Cecilio Lopez

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Cecilio Lopez (1 February 1898-5 September 1979) is known as the "Father of Philippine Linguistics," having pioneered the scientific study of Philippine languages. Because of his scholarly achievements, he was named academician of the National Academy of Science and Technology in 1978. He died of a heart attack on 5 September 1979.

Early life

Lopez was born on 1 February 1898 in Marikina, Rizal. He graduated from Pasig Secondary School, later renamed to Rizal High School in 1918. Lopez obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology, minor in languages, at the University of the Philippines in 1923.

After his first stint teaching French for three years, he was sent as a government pensionado to Germany, Holland, and France. He obtained his doctorate, majoring in linguistics with minors in ethnology and phonetics, at the University of Hamburg in 1928.


Lopez was a distinguished faculty professor at the University of the Philippines, becoming the department head of Oriental Languages, a position that he gave up when he worked as executive officer of the Institute of National Language (later renamed Surian ng Wikang Pambansa).

He became secretary of the UP Graduate School from 1951 to 1955, as well as chairman of the Social Science Research Center in 1954. In recognition of his valuable contributions and scholarship, in 1963 Lopez was named Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Oriental Studies.

Lopez represented his country in many scholarly conferences, including the 17th International Congress of Orientalists in Leiden, Netherlands in 1927; the Linguistic Society of America, Michigan in 1950; and the 9th Pacific Science Congress in Bangkok, Thailand in 1957, where he chaired the first roundtable conference of Southeast Asian linguists.

Writing in the American Anthropology Journal in 1980, Kristine Harrington remembered the man: "Professor Lopez is remembered in the Philippines and abroad for his brilliant and influential publications on linguistics, dynamic teaching, pioneering research on the Philippine and Indonesian languages and dialects, as well as for his noteworthy role in promoting a national language for the Filipinos."


Lopez was a prodigious scholar, authoring many pioneer works, including Manual to the Philippine National Language, Comparative Philippine Word Lists in 1974 and 1976, and A Handbook of Comparative Austronesian in 1978, which he published in two parts: the mnemonic, consisting of 109 problems of proto-morphs in five Indonesian languages, two Melanesian languages; and the heuristic, studying 24 Philippine languages and 192 proto-Austronesian morphs.

Awards and distinctions

In 1970, Dr. Lopez was given a gold medal for being an Outstanding Alumnus of the University of the Philippines. He received a fellowship in linguistics from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation at University of Michigan and Yale University.

In 1973 Lopez was honored by the Linguistic Society of the Philippines with a festschrift, Parangal kay Cecilio Lopez.


  • Classifiers in Philippine languages, 1967.
  • Origins of the Philippine languages, 1967.
  • Comparison of Tagalog and Iloko, 1997.
  • Some new morphemes in Philippine languages, 1970.
  • Comparative Philippine word-list, 1974.
  • A handbook in comparative Austronesian, Quezon City: Archives of Philippine Languages and Dialects and the Philippine Linguistics Circle, University of the Philippines, 1978.
  • Comparative Philippine word-list, 1979.
  • Three Articles on Tagalog, Archives of Philippine Linguistics Circle, U.P.
  • A Gramatical Comparison of Malay and Tagalog, Cecilio Lopez Archives of Philippine Languages and Dialects and

The Philippine Linguistics Circle, U.P., 1981.


  • "Cecilio Lopez, 1898-1979" by Mario D. Zamora and Kristin J. Olsen, published in American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 82, No. 3 (September 1980), pp. 555-556.
  • "Parangal kay Cecilio Lopez: Essays in honor of Cecilio Lopez on his seventy-fifth birthday," edited by Andrew Gonzalez, Linguistic Society of the Philippines, 1973.
  • "Selected Writings of Cecilio Lopez in Philippine Linguistics," edited by Ernesto Constantino, Archive of Philippine Languages, 1976.

External links



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