Ilokano Linguistics for Liberation:
Practices for a New Philippine Lexicography
A Conference Paper for the 2012 Annual International Conference on Literature, Languages and Linguistics, Athens, Greece, July 2012
Aurelio Solver Agcaoili
A written and preserved record of the Ilokano language since colonial contact in 1572 starts in 1620 with the translation of the Bellarmine’s Doctrina Christiana. That language, the third major language in the Philippines, and the historical language of the people of that country in the diaspora, has gone through a lot of changes in orthography and in structural configuration, largely influenced by the Hispanicization of Ilokano collective life. With the institution of a national language, Tagalog, couched in political terms as P/Filipino under the guise of nationalism and social freedom (but largely a rationalization for neocolonialism from within), the Ilokano language, as other Philippine languages, had to either adapt to these neocolonial requisites, or get extinguished as the case of many of the Philippine languages. In 2010 and 2012, a new way of accounting the Ilokano language using the framework of liberation linguistics has been demonstrated by this author through two volumes of avant-garde dictionaries, the Contemporary English-Ilokano Dictionary, and the Kontemporaneo a Diksionario nga Ilokano-Ingles (Contemporary Ilokano-English Dictionary). This paper articulates, and proves that there is a way to reclaim one’s own language by respecting what it is, and by pushing it to mediate a productive and emancipatory knowledge for its speakers. The first of the method to reclaiming is in keeping with the view the Ilokano language from its speakers in the field; the second method is in keeping with a vision that a language must mediate new forms of knowing-of-the world and new ways of articulating reality-as-changing.