potetjp potetjp at wanadoo.fr
Wed Dec 1 20:21:47 UTC 1999

    Daniel Kaufman, it is a good thing that others should intervene and
moderate our views. Now, if  you accept the 19th-Century etymology that
_Ta[ga]log_  results from  _taga-_ "native of"  +  _[i]log_ "river", how do
you account for _a _< _ai_? In my humble opinion only  _[a]log_ "ford,
wading place" can account for _a_ because only  _aa_ gives _a_. Besides a
ford or a marsh  has often induced economic development as evidenced by
Oxford in England for the former and Lille in Northern France for the
latter. I suppose 19th -Century Filipino intellectuals preferred  the basis
for "river" because they had the Pasig in mind. Yet the heart of Tagalog
land is said to be not Manila but the Bulacan province, North of Manila.
    Non-Tagalists might want to known the Tagalog final _h_ doesn't appear
in Bowen's orthography, but in his phonetic transcriptions.  In the section
entitled "/h/ and /'/ in Tagalog Words", p. 10 of his manual _Beginning
Tagalog_, 1965, University of California Press, Bowen clearly explains that
    "Phrase-final words represented in ordinary spelling as having a final
vowel /a, e, i, o, u/ are respelled in the transcription as ending in /'/ or
in /h/. [...]. // Tagalog syllable structure requires a final consonant on
all final syllables. Final consonants other than /h/ and /'/ are always
symbolized in regular Tagalog orthography, but ordinary writing does not
indicate how Tagalog words written with a final vowel (ex. _baga_) should be
pronounced. The word may end with either /h/ or /'/, but the two may not be
    Because of the disagreement over this final [h], it would be useful to
have a serious phonetic study of the problem from formant-based analyses of
genuine utterances. Until such a document is available, I'd rather refer to
    I have explained elsewhere (_OL_, 1995, vol. 34, #2) that, for me, the
initial glottal stop, the intervocalic glottal stop and the final glottal
fricative are the realizations of the nihil phoneme that automatically fills
every empty phonotactic position in Tagalog.
    This phenomenon is different from that of  silent phonemes in French
where, for example, the final < t > of the adjective for "small" is silent
in the masculine: _petit_ [pti/poeti] and sounded in the feminine _petite_
[ptit/poetit], as though the masculine form resulted from a shortening of
the feminine one, and the latter were the reference, hence the orthography.
    To my knowledge, Tagalog has two silent final phonemes, only found with
a small number of radicals: on the one hand, /n/ as in _[ta]wa_ "laughter" >
pata[wa]nin  "to make laugh, to amuse", and, on the other hand,  /s/ as in
_da[la]ga_ "girl"  > _dalag[sot]_ "unmarried woman of doubtful reputation".
When these phonemes are silent, it is the nihil phoneme that fills their
positions. Apart from these special cases, Tagalog does have [n] and [s] at
the end of many words.
    I agree with you, Daniel, that the final glottal stop in Sankrit
loanwords in Tagalog is due to the Tagalog assimilation of the words, not to
an intermediary language, otherwise Spanish loanwords would have no glottal
stop since Spanish does not have such a feature, but quite a number of them
are provided with it in Tagalog. Conversely I am not sure  CVCCV- words tend
to have a final glottal stop. We should make up a list of the radicals with
a final glottal stop, and see what proportion of them comes under this
    Best regards
 Jean-Paul G. POTET. B. P. 46. 92114 CLICHY CEDEX. FRANCE.

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