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Tagalog Language and Rizal

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Dr. Jose Protacio Mercado Rizal y Alonzo Realonda (June 19, 1861 , December 30, 1896), variously called the “Pride of the Malay Race,” “The Great Malayan,” “The First Filipino,” “The Messiah of the Revolution,” “The Universal Hero,” “The Messiah of the Redemption,” was an polyglot and is the national hero of the Philippines. To learn a new language, Rizal memorized five root words every night before going to bed. At the end of the year, he learned 1,825 new words. He never forgets these foreign words because of his retentive memory.

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Rizal made a good use of his knowledge of many languages in his travels in Europe and America, in communicating with foreign scholars and scientists, and in his writings. Many times during his travels abroad, he acted as interpreter for his fellow travelers who belonged to various nationalities-Americans, British, French, German, Italians, Spaniards, Japanese and others. During his exile in Dapitan, Rizal increased his knowledge of languages. He studied three more languages- Malay, Bisayan and Subanun.

On April 5, 1896, he wrote to his Austrian friend, Professor Blumentritt: “I know Bisayan already, and I speak it quite well.

It is necessary, however, to know other dialects. ” By the end of his exile in Dapitan on July 31, 1896, Rizal had become one of the world’s great linguists. He knew 22 languages, namely, Tagalog, Ilokano, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, English, French, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Catalan, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, Russian, Malay, Bisayan, and Subanun. Rizal and the Japanese Language Jose Rizal People studying Japanese could benefit from Jose Rizal’s method in learning a new language. According to historians, Rizal memorized five new root words every night.

For those who do not know Rizal, he is the National Hero of the Philippines and he was a polymath and a polyglot. Rizal knew 22 languages including the Japanese Language. He stayed in Japan for about 6 weeks from February 28 to April 13, 1888. Just how good was Rizal in speaking Japanese? Was his six weeks of stay in Japan enough for him to acquire proficiency in Japanese? Watashi wa Rizal desu Osei-san It is clear that Rizal couldn’t speak Japanese well when he first came to Japan. This is evident from the fact that he needed an interpreter to introduce himself to Osei-san (Ms.

Seiko Usui), a Japanese lady who eventually became his girlfriend. “They first met one pleasant afternoon when Rizal beheld a charming girl walk past the Legation gate. With a Japanese gardener as his interpreter, our champion introduced himself to the amused lady. Rizal spoke poor Nippongo, but Seiko knew English, and thus they shared a tongue. Since then, they got together almost daily, revealing the city’s sights. ” Stealth-Gaijin Like some Filipinos, Rizal looked like a Japanese. His Japanese appearance made it difficult for natives to detect that he was a gaikokujin or foreigner.

This and the fact that he couldn’t speak Japanese bothered Rizal as can be seen from his letter to his friend Blumentritt: “Here you have your friend Rizal, wonder of the Japanese, since he has a Japanese appearance, and yet does not understand Japanese. “When I go out in the streets shopping and want to buy something, people stare at me and ill-bred boys laugh at me because I speak so strange a language. There are very few people in Tokyo who speak English, but in Yokohama many speak it. Some think I am a Europeanized Japanese who does not want to be taken as such.

That often happens with the half-bred Japanese in the Philippines. ” Joutatsu Rizal, a scholar and a true patriot, wanted to study the condition of the various Japanese classes. He might have realized that in order for him to have a deeper understanding of the Japanese society, he had to learn their language. With his natural flair for languages and through the help of his girlfriend Osei-san, he was able to considerably improve his Japanese skills. “As a couple, their spirits soared, nursing each other’s sorrows.

Seiko was Rizal’s sweetheart, interpreter, guide and teacher. She regaled him with Japanese legends, like the ‘Tale of the 47 Ronins,’ which inspired Rizal so much. They treasured the sakura – an apt symbol of their swift but intense romance. ” In his letter to his family before he left Japan for the United States, we can have a glimpse of his innate genius for languages: “I have stayed here longer than I intended, for the country seems to me very interesting and because in the future we shall have much to do and deal with Japan. [How very prophetic indeed].

I’m learning Japanese. I can make myself understood in it, and though badly, I can express what I want in it… Rizal was able to express himself in Japanese in just a month of study! Most people would have only just begun to learn their “kore, sore, are” in this short period. How about Kanji? I know many non-Japanese who can speak but cannot write in Japanese. The ability to write a considerable number of Kanji or the Chinese Characters differentiates a casual learner of Japanese from a serious one. So how was Rizal in terms of writing Kanji? There is one drawing of a woman in traditional garb hiding her face under a fan and here he wrote, in Japanese, the characters for Nippon or Japan. ” “Rizal learned enough to enjoyably understand kabuki, like Chushingura, Sendaihagi and Manjiro Nakahama, in Tokyo’s Shintomiza Theater; write a few ideas in Kanji; and try his hand at sumi-e painting, producing several sketches of Japanese landscapes, flowers, people, and even a well-known scene from Sendaihagi where Nurse Masaoka cries over her son’s seppuku. ” Below is a sample of Rizal’s sketch containing some Kanji characters. Rizal’s sketch Instant Arubaito

After a month and a half of stay in Japan, Rizal ended with regret one of his happiest travels and sailed from Yokohama to London en route to San Francisco. On board the ship to Europe was a Japanese journalist who knew no other language than his own and Rizal acted as his interpreter. Rizal writes: “I became acquainted with a Japanese who was going to Europe, after having been imprisoned because he was a radical and because he had been director of an independent periodical. As this Japanese did not speak any other language than Japanese, I acted as his interpreter until we reached London. Rizal’s JLPT Level Had there been a JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) in Rizal’s time, this author thinks that Rizal would have easily passed Level 3. Level 3 requires one to study Japanese for a total of 300 hours (or 300 kanji’s and 1500 words). In less than six months, he might have passed Level 2! Jose Rizal and the Filipino language| | Download PDF version| | | | Jose Rizal, age 29, studio photo taken in Madrid in 1890| Jose Rizal wrote most of his famous works in Spanish. Even his final farewell poem, Mi Ultimo Adios, was written in the language of his executioners.

He was, after all, a man of his times when most educated Filipinos rarely wrote formally in their mother tongue. Over a century later, not much has changed except that the foreign language of choice is now English. But Rizal was not a malansang isda (stinking fish) who neglected his own language. Throughout his short life he worked to enrich Tagalog literature and to make it more accessible to ordinary people. He translated European stories into Tagalog such as Friedrich Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell and the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen.

He wrote a short Tagalog grammar and he also attempted to write his third novel in Tagalog, known today as Makamisa, but it was left unfinished when he was executed in 1896. While Rizal promoted indigenous literature, he also recognized the need to spread literacy among ordinary Filipinos. The first obstacle that Filipino children faced when learning to read and write, if they had the chance, was mastering the confusing method of spelling native words with the Spanish alphabet. Rizal got the idea to formulate better ways to spell Tagalog words using the modern alphabet after he read an 1884 essay by Trinidad Pardo de Tavera about the ncient baybayin alphabet. In an article published in La Solidaridad in April of 1890, Rizal wrote: “… it occurred to me to do something to lighten the work and make easy the first attempts of children to learn by simplifying the orthography [spelling], introducing another more rational and more logical [method], which will be in harmony with the spirit of the language itself and of its sister languages …” Tagalog spelling at that time followed the rules of the Spanish alphabet, which does not use the letters k and w except in borrowed foreign words.

To spell all the k syllables before Rizal’s time was not as straightforward as it is today – ka, ke, ki, ko, ku were spelled ca, que, qui, co, cu. This made learning Tagalog grammar much more difficult. One example in Rizal’s 1890 article was the word katay (to butcher). This was normally spelled catai but when the past tense was needed (butchered), the spelling changed radically to quinatai. By adopting the letter k, Tagalog spelling immediately became more consistent and logical. The past tense of katay was predictably kinatay.

The g syllables had similar difficulties. Ga, ge gi, go and gu were spelled ga, gue, gui, go and gu. Rizal favoured dropping the letter u and using the letter h for the aspirated Spanish g; as in words like heneral. Rizal’s proposal to drop the letters c and q in favour of k did not please everybody, though. Some people accused him of being unpatriotic because the letter k was supposedly a German letter and at that time Germany and Spain were involved in a dispute over the ownership of the Caroline group of islands, east of the Philippines.

But Rizal was not alone in his struggle. At the same time that he was developing his ideas for Tagalog spelling, two of his contemporaries were doing the same thing independently and they even went further in their reforms. Trinidad Pardo de Tavera was the first to use the English form of the w in Tagalog writing in his 1887 essay Sanskrit in the Tagalog Language and Pedro SerranoLaktaw might have been the first to use the k, according to Rizal biographer, Austin Craig.

Laktaw published his Hispano-Tagalog dictionary in 1889 using the new spelling, including the k and the w and he even changed the spelling of his own name from Lactao to Laktaw. As soon as Rizal saw the “more perfect orthography,” of Tavera and Laktaw, he became an enthusiastic supporter and gave them full credit for their ideas in his article of 1890. The addition of the letter w helped to simplify spelling, too. In the old spelling, the sound of w was represented by either o or u but in no particularly logical way. The word awa (mercy) was spelled aua but araw (sun or day) was spelled arao.

The Pampanga town originally known as Wawa (river mouth) was spelled Guagua and like many place names and family names, the old Spanish spelling persists to this day. Not all the innovations were winners, though. In the 1880s the sound of ng was written as ng, with a tilde over the g˜. Rizal and Tavera agreed that this complex combination of characters had to be stripped down to only one letter as it was in the ancient baybayin alphabet, . They proposed that the ng sound should be represented by the letter g alone with a tilde above it.

Words such as magulang (parents) and marunong (knowledgeable) would have been spelled magulag˜ andmarunog˜, but as we can see today, this idea did not survive. (Download the PDF version to see special characters. ) Jose Rizal did not overhaul Tagalog spelling single-handedly but his prominence as a writer probably did the most to advance the reforms. Members of the Propaganda movement including Mariano Ponce and Marcelo H. del Pilar quickly adopted the new spelling. It was also integral to the identity of the revolutionaryKatipunan society that was formed in 1892.

The k was prominent in the group’s name, Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan and in the name of their newspaper, Kalayaan, which lasted only one issue before the Spanish authorities shut down their printing press. The letter k was also featured in several Katipunan flags, both in its Latin form and as the ancient baybayin character, . Rizal’s writing, his exile and his execution inspired Filipinos to rebel against Spanish colonial rule but the most tangible part of his legacy that continues to affect the lives of Filipinos is the way we spell Filipino words today.

Cite this Tagalog Language and Rizal

Tagalog Language and Rizal. (2016, Oct 27). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/tagalog-language-and-rizal/

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