June 22, 2024

SOME YEARS BACK, I went to the Easter Weaving Room to buy a newly-released book by a Cordi-based writer and missionary. Having done this, I boarded one of those Public Utility Jeepneys going to the Central Business District or CBD.
AFTER ALIGHTING AND while walking down the broad road towards the Public Market, I heard these from two a-while-back co-passengers of mine, to wit:
“THOSE TWO MEN seated at the front – they must be Ibalois, mamadlao.”
‘HOW DO YOU mean? Kasahno daydiay?’ (Lit. Transl: “how did you come to that?”).
“WELL, THEY WERE speaking Ilokano (Iluko).. but you can sense, madlao mo: that is not their native language. I’m almost sure the native tongue of one of them – or both of them, is: Ibaloi – or Nabaloi, they call it?”
THE COMPANION JUST smiled and looked somewhat past my direction. Perhaps, they also sensed I was by-chance ‘listening’ to them? Maybe, but also maybe not: they were guessing (correctly) that there I was – a native speaker of Nabaloi?
IF THEY WERE, some relevant questions may be posed; our Q-examples: if people link you with a certain group or language because of the way you handle speaking a Second language – as in the above case of the passengers seated in front, do these ‘linkers’ mean to disdain the way the second language has been rendered? Do they mean to imply they’re better handlers themselves? Or [rarely-but possibly:] do they, in fact, ‘admire’ how one ‘native’ language overwhelms – or rises out/above, a rival/competing/etc. language? [And latently so,]
IN THIS FINAL Question of which – the inherent, indelible, identifying idiosyncrasy of a certain language – ‘native’ or otherwise ‘non-native’, is actually: respected, supported, [even] upheld, ain’t that right?
‘IN FAIRNESS’ – TO both ‘native’/2nd language/non-native speakers and their would-be ‘linkers’, let us explore some real-sense idiosyncrasy-samples, using Nabaloi as the referring language.
THE SH-SOUND, OCCURRING in all positions: anlaut, inlaut, and auslaut as in: shiman (there), aishe (there is none), ish! (Interjection), respectively. Next sample-set:
THE ‘FREE VARIATIONS’ of /f/ and /p/; /gw/, /w/, /b/; and so on, as in:
APAY AND AFAY (freshly-cut reed plants used as mat for newly-sliced meat offerings);
GWARA/WARA/BARA (=INT alternating in use but all meaning: “There is”); and other possible free variation samples; materials enough for later further analyses. And next or finally:
NABALOI’S NUANCES AS a language. If we define Nuance as: ‘a small difference in: tone, quality, meaning, etc., definitely: Nabaloi has that – the most obvious ones are the nuances in contextual, as well as in locational applications. Some illustrations:
IN A CONTEXT where one is doing a Pinatjan Bahdiw (n.b. Bahdiws or native oral poetry discourse exchanges, have several forms e.g. Pinatjan, for the dead; Peshit, for the prestige feasts; Ad-adkos for the light, conservative stanza exchanges; and so forth), the recitor(s) address the dead one in the wake as: Ina binngisan (Literally: “mother, from where we are sprung”); but
IN A PESHIT or Ad-adkos Bahdiw context, the recitor never addresses any much older versus-recitor(s), Kabahdiw, as that; rather, he/she uses: Ina (mother), or Ama (father), or Agui (sibling or relative), et cetera; lest he/she is immediately corrected. Now, some examples of Nabaloi locational nuances
THE INTERJECTION AJO!; the nouns dekeb and bohdai; the participial kasahsahdini. (There are so many, but let’s have these yet to suffice).
AJO! IS SUPPOSED to be the ‘Standard’ or ubm (used-by-many/most form), but other Nabaloi-speaking localities use Ayo!; or Ajjo! These Interjection nuance-examples may express, in general: surprise, praise, admiration, concession. One particular locative application: in Kabayan and thereabouts, they sometimes use Oye! , in place of Ajo!
DEKEB IS THE standard/ubm for “door” or “house entrance”. In Tublay and in adjoining areas, they use Diteb. Along the Agno River and elsewhere, they have two terms viz. sabien for the front door/entrance, and dingaban for the ‘exit’ door.
BOHDAI IS THE Ubm form for “soil” or “earth”. But in Bokod Central (Where I stayed for nigh five years, they use shadin or shaddin – and same in Bibok-Bisal barangay, as well as in nearby Ambuklao.
KASAHSAHDINI IS THE standard/ubm form for the participial adjectival: “it is often covered/eclipsed/etc.”, but the Western-side Ibalois use Kadingdingbi (perchance a ‘dialectal version’ of kadingedingebi?). I heard a line of one song with the phrase: ja dingdingbi nita mandongkeya bowek mo (Transl: “[often] covered by your soft-long hair.” Referring to the dimples). But so,
WHY WAS THE initial ka. ‘dropped’ from the original Kadingdingbi? Try asking around, and those native speakers shall tell you: “both usages are accepted and/or understood!” Ah,
NABALOI AND ITS idiosyncrasies and Nuances – must be like any other language; reason maybe for which those mamadlao comments from some observers obtain.
BUT LET’S SAY the ‘quiddities’ or ‘oddities’ that appear to some of them – in fact, do spark interest and deeper appreciation, of the language(s) in-question; maybe even including their own! Ayuhh2 kha!