1) In the family tree of Philippine languages, Pangasinan has no relative. It is one of the 13 indigenous languages in the country with at least a million native speakers. These include Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Bikol, Albay Bikol, Maranao, Maguindanao, Kinaray-a and Tausug.
2) People learn a language easier if these come from the same family tree. Because the Pangasinan and Ilocano languages are not related and Pangasinan is a unique language, a person with Ilokano as his/her first language will take a longer time to learn Pangasinan compared to someone who was born in a Pangasinan-speaking environment. "But if you were born an Ilocano and you try to learn Tagalog" according to Quiros, "it will be a lot easier for you to learn it than Pangasinan.”
“One good example is the rain. Rain is associated with adjectives, like maksil [strong] or makapuy [weak] in other places. But in central Pangasinan, there are many terms for rain. It can be maya-maya [drizzle], tayaketek [light rain] or ambusabos [heavy rain],” Quiros said.
This shows, added Quiros, "that in central Pangasinan, the language has been fully developed because these were also the oldest places in the province."
4) The origins of the Pangasinan language remains unknown and very little has been done to study it.
I learned to speak both languages in my younger years during summer breaks. I would spend one summer in my fathers hometown (Bayambang) and speak Pangasinan and speak Ilokano when I stayed in Tayug the next year. Unfortunately, we spoke Ilokano at home and over the years I completely lost my Pangasinan tongue. I'm trying to learn it back, with very little success.
I also noticed over the years that Ilokano is slowly eating its way into Pangasinan-speaking areas, such as Bayambang in Central Pangasinan, Villasis-Urdaneta in the eastern part and even in areas like San Fabian in the western part of the province.
There is a saying that the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that there is one.
Unfortunately, academics and provincial officials in Pangasinan do not seem to see a problem or feel an urgency to study and develop the language.
As a Regent of the Pangasinan State University from 2005-2007 I urged academics and university officials to create a Center that will specialize in Pangasinan studies and bring together nationally recognized Pangasinense academics to save the language. The plea fell on deaf ears.
Unlike academics who write extensively using their language/dialect like Bulakeno Dr. Jimmy Veneracion (UP History) and Dr. Ted Tantoco (UP History), recognized academics from Pangasinan - like the late Dr. Marcelino Foronda (DLSU), Dr. Rosario Cortez (UP), Dr. Napoleon Casambre (UP), Dr. Leslie Bauzon (UP) - never wrote articles or books in the Pangasinan language.
Compare this, further, with academics and politicians in the Ilocos Region who are strengthening the Ilocano language through sisterhood ties between Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Ilocos Norte and University of Hawaii. You wouldnt believe it but there is a BA Ilocano Studies program at the University of Hawaii!! They also spearhead the holding of annual Ilokano conferences where papers written in the language are delivered.
Maybe this latest study will finally make Pangasinense's wake up and take action.