SPANISH, ITS fellow Indo-European, it will be; ¿Que hora es? In French, Quel heure est-il? Indeed ‘close’ in form to the Ibaloi, Nganto I oras? All these amount to: “What/Which hour (hora, heure, oras) is it?” Yet, in German – which is the kin-language of English, the same expression shall be rendered: Wie spät ist es? (lit. “How late is it?”). Or,

JUST LOOK AT the [now] Ibaloi word papel, paper. Trace it back to the Spanish who introduced the concept – or item, via the Ilokanos – the closest neighbours of the Ibalois and other Cordis, Spanish-time. Yet

THE SPANISH SHARE the term with other speakers – of other languages descended from the Indo-European, to cite a few: Catalan, paper; Czech, papir; French, le papier; German, die Papiere, etc; which – if we may say so, stem from the original Greek (then Latin) papyrus = int “a felted sheet usually from vegetable fibers xxx” So

IN THE MEANTIME, WITH no term in Ibaloi and in other languages that we speak in ‘these Heights’, maybe it is best to contain ourselves to fully adopting the English Congratulations! itself; or, why not? We hear, here and there, sometimes the localized version of: Congrats! Yes, why not?

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