Friday, August 12, 2016

DA-Bicol project documents language of disaster
By John Mark Escandor

PILI, Camarines Sur, Aug. 11 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Bicol recently held a focused group discussion (FGD) as part of efforts to localize the terms used to describe the occurrence of a natural disaster.

Representatives to the FGD that included farmers, fisherfolk, DA researchers, Camarines Sur provincial government and the media discussed the terms in Naga-Bikol, which will be put into a handbook to help the common folk understand warnings and weather conditions.

Dr. F. Charito Sebastian, discussion group leader, said the FGD is a research project of the Adaptation and Mitigation Initiatives in Agriculture Program under the Component Disaster-Risk Reduction and Management program of DA.

She said the focused group aims to document commonly used terms in describing the weather and phrases that describe the occurrence of disasters such as typhoons, floodings and dry spell.

Sebastian stressed the importance of the use of language which is “commonly understood” when it comes to communicating the occurrence of disaster and the warnings that come with it.

She recalled the “deadly effects” of not understanding the terms used when disasters occur, such as the use of “storm surge” when super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit Tacloban, Leyte on Nov. 14, 2013.

During the discussion, it was viewed that the people may have heeded the great danger of the “storm surge” if the term used was “tidal wave,” in disregard of the formal technical meaning in favor of the more commonly understood term.

Among the terms revisited during the FGD were the local terms used to describe the strength of the typhoon, speed of wind, the temperature during the occurrence of the El NiƱo phenomenon, flooding, volume of water, height and behavior of water and damage due to disaster.

Prof. Ana Marie Alfelor, project associate, explained that the FGD as a method of their research wanted to draw from the participants the “right language in giving disaster warnings” and their dissemination to various parts of the country.

She said they hope to publish a handbook that would list down the right language used in the locality in order to help mitigate the effects of natural calamities.

In June, the state weather bureau announced the launching of its first ever weather dictionary called “Patnubay sa Weder Forkasting”.

An initiative of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino the dictionary can be used as a reference book by the public on technical weather terms which are simplified and translated into Filipino.

The project was closely coordinated with technical experts from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said a media release from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-PAGASA.

It said the dictionary, which includes terms that are taken from other languages and local dialects such as Ilokano and Bikolano, aimed to strengthen the campaign for a simplified forecast so that the public can better understand the warnings on the state of the weather. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JME/CBD