‘Miskol’ is word of the year
() - August 5, 2007 - 12:00am

“Miskol” is word of the year, besting 11 other entries to the 2007 Sawikaan: Salita ng Taon conference held at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City before the weekend, a statement from conference organizers said.

Filipino language scholars, teacher delegates, and students gathered last Aug. 2 to 3 and chose the three winning words that include “roro” and “friendster.”

Ateneo de Naga professor Adrian Remodo, “miskol” paper presenter, said the missed call practice among Filipinos is a world away from New York usage.

While the latter is nothing more than a missed business talk, miskol is enmeshed in the paramdam psychology of Filipinos, Remodo said. That split second ring on one’s phone connotes “Buhay pa ako. Magparamdam ka naman (I am still alive. Please get in touch soon.)”

Akin to last year’s “lobat,” miskol is borne out of the Filipinos’ going gaga over cell phone communication, in effect practically claiming the technology and putting it to uses peculiar to Filipinos.

“Language plays an important role in this cultural hijacking,” the statement said. “We also say ‘Miskulin mo ako’ to register a new cell number, find a misplaced phone or simply to brag about a newly downloaded ringtone.”

The runner-up words, roro and friendster, are almost as significant as miskol. Roro is short for roll on-roll off or the inter-island, cross-country transport system designed to spur national progress. Kristian Cordero, the Bikolano writer-presenter, said it is a relevant term as it implicates the archipelagic and waterworld trans-history of the Philippines.

A political meaning also adheres to this word as the Arroyo administration highlights it as part of its developmental campaign. “Will we take the roro boat trick seriously?” Cordero asked.

Another phenomenon that gripped Filipinos in recent years is Friendster, the cyberspace personal site that connects friends and would-be friends. Originally a date search program, more than five million Filipinos appropriated it as a substitute to eyeballing and as a kind of conquest of the space/time barrier.

Ateneo de Manila’s Boom Enriquez said Friendster and other cyperspace interlinks create a “third space” for the stressed-out yuppies. It is a place where one can present one’s true or invented identity and forget the vulgarity of real life.

Other words that played important roles in contemporary Filipino life include sutukil (short Visayan sugba-tula-kilaw), videoke, makeover, telenobela, extrajudicial killing, party-list, abrodista, oragon, and safety.

The two-day conference also had panel discussions on Filipino as global language by professors Florentino Hornedo and Ruth Elynia  Mabanglo and the lectures on Mexican and French language development by Ambassador Erendira Araceli Paz Campos and First Secretary Georges-Gaston Feydeau. The participants learned insights relevant to the Filipino language advocacy.

Last year’s conference papers have been published in a book, Sawikaan 2006 (Roberto Añonuevo and Galileo Zafra, editors. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press 2007).

Sawikaan underscores the primary role of language in how Filipinos perceive and make sense of the world.

Sawikaan 2007 is funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Blas Ople Foundation, and spearheaded by the Filipinas Institute of Translation.

ADRIAN REMODO AMBASSADOR ERENDIRA ARACELI PAZ CAMPOS AND FIRST SECRETARY GEORGES-GASTON FEYDEAU PLACE QUEZON CITY SAWIKAAN
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