Thursday, May 23

On Language Acquisition: Pangasinan, Ilocano, French, (and Papercutting)

It took me years to remember that, though I don't speak it, I could understand Ilocano all along.

My mom is from the north and well-versed in Pangasinan and Ilocano. I spent my childhood in her hometown and just moved to Manila come highschool. Though not so vivid, I have memories of one of my older sisters singing in the said languages when we were young. At home, we spoke in Filipino - mainly because of my dad who is from Central Luzon. But in the streets, when we would play patintero, tagu-taguan, sipa, and langit-lupa, my playmates would speak in Pangasinan or Ilocano. It was a little frustrating especially if you get their jokes, but couldn't really butt in. Even my aunties and my mom's friends would speak to me in these languages. I'd try to tell them that I could perfectly get what they were saying but just didn't know how to answer in their tongues.

Mom's languages

Mom's languages

I got tired, too lazy, explaining. Whenever someone would talk to me, I'd just have a straight face, pretending I didn't have a clue. Until eventually, nobody spoke to me in Pangasinan nor Ilocano anymore. Then, I moved to Manila for highschool and forgot about the two languages.

Mom's languages

Mom's languages

In college, I was exposed to other languages: French and Italian. I would really make time to study them on my own or enroll in language schools. I even joined a study tour. But it was difficult to be fluent in a language if you don't use or hear it every day. Even if I watched French films or read French texts, there are times when I get lost. The string of words get blurry. I understand each word but collectively, they mean nothing (don't ask how is that even possible).

Mom's languages

It was only during my stay in Sagada last month when I heard Ilocano again in a long time. I was surprised I could understand what the people were saying - not word per word but by the sentence. At first, I couldn't determine what language it was. I just understood it. Later on, I'd find out from my auntie Alma that their dialect, Kankanaey, is composed of 50% Ilocano. Major light bulb moment right there.

My oral comprehension of Pangasinan and Ilocano, I can say, is at par or even better than that of French - a language I study "formally". I guess what we do, see, feel, hear, and say in childhood really has its way of catching up on us.

***

This papercut artwork of the song, "Ti Ayat Ti Maysa Nga Ubing", is for you, Mommy. Belated Happy Happy Mother's Day! I won't promise that I would learn how to speak Pangasinan or Ilocano but from now on, your kwentos in Pangasinan or Ilocano will no longer fall on deaf ears :)

Mom's languages

10 comments:

  1. madgda@yahoo.comMay 23, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    I can speak and understand pangasinan but not the deep ones :) too bad I don't know ilocano though my other siblings perfectly knows it

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  2. this is a true work of art. I love it. How long did it take you. I'm sure your mother will just love it too. Very Very pretty.

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  3. One of my brothers speak Pangasinan fluently. Haha :p

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  4. Did you use a variety of blades or was that a photo of all the blades you went through? Is that regular cardstock paper? A week doesn't seem like too long - it would take me months.

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  5. I used just one type of blade (#11) and bond paper :p

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  6. Really nice! Intense nito!

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  7. Beautiful work with equally beautiful words Mansy! This is definitely inspired work! :D

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