Paz and Proto-Philippines—A Tribute Four Decades Later

  • R David Zorc


Much has happened in Philippine and Austronesian linguistics since the appearance of A Reconstruction of Proto-Philippine Phonemes and Morphemes by Dr. Consuelo Paz in 1981. We must bear in mind that her research on the 29 languages she included and her determining of etymologies from the data she collected was done well before the Internet, the Austronesian Comparative Dictionary (ACD), and the Zorc Data Sheets Philippine Etymologies (ZDS) became available. She set out virtually alone (with Dempwolff [1938] and Lopez [1974] as guides), and what she accomplished is truly remarkable given these considerations. Many of her etymologies have stood the test of time, and even where there were errors of one kind or another, we are in a position to learn from them. So I start this overview with a great deal of admiration for her insights, courage, and ingenuity. It was absolutely wonderful and fitting that a Filipino scholar (rather than an American or European) embarked on this project.

There are many considerations when engaging in etymological studies: among the major ones are the structure of the research wordlist, the subgrouping of the languages included, the exact sound changes that any given proto-phoneme has undergone, and an explanation of discrepancies.