The Dialectology of Cebuano: Summary and conclusion

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In the 2000 Census, the NSO created new categories of Boholano and Binisaya as distinct languages from Cebuano. According to the survey, 13% (10,030,667) speak Cebuano, 8% (5,778,435) speak Bisaya/Binisaya and 2% (1,837,361) speak Boholano. If they are counted altogether, it would comprise 23% (17,646,463)of the population. Bisaya/Binisaya obviously means Cebuano spoken in Mindanao though it has to be further studied since there are also many Hiligaynon speakers in Mindanao.
According to Dr. Jes Tirol, the Cebuano in Cebu and Bohol are the same, they are dialects of one language as they have the same grammar. Also, John Wolff noted that ‘the Cebuano language is remarkably uniform’ (Wolff, 1972:vii). He compared Cebuano with English, noting that the differences in Cebuano are just the same as the differences between the various varieties of English spoken worldwide, with only minimal differences.
Though there are some lexical variations, the relationship of the three is further attested historically in Zorc (1975: 354-355) where he listed words which underwent the same changes in Bohol, Cebu and Leyte distinct from other languages which are Binisaya. These are: 1) [ˈɁʊg], indefinite genitive marker; 2) [ˈɁʊnsʌ] ‘what’; 3) [ˈkɪnsʌ] ‘who’; 4)[ˈʊnjʌɁ] ‘later on (same day); 5) [gʌˈnɪhʌ] ‘earlier (same day) (kanina/kaɁina in others); 6) ga- ‘past time prefix as in ganiha ‘earlier’, gahapun ‘yesterday’ gabii ‘last night’ (ka- in others).
The following words appear to be exclusively shared and limited only to Cebu, Bohol and Leyte (Zorc 1975: 354-355): 1) [ˈpʌɁʌk] ‘bite’ (kʌˈgʌt in others); 2) [ɁɪgˈɁʌgʌw] ‘cousin’; 3) [ˈbʊntʌg] ‘morning’; 4) [dʊˈɁʊl] ‘near’ (others *rʌˈpɪt or *raˈnɪ] Note: the *stands for the protoform); 5) [ˈdʊlʌɁ] ‘to play’; 6) [sɪˈŋʊt] ‘sweat’ and 7) [bʌlɪˈbʌg] ‘throw away’.
Although only Bohol and Cebuano are included in Zorc’s list of lexical innovations, these words are also used in Davao. According to Dr. McWhorter, dialects may differ in words but it is not enough to categorize them as different languages.
With regards to syntax, they are all the same. It is clear in Cebuano-Cebu and Bohol, as well as in Davao. Even though in Davao they use a mélange of languages, it only happens in the urban areas. In the rural areas, the speakers use the traditional Cebuano syntax and they also use the formal syntax (not the mixed one) in formal writing, formal affairs and conferences. Davao’s lexicon is still Cebuano. They also follow Cebuano syntax most of the times than the syntax of other languages.
 They are also dialects by virtue of mutual intelligibility. The speakers from these three dialects understand the dialect of the other. There may be differences but these are minimal compared to their sameness. The author for one can attest to this fact. She speaks the Southern Leyte variety which is close to Bol-anon but she can still understand the other three varieties. Her informants also notice this since they maintain correspondences. It is also the case with the different Cebuano speakers in the UP Diliman campus observed by the researcher and in other places as well. Communication is not a problem. There are no issues either concerning geopolitics and culture, two categories cited by Dr. McWhorter as influences in categorizing dialects and languages outside purely linguistic considerations.
The author concludes that Boholano, Sinugbuanon and Cebuano-Davao are dialects of one language which is called Cebuano or Binisaya for its native speakers. Therefore, they should all be counted as one language by the NSO and not as three separate categories like in the 2000 Census.
The author would like to thank the following people for the valuable help they gave in writing this paper (which is originally a thesis for Linguistics): Atty. Manuel Lino Faelnar, Dr. Macario Tiu, Edgar Godin, Reigh Monreal, Vincent Isles, Vincent Libot, John Endriga, Divina Endriga, Baltazar Endriga.
[1]     Bunye, M.V.R & Yap, E.P. 1971. Cebuano for beginners. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press.
[2]     Cabonce, R. 1983. An English- Cebuano Visayan dictionary. Caloocan: National Book Store.
[3]     Nelson, A. 1964. An introduction to Cebuano. Cebu: Rotary Press, Inc.
[4]     O’Grady, W., Archibald, J. (eds.), Aronoff, M., and Miller, J.R. 2001. Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction, 4th ed. USA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
[5]     Rubrico, J.G. 1996. An annotated bibliography of works and studies on the history, structure and lexicon of the Cebuano language : 1610-1996. Master’s Thesis. Department of Linguistics, CSSP, UP-Diliman, Quezon City.
[6]     Trosdal, M. 1990. Formal-Functional Cebuano-English Dictionary. Cebu City.
[7]      Wolff, J.U. 1972. Dictionary of Cebuano Visayan. New York: Cornell University, Southeast Asia Program and Linguistic Society of the Philippines.
[8]     Zorc, R.D.P. 1975. The Bisayan dialects of the Philippines : sub-grouping and reconstruction. Michigan: Ann Arbor.
[9]     Manuel Lino Faelnar. Ang Atong Himatyon nga mga Sinultian(Paper presented at the Ludabi National Convention held at Casino Español, Cebu City, Jan. 19, 2008.)
[10] Plong, P. 2006. About Cebuano. Retrieved February 20, 2009, from Southeast Asia Digital Library.
[11] Ethnologue. n.d.. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from Ethnologue.                                                            
[12] John McWhorter. Where Do You Draw the Line (video)? Manhattan Institute of Technology.


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boholano by jeffohms (not verified)
Davaoeño here. by Just4kixs (not verified)