Davao Filipino and its Literary Possibilities (Abstract)

(The abstract to my thesis, presented to the Graduate Faculty of Silliman University’s English Department, in fulfillment of the requirements to an MA in English with concentration on Creative Writing.)

The present thesis aimed to explore the possibilities of using Davao Filipino, the variety of Filipino spoken in the Mindanao areas of Kidapawan and Davao, as a literary medium, and of the implications to using it in this manner. Specifically, it aimed to determine: how DF could be linguistically described; how DF can be used as a literary language; and in what communicative contexts, as replicated in fiction and plays, DF can be used. The discussion of existing literature relating to the subject medium, the production of literary works, and the discussion of these same works provide answers to these questions.

It was determined that Davao Filipino is the result of the linguistic diversity in Mindanao and serves as a potent tool for the de-Tagalization of Filipino. Furthermore, it was defined as the Tagalog based inadvertent language contact spoken on a first language basis in Davao and Kidapawan, and features borrowings that are predictable. It was further determined that writing in DF presents both difficulties and advantages: the fact that it is a primarily spoken medium means there is a need to grow more accustomed to using it in writing, but the variety’s nature as language contact provided for elegant variation and terminological precision, allowed for preservation of idiom and figure of speech authentic to the locale, and its colloquial origins allow for free indirect speech in third person narration. The expressive limitations of DF’s colloquial origins could also be taken advantage of in first person narration, stream of consciousness, and in dialogue. Its social implications, vis-à-vis the other languages—and other forms of language contact—spoken in its locale can also be used to authentically represent social backgrounds. Translating in DF—particularly for third person limited narration—made the narration more intimate because of DF’s predominant usage in speech. Moreover, DF could be used in a wide array of communicative contexts, ranging from casual conversations, to expressions of fear, love, and hatred. Its usage as a third person omniscient narration medium or as medium for stage instructions was not impossible, although this study pointed out the novelty in such usages. But its usage in formal public speaking contexts was observed to be problematic owing to the conventions of that field, which favoured the standard Tagalog. Five short stories and seven plays written by the researcher are included in the study.

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