Ph.D. ELS cohort organizes international webinar on Grammars of PHL Languages; UST professor emphasizes importance of linguistic, cultural diversity

The University of Santo Tomas Graduate School, in partnership with the UST English Department, organized an international webinar that featured three renowned speakers who are known for describing lesser-known languages in the Philippines. The webinar, geared towards the promotion of languages in the Philippines and the importance of learning the features of Philippine-type languages, had speakers that shared their experience and knowledge in the Northern Luzon language family during the virtual event titled “Grammars of the Philippine Languages” via Zoom.

Prof. Hsiu-Chuan Liao, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Institute of Linguistics, National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, talked about personal pronouns and transitivity in Northern Luzon languages where she discussed the interaction between personal pronouns and transitivity in Northern Luzon languages.
During her discussion, Liao said, “Northern Luzon languages are also known as ‘Cordilleran’ in literature, and they contain some 50 Austronesian languages spoken widely through the mountains, valleys, and coastal strips of the northern portion of Luzon.” She also added that this set of languages have four sets of personal pronouns, namely: genitive, nominative, independent neutral, and locative.

Prof. Yukinori Kimoto, Ph.D.,a senior lecturer in linguistics at the University of Hyogo in Japan, talked about verbal morphology and voice phenomena in Arta (Edilod), a Philippine Negrito language that is currently being spoken by around ten native speakers in Quirino province in Luzon.

During his discussion, Kimoto emphasized that Arta has three major intransitive verb affixes (maN-, maC-, and ), and three major transitive verb affixes (-ən, -an, and i-) and that it has pluractional reduplications that indicate repetitive action and participant multiplicity, “Arta exhibits so-called pluractional reduplications, pluractional means, plural actions, like repetitive or action by many participants, to indicate repetitive action and participant multiplicity,” added Kimoto.

Meanwhile, Ms. Ryn Jean Fe Gonzales, a language assessment consultant of Summer Institute of Linguistics-Philippines, discussed about co-referencing in Meso-Cordilleran languages, where she shared that even if many experts consider the existence of co-referencing pronouns or person markers (PMs) in Philippine languages to be an interesting area of research, it still remains to be unexplored.
Gonzales shared her study about the existence and nature of co-referencing pronoun/s in 12 Meso-Cordilleran languages where she adapted Himmelman’s ‘agreement marker’ to refer to what is commonly called co-referential pronoun and compared the forms and syntactic properties of these person markers with those of Kapampangan and Ilokano, “In this study, I use Himmelman’s definition of ‘agreement marker’ as something that requires a coreferential noun phrase. I looked at the case alignment pattern ERG-ABS with the awareness that some Meso-Cordilleran languages have an asymmetrical pronominal case marking system,” said Gonzales.

Call for the Future
During his opening remarks, Dr. Marvin Abreu, a professor from the UST GS, encouraged the academic community and other sectors of the society to value linguistic and cultural diversity and uphold mother tongue-based education to help in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO.
“I and my graduate students in Grammars of Philippine Languages are hoping that this kind of academic event will eventually turn into a strong and vigorous advocacy that will create ripples of this kind to all academic institutions alike as well as to other sectors of the society,” Abreu stated.
Under the guidance of Abreu, graduate students from the University’s English Language Studies Doctorate Program spearheaded the webinar.
The international webinar was held in support of UNESCO’s call for a decade-long celebration of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2023-2032).

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