The Endangered Alphabets on YouTube

Just to keep things fresh, I’ve added some different YouTube videos from the documentary made by my friend and colleague, the photographer and videographer Dan Higgins.

Here’s the chapter on Tifinagh.

Please feel free to respond, comment, or correct me. For example, Christian Cabuay posted the YouTube clip about Baybayin on his Baybayin site, and several of his respondents have posted updates to what I say on this clip.

Nordenx says that “our Mangyan tribes of Mindoro never stopped using it and still continues to use it for their everyday writing as well as their epic poems,” and goes on to add that  “While the western writing system gradually gained acceptance and popularity among the locals, the use of baybayin script was never discouraged by the colonizers.”

Chris Miller adds: “It’s used mainly as a cultural symbol nowadays and not as an everyday means of exchanging messages, but that doesn’t mean people see it as nothing but meaningless abstract graphic signs. Not only do people who want tattoos want to make sure they spell the name right (even if they don’t always get the spelling right), but Bby is used as a cultural symbol of identity by businesses, government, and other organizations. Maybe a bit like Greek letters in the US: they’re not just meaningless symbols people put up in threes on frat/sorority houses and t-shirts: people have some understanding of what they mean and use them for things like math, but not to read write texts with (unless they’re actually in Greek of course).”

8raysmedia continues the discussion: “Filipinos are beginning to use it in communication via Facebook and Twitter. Baybayin has a lot of meaning to us in the literal and spiritual sense from the Babaylans, faith healers and to even those who get the script tattooed on them. Baybayin as an abstract expression as I do in my artwork is not really prevalent. They buy shirts because of the meaning.”

A few days later, JC John Sese Cuneta added this encouraging news: “While I still haven’t started learning how to write Baybayin with my own hands, I am happy to tell you that we just launched the `Philippines National Keyboard Layout’ which includes a Baybayin keyboard layout. More and more Filipinos are using Baybayin online/digital form, and I hope through this Baybayin keyboard layout, more Filipinos will take time to (re)-learn it and start writing with their own hands.

“Now I wonder, is it Baybayin only that was `resurrected’ from the grave? Or are there other writing scripts (or language even) that is also going through this process today?”

Thanks to all of you for their input, and as always I’m keen to hear from anyone who knows more about the Alphabets than I do.

4 Responses

  1. JC John Sese Cuneta
    | Reply

    Hi Sir Tim,

    Great work there 😀 I feel sad when seeing writing scripts and even languages as a whole fading away from our daily lives. If the people that’s using it are still here with us today, then it only shows how modernization, colonialization, and/or globalization slowly kills off the cultural heritage of a nation.

    I applaud the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans for being so protective of their culture, and today, I can say the same for us Filipinos for getting Baybayin “back from the dead” and slowly into daily usage.

    While I still haven’t started learning how to write Baybayin with my own hands, I am happy to tell you that we just launched the “Philippines National Keyboard Layout” which includes a Baybayin keyboard layout. More and more Filipinos are using Baybayin online/digital form, and I hope through this Baybayin keyboard layout, more Filipinos will take time to (re)-learn it and start writing with their own hands.

    Now I wonder, is it Baybayin only that was “resurrected” from the grave? Or are there other writing scripts (or language even) that is also going through this process today?

    Thank you and God Bless!

    • Tim
      | Reply

      That’s fascinating. Yes, there are efforts going on to try to preserve or revive several of the endangered alphabets, including Balinese and Cherokee that I know of, and probably others that I don’t. I’d very much like to hear from anyone who has more information on the subject.
      Tim

  2. […] To see me talking about some of the Alphabets on YouTube, click here. […]

  3. Stephie
    | Reply

    What a beautiful project-invaluable! Lovely feedback, too, John Sese. Hope to read more of these stories.

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