|Title:||Your word against mine: How a rebel language and script of the Philippines was created, suppressed, recovered and contested|
construction of indigeneity
When news of an uncontacted ‘lost tribe’ began emanating from the island of Bohol in the southern Philippines, visitors were fascinated by the group’s unique language and complex writing system, used today by some 500 people in limited domains. Though few have attempted to analyse the language, exotic theories of its origins are widely circulated by outsiders. According to speakers, however, Eskayan was created by the ancestor Pinay who used the human body as inspiration. For Pinay a language and its written mode were inextricable. In the 20th century Pinay’s language was rediscovered by the rebel soldier Mariano Datahan who retransmitted it to his followers. This creation story is consistent with my linguistic analysis which points to a sophisticated encryption of the regional Visayan language. Further, the particulars of how Eskayan was designed shed much light on the sociocultural conditions motivating its (re)creation. Implicit notions of linguistic materiality, boundedness and interchangeability are reflected in the relexification process carried out by Pinay/Datahan. In defiance of all imperial claimants to the island, Pinay and Datahan effectively reified a language community whose territorial rights were corporeally inscribed.
|Source:||The Australian Journal of Anthropology 23.3 (2012): 357-378|
|Link to publisher version:||http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/taja.12005|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Research|
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