The Vowel Sounds

             Bismillah. This is the 4th lesson on “Tausug 101: Learning Bahasa Sug” by Anak Iluh. For lists of lessons, please go to: Lists of Lessons.

             As we have learned in Lesson 1, there are basically only 3 vowel sounds in Bahasa Sug: the sounds /A/, /I/, and /U/. We all know how their sounds are like, so we don’t need to talk about that. We will instead discuss the different forms and ways these vowels are written and pronounced. We will classify them in to 4 kinds: (1) Repeating vowels, (2) Dual Vowels, (3) Prolonged Vowels and (4) Diphthongs. We will also include in this lesson, the special “Glottal Stop” sound. All examples given in this lesson are recorded in an audio file that you can easily download on the link provided at the end of this post.

Repeating or Double Vowels

             Tausug words having two, the same, repeating vowels are common. The correct way of reading their written text is to pronounce each vowel individually and not to connect them or create a prolonged sound. Examples are:

                          Daakan (commad/order) which is read /da-a-kan/ and not /dá-kan/
                          Giik (Step on, v.) which is read /gi-ik/ and not /giyk/
                          Masuuk (near) which is read /ma-su-uk/ not /ma-suwk/
              (There are some exceptions in this rule, which I hope will be discussed later on)

Dual Vowels

             There are words in Bahasa Sug having two different vowels consecutively. They will follow the same rules with the repeating vowels: each vowel sound must be pronounced individually. Mixing them (creating a diphthong-like sound) must be avoided. Examples include:

                          Saub (cover)      read as /sa-ub/ and not /sawb/
                          Piul (limp)           read as /pi-ul/ not /pi-yul/  
                          Luag (__)             read as /lu-ag/ not /lu-wag/ which means ‘wide’.

             There are times that these vowels are written with a hyphen (-) in between them to emphasize their ‘separations’ as “Sa-ub”, “Pi-ul” and “Lu-ag”. Same applies with the repeating vowels as “Da-akan”, “Gi-ik” and “Masu-uk”. Throughout this course, we will use the traditional, no-hyphen way of writing.

Prolonged Vowels

             There are also a number of Tausug words having prolonged or stressed sounds. These are commonly found in comparative Adjectives (emphasizing differences; we will meet them in later lessons) and in Nouns and Verbs as well. They are usually written in stressed forms as /á/, /í/ and /ú/ or in diphthongs as /iy/ and /uw/.

             Problems are seen in some written Tausug words wherein the prolonged /A/ is written as double vowels as /aa/, the prolonged /I/ as /ii/ and the prolonged /U/ as /uu/. This will eventually confuse us with the actual double, repeating vowel sounds above. To avoid this confusion, we will be using the stressed form /á/ for prolonged sound /A/ and the diphthongs /iy/ and /uw/ for prolonged sounds of /I/ and /U/ respectively. Here are a few examples:

                          Dágan (Run)                      Kiyta’ (Saw, v., p.t.)        Suwng (go forward, v.)
                          Kátas (Paper)                    Duwm (Night)

The Diphthongs /ay/, /aw/, /iy/, /iw/,/uw/ and /uy/

             Diphthongs are also found in various Tausug words. Examples include:
                          Kayt (cloth pins)               Sawm (under)                   Bayta’ (Say, v.)
                          Suysuy (hearsay)             Kawman (community)

Glottal Stop (‘)

             Another controversial sound in Bahasa Sug is the “Glottal stop” (‘) which is also found in Tagalog syllables as /ta’/ in “Bâtâ” (child). It is usually characterized by a sudden stop in the end of the sound. Examples are:
             Tagna’  (Before or Beginning)                    Baba’    (down)                 Sukna’ (Curse)
             Ka’nu    (When, p.t.)                                 Ina’ (Mother)   Ama’(Father)         
             It is said to be ‘controversial’ because the rule on its proper way of writing is still undecided yet. There are some who would prefer to use the sign (‘) to represent the glottal stop. There are also some writings having the letter /h/ to represent the glottal stop as in “Kahnu” instead of “Kanu” and “Inah” instead of “Ina’”, and so on without changing their meanings.  In fact, I found the writing of /h/ instead of the sign (‘) more convenient. But it would confuse the new learners of the language, because the only way of knowing the difference between the two ways of writing is by knowing the word and their original sounds as well. This is easy for Tausug speakers, but not for non-Tausug speakers.

             And so, in this course of learning Bahasa Sug, we will be using the traditional (‘) sign to represent the glottal stop instead of /h/, unless otherwise if the situation demands it.

This ends our Third lesson, and the first part of the course. Next Thursday, in sha Allah, we will be proceeding to the second part of the course on “Part 2: Words and Phrases”, starting with Lesson 5: the Pronouns I.

For the Audio files and other supplementary readings on this lesson, please go to : DOWNLOADS
Included in the file are:
                          Tausug words with Repeating and dual Vowels—Audio file
                          Tausug words with Prolonged vowels and diphthongs—Audio file
                          Tausug words with Glottal Stops—Audio file
A pdf file on:
                          The sounds “E” and “O” in Bahasa Sug
                          New Tausug words for lesson 4 (supplementary readings).

See you next Thursday, Salam kasilasa!
Anak Iluh


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