A Brief Review of Some Cebuano Dictionaries ( ...continued )

by Jessie Grace U. Rubrico

Contemporary Period

III. Wolff, John U. 1972. A Dictionary of Cebuano Visaya. Ithaca, New York: Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University and Linguistic Society of the Philippines. 2 volumes: Vol 1, xx and 537 pp.; Vol 2, 537a to 1141 pp; Addenda 1141 to1163; Bibliography, 1164.

An exhaustive and scholarly Cebuano dictionary produced in the Contemporary Period is that of John Wolff’s (1972). Compiled to serve as a reference volume for Cebuano speakers and a learning tool for Cebuano language learners, it attempts to describe Cebuano morphology. It has a total entry of 25,000 plus 700 in its addenda sourced from 400 issues of Cebuano publications and taped oral sources

Roots are listed as main entries, and where the root is not clear, the term is listed with cross reference to the root. Roots are classified into several parts of speech based on some morphological and syntactic criteria. Roots occuring unaffixed as nouns conveying an action is classified as verb; adjective roots are differentiated from noun roots by the prefix ka- in the intensive inflection -ka- + adjective! [Kanindot niana!, How pretty!]

Also treated as main entries are affixes, competing or variant forms,derivations, acronyms (e.g., ar-utisi ~ROTC; ayudi ~IUD; biaypi ~ VIP; inbiay ~ NBI; ingk ~ INC. Iglesia ni Cristo; yusapi ~ USAFFE), frequently used and idiomatic expressions, name of common flora and fauna, euphemisms, slang [bardut ~ prostitute], abbreviation [Dr., Dra.], letters in the alphabet, and a number of borrowed words from the English language which are freely used by the Cebuanos at the time of the compilation until today [e.g., nutbuk, nyutral, padyama, isnatsir, ismagling, ismayling, islindir, ispansbat, madyurit, madyik, syiding, etc.]

Entries classifed as "verb" are categorized as active and passive. Active verbs are in turn classified into A, B, and C. Class A conjugation includes the verbs of motion which are further subcategorized according to the set of verbal affixes they do not co-occur with: A1, mo-; A2, mag-; A3, maka-; A13 occurs only with mag-, etc. Class B conjugation includes the stative verbs. They are subclassified, to wit: B1 lacks mo-; B2 lacks -mag; B3 occurs with maka- with the meaning "becoming-so-and so"; B3 (1) occurs with maka- in its two meanings --"become-so-and-so" and "cause to become so and so"; B4 lacks ma-; B5 lacks maka-; and B6 lacks magka-. Mutual action verbs belong to Class C which are subdivided into C1, C2, and C3 which lacks the mag-, magka-, and makig- affixes respectively.

Passive verbs are likewise classified as a, b, and c depending on the affixes they do not co-occur in relation to the complement of the verb focused. For example,: Subclass a1 verbs. lack local passive; a2 verbs lack instrumental passive, except when they convey benefactive and temporal meanings; a12 verbs lack both the local and the instrumental passive; a3 have only potential passive; a4 take the -on, the focus being the patient or that which is affected by the action. Class b verbs take local passive affix, the focus being the recipient of the action. Subclass b1 verbs take the suffix -an, the focus of which is the place or recipient of the action; b2 take local passive affix hi-an for accidental recipient of the action;, etc. Class c verbs are subcategorized into: c1 which take the affixes -un and i-, where direct and instrumental passives are synonymous ; c2 take the affix -an, local and instrumental passive are synonymous; c3 verbs occur only with the potential passive ika-/gika-; c4 verbs take prefix ig-/igka- optionally for future instrumental form; c5 verbs take the i- and ika- affixes to convey an instrumental focus which brought about the state of the agent; and c6 verbs which do not take local passive affixes.

The format of presentation follows this order: the main entry, root or stem; the lexical category --where the entry is a verb, further classification is shown in brackets; the meaning in English, numbered according to the senses of the lexical item and each illustrated by sentences in Cebuano which are translated to English; verbal, nominal and adjectival derivations. Annotations such as slang, euphemism, coarse, humorous,Biblical, literary. metaphorical, colloquial are also indicated. Derivations whose meanings are extension of the meaning of the main entry are listed as run-on entries.

An example is lifted from the dictionary to illustrate the above description:

abanti a 1 forward, ahead. Abanti ka rang milingkud, You took a seat too far to the front. 2 ahead in score. v 1a [A2;c] move foreward. Muabanti kag diyutay, matambog ka sa bangag, If you move forward any more, you will fall into the hole. Iabanti nang imong awtog diyutay, Move your car forward a bit. 1b [A;a] be ahead, have more points in a game. Naabantihan mu namug diyes puntus,We were 10 points ahead of you. 2 [A2; a12] keep up with something. Di ku makaabanti sa galastuhan sa iskuylahan, I cannot keep up with the school payments. 3 [A2;a12] endure work. Di ko makaabanti pagdaru kay dautun ku, I can’t keep up with the plowing because I’m sickly. 4a [A] ask part payment in advance, especially in salary. 4b [c] give someone a cash advance on his salary or other payment. n 1 front wheel(s). Nahiyus ang abanti sa mutur, The front tire of the motorcycle is flat.2 forward gear. 3 front seat in a car. atras -see ATRAS.

The main entry is classifeid as an adjective root. A first verbal derivation is categorized as [A2;c] meaning it does not occur with the mag- set of affixes and it occurs with the i- in the local passive. The second verb [A;a] indicates a verb of motion and a potential passive affix; [A2;a12] indicates that the root does not take the mag- affix, neither the affixes for local passive nor instrumental passive. The noun derivation is also given three definitions. And the antonym, atras is given last.

The main entries are basically and generally roots. Sample sentences are very appropriate and simple to understand. Grammatical information, however, is too detailed and exhaustive to the point of being too technical for the ordinary user to fathom. As a matter of fact, an ordinary student with no linguistic background would find it quite a task reading the Introduction where the grammar, especially morphology and syntax, of Cebuano is described. It might take him/her quite sometime to fully grasp the Cebuano grammar as presented. But reading and understanding the Introduction is a must for users of this dictionary, otherwise he/she will find the verbal entries difficult .to grasp.

This dictionary presents the grammatical and semantic relations, as well as the collocations of the lexical items very clearly and systematically. This scholarly work is a boon to linguists, especially those who intend to study Cebuano. The formulas devised by Wolff are efficient once the student gets to master them over a period of time. Needless to say that non-linguists must read the Introduction several times in the course of their using the dictionary, especially in the area of verbal subcategorization. Maybe if the verbal subcategorization were modified or simplified to, say, five or six categories only, and redundancy rule were applied to the senses of each affix, and maybe if they were presented in a way that is much easier to grasp, this reference work would become more economical and more user friendly to the non-linguist.

Another aspect of this dictionary which is worth mentioning is its exhaustiveness, not only in the number of entries but also in its treatment of the meaning system in the Cebuano world. This comprehensive compilation of the lexical items in Cebuano expands its definitions to include the different shades of meaning, thus covering a wider ethnographic spectrum. Wolff has encapsulized the local color and the way of life of the Cebuanos in this inventory of lexical items which indeed mirror a culture at this point in time. He captures not only the lifestyle of the elite, but the also the street lingo, the language of business and industry, the taboos and euphemisms, etc.

Furthermore, the Cebuanos are afforded the proper locale as even their environment is described through, among other things, the flora and fauna and the existing institutions and structures which surround them. Even the tendency of Cebuanos to borrow easily from the English language at this point in time is reflected. Wolff listed quite a sizable number of English loan words as main entries in the dictionary. This is indicative of the pervasive tendency of the Cebuanos to borrow words from English and treat those as their own. This tendency is also reflected, to a lesser degree in an earlier dictionary, Hermosisima, 1966].

Thus, this dictionary is not only useful to linguists, especially the scholars of Cebuano and other Philippine languages, but also to those who are interested in the Cebuano culture. As Wolff himself said in the Introduction, he has no intention of prescribing the correct form of Cebuano, rather he is more interested in describing the language used by the speech community at that point in time. He has succeeded in this area. Moreover, he has provided future scholars in linguistics and anthropology a rich source of data. This is the priceless contribution of Wolff to Cebuano linguistics and culture, in particular and to Philippine linguistics, in general.

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