January 7, 2012

Hari Ragat: Bridging Language Gaps

One of the most popular anecdotes we Filipinos like to tell about our language is of the foreigner who overheard two Pinoys at an elevator.  One asks, ‘Going down?’ in Tagalog – “Bababa ba?” and the other answers, ‘Going down,’ “Bababa.”  The bewildered foreigner asks, “How did you understand each other when all you said was “Baaa baaa baaa?!”   

Given the great difference in the languages on which we’re basing Vijadesan from English, Marc and I must be crazy to present this setting to a predominantly English-speaking market!  So how are we going to go about it?  Well, if Professor M.A.R. Barker could get away with mixing Mesoamerican languages with South and Southeast Asian, so can we!

Our first approach is to try to make things easier.  We’ll be providing a simple pronunciation guide in the book.  Also, we’re trying to stick with names and place names that have less syllables and less ng’s, specially less repeating syllables.  For example, I’ll be renaming the Amomongo, an ape-like creature, to Orang Pandak, and the Bungisngis, a cyclops known for its grin or grimace (ngisi) to Orang Pangil.

Second, I’m thinking of offering an alternative naming scheme for those who don’t want to use the provided list of names.  You can use Amerindian-style descriptive names like Loud Thunder or Rising Moon for your characters, maybe spicing it up with references to Southeast Asian flora and fauna such as orchids, sharks, civets, monkeys, mangoes, etc. etc.

Quick Pronunciation Guide
Here’s a quick n’ dirty guide for pronouncing Vijadesan names: (Feedback welcome!) 

  • A is always pronounced like the A in ‘ah.’
  • E is always pronuced like the E in ‘eh.’
  • I is always pronounced like the I in ‘in.’
  • O is always pronounced like the O in ‘so.’
  • U is always pronounced as ‘oo.’
  • AO is usually pronounced as the ‘ow’ in ‘how.’
  • AU is pronounced with the vowels separate, as ‘ah oo’
  • NG is always pronounced as the NG in ‘lung.’
  • NGG is always pronounced as the NG in ‘jungle.’

When we want to show you how a word is pronounced, we type the accented syllable in all caps, e.g. Vijadesan (VI ja DE san), Namaya (na MA ya), Tundok (toon DOK).


  1. heya Howard! seems Blogger ate my reply to this the other day. i've just finished moving to Davao City with the wife, a good thing because with the culture here i can do more research for Hari Ragat!


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