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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...


Map of the PhilippinesLanguage information: The name “Chabacano” (also spelled “Chavacano” or “Chabakano”) denotes Philippines-specific Spanish (Castilian) varieties on native Philippine substrates, thus “Filipino Creole Spanish.” These varieties, whose origin goes back to the country’s Spanish colonial period (1565–1898), constitute the only group of Spanish-based creoles in Asia. The name is based on the Spanish word chabacano ‘vulgar’, ‘crude’, ‘coarse’, but in the meantime it is being owned as a not necessarily negative name for the language.
     Three basic Chabacano varieties survive. The least endangered of these, with approximately 600,000 speakers, is Chavacano Zamboangeño, the primary language of the mostly Hispano-Filipino (mestizo) population of Zamboanga City on Zamboanga Peninsula of Mindanao Island. Chavacano Zamboangeño has a predominantly Cebuano substrate. It is used by some Islamized ethnic minorities as well. There are also the subvarieties Davaoeño of Davao and Cotabateño of Cotabato. In its regions, Chavacano Zamboangeño is used in education, in the print media and in the electronic media. Severely endangered, with less than two thousand speakers remaining, is Chabacano Caviteño of Cavite province (just outside Manila). Chabacano Ternateño is used in Ternate (not Ternate of the Molukas, Indonesia), which is also located in Cavite province. Now extinct is Chabacano Ermitaño of Manila’s Ermita neighborhood (not of Ermita on Cebu Island), though rumor has it that a small number of elderly speakers reside on the US west coast. A Chabacano-speaking community is said to exist in Sabah, Malaysia, assumedly speaking Chavacano Zamboangeño or a sub-variety of it.
     There are several sociolects as well. In Chabacano Caviteño, for instance, there is the now extinct Cavite Puerto variety that was closest to Spanish. The Caridad variety is perceived as formal, and its speakers tend to “correct” toward Spanish. Less Spanish-oriented are the San Roque variety (which is the variety of our translator Jocelyn Picache-de la Rosa) and the Kalumpang variety, the latter of which predominates among fishermen and market vendors. Many varieties have formal and informal registers as well.

Zamboanga City—
cross, crescent and Malayo-Iberian fusion

           Chabacano phonology has clearly noticeable native influences, such as raising of Spanish /e/ and /o/ to /i/ and /u/ respectively in unstressed position, as well as phonetically unreleased final consonants. The lexicon contains numerous words derived from native languages. Morphology and syntax have creole features, such as using ya (< Spanish ya ‘already’) to mark the past tense, and replacing some pronouns with nouns, such as cosa? (< Spanish cosa ‘matter’, ‘thing’, probably from Spanish ¿qué cosa? ‘what thing?’) for Spanish ¿qué? ‘what?’; thus for instance Chabacano Caviteño Cosa ya pasa aqui? for Spanish ¿Qué pasó aquí? ‘What happened here?’ or ¿Qué ha pasado aquí? ‘What has happened here?’
     Still spoken in Cavite City’s San Roque and Caridad neighborhoods, Chabacano Caviteño is hardly, if ever, written, and its speakers tend to “correct” themselves by allowing Standard Spanish to interfere. ALL languages and dialects are beautiful, precious gifts. So cherish yours and others! Share them with the world!(While Spanish ceased to be official in 1987 and it is no longer a mandatory subject in Philippine schools, Chabacano speakers and some other Filipinos continue acquiring Standard Spanish, courts of law still recognize Spanish language documents, and there are now renewed efforts to reinvigorate the use of Spanish in the Philippines.) Labeling of Chabacano Caviteño as inferior Spanish persists in some quarters, with names such as español de trapo (“rag Spanish”) and lengua carihán (“diner language”).

Language information: Indo-European > Romance > Italo-Western > Western > Gallo-Iberian > Ibero-Romance > West Iberian > Castilian with Western Malayo-Polynesian substrates

Historical Lowlands language contacts: English

    Click to open the translation: [Chabacano Caviteño] [Chavacano Zamboangueño]Click here for different versions. >

    Other Philippine language varieties: [Click]Click here for different versions. >

Author: Reinhard F. Hahn

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
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