Friday, April 9, 2010

[Baybayin] Character Order and Implications

From my former post, I noted that there's recorded, historical evidence that the Sanskrit order was used for collating Baybayin characters; the order appears to be:

A U E Ha Pa Ka Sa La Ta Na Ba Ma Ga Da/Ra Ya NGa Wa

It would be nice to have a mnemonic phrase, in Tagalog, to remember this by. Any takers?

OK, so I have implications to ponder here.

Question 1 Under what circumstances would Baybayin retain a Sanskrit order? Answer: when it's taught and transmitted. When did you learn the ABC song? Very early in your education. A First Thing.

Question 2 Why would Baybayin retain a Sanskrit order? Answer: because the script it was derived from also retained the Sanskrit order. However the derivation occurred, its concept originated closely from a working knowledge of a pre-existing Brahmic script.

Say it was one person who sat down one day and decided to use Script X to write Old Tagalog. She already had to know Script X's sounds and order; she was taught it. She might have been literate.

Question 3 If Baybayin really did stick close to its parent or "godparent" script, does this mean that Baybayin isn't really a descendant of Kawi?

Kawi's ancient character order was (I think):

Ha Na Ca Ra Ka Da Ta Sa Wa La Pa Dha Ja Ya Nya Ma Ga Ba Tha Nga

Doesn't look at all similar.

And I can't find out what the Buginese order is, nor Cham order... although they both might be gathered by family in the order K/G C/J T/D P/B Y/R/L/V/S.

They don't look similar either. At least not at first glance. I'm probably missing some important information here...

I suppose I can assume that Assamese order is more or less the same as Sanskrit.

1 comment:

  1. I just put together a detailed answer to your first post but when I tried to preview it Google said it couldn't complete my request and erased all my work. Infuriating glitch.

    I'll put it all together again but have to go and pick up a cat from the vet's first.

    Just a few quick comments:

    The Tagbanuwa order is arranged as a mnemonic phrase which people disagree on except for the key words daga[t] "not" (d-g-) and nakabasa "to read" (n-k-b-s-). The Doctrina order appears to be arranged around the root sulat "write" which may possibly expand to something like pagka(ka)sulata[n] (p-k-s-l-t-) and maganda "beautiful" (m-g-d-). I posted a question about this very same subject on the Yahoo! groups Alibata forum on Tuesday, asking if any Tagalog speakers might be able to imagine a mnemonic phrase based on these words, but no useful responses yet unfortunately.

    The Javanese order is likely fairly recent, probably only several centuries old. It's a little mnemonic rhyme that tells the story of two servants of a Javanese king, one entrusted with his prized kris and commanded not to give it up; the other commanded to go get it. Each was sworn to obey the king's command, so they fought over the kris and killed each other. You can find the explanation in the Wikipedia "Hanacaraka" article, and if you click on "Basa Jawa" under "languages" in the left side bar, you'll see an illustration of the story. As for Kawi, I have not seen anything in the literature that gives a clue to a specific order being used, i.e. it was probably never mentioned in any of the inscriptions or documents that have survived.

    I reproduced the orders for the other related scripts of the archipelago. While I wait to redo the older posting, I'll just say that in Sulawesi and South Sumatra, there is slight variation but the orders *overall* follow the traditional standard Indic order. Only the north Sumatran Batak scripts have a different order, and it is wildly different.

    BTW, the theory of a Kawi origin originates from Kendrik Kern's "Over de opschriften uit Koetei..." from the late 1800s. This is only one of many theories and I don't really understand why this one in particular has gotten more press than other theories. Most are more or less equally weak in their arguments. Specialists in the scripts certainly see very little convincing evidence of a Kawi origin for Baybayin, Sulawesi scripts or Batak and South Sumatran scripts, whereas the evidence is glaringly obvious and can be reconstructed in great detail for Javanese-Balinese and Sundanese.

    I haven't published this yet, as I am still writing up my paper for this year's Berkeley Linguistics Society proceedings, but the weight of the evidence really seems to favour an origin in Gujarati script introduced by traders to Sumatra sometime between the 1200s and ±1400. The correspondences are direct and systematic across the board, unlike for any other theory that has been proposed to date.