Matigsalug Manobo Language Page

Alphabet (Orthography)

Matigsalug words are written using fifteen consonants (b, d, g, h, k, l, m, n, ng, p, r, s, t, w, y) and four vowels (a, e, i, u). A hyphen is also used sometimes to represent the glottal stop consonant (see below). However, many Matigsalug people also use the other common letters (c, f, j, o, q, v, x, z) in spelling their names.

The glottal stop consonant is not normally written. All Matigsalug words which are spelled starting with a vowel, actually start with an unwritten glottal stop. Also, most words that are spelled with two vowels in a row have an unwritten glottal stop between the vowels, e.g., saa 'one' is a two-syllable word and the second syllable begins with a glottal stop. If a glottal stop appears between a consonant and a vowel, it's written as a hyphen, e.g., be-be 'mouth' has a glottal stop at the end of each syllable. (Glottal stops at the ends of words are however, written in the dictionary as an acute accent over the final vowel so this word would be written there as be-bè to help those learning Matigsalug, and all glottal stops are written clearly as ʔ in the phonemic line in the dictionary, so we'd have /saʔa/ and /beʔbeʔ/.)

As mentioned above, the hyphen can be used to represent the glottal stop between a consonant and a vowel. However, the hyphen is occasionally also used to separate the individual consonants n and g, e.g., eggen-gen 'to hold' (otherwise the ng might be misread as the single velar nasal consonant). The hyphen is also used to visually separate reduplication of complete roots or words, e.g., eglalag-lalag 'to talk a lot.'

Pronouns (including possessive pronouns) are consistently written as separate words, even though the single syllable pronouns do function as clitics (meaning that phonologically they connect to the previous word causing a change in stress patterns). So we get egkelag a 'I'm playing' and asawa ku 'my spouse' written as two words, but pronounced with the stress patterns as if they are only one word.

These spelling rules have been chosen to make Matigsalug spelling rules as close to written Filipino as the different languages allow. Although some of the spelling rules do make writing a little more difficult, they've been optimized to try to make reading easy, and to make the transfer of reading skills to/from the major languages spoken in the area as straight-forward as possible.

Most of the major decisions concerning assignment of letters to sounds were made by a committee that included a large number of Matigsalug leaders including datus, councillors, pastors, as well as school teachers. This includes the decision which has been most challenged by outsiders to use the letter e represent the fourth vowel rather than the letter o. (Either way, this /ɔ/ vowel presents a difficulty because it is not found in the Cebuano trade language nor in the Filipino national language and hence outsiders often struggle to pronounce it.)

Sounds (Phonetics)

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Structure (Grammar)

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