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How to Read and Write in Alibata (BayBayin)

Baybayin (Alibata) uses 17 basic symbols and 3 of these symbols are vowels a, i, and u. Each of the 13
basic consonants uses the “a” sound like ka, ga, nga and so on. Distinct markings known as “kudlit” are
used to modify the sounds of the symbols. These markings could be a dot, an arrowhead or a short line.
Usually, dots are being used. When you see a distinct marking or “kudlit” above the symbol, which
means that the basic consonant uses the “i” sound so that makes it ki, gi, ngi, and so on. When a kudlit is
placed below a symbol, the basic consonant uses the “u” sound like ku, gu, ngu.

In tagalog scripts, each of the symbols used represents a complete syllable which is not the case with the
Latin alphabet that uses symbols to represent a sound or phoneme. Also, in alibata, the symbols can only
represent 2 kinds of syllables. It can represent a single vowel (V) or a consonant and a vowel (CV). With
words that uses the CVC type, the last consonant is dropped thus it takes the form of a CV so a word like
mas becomes ma. Take note that “ng” is considered as 1 consonant.

So, if you want to transform words into alibata


symbols, you have to remember that basic rule of V and CV type syllables.

Now, let’s try translating some tagalog words into alibata script.

“Ako ay isang pinoy”

This is easy to translate in alibata and it wouldn’t become difficult to understand what the alibata scripts
mean once translated back to tagalog. With this sentence, the only letters being dropped once translated
would be “y” from ay, “ng” from isang and “y” from pinoy. So once translated to alibata, it would then
sound as “a ko a i sa pi no” and following the symbols used for these syllables, you would get

The final consonants are being dropped thus; there


is no VC type so “ay” in the former sentence sample
follows the V type syllable. How the ancient Filipinos add the final consonants is unknown. The missing
final consonants make the translation of alibata difficult to the untrained eyes. But certain clues as to
what the grouped symbols signify would give the person an idea of what the missing consonants are. So,
that means it is easy to translate tagalog words to alibata but it takes some training to translate alibata to
tagalog

All About Alibata

The language or script, Alibata as it is more commonly called today, is actually formally known as
Baybayin. This literally translates to ‘to spell’. It is not an alphabet, made up of individual letters, like the
English alphabet or Makabagong Alpabeting Pilipino that we now use. Rather, each character of Alibata
is read as a syllable. This type of writing is known as an abugida, a combination of an alphabet and a
syllabary. While there are different theories as to where it really originated from, many believe that
Alibata came from Indonesia, particularly from the Javanese.

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Have fun with the Alibata: Learn how to write Alibata and more!

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Who says history is boring? Teaching your child to speak Alibata is not only a cool way to learn about
history but can be a bonding activity, too!

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Learning the Alibata

If you want to give your older kids fun learning challenge, why not teach them to read or write Alibata?
While this script is no longer widely used today, it would be a great way to share some insight about
ancient Filipino life with your kids.

In fact, only certain Mangyan tribes continue to use this ancient way of writing. At the same time, there
are linguists and historians in the country who work to keep this language alive. By teaching your kids to
read Alibata, you will be able to contribute towards this cause, even for just a little bit.

All About Alibata

The language or script, Alibata as it is more commonly called today, is actually formally known as
Baybayin. This literally translates to ‘to spell’. It is not an alphabet, made up of individual letters, like the
English alphabet or Makabagong Alpabeting Pilipino that we now use. Rather, each character of Alibata
is read as a syllable. This type of writing is known as an abugida, a combination of an alphabet and a
syllabary. While there are different theories as to where it really originated from, many believe that
Alibata came from Indonesia, particularly from the Javanese.

Click “next” to understand the basic Alibata characters!

Adding the ‘i/e’ and ‘o/u’ sounds

Image source: indiohistorian.tumblr.com

Basic Alibata Characters

It may seem difficult or complicated to teach children how to read Alibata. On the contrary, once they
become familiar with the basic characters, you will see that it isn’t tough to read or write in this script
after all. There are 17 basic characters in Alibata, covering common syllables used in Filipino words.
There are symbols for syllables such as la, ma, sa and pa.

In all of these basic characters, the syllables begin with a consonant sound, and end with an ‘a’ sound.
When writing and reading Alibata, the syllables are taken as is. So for the word bata, which means child,
you need to draw the symbol for “ba,” followed by the symbol for “ta.” Note that there is a separate
symbol that represents the sound “a,” but there is no need to include this when spelling out bata,
otherwise the written word will read as “ba-a-ta-a.”

Adding the “i/e” and “o/u” sounds

If you need to add syllables in Alibata ending in the “i/e” or the “o/u” sounds, you can do this by adding a
diacritic, or a small mark above or below the written syllable. Alibata syllables that have the mark above
it end with an “i/e” sound. For example, when the symbol for “ba” has a mark above it, it is now read as
“be” or “bi.”

Similarly, adding a diacritic below an Alibata symbol transforms it into one that ends in the “o/u” sound.
Therefore, the symbol for “ma,” when written with a mark bellow it, now sounds like “mo” or “mu.”
Once your child is able to identify the basic symbols and remember how the sounds change when
diacritics are added, he or she is pretty much ready to start reading and writing words in Alibata.

Learning the Alibata


Learning Alibata may seem like a trivial activity to undertake, but it does provide your child with a skill
that is unique. It also helps to firmly establish his or her Filipino roots, by giving the child a peek into how
our ancestors used to share their written stories. Ultimately, this is a fun and educational bonding
activity that you can do with your children.