SIL Philippines

Palawan–Tagalog–English Dictionary - Work in Progress

Preliminary edition, July 2011 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 

Charles J-H Macdonald (main compiler and coordinator)

Compilation of lexicographic data: History, methods and procedures


I am a trained anthropologist and I have been working with the Palawan (Pala’wan, Palawano) Indigenous Community since year 1970. Palawan linguistic materials have been recorded since year 1970 by myself mainly in the Brooke’s Point area (Brooke’s Point Municipality), the Kulbi-Kenipaan area (Rizal Municipality), the Punang-Irerey area (now Espanola Municipality), and the Quezon area (Quezon Municipality). I gathered data using a Swadesh-Constantino linguistic questionnaire in several places around the southern part of the island, on the East and West coasts, starting with the Brooke’s Point area (Makagwaq-Tamlang river basins). I was thus made aware from the onset of distinct dialectal variations that do not, however, prevent mutual intelligibility of more than 50% between speakers of different dialects or local speech varieties. From 1972 onwards I have published articles and books containing linguistic data, quotes, transcripts and translations of vernacular texts (especially myths and legends) and speech activities (see References). I collaborated actively with my then-wife, Dr. N. Revel, a trained ethnolinguist, to collect data on the natural environment and plant world. I wrote and published several papers relating to Palawan lexicography and speech activities (see References). Dr. Revel has also published extensively (see References) thus greatly expanding the linguistic documentation on this language. She authored a description of the Palawan language, its phonemics and morphology, in 1979.

Recording and compiling data

The first data collection and compilation I started with a view to build up an extended Palawan lexicon and/or dictionary was done in year 2005, producing a list of lexemes with French glosses culled from recordings made in Tegbituk and neighboring hamlets (Kulbi-Keniapaan dialect area, Rizal Municipality, Ba. Taburi). I transcribed and translated these recordings (made from spontaneous speech acts and conversations, and from interviews) with the help of a native speaker, M. Isad Mateo. In the following months and years this list was expanded and English glosses were added. Data were culled from previously recorded texts and speech activities, as they appeared in my field notes. It all amounted to less than a thousand items (records, lexemes).

A major step was made when I was awarded a first grant (FTG 0103) by the ELDP, SOAS in 2006, followed by a second grant in 2008 (FTG 0144) by the same institution. Thanks to this financial support, and that of the CNRS in France (UMR 6578), several field trips were made from 2006 to 2008, first in the Kulbi-Kenipaan area (Rizal Municipality), then in the Brooke’s Point area, and lists were compiled from native speakers who wrote them down. These lists included the Palawan lexeme and its Tagalog/Filipino gloss. A first batch was made of lists of freely selected lexemes; a second batch consisted of lexemes pertaining to one semantic field (like birds, household objects, freshwater fishes, marine life, cultivated plants, insects, etc.), each collaborator being assigned a different semantic field. I copied and encrypted these lists into the database; in the process each lexeme together with its Tagalog gloss was checked with the help of a native speaker; duplicates were rooted out, dialectal variants were noted when needed, together with synonyms and affixed forms1.

A collaborator, M. Ruben Ransawi from Bgy. Tagbita (also in the Kulbi-Kenipaan dialect area), was assigned the task of translating the Tagalog-English section of the 2006 revised editions of M.O. de Guzman’s English-Tagalog and Tagalog-English Dictionary, creating a handwritten list of lexemes with examples and translations. This almost exhaustive translation work provided most of the examples that are now included in the main database. The handwritten document was encrypted in Puerto Princesa by Mrs. Elvira Pacanot, a teacher at the Palawan State University with a familiarity of the Palawan language and a native Tagalog speaker herself. She was also contracted to check all the Tagalog words and sentences compiled so far. She used a computer to do the encryption directly into Toolbox software; the result had again to be double-checked (for typos, misspelling in English, etc.) by myself.

In the meantime, using a printed version of the lexicon comprised of 3700 entries/lexemes (basically in the Kulbi-Kenipaan dialect), each lexeme was checked for its local counterpart by a skilled informant and trained collaborator, the late M. Jose Rilla. This was done in June 2008 (Tabud, Bgy. Sarasa, Brooke’s Point Municipality). More lexemes were added, as variants included lexemes not present in the original lexicon. I myself encrypted all notes and corrections made by this collaborator.

Back home, from 2009 to 2011, I spent many months checking the resulting lexicon of more than 6000 records, in order to eradicate inconsistencies and misspellings, to root out duplicates, to identify synonyms and add scientific names. The English and Tagalog glosses and sentences were checked or identified using mainly the Leo J. English’s 2005 Tagalog-English Dictionary and English-Tagalog Dictionary . Both these dictionaries have proved to be of invaluable help, and are the ultimate reference for the Tagalog words and expressions. The lexicography was also given an encyclopaedic dimension by inserting anthropological notes and photographs2taken in the field, which explain and illustrate various aspects of the culture, society, history, daily life, moral and aesthetic values, material life and environment of the Palawan people. More lexemes were added from my field notes and from published materials, including SIL’s primers.

The final result is a Palawan lexicon of 5560 records, including definition of speech part, and glosses in Tagalog and English, plus—as the case may be—variants, examples (Palawan, Tagalog, English) scientific name, rootword, inflected forms, synonyms, etymology, anthropological notes, published references, and photographs. Scientific names were culled from various sources, one being the glossaries published by Dr. N. Revel (Fleurs de Parole, Vol. 1, Ed. Peeters, SELAF, Paris 1990, 335-368). Affixes were also recorded using Revel-Macdonald’s volume Le Palawan (SELAF, Paris, 1979).

Finally, note that this is a work-in-progress and that many records need to be added and some modified or changed in order to give a better and more complete picture of the Palawan language. A huge store of linguistic data in published and unpublished form await compilation.

Tools and software used for the dictionary: Data analysis

At the onset of the dictionary project, in 2006, the software Toolbox, developed by SIL, was selected as the main instrument to compile and analyze the data. Its use was first explained to me by a SIL researcher in Manila (Allan Johnson). At the SOAS, more detailed explanations and advice were given by Professor Peter Austin who introduced me to another useful software product, Lexique Pro. I kept using Toolbox as the main instrument for analyzing and ordering the data.

A record in the Toolbox version I used and customized for this particular dictionary contains 21 potential fields:

  1. Lexeme*
  2. Citation form
  3. Variant
  4. Variant comment
  5. Part of speech*
  6. Sense Number
  7. Gloss English*
  8. Gloss Tagalog*
  9. Scientific Name
  10. Rootword
  11. Subentry (affixed forms)**
  12. Synonym(s)
  13. Example (Palawan)
  14. Example translated (English)
  15. Example translated (Tagalog)
  16. Etymology comment
  17. Anthropological notes
  18. References
  19. General Notes**
  20. Picture reference
  21. Date last recorded

Fields followed by *are always documented 
Fields followed by ** are for internal use mainly 
All other fields occur as needed or when the information is available.

The text file resulting from this encryption process can be read by other programs such as Microsoft Word and Lexique Pro. The latter is used to transfer the lexicon online and view pictures included in the files.

Acknowledgements Top

Institutions having provided financial support
  • Endangered Language Program (ELAR-ELDP)-School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), UMR 6578, Marseille
Institutions having provided expertise and/or logistics
  • Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) Philippines, Manila
  • Palawan State University (PSU), Puerto Princesa
Collaborators having provided primary data (handwritten lists of lexemes and direct oral information about lexemes)
  • M.Ruben Ransawi, from Bgy. Taburi, Rizal (translation of Tagalog-English section of M.O. de Guzman dictionary)
  • M.Jose Rilla (deceased), former Bgy. Capt., Bgy Sarasa, Brooke’s Point (Brooke’s Point dialectal variants)
  • M. Reymon Aban, Bgy. Punang, Espanola
  • M. Eddie Mateo, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • M. David Mateo, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • M. Isad Mateo, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • M. Taya Ransawi, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • M. Butch Lungcas, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • M. Parinta Tawilan, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • M. Perto Lungcas , Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Wilma Lakson, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Marisel Lungcas, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Marilyn Mateo, Bgy. Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Rica Mateo, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Rosita Lungcas, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Magdalena Madji, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • M. Nano Lauron, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Peregrina Lauron, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Alma Jali, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Erlin Rapusan, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Ms. Merselita Ubino, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • M. Sito Lungcas, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • M. Jenne Madji, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
Collaborators for the encryption and compilation of data
  • Ms. Elvira Pacanot, PSU, Puerto Princesa
  • Ms. Angelina Lungcas-Boccanfuso, Bgy. Taburi, Rizal
  • Prof. Ramon Docto, PSU, Palawan
  • Prof. Darrell Tryon, RSPAS, ANU, Canberra
  • Prof. Wim Stockhof, IIAS, Leiden
  • Prof. David Nathan, ELDP, SOAS, London
  • Prof. Peter Austin, SOAS, London
  • Dr. Stephen Quakenbush, SIL, Manila
  • M. Rowel Magarce, PSU, Campong Ulai, Rizal
Secondary sources
  • Dr. Nicole Revel

References Top

Sources for Palawan linguistic data
Charles J-H Macdonald

1988. L'éloignement du ciel. Invention et mémoire des mythes chez les Palawan du Sud des Philippines. Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris.

1990. Sinsin, le Théâtre des Génies. Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris.

2007. Uncultural Behavior. An anthropological investigation of suicide in the Southern Philippines. Monographs of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies Kyoto University, English-Language Series No. 21- University of Hawai‛i Press, Honolulu.

Nicole Revel-Macdonald

1979. Le Palawan (Philippines). Phonologie. Catégories. Morphologie. Paris: SELAF.

Nicole Revel

1990. Fleurs de Paroles. Histoire Naturelle Palawan. Vol I. Les Dons de Nägsalad. Paris: Editions Peeters, SELAF 314.

Leo J. English

2005. Tagalog–English dictionary. Manila: National Book Store.

2005. English–Tagalog dictionary. Manila: National Book Store.

Maria O. De Guzman

2006 (rev.ed.). English–Tagalog dictionary. Manila: National Book Store.

2006 (rev.ed.). Tagalog–English dictionary. Manila: National Book Store.

William H. Brown

1950–1957. Useful plants of the Philippines. 3 Vols. Manila: Bureau of Printing.

Leonard E. Newell

1995. Handbook on Lexicography for Philippine and other languages. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.

Dioscoro S. Rabor

1977. Philippine birds and mammals. U.P. Science Education Center. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.

Robert A. Scebold

2003. Central Tagbanwa: A Philippine language on the brink of extinction (Sociolinguistics, grammar and lexicon). Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.

Science Education Center

1980. Plants of the Philippines. Quezon City: University of the Philippines.

1  Lists that were not used in the database have been copied in extenso by a native speaker residing in France, Mrs. Angelina Lungkas-Boccanfuso, and encrypted using Excel software. This 40 000 items wordlist needs to be sifted through and included in the main database.

2  Twelve photographs taken by Pierre Boccanfuso are used by permission.