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  • Intensive Tausug: A pedagogical grammar of the language of Jolo, Philippines
  • John U. Wolff
Carl R. Galvez Rubino . 2006. Intensive Tausug: A pedagogical grammar of the language of Jolo, Philippines. Springfield, VA: Dunwoody Press. xv + 419 ISBN 1-931546-17-7. $55.00.

This book is intended as a learner's manual for Tausug, a language spoken in parts of the Sulu Archipelago, Philippines. The language is still very much alive and is used in all domains by all generations. The work contains twenty lessons, a brief appendix summarizing Tausug verbal morphology, another appendix of 14 pages containing supplementary texts with English translation on facing pages, and a final appendix with indexes and maps. Each lesson consists of a brief text, a vocabulary list, pronunciation or lexical notes, extensive grammatical commentary, cultural notes, and a small number of exercises. There are also sound-files of the Tausug texts available. The book is not stand-alone, for there is no glossary. The author states that the materials should be used in conjunction with a Tausug dictionary and recommends one that has been published recently.

The grammar portions of the lessons cover the most important points of syntax and morphology that enable the learner to understand how the Tausug sentence is put together and make precise and unequivocal statements. For the linguist this book is of inestimable value: there is a wealth of information here that is available nowhere else. The full and detailed description together with the copious exemplification given by the texts make this book a thorough documentation of the Tausug language and renders Tausug one of the better documented of the Philippine languages. It is intended as a pedagogical work and, as such, is arranged with the learner and not the linguist in mind. For this reason, there is no quick way for the linguist to access the information-facts that need to be considered together are for pedagogical reasons often described in disparate lessons. Unfortunately, there is little cross-referencing. There is material here for a solid grammatical sketch of Tausug, and one could be produced simply by rearranging the grammatical sections of the lessons.

The presentation is concise, which is a plus for the linguist, but it is hardly accessible to a nonlinguist who knows no other Philippine language. In fact, the author assumes that the users will know Tagalog or another Philippine language, and the grammatical facts are often compared to Tagalog facts.

From the learner's point of view, this work leaves much to be desired. The exercises are minimal and aim at explaining facts. There is not much that actually inculcates forms or leads the student to use the grammatical resources of the language to express his or her own ideas. The approach to learning language here is by means of explaining facts with little to stimulate interaction or communication. It would take a great deal of creativity on the part of the teacher to provide this ingredient to the classroom, indispensable for effective language learning.

Despite these shortcomings this is a book well worth having: for the linguist it provides a treatment of Tausug grammar, worthy of praise for its fullness, and for the learner it is the source on which a credible and effective curriculum for learning Tausug could be based. [End Page 623]

John U. Wolff
Cornell University


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