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jc gaillard
jc gaillard I WAS stricken, during this holiday season, by how fast the Kapanguluan language is gaining ground over Kapampangan in upper Pampanga and Southern Tarlac. How fast 'ba' is replacing 'uari'. How fast 'pwede' is replacing 'malyari'. How fast 'malagkit' is replacing 'lakatan', to cite only a few examples amongst very many. Not mentioning the use of cross-referent pronouns and determiners which are becoming things of the past now in Angeles City and neighbouring towns.

A year ago, in a short essay (Gaillard, 2012) I suggested the term 'Kapangaluan', e.g. from 'pangulu' (upland), to describe the ethnic group which has settled in the up or dry lands of upper Pampanga and Southern Tarlac in contrast to the Kapampangans who would be those people living in wet lands of lower Pampanga, i.e. the delta of Pampanga River and bordering Candaba Swamp. One of the arguments for such proposal was the formation of a new tongue which may be breaking away from the Kapampangan language.

The Kapanguluan language finds its roots in both the environmental, cultural and social specificities of the territory of its speakers. It thus includes vocabulary associated with the livelihoods of the people who have settled in the upper Pampanga and Southern Tarlac (Gaillard, 2002). The language of the Kapanguluan is however presently undergoing significant changes through the intense interactions its speakers maintain with neighbouring Tagalogs. Many words are being loaned from Tagalog while the grammar is being simplified from Kapampangan to conform to Tagalog standards. The most significant of these grammatical evolutions is the dropping of the cross-referent pronoun (Pangilinan, 2009). Linguist Anicia del Corro (1988: 23) defines cross reference as "a syntactic process in Kapampangan wherein the presence of one grammatical category is redundantly signaled or echoed by another formative", for instance: "masanting ya ing bale". She adds that "the cross referent pronouns of Kapampangan are central to the understanding of the Kapampangan grammar", which makes its omission particularly important in suggesting the emergence of the Kapanguluan language. Another peculiar and recent evolution of the Kapanguluan language is the ellipsis of the determiners aptly described by experts Mike Pangilinan, aka Siuálâ ding Meángûbié, and Hiroaki Kitano (2012). This is this modern form of Kapanguluan language I am discussing in the present article.

What particularly struck me over the past few weeks is how the modern Kapanguluan language has been institutionalised in upper Pampanga and Southern Tarlac. For example, the city government of Angeles is often resorting to Kapanguluan on public signage and announcements as on signs indicating "tukyan tamu ing batas trapiku" (omitting the cross-referent pronoun ‘ya’). As an evidence that Kapampangan is losing ground, the provincial government of Pampanga is as well resorting to modern Kapanguluan as on one of the covers of the diorio capitolio which stated "Dole memye P1 milyun libreng capital pangnegosyu" (which again skips the cross-referent pronoun 'ya'). Many politicians already campaigning in view of next year's elections are also exhibiting posters and streamers which emphasise Kapanguluan to the detriment of Kapampangan. This constitutes a major sign and inspiration for other avenues of communication to the larger community.

In fact, modern Kapanguluan has spread to the media and popular culture. It is a very easy task today to catch local radio anchors or TV show hosts using Tagalog loans or dropping the cross-referent pronoun while assuming they speak Kapampangan. A recent show of one the most popular local TV stations on the traditional putung bumbung was for instance consistently referring to 'malagkit' rice instead of Kapampangan 'lakatan'. Even newspapers increasingly rely upon modern Kapanguluan as in this quote omitting the determiner 'kng': "makatuknang ya Quezon City". Many social events publicly foster the use of Kapanguluan in their advertisements too. Similarly, the contemporary social media, which have become such an important tool for communication, contributes to fast tracking the spread of the Kapanguluan language at the detriment of the Kapampangan tongue---even amongst Kapampangan advocacy groups. Here are a few examples retrieved from some of the most popular Kapampangan Facebook pages: "salamat king mahal likha" (which includes Tagalog loans), "munta ku Angeles bukas" (which drops the determiner 'kng') or "sinaguli milabas ing panaun!" (which omits the cross-referent pronoun 'ya'). I was also very surprised when I realised that one of the local music bands allegedly advocating for the defence of the Kapampangan culture was actually relying extensively on the modern form of Kapanguluan language as, again, using 'malagkit' for 'lakatan' and omitting the cross-referent pronoun 'ya' such as in "akagisnan da ing sabla".

In consequence, the use of modern Kapanguluan is widening across the population of upper Pampanga and Southern Tarlac. You could hear it everywhere during this past holiday season. From the streets of Angeles City to the mushrooming malls of the region. At home and even during those events which allegedly promote the Kapampangan culture. As an example, here is a quote from an online Kapampangan forum which includes Tagalog loans and omits the determiner: "hangang wed ku pa naman alang lub magtetx naku mu keka pag munta ku angeles". I am sure too that many have received Christmas or New Year text messages greeting them in Kapanguluan rather than Kapampangan. It is actually not only the number of speakers which is increasing but also the places where the most modern form of Kapanguluan is used, hence spreading from Angeles City to Mabalacat, San Fernando, Magalang and other neighbouring towns.

Such pattern of diffusion has been widely studied by geographers and anthropologists, be it for cultures, languages or innovations. Diffusion basically refers to “the spread of a phenomenon over space and through time” (Gregory et al., 2009: 160). Interestingly, the foregoing evidences observed in the case of the modern Kapanguluan language reflect both the classic models of hierarchical and contagious processes of diffusion (e.g. Gould, 1969).

Contagious spatial diffusion applies to languages which are transmitted by direct contact from one existing speaker to another person who eventually adopts the language of the former. This is happening in upper Pampanga and Southern Tarlac through many youths from neighbouring places coming to Angeles City to pursue tertiary education and who encounter the Kapanguluan language of their local class mates. Many call centres and mall employees find themselves in a similar situation and contribute to spreading the Kapanguluan language. However, contagion also follows another parallel path as the modern form of Kapanguluan language is fed and reinforced by increasing and direct influence of the Tagalog tongue. It is particularly evident in Angeles City, which may be the cradle of the Kapanguluan language and culture, where the growing use of Tagalog has for sure an impact on alleged Kapampangan-born locals.

The hierarchical spatial diffusion of the modern Kapanguluan language seems to take three parallel pathways. It first stems from the previous contagious process described for Angeles City students and employees who then use Kapanguluan in their hometowns. There is therefore a so-called heart or central place of origin where people work and study, i.e. Angeles City, influencing the spread of the language in smaller neighbouring towns where people live. Meanwhile, modern Kapanguluan also seems to be, intentionally or not, taught from a generation to another, from parents to children. This is especially true for those Kapampangan-born households which increasingly rely on Tagalog at home. In such context, children are certainly picking as much Tagalog as Kapampangan, which mix somehow results into modern Kapanguluan. The third parallel hierarchical path springs from the growing use of Kapanguluan in local institutions, media and popular culture. Because of their influence on the larger population, all these undoubtedly set an example for the use of particular words, the dropping of the cross-referent pronoun or the ellipsis of determiners in upper Pampanga and Southern Tarlac.

The temporal dimension of diffusion of the Kapanguluan language is a much more controversial issue. Whether it started with the massive migrations of Kapampangan from the wet lands of the delta of the Pampanga River and Candaba Swamp in the 19th century, as suggested in my last-year essay, has to be defined by linguists and historians. It would thus be a sort of proto-Kapanguluan. If it was indeed back then that a new vocabulary developed amongst Kapampangan speakers in need of new words or different meanings to fit their new environment and livelihoods, it is only recently that Kapampangans of upper Pampanga and Southern Tarlac have started loaning words from Tagalog and omitting the cross-referent pronouns under the increasing influence of Tagalog speakers in the region (Pangilinan, 2009), hence the modern form of Kapanguluan discussed in the present article.

Despite those questions and many others already raised in my last-year essay, it is a fact that modern Kapanguluan is gaining ground and the number of people who use it as their first language is increasing. It is obviously difficult though to estimate the number of Kapanguluan speakers all throughout the region, especially because most still think that they speak Kapampangan. So beyond academic studies to write its history and formalise its linguistic contours, the Kapanguluan language needs popular and institutional recognition as a language of its own. Then only we may have a Kapanguluan box to tick in one of the future government’s censuses of population and know for sure how fast and wide the language is spreading.


—Del Corro A.H. (1988) A sequel to the dialect study of Kapampangan (1984): with focus on Calaguiman and Mabatang Kapampangan. University of the Philippines, Quezon City.
—Gaillard J.C. (2002) The two faces of the Kapampangan territory. K Magazine 8: 38.
—Gaillard J.C. (2012) Kapampangan vs Kapanguluan: challenging the alleged two faces of the Kapampangan territory. eK: A Journal of Kapampangan Ideas: http://eksite.com/gaillard.120112.html
—Gould P.R. (1969) Spatial diffusion. Resource paper No. 4, Commission on College Geography, Association of American Geographers, Washington D.C.
—Gregory D., Johnston R., Pratt G., Watts M.J., Whatmore S. (2009) The dictionary of human geography. 5th ed., Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester.
—Pangilinan M.R.M. (2009) Kapampangan lexical borrowing from Tagalog: endangerment rather than enrichment. 11th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics, 21-25 June 2009, Aussois, France.
—Pangilinan M.R.M., Kitano H. (2012) Pámanakmul amánu (word swallowing): ellipsis of determiners in colloquial Kapampangan spoken in Angeles. 12th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics, 2-6 June 2012, Bali, Indonesia.

[About the author. JC Gaillard, PhD, is Associate Professor at the School of Environment of The University of Auckland in New Zealand and former academic staff of the University of the Philippines in Diliman. His teaching, research and practice focus on disaster risk reduction in Asia and the Pacific. He is also interested in Kapampangan studies and the geography of Pinoy rock music. More available from: http://web.env.auckland.ac.nz/people_profiles/gaillard_j/]

-Posted: 11:30 PM 1/7/13 | More of this author on eK!