A minority language close to my heart is Binukid. This is one of the minor languages in the province of Bukidnon in southern Philippines. Other minor languages in the province are the Western Bukidnon Manobo, Tigwa Manobo, and Matigsalug. The lingua franca (major or trade language) in the region is Cebuano or Binisaya.
Even though there are only four minor languages in Bukidnon, several dialects exist. Let me give Binukid, which is my mother tongue, as a case in point.
Growing up, we, the Bukidnons in Barrio Casisang, always distinguished ourselves from other Binukid speakers. Distinctions were based on accent and some unintelligible words that were seldom used in Casisang. We distinguished ourselves from other Binukid speakers by not having a "sing-song" or rough speech pattern. The used of archaic Binukid words by other villages further contributed to our differences. Matter of fact those archaic words were the main barrier in communicating with those Bukidnons from outlying barrios.
Dr. Richard Elkins, my thesis mentor in early 80s and a linguistic anthropologist who interconnected several Philippine minor languages in a Proto-Manobo Theory (1964), told me that those from Casisang, Kalasungay, Sumpong,Impasug-ong, etc. are speaking the "asphalt" Binukid. This is a variation of a language (dialect) based on sociolect. It was well-said. These barrios are located along Sayre highway and many are highly literate.
Based on Morris Swadish word list there was no big difference of Casisang Binukid to the Binukid in outlying barrios. Nevertheless, the indifference amongst Binukid speakers created, more or less, a social divide. Interaction was affected.
Then came the PANAMIN, the Presidential Assistant for National Minorities, in the late 70s. This quasi-government agency was supposed to continue on with the program of the defunct Commission on National Integration (CNI). However, instead of integrating or unifying the Bukidnons, PANAMIN contributed to a permanent divide amongst Binukid speakers. Based on the geographical location (topolect/regiolect), PANAMIN sub-divided the Binukid speakers into the Higa-onon, Tala-andig and Bukidnon tribes.
Currently, we have these three recognized tribes. Their language is Binukid. Based on Binukid language, either one has the right to say that the languages used by the other tribes are dialects of their language. However, Binukid is NOT a dialect of Cebuano or Bisaya.
NOTE: So, what is an "artificial" language? Patricia mentioned, when we were guests on Channel 18, that Filipino is an artificial language. I will talk about that in my next blog.