Philippines: Celebrating Keley-i Dictionary, website and mobile app

The Keley-i bilingual dictionary is co-published by the Linguistic Society of the Philippines and SIL.

(May 2018) The Keley-i people of the northern Philippines celebrate their newly-printed Keley-i Dictionary, plus a website and a mobile app—all documenting their language and describing their culture. In her message to the gathering, Ms. Maricris Bravo of SIL Philippines explained the vital partnership with the Philippine Department of Education and the Linguistic Society of the Philippines. Held in Asipulo, Ifugao, the Mayor, Vice-Mayor and representatives of the Governor’s Office and the Department of Education honored the official dictionary launch by their presence.

These highly-valued language reference tools are the result of many years of dedicated work by a team of local Keley-i speakers led by Alberto Maddawat and SIL linguistics advisors, Dick and Lou Hohulin. As part of the day’s celebration, Maddawat gave an overview of the compilation of the dictionary. Maddawat and the Hohulins worked together for years on a whole Bible translation and the Keley-i / English bilingual dictionary.

During the program, Keley-i speakers who had worked long-term alongside the language development team were presented with dictionaries. Dictionaries were also donated for distribution to the area's school libraries.

Alberto Maddawat, Keley-i speaker and dictionary co-compiler makes presentations.  |  Two of the Hohulins’ four sons, who grew up in the Philippines, are seated on the right.   |  Presentation from a community choir. | Representatives from SIL Philippines in Manila participated in the launch event.   Steve and Paul Hohulin 
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Paul and Steve Hohulin attended the celebration, representing their parents, Dick and Lou Hohulin. During the program celebrating the dictionary launch, the sons’ slide presentation prompted audience interaction as the community recognized photos of parents and grandparents, and themselves as children. The Hohulins arrived in the Philippines in 1962 and began language development work among Keley-i speakers. Later, they began language development work among the Tuwali Ifugao. The resulting translation team also produced a Bible and dictionary.

SIL is dedicated to supporting language communities around the world as they develop dictionaries for their languages. Dictionaries provide a long list of benefits: a resource for students who want to know the meaning of an unfamiliar word, a reference for writers, a guide to standard spelling and a reference for the community's traditional knowledge of local plants and animals. A dictionary can bolster a community's pride in its language and compiling the words and definitions provides a tangible goal for mother-tongue speakers to work toward together.