January 29, 2023

“SIR, IS IT that the What? is the same as the Why? in Nabaloi?” asked an earnest North Cordilleran trying to learn fast to speak the Nabaloi language.. for his own purposes.
THE ASKED ONE is a longtime Visiting Professor in at least four Universities of Baguio and one in La Trinidad, Benguet. He is some big percent Ibaloi; plus other lineages, of course.. but he seems not to accentuate those as much as he does for Nabaloi, which, according to him. ‘gave him birth, culture, and other things immeasurably. His peers and colleagues usually address him as: ‘Dr (or ‘Prof. Dr’) Nochdag – shortened from his real name of Noyon Chepey Dagdagod. Now, his reply to the question:
‘WHOA.. HOW DO you mean, hijo? You sure you heard it right.. used, or spoken, those ways you were asking?’
“YES, SURE SIR. I heard two mothers – in different occasions – saying to their child respective: Ngantoi piyan mo? And I get that to mean: “What(?) do you like? Right sir?” [Prof. Nochdog nods].
“BUT I ALSO heard two women at the wet market conversing: Ngantoi piyan mo y hotdog.. aliwen longganisa? (Transl: “Why(?) do you like the hotdogs.. not longganisa?”).
‘AH, YOU’RE RIGHT in the second one – two women buying.. or what. that’s really a Why? said the good professor. And then
‘BUT IN YOUR first example, you perchance missed the inch-width difference: the mothers were saying Nganto i~, or ‘what (Nganto) and is it (i~); though in Rapid Speech, you heard Ngantoi~
‘LEMME GIVE YOU a similar illustrative example. Says the mother to his son:
“NGANTO I PIYAN mo: chicken ono spaghetti?” (“What(?) is it you’ll have: chicken or spaghetti?”). And the son replies: “chicken-spag, mom.” Smiling, the mother says:
“A-AH, NGANTOI.. egka man rice?” (Transl: “EXPR, why[?].. you’re not having rice?”).

IF THE LISTENER do not take special note of those Rapid Speech ‘glides’, the meanings can easily change – at the cost of one or two phones or phonemes.. as what often happen to the careless renditions of Ngantoi, why(?) and Nganto i ~ What (is it that)? Witness the following illustrations:
IN A WORD, the /j/ to /d/, and you get two different interpretations, viz. Manjahjahtok vs. Mandahdahtok; the first one meaning “jumping carefreely”, and the second one meaning “seriously, formally, etc., g.r.e.e.t.i.n.g. or saluting, or addressing – the [dancing] celebrant i.e. in a Feast or Ritual. Our next:
THE WORD, BATBAT. It is the 2nd or 3rd grandest feast of the Nabaloi.
IF THE TWO “B”s are changed to GW to give GWATGWAT, the meaning will change to: =int “the take-home slices of meat as share of the attendee of a Feast.”
‘BUT WAIT A minute..’ [you may say].. why should they change a /B/ to a /GW/?’ Our answer:
YES, THEY DO so in Nabaloi – even with words that do not change meanings after some of their sounds/phonemes are altered, as in:
THE TWO RENDITIONS of the English Existential, “there is..” In Nabaloi, you can say Bara~ or Gwara~; or even the ‘dialectal’ Wara~
LOCAL GRAMMARIANS SAY the ‘Standard’ Form (=int ‘used and understood by many’) is: Gwara~; the Northern Nabalois use Bara~; and some new or ‘mixtured’, edadaokan’, Contemporary speakers use the shorter, simpler Wara~. There we go. and we wonder?
[SO, AFTER ALL, the Conquistadores were right, in observing that the Ygollote speech ‘in these Heights’ was ‘full of inversions and deleting sounds..’ i.e. con muchas inversions y elisiones” (?)]. But maybe,
OUR PREFERRED ANSWER should be: No señores! Rather than kowtow to those embers of colonial finalismus, it’s about time we formulate our own positions. Let’s start by saying:
NABALOI IS ONE: original (spoken and used long before, up to this time), Philippine – or Asian; or World(!) language which also deserves serious peering into; not just looking at it.
LIKE MANY OTHER living languages Today, it has easy as well as difficult elements and structures; but it has it’s own rules, derivatives, meanings, and corresponding explanations – or details, to all of these.. ever researchable or available at hand – d.h. vorhanden and zuhanden”. Aloha!