Alcina: To Replace a Murdered Priest

From A History of the Bisayan People of the Philippine Islands, by Francisco Alcina, S.J.

De La Lengua Bisaya; Si Es, Acaso, Alguna de las 72 Primitivas y de la Primera Confusion; de su Elegancia, Abundancia, Propiedad Y Calidades Particulares

(Concerning the Bisayan Language; whether perhaps it is one of the seventy-two original ones after the confusion of tongues; about its elegance, richness, propriety and special characteristics)

When Alcina was sent to the central Philippines, he was very young. He was sent to replace a murdered priest. How he came to write a multi-volume work on the Bisayan people (in addition to finding ways to keep himself alive, and founding a mission, and harvesting souls) self has no idea.

They have Alcina’s seminal work (published 1668?) in Stanford’s Green Library, but the library’s been closed most of the year. A Stanford librarian looked it up and said the text was available on-line and gave self the link.

What’s truly amazing about Alcina is that the Bisayan (Hiligaynon — there’s more than one Bisayan language but Alcina studied the one that’s used in Dear Departed Dad’s home province) words are ones she knows: words for ugly, beautiful; hot and cold; brother and sister. The language stayed intact, uncorrupted, even after three centuries of Spanish colonization. Or perhaps it was the translator who chose the modern equivalents of early Bisayan language? At any rate the language is in full use today: all self’s relatives speak it and literature is still being written in that language.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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