The Letters Ba’ and Ga’

Originally published: June 7, 2012 Thursday
Updated: January 9, 2015
 
Assalamu Alaykum. This is the 2nd lesson on “Tausūg 101: Learning Bahasa Sūg” by Ahmad.
Among the 17 commonly used consonants we have in Bahasa Sūg, two letters are notable of having a “special ruling” on articulating their sounds. These are the letters /Bb/ and /Gg/. Both letters can be pronounced with (1) their regular distinct sounds and (2) their special “spirant” sounds. The following rules must be learnt by anyone who wants to learn to speak Bahasa Sūg fluently.
 
We first published this article in July 2012 and we have found out that this lesson actually agree with the guideline by Dr. Bangahan’s “Bahasa Sūg Phonetics and Orthography” which again, we will follow for this lesson.
 
The rules are simple: look for the letters /Bb/ and /Gg/ and find out what precede them in a word or a sentence.

The Distinct /Bb/ and /Gg/

 
Rule #1: When the letters Bā’ and Gā’ are placed in the BEGINNING or in the END of a word, they will be pronounced with their regular ‘solid’ or distinct /Bb/ and /Gg/ sounds. This is known as “Bā’ mahantap” for /Bb/ and “Gā’ mahantap” for /Gg/. Examples of these words are:
Bā’ mahantap
Gā’ mahantap
basi’ (iron/metal)
gadja (elephant)
badju’ (cloth/shirt)
gallang (bracelet)
saub (cover/lid)
niyug (coconut tree)
ukab (open)
hulug (fall)
Rule #2: The same rule applies when these letters are placed in the MIDDLE of a word and then follows or is followed by another consonant or a glottal stop (‘). We retain the distinct /Bb/ and /Gg/ sounds such as in:           
Bā’ mahantap
Gā’ mahantap
dagbus (face)
siyagnat (hooked)
sambut (catch)
si’gub (burp)
sa’bu (already)
bugtu’ (broken, for strings)

 

The Aspirant /Bb/ and /Gg/

Rule #3: The special rule (the aspirant sound), applies when the two letters are in BETWEEN TWO VOWEL sounds. When this happens, the two letters will take their “spirant” form or sound; meaning they will have a bit of “softer” sound and should not have a “stopping”, bursting distinct sound. 

 
The letter /Bb/ will be pronounced with a slight opening of the lips letting air to smoothly and freely pass during the pronunciation. This is called the “Bā’ mahangin”. It would have the sound /v/ as in LEVITATE, but not /V/ in VIOLET. But it should also be noted that the letter /Vv/ should never be used to replace the aspirant /Bb/ sound. Listening to the recordings I have prepared would make this clearer.
 
The letter /Gg/ would then sound like the Huruf Ghain /Gh/ in Arabic and not with the distinct /Gg/ sound. This is called the “Gā’ mahangin” sound.
Bā’ mahangin
Gā’ mahangin
(vowel)+/b/+(vowel)
(vowel)+/g/+(vowel)
Labay (Pass by, v.)
Bagay (Friend)
Lubid (Rope)
Tagad (Wait, v.)
Tabang (Help, v.)
Higad (Side)
Habay-Habay (Amulet)
Tagaynup (Dream)
Sabun (Soap)
Agap (Parrot)
(Please download the audio copy of these examples or watch the video I prepared. See the links at the end of this post.)
 
Rule #4: Now what about if we attach affixes (prefixes, suffixes) to these words? The following rules should be followed. Notice that they are exactly the same as those in single words.
 
4a) When adding a prefix ending with a vowel to a word beginning with /Bb/ or /Gg/, the letters /Bb/ and /Gg/ will take the aspirant forms. Attaching a suffix beginning with a vowel sound will also have the same effect.
Sinūg word
+ prefix / suffix
new word
biskay (fastness)
ma+
mabiskay (fast, adj.)
gituk (tickle)
ma+
magituk (tickling)
ukab (open)
+an
ukaban (to open)
hulug (fall)
+un
hulugun (to drop)
On the new word the letters /Bb/ and /Gg/ are now in between tow vowel sounds; and following the third rule, they will take the aspirant forms.
 
4b) When words beginning with letters /Bb/ and /Gg/ are attached with prefixes with another consonant, the distinct sounds Bā’ mahantap and Gā’ mahantapare retained. There are no suffixes attached to words ending with /Bb/ and /Gg/.
Sinūg word
+ prefix / suffix
new word
bugsay (oar)
mag+
magbugsay (fast, adj.)
guling (fry)
nag+
nag-guling (fried something)
 Rule #5: The last one is about finding these words in a sentence with other words. We will follow the same rules with a slight difference:
 
5a) In a sentence, when a word beginning with /Bb/ or /Gg/ is preceded by another word ending with a consonant sound or a glottal stop (‘), the distinct Bā’ mahantap or Gā’ mahantap will be retained.
Sentence with words beginning in
Bā’ mahantap or Gā’ mahantap
English
Masawa in bulan.
The moon is bright.
Kiyta’ ku in gadja.
I saw the elephant.
5b) In a sentence, when these words on the other hand, are preceded by another word ending with a vowel sound, they will take the aspirant Bā’ mahangin or Gā’ mahangin.
Sentence with words beginning in
Bā’ mahangin or Gā’ mahangin
English
Didtu kami limingkud ha bangka’.
We sat there at the boat.
Simakat kami ha gadja.
We rode an elephant.
5c) In a sentence, when a word ends with letters /Bb/ or /Gg/, they will always take the distinct Bā’ mahantapor Gā’ mahantap regardless of the kind of letters the next word begins with.
Sentence with words ending in
Bā’ mahantap or Gā’ mahantap
English
Naukab in lawang.
The door was opened.
Nahulug in sāmin.
The mirror fell.
Yari in saub garapun.
Here is the container lid.
Sulug kaw badju’.
Wear some clothes.

Comparing with Tagalog

                The special sounds of /Bb/ and /Gg/ sounds are found to be unique in Bahasa Sūg. There is indeed a great difference in pronouncing these sounds in Bahasa Sūg compared to that in Tagalog, where these sounds are more distinctly pronounced regardless of their positions. Comparisons are seen in the following examples:
Tagalog
(The sounds /B/ and /G/ are more pronounced)
Bahasa Sūg
(The sounds are spirantized; softened)
Bagay (Things)
Bagay (Friends)
Agap (To hasten, v.)
Agap (Parrot)
Libutan (to encircle)
Libutan (to encircle)
Mahaba (long)
Mahaba’ (long)
                                               
                A little confused now? Hehe. It is really hard to understand this if we will stick with the written examples only. We have to listen to their actual pronunciations to better understand them. And so, to easily understand this special ruling, please listen to the audio file I have prepared for this lesson. You can download them in this link: DOWNLOADS– I was finally able to make a video as well. Check it out here:
 

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In summary, we learned:
 
1. There are two ways to pronounce the letters /Bb/ and /Gg/: the distinct mahantap type and the aspirant mahangin type;
 
2. In root-words or words with affixes, whenever the /Bb/ and /Gg/ sounds are PRECEDED or are FOLLOWED by another CONSONANT SOUND or a GLOTTAL STOP (‘), they will be pronounced with their distinct Bā’ mahantap or Gā’ mahantap sounds;
 
3. In root-words or words with affixes, whenever the /Bb/ and /Gg/ sounds are placed IN BETWEEN TWO VOWEL SOUNDS, they will be pronounced with their aspirant, soft Bā’ mahangin or Gā’ mahangin sounds;
 
4. When found in sentences, words BEGINNING with /Bb/ or /Gg/ and PRECEDED by words ending in VOWELS, the aspirant /Bb/ or /Gg/ mahangin will be used; and lastly
 
5. When found in sentences, words BEGINNING with /Bb/ or /Gg/ and PRECEDED by words ending in consonants or a glottal stop, the distinct /Bb/ or /Gg/ mahantap will be retained. The same thing happens with words ENDING with /Bb/ or /Gg/ regardless of the beginning of the next word.
Most non-Tausūg and non-Arabic speakers would have a hard time learning these rules. Yet nevertheless, it would only take a little patience and a lot of practice to master their correct sounds. It’s really fun if you will only put your heart in it, right?
 
This ends our second lesson.
 
I hope we have achieved something today. Our next topic will be on the other special letters: “The Transforming Letters /Dd/, /Rr/, etc.”, which will be posted hopefully next Thursday. We have at least one week to practice what we have learned today, the special sounds of /B/ and /G/. You can always ask questions in our page Tausug101 or email me at anakiluhmd@gmail.com.
 
For Download link: (feel free to share it with others)
 
The file includes:
·         Tausūg word samples for regular /B/ and /G/–Audio file
·         Tausūg word samples for special /B/ and /G/–Audio file
·         Comparisons between Tagalog and Tausūg samples—Audio file
·         New Tausūg words for Lesson 2 and Proper way of writing the special letters /B/ and /G/–pdf file
 
(Audio files are in MP3 format, so you can always listen to them in your MP3s, ipods or iphones 🙂
 
Salama Kasilasa!
 

 

Anak Iluh
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