National and official languages
Spanish was the original official language of the Philippines, since its establishment in the 16th century. After the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spanish was reaffirmed as the national language of the Philippines during the 1899 Malolos Constitution.
Under the U.S. occupation and civil regime, English began to be taught in schools. By 1901, public education was institutionalized, with English serving as the medium of instruction. Around 600 educators (called "Thomasites") who arrived in that year aboard the USS Thomas replaced the soldiers who also functioned as teachers . The 1935 Constitution added English as an official language alongside Spanish. A provision in this constitution also called for Congress to "take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages." On November 12, 1937, the First National Assembly created the National Language Institute. President Manuel L. Quezon appointed native Waray-Waray speaker Jaime C. De Veyra to chair a committee of speakers of other regional languages. Their aim was to select a national language among the other regional languages. Ultimately, Tagalog was chosen on December 31, 1937.
Although the teaching of the national language in schools began in 1940, Tagalog was not made an official language until the restoration of its independence on July 4, 1946. Starting in 1961, the national language began to be referred to as Filipino rather than Tagalog.
The 1973 Constitution under the Marcos administration retained English and Filipino as official languages, dropping Spanish. There was another provision stating that the National Assembly should "take steps towards the development and formal adoption of a common national language to be known as Filipino."
The present constitution, ratified in 1987, stated that Filipino and English are both the official languages of the country. Filipino also had the distinction of being a national language that was to be "developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages." Although not explicitly stated in the constitution, Filipino is in practice almost completely composed of the Tagalog as spoken in Manila; however, organizations such as the University of the Philippines began publishing dictionaries such as the UP Diksyonaryong Filipino in which words from various Philippine languages were also included. The constitution also made mention of Spanish and Arabic, both of which are to be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis; in reality, virtually nothing is being done to this end.
Filipino is an official language of education, but less important than English. It is the major language of the broadcast media and cinema, but less important than English as a language of publication (except in some domains, like comic books, which are meant to speak directly to the Filipino psyche) and less important for academic-scientific-technology discourse. English and Filipino compete in the domains of business and government.[dubious — see talk page] Filipino is used as a lingua franca in all regions of the Philippines as well as overseas Filipino communities, and is the dominant language of the armed forces (except perhaps for the small part of the commissioned officer corps from wealthy or upper middle class families) and of a large part of the civil service, most of whom are non-Tagalogs.
According to Ethnologue, a total of 171 native languages are spoken in the country. Except for English, Spanish, Hokkien, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Chabacano, all of the languages belong to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family.
There are 12 native languages with at least one million native speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Maranao, Maguindanao, Kinaray-a, and Tausug. One or more of these is spoken natively by more than 90% of the population.
Classification of Philippine languages
Philippine languages are further divided into a handful of subgroups. The first three groups are considered to be closely related to each other.
Northern Philippine languages such as Ilokano, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, and Sambal languages which are concentrated in northern and central Luzon. Some languages in Mindoro such as Iraya and Tadyawan are included in this group. The Yami language (also known as Tao of Orchid Island in Taiwan is also a member of this group.
Meso Philippine languages are perhaps the group with the most speakers and is the most geographically widespread, covering Central Luzon, the Visayas and many parts of Mindanao. Certain languages spoken in Palawan and Mindoro such as Tagbanwa]], Palawano, and Hanunoo constitute their own respective subgroups. The largest subgroup are the Central Philippine languages which are composed of Tagalog; Bikol language; Visayan languages such as Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray-Waray; and Mansakan languages.
Southern Philippine languages such as Maranao, Maguindanao, Manobo languages, and Subanun languages are concentrated in Mindanao. Many Southern Philippine languages have been influenced by Malaysian, Indonesian, Sanskrit, and Arabic words.
The final three following groups are thought to be more distantly related to the previous three.
Southern Mindanao languages are languages such as Tboli and Blaan which are spoken in southern Mindanao.
Sama-Bajaw languages mainly centered in the Sulu Archipelago as well as parts of Borneo. One language, Abaknon, is spoken on Capul Island near Samar, which is far from other Sama languages. Other languages in this group are Yakan and Sama.
Sulawesi languages has only two representatives in the Philippines, the Sangil and the Sangir languages.
Despite not being mutually intelligible, Philippine languages tend to be referred by Filipinos as dialects.
The vast differences between the languages can be seen in the following translations of the Philippine national proverb "He who does not look back at his birthplace, will not reach his future."
- Aklanon: Ro uwa' gatan-aw sa anang ginhalinan hay indi makaabut sa anang ginapaeangpan.
- Asi: Kag tawong waya giruromroma it ida ginghalinan, indi makaabot sa ida apagtuan.
- Bangon: No fuktaw hadwa bumontag idwan dasog at bato lawan.
- Standard Bikol: An dai tatao maghiling sa pighalian, dai makakaabot sa padudumanan.
- Cebuano: Kadtong dili molingi sa gigikanan, dili makaabot sa gipadulongan.
- Ibanag: I tolay nga ari mallipay ta naggafuananna, ari makadde ta angayanna.
- Ilokano: Ti saán a tumaliaw iti naggapuanna, saán a makadánon iti papanánna.
- Hiligaynon: Kon sin-o ang indi makahibalo magbalikid sang iya ginta-uhan, indi makaabot sa iya padulungan.
- Jama Mapun: Soysoy niya' pandoy ngantele' patulakan ne, niya' ta'abut katakkahan ne.
- Kapampangan: Ing e byasang malikid king kayang ibatan, e ya makaratang king kayang pupuntan.
- Kinaray-a: Ang indi kamaan magbalikid sa ana ginhalinan, indi makaabot sa ana paaragtunan.
- Obo Manobo: Iddos minuvu no konnod kotuig nod loingoy to id pomonan din, konna mandad od poko-uma riyon tod undiyonnan din.
- Pangasinan: Say too ya agga unlinggis ed nanlapuan to et agga makasabi ed laen to.
- Sambal Botolan: Hay ahe nin nanlek ha pinag-ibatan, ay ahe makarateng ha lalakwen.
- Sangil: Tao mata taya mabiling su pubuakengnge taya dumanta su kadam tangi.
- Sinama: Ya Aa ga-i tau pa beleng ni awwal na, ga-i du sab makasong ni maksud na.
- Tagalog: Ang hindî marunong lumingón sa pinanggalingan ay hindî makararatíng sa paroroonan.
- Tausug: In di' maingat lumingi' pa bakas liyabayan niya, di' makasampay pa kadtuun niya.
- Waray-Waray: An diri maaram lumingi han tinikangan, di maulpot ha kakadtoan.
- Yakan: Gey tau mayam sibukutan, gey tau tekka kaditaran.
The amount of dialectal variation varies from language to language. Languages like Tagalog and Kapampangan are known to have very moderate dialectal variation.
In the languages of the Bicol Region, however, there is great dialectal variation. There are towns which have their own dialects. Below is the sentence "Were you there at the market for a long time?" translated into certain varieties of Bikol. The translation is followed by the town in Bicol where they are spoken. The final translations are in Tagalog and Ilonggo.
- Haloy ka duman sa saod? (Naga City; standard dialect)
- Naeban ika sadto sa sa-ran? (Iriga City)
- Uban ika adto sa saod? (Libon)
- Huray ka doon sa saod? (Pandan)
- Naegey ika adto sa sa-ran? (Buhi)
- Eley ka idto sa sed? (Oas)
- Dugay ka didto sa palengke? (Ticao)
- Awat ka didto sa plasa? (Gubat)
- Matagal ka doon sa palengke? (Tagalog)
- Nagdugay ka didto sa tyangge? (Ilonggo)
Philippine Languages Comparison Chart
Below is a chart of Philippine languages. While there has been misunderstandings on which ones should be classified as language and which ones should be classified as dialect, this chart confirms that most have similarities but are not mutually comprehensible with each other. These languages are arranged according to the regions they are natively spoken (from north to south, then east to west).
There is a language spoken by the Tao people (also known as Yami) of Orchid Island of Taiwan which is not included in the language of the Philippines. Their language, Tao (or Yami) is part of the Batanic languages which includes Ivatan, Babuyan, and Itbayat of the Batanes.
|Tao||ása||dóa (raroa)||tílo (tatlo)||ápat||tao||vahay||araw||vayo|
List of Speakers per Language
Below are population estimates from the 2000 Philippine census by National Statistics Office of the Philippines on the number of Filipinos who speak the following 18 languages as a native language.
|Number of native speakers|
Major Foreign Languages
In 1593, the first printing press was founded. A great portion of the history of the Philippines is written in Spanish. Many land titles, contracts, newspapers and literature remain untranslated from Spanish. There are thousands of Spanish loanwords in Tagalog, Cebuano, and other languages. Spanish numbers are usually used with dates, times, measurements, and other occasions.
The use of Spanish began to decline after Spain ceded the islands to the United States in 1898. Under U.S. rule, English began to be promoted instead of Spanish. After the country's independence (in 1946) and during the Marcos administration, many of the old Spanish-speaking families in Philippines migrated to Spain and Latin America. There were six million Spanish speakers in the Philippines in 1940. The 1950 Census stated that hispanophone Filipinos made up 6% of the population. In 1990, the census reported that the number had dwindled to just 2,500.
Spanish ceased to be an official language in 1973 and a college requirement in 1987 during the Aquino administration. However the language is still spoken today by Filipino-Spanish mestizos and Spanish families, who are mainly concentrated in Metro Manila and Cebu. It remains a required subject in many universities, such as the University of Santo Tomás of Manila and the University of San Carlos in Cebu.
- Chavacanos of Luzon:
- Chavacanos of Mindanao:
- Zamboangueño (360,000 native speakers, the most spoken creole)
English is one of the official language in the Philippines. It was imposed by Americans during the U.S. intervention and colonization of the archipelago. The Americans gradually succeeded in taking control of urban and coastal areas by the end of 1903 and began to aggressively promote English as a universal language. Although the first exposure to English occurred in 1762, when the British invaded Manila, English from that era never had any lasting influence.
Today, English is the dominant language in business, government, the legal system, medicine, the sciences and education. The native languages are often heard in colloquial settings. Filipinos tend to want their textbooks for subjects like calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, etc. written in English rather than Filipino. In the home with family and friends however, most use their vernaculars. The use of English may be thought to carry an air of formality, given its use in school, government and various ceremonies. A large percentage of the media such as television, newspapers, and entertainment are also in English; the major television networks though in the country have since been shifting to Tagalog. English proficiency sustains a significant call center industry for American companies and valuable asset for overseas workers.
Since Filipinos are oriented speakers with the English language, a large influx of English words has been assimilated into Tagalog and the other native languages called Taglish.
Advocates of English say that English is the wave of the future, with science, world trade and the Internet become more important every decade. However, Philippine-language advocates may respond that the growing influence of English may be true and unstoppable, but that English is an exogenous language that is difficult for the mass of Filipinos to acquire fluently, while tens of millions are acquiring the lingua franca and using it extensively on a daily basis. English will remain a second language, like it is in countries like Finland or the Netherlands, while the endogenous Austronesian languages will come to play a more important role in both speech and writing. National census results show that there are very few native speakers of English in the Philippines, a few percent from a small stratum of wealthy and highly educated families, and it is not increasing very rapidly. On the other hand, Filipino, Cebuano, and Ilocano continue to grow vigorously, both as a lingua franca and second language, but also in the number of first language speakers.
The islanders have been trading with China and Japan since the early 10th or 11th century. Mandarin Chinese is the medium of instruction in Chinese schools and lingua franca of the mainland and overseas Chinese. The Lan-nang variant of the Min Nan is the language of the majority the Chinese in the Philippines, who immigrated from the Fujian (pronounced locally as Fukien or Hokkien) province in China. Another Chinese language, Cantonese, is spoken among the Chinese in the Philippines who are descendants of people from Guangdong province in China.
Arabic is used by some members of the Muslim population. It is used in religious instruction in Philippine madrasahs or Muslim schools and, more rarely, for official events among Muslim peoples. Historically, Arabic, along with Malay, was used as a lingua franca in the Malay Archipelago among Muslim traders and the Muslim Malay Aristocracy throughout the Archipelago. Arabic is taught for free and promoted in some Islamic centers and used for Islamic activities.
According to the 1987 Constitution, Arabic, along with Spanish, is to be promoted on a voluntary basis.
There is a small Japanese community and a school for Japanese in Metro Manila due to the number of Japanese companies. Also there is a large community of Japanese and Japanese descendants in Laguna province and in the Davao region. Davao City is a home to a large population of Japanese descendants. Japanese laborers were hired by American companies like the National Fiber Company (NAFCO)in the first decades of the 20th century to work in abaca plantations. Japanese were known for their hardwork and industry. During the World War II, Japanese schools were present in Davao City.
Spoken among Muslim peoples in the southern Philippines.
Old Malay and Indonesian cultures and civilizations in ancient Sumatra and Java have had a large influence on the history, lifestyles, and culture of various Philippine peoples, Old Malay has also had an immense influence on many if not most of the languages spoken in the Philippines. Roughly a third of all commonly used verbs and nouns used in the Philippines are of Old Malay origin.
When the Spanish had first arrived in the Philippines in the 16th Century, Old Malay was spoken among the aristocracy.
It is believed that Ferdinand Magellan’s Moluccan slave Enrique could converse with local leaders in Cebu island, confirming to Magellan his arrival in Southeast Asia. An example of Old Malay and Javanese languages spoken in Philippine history can be seen in the language of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription.
South Asian languages
Since pre-Spanish times, there have been small Indian communities in the Philippines. Indians tend to be able to speak Tagalog and the other native languages, and are often fluent in English. Among themselves, Sindhi and Punjabi are used.
- Lawrence R. Reid webpage of Dr. Lawrence R. Reid. Professor emeritus of linguistics at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Has researched Philippine languages for decades.
- Carl Rubino webpage of Dr. Carl Rubino. A Filipino linguist who has studied Philippine languages.
- Literatura hispanofilipina: siglos XVII al XX by Edmundo Farolan Romero, with a pretty Philippine poetry anthology in Spanish.
- Salita Blog by Christopher Sundita. A blog about a variety of issues concerning the languages of the Philippines.
- Philippine Language Tree
- The Language Planning Situation in the Philippines, by Andrew Gonzalez, FSC