Meranao, Meranaw, Maranaw, Maranao, M’ranaw, M’ranao. It is confusing, but we all know it means the same thing. But, it is not easy when we write in Meranao because the confusion will become real. I prefer to use the word Meranao although in other instances I would use the letter “w” instead of “o.” But, that is just to be consistent with the most popular spelling of Lanao which should have been Lanaw. For both words, I think I would like to make a special exemption. After all, the English language has so many of those weird spellings too that we accept, which more than often become a gauge for our alleged “education.” Social media heightens our need for a Meranao orthography that should be made popular and standardized or we end up becoming more confused and not be able to understand each other. Take a look at this gem of a piece of advice:
THAROA NGKA RAKNO ANTAWAI MGA BOLAYOKAAKA KATHAROONA KN RKAO ANTAWAAKA!
This is not to point an accusing finger at anybody, after all, ours in an oral culture. However, social media has also been embraced by us Meranaos and I honestly appreciate the fact that there are those who post in Meranao rather than our borrowed tongue(s). But the urgency of a Meranao orthography is real and immediate.
For Meranaos like us, we have no trouble understanding the above statement. After all, our kirim is also written that way, no stops and pauses. It is up to the reader to decipher what she is reading. However, if we have to preserve our language and make the younger generations eventually embrace and appreciate everything that goes with it–i.e., customs, traditions and legends–we have to make it easy for them. Most of us, I included, write in English or even Tagalog because our language is not only difficult to write down, but because there is really no set standard how it should be written. All of us have our unique way of writing Meranao words and I do believe it is now imperative for us Meranaos to come up with a standard orthography.
As an example, what does “rkao, rakno, kn” mean when removed from their context? So, if a non-Meranao speaking Meranao kid who grew up in a diasporic community wanted to learn her native language, how could she make heads or tails of our posts? A dictionary will not be much help because “rkao, rakno, kn” and many other examples of two or three Meranao words that we write as one will not be among the entries. Putting all the three or four words together may have been a legacy from our Telegram days. It is not easy, but it can be done. It should be done. Now that some of us have learned English and others the Arabic language, we need to take a break and learn our language, while it is still our time to teach ourselves our language. Very soon, we will have to learn our language from non-Meranaos who will know more about it than we do. I strongly believe that we should go back to kandarangen for real and for good.
Aooooooooo. Aoooooooooo. Or maybe awwwwwwww, awwwwwwwww.