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Freeman Region

Retired Army general authors Kinaray-a dictionary

- Jennifer P. Rendon - The Philippine Star

ILOILO CITY, Philippines  — After retiring from service 14 years ago, retired Brig. Gen. Vicente Pangantihon has settled in a career on local history, ethnography, lexicography, and social anthropology.

A native of Tibiao town in Antique, Pangantihon now holds the distinction of being the first person to produce a Kinaray-a -English dictionary, which he published in 2011.

Kinaray-a, spoken mainly in Panay and in parts of the neighboring islands in central Philippines, is the native tongue of more than three million people. It is closely cognate to Hiligaynon.

Pangantihon said he started compiling Kinaray-a words in 1997, or two years before he retired from the military service. “At that time, I simply translated the words into English,” he said.

The retired military official attributed part of his work to Jenny Golden, of the Summer Institute of Linguistic, who roused his interest into writing the book. “She was in Panay in 1997 as a member of the technical working committee of the Literacy Coordinating Council evaluating the literacy program I was conducting,” he said.

“When she learned that I speak Kinaray-a, she requested me to write about myself in Kinaray-a, obviously in order to learn more about the language of my cradle,” said Pangantihon.

Initially, he said the compilation was not to his liking. “I was in a quandary on how to write Kinaray-a words with schwa vowel sounds,” he told The Freeman.

Schwa is an unstressed and toneless neutral sound predominant in Kinaray-a dialect. An example in English is the vowel sound in the second syllable of the word sofa. However, there is no schwa vowel in the Roman alphabet.

It was in 2006 when his daughter, Guada, informed him about <?>, the International Phonetic Alphabet symbol for schwa, and he eventually used it in his first book, “Karay-a Rice Tradition Revisited.” Published in 2009, this book was deemed highly-valuable contribution to the study of Karay-a farming lore, practices, folkways and belief.

Pangantihon said it was not his intention to commercially produce the dictionary. “I am not for the money. I just wanted the language to be preserved,” he said. But last June, he learned that several pre-school and elementary teachers used the dictionary as part of their teaching tool.

Currently, Pangantihon is in talks with the National Historical Commission on how the book could be better utilized. “For now, the book is available for those who are interested,” he said.

The hard-bound 245-page dictionary is sold at P700. Pangantihon also gave complimentary copies to some schools and universities in Antique and Iloilo provinces.  (FREEMAN)

ANTIQUE AND ILOILO INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET JENNY GOLDEN KARAY KINARAY LITERACY COORDINATING COUNCIL NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION PANAY PANGANTIHON
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