Saturday, May 12, 2012

Agit-agit has kin, but unlike in politics, not engaged in double-speak

Politicians of the Romblomanon kind share a common lot with their brothers and sisters elsewhere in the archipelago: most engage in double-speak, which is akin to newspeak, one of those familiar terms in George Orwell’s classic novel, Nineteen Eighty Four. This novel gave birth to Orwellian, an adjective, which means one who deceives and manipulates the people to further one’s political agenda.

To double-speak—the root word “double” means match, twice, twin, a pair, duplicate—is not to speak again, or to repeat, but to be deceptive, be Janus-faced, or to double-deal. One who engages in double-speak or double-talk, is to be hypocritical.
A previous peroration on the Asi word agit-agit had elicited many comments, mostly from Asi speakers some of whom asked—because they have forgotten to use it—what it meant.
Well, I was right. Non-use of one’s own language makes one a stranger and susceptible to alienation worse than physical removal, the kind that happens when a tree is uprooted from the soil.

I have witnessed this alienation in many Asi speakers. They seem to be lost.
But unlike a tree whose crown and leaves are the first to wither away when its transport roots—the main roots—lose contact with the soil, with human beings it is the speaker himself—the main trunk—who gets alienated first when he is detached from his own language.

The next to suffer are the speaker’s descendants, the children and grandchildren—the feeder roots—who would have been the perpetuator of the Asi language legacy.
This is the reason why as an Asi writer in Asi and in English, I have been repetitive, to the point of being boring, in my exhortation for Asi speakers to continue speaking in Asi in every occasion and situation that demands and warrants the use of the Asi language.

Ako ging aato-ato ka mga Asi nak magbisaya it Asi.

Did you notice the Asi equivalent of “exhortation”: ging aato-ato? Ato-ato (atoh-atoh), like agit-agit, is a double word which is a root in itself.

There is no agit, only agit-agit, as there is no ato (atoh) in Asi except ato (pronounced with a heavy stress on the last syllable), a plural possessive which means “ours” in opposite to the singular ako, also pronounced with a heavy stress on the last syllable, which in English is “mine”.

Now, the Asi language has plenty of these double words, all connected, like feeder roots, to the main root agit-agit, the word made current by John Fetalsana of the Romblon State University.

The presence of double words seems to be an identifying characteristic of Asi as double-speak seems to be a badge—the fearsome “tsapa”—of many politicians.

I came to find this out last week as I was re-reading my piece on agit-agit.

The double words came not in torrents, or on-rushing like the vigorous waters cascading from its fount in a waterfall. It came slowly and carefully, which in Asi is inot-inot.

And what do you know? When I think in my private moments; when ideas form like cumulus clouds slowly taking shape in the bright summer sky, I get agitated (is it coincidence that “agitated” sounds like agit-agit?). I get excited. And when I get excited, I crave for more ideas.

In Asi, this state of mind has a description: na mamako-mako. Mako-mako is a double word, but it is a singular adjectival phrase for a lonely man pregnant with anticipation. What an apt word: mako-mako.

When in this state, I keep still, silent, and unmoving. The reason is that I don’t want to make any pre-emptive or sudden action that might distract the idea or thought from coming into full bloom. The inspiration to think or write is very sensitive. Once one is distracted or prematurely disturbed, the inspiration withdraws; it retreats and only writers know when it might come back. This distraction, this inability to write for an indeterminate period, is called writer’s block.

Thus, to avoid getting distracted, my approach to birthing an idea is paimat-imat.
This Asi double word has a twin. It is hipa-hipa.

Ako ging hihipa-hipaan kag baktin agor ako mababating. Ida ging papaimat-imatan kag kambing nak a ihawon.

Hipa-hipa and imat-imat means to carefully and slowly move. It is a covert act of moving stealthily so that no one would notice and thus enable one to accomplish a mission.

In my days in Sibale, when I succeeded in catching up a rooster or hen to be slaughtered, first by moving stealthily towards the object—paimat-imat—and then pahipa-hipa, the rooster or hen, surprised as it were, will also react. Makupag-kupag.

The Tagalog equivalent is “piglas”, but kupag-kupag is more colourful. It means trying mightily to get free from one’s sure hold or grip.

Voters and politicians alike exhibit such behaviour when caught in a gripping or tight situation. Nakupag-kupag. Again, there is no single word kupag. It is always double.

I come back to agit-agit.

Someone commented, upon reading my piece on the word, that agit-agit also means ugir-ugir, another Asi double word. Maybe yes. But no. Ugir-ugir is another Asi idiom for the Tagalog word, “tudyo”. It is the behaviour of a person who feels superior to another and who, through the use of contemptuous words, tries to provoke a person he thinks is inferior into hitting back or getting even. It could lead to another double word, raog-raog, which is an exception because its root, raog, indicates victory or a win.

In politics, a victory or a win is ensured only when the odds in one's favor are so overwhelming that even an attempt at double-backing is remote. In Romblon, it is often achieved by double-talk—deception, chicanery, and manipulation—not discounting double-cross, which happens all the time with voters and candidates.

In the Asi language, where double words are “honest” and convey exact and colourful meanings, victory is also achieved through “less violent”, but more of “patient” words, such as ato-ato, hipa-hipa, and imat-imat.

However, there are times when “drastic” words could serve the purpose of overpowering the enemy. I, myself, is open to the stratagem of encircling the prey—be it in politics or in the realm of the written word—through the employ of the Asi language.

I call this shotgun approach paapos-apos, which means to hit in all directions. This Asi double word leaves the enemy not only confused and lost, but also with nothing to do but to scratch his head in puzzlement, like a tree uprooted by a typhoon and shaken to the core, with its leaves scattered to the ground.

This situation has a colourful description in Asi: panguyo-kuyo, from the double word kuyo-kuyo.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Fameronag, it has been quite a while since you have written something. It's a good thing you're back on track. :)