In The Afterglow Of A Dazzling Light. The Gentle Lapping Of Waves Onto the Beach At Subic Bay. “Some Linguists Claim That Tagalog Lacks A Subject.”

I am in Subic Bay, in the Philippines.  I am inside a beach house, whose unglassed (but protected by iron bars) windows open out to the beach on Subic bay.  I am spending a pleasant (( but also, for reasons I won’t go into here, anxiety-filled (and yes, the two can go together) ) afternoon working through a sliver of a LEARN FILIPINO book.  I hear the gentle lapping of the waves onto the beach.  The light outside is dazzling, brilliant; inside I am in its afterglow.  Quite a few cats and kittens prowl about, not exactly starved but also clearly not completely confident they know where their next meal is coming from.

“Do Tagalog sentences have subjects?” the book’s author asks in a footnote.  “Some linguists say yes, others say no.”  A bit more accurately, the question should be “Does Tagalog have a subject construction at all, in any sentence,” since many perfectly functional and common Tagalog sentences plainly lack a subject construction, e.g., kaka logoff ko lang sa trabaho, and umuulan.  

Later, the author does insist that Tagalog does have a subject.  His insistence struck me (maybe unfairly) as having a bit of a tone of ‘Now shut up!  I am not going to discuss this any further!”

Kakaiba ang Tagalog!  What strange language is this whose weirdness makes some authorities think it lacks a subject?  What is a subject anyway?

So as part of my effort to learn Tagalog, I started to try to wrap my mind around the controversy.  Many of the posts here are attempts to learn about the controversy (‘does Tagalog have a subject construction?’) by writing about it.

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About Cliff Wirt

I am a banking DBA with various and sundry interests, including art, poetry, philosophy, music, languages, relational algebra, database administration, and blueberries. Don't forget the blueberries. Some of these interests tie in in surprising though usually tangential ways with database theory. Even the blueberries. I have published one article in a Philosophy Journal, and I have one painting in a corporate collection (housed in what used to be the Amoco building in Chicago). According to 12andMe, my paternal haplogroup is I2, my maternal H5. The Neanderthal percentage of my ancestry is 3%. My most famous ancestor is William Wirt (from whom I get my last name, though possibly not my Y chromosome), who defended the rights of the Cherokees before the Supreme Court, and ran for President in 1832, carrying one state. My homepage is at http://www.cliff-engel-wirt.com. My FaceBook page is at https://www.facebook.com/cliffengelwirt. My LinkedIn page is at https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=4298877&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic. View all posts by Cliff Wirt

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