Yogad is an indigenous language (locally categorized as a dialect) spoken by the Yogad Tribe of Echague and a few neighboring towns in the province of Isabela. Named after Governor General Rafael de Echague, the town was established during the period of Spanish colonization. Like the rest of the region, it thrives mainly on agriculture, and is considered a first class municipality in terms of income (“Province of Isabela Reigns,” 2015). It is also an educational center, home to the main campus of the Isabela State University. Among other values and beliefs, the Yogad people place emphasis on strengthening the family as a unit and practice clan culture.
Ethnologue (Simons et al., 2017) classifies Yogad as Malayo-Polynesian, belonging to the Austronesian language family. Locally, it is categorized under the Ibanagic group of the Northern Cordilleran languages found in the Cagayan Valley, which also includes Gaddang, Itawit, Villaviciosa Agta, Ibanag, Atta, and Isnag. Presently, there are no known variations of Yogad, although it shares some degree of lexical similarity with other languages in the area: Ilokano (52%), Itawit (66%), and Ibanag (63%). As a reflection of colonial influence on the language, Healey (1958) notes that 10% of the loan words in Yogad are Spanish. Similar to most Philippine languages, Yogad follows a VSO structure; however, it is identified as a distinct, individual language (Summer Institute of Linguistics, 2017). In an earlier work, Davis, Baker, Spitz, and Baek (1997) examined the grammar of Yogad, claiming that it is interesting in that it strongly contrasts European languages.
Citing a 1990 census, the estimated number of Yogad speakers is 16,000 (Simons et al., 2017). Although it is not classified as an endangered language in terms of speaker population, Grande (2008) notes that because of the migration of a majority language group in the region, the Yogad speakers are being outnumbered by a ratio of 2:1. Ilokano, which is known to have over one million language users, accounts for more than half of the population and is considered as the most visible ethnic group in Isabela (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2002). Aside from having a published body of literature, teaching materials in Ilokano have already been developed, and is an active part of the Department of Education’s Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Language Education (MLE) program. In contrast, Yogad remains to be primarily an oral language, spoken in the domains of the home and everyday life activities. It is considered to be sustainable, but only for as long as speakers do not migrate and reside elsewhere (Grande, 2008). Apart from local migration, the status of Yogad has not been explored in immigrant spaces. Classified as vigorous (Paul et al., 2016), it is important to note that proficiency in the language has only been studied in the context of face-to-face interaction, and does not include literacy skills (Grande, 2008).
The Yogads are said to be unaware of their own literature (Galot, 1988). In a recent survey conducted by the researcher, results show that this is still true today. Majority of the respondents did not know of any published work in Yogad, but responded positively to the idea of creating such materials. The participants expressed that they would like to see Yogad literature in print, documenting their cultural heritage and passing it on to their children. A review of related literature of the language shows that this has been partly achieved, but not in depth. Each of the study done on Yogad calls for a form of language documentation which are instructional and will make the language accessible to the school system. This is seen as necessary if the tribe’s identity is to be maintained (Galot, 1988); its belief system preserved across generations (Manaligod, 1995); and for their development as a people (Toquero, 2005).
Davis, P. W., Baker, J. W., Spitz, W. L., & Baek, M. (1997). The grammar of Yogad: A functional explanation. München: LINCOM Europa.
Galot, G. L. (1988). Ang panitikang bayan ng mga Yogad: Isang pagsusuri. (Unpublished master's thesis). Saint Mary's University, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
Grande, E. J. (2008). The mother tongue proficiency of the Yogads. UP Los Baños Journal, 6(1), 43-49.
Healey, A. (1958). Notes on Yogad. In A. Capell and S. Wurm (Eds.), Studies in Philippine linguistics (pp. 77-82). Sydney: University of Australia.
Manaligod, T. B. (1995). The correlates of cultural prevalence: The case of the Yogads of Jones, Isabela. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Centro Escolar University, Manila.
Paul, L. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D. (Eds.). 2016. Ethnologue: Languages of the world, Nineteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com.
Philippine Statistics Authority. (2002, July 30). Isabela: Most Populated Province in Cagayan Valley. Retrieved from https://psa.gov.ph/content/isabela-most-populated-province-cagayan-valley
Province of Isabela reigns. (2015). Echague. Retrieved from http://provinceofisabela.ph/index.php/municipalities/fourth-district/2013-07-10-15-14-05
Simons, Gary F. and Charles D. Fennig (Eds.). 2017. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Twentieth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com.