Philippine languages

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There are over 170 languages in the Philippines; almost all of them belong to the Austronesian language family.

Contents

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] 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.

Native languages

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.

Mutual intelligibility

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.

Dialectal variation

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).

  one two three four person house dog coconut day new we (inc.) what
Ivatan asa dadowa tatdo apat tao vahay chito niyoy araw va-yo yaten ango
Ilokano maysa dua tallo uppat tao balay aso niog aldaw baro datayo ania
Pangasinan sakey duara talora apatira too abong aso niyog agew balo sikatayo anto
Ibanag tadday dua tallu appa' tolay balay kitu inniuk aggaw bagu sittam anni
Gaddang antet addwa tallo appat tolay balay atu ayog aw bawu ikkanetem sanenay
Kapampangan metung adwa atlu apat tau bale asu ngungut aldo bayu ikatamu nanu
Tagalog isa dalawa tatlo apat tao bahay aso niyog araw bago tayo ano
Bikol saro duwa tulo apat tawo harong ayam niyog aldaw ba-go kita ano
Kinaray-a sara darwa tatlo apat taho balay ayam niyog adlaw bag-o kita, taten ano
Ilonggo isa duha tatlo apat tawo balay ido lubi adlaw bag-o kita ano
Cebuano usa duha tulo upat tawo balay iro lubi adlaw bag-o kita unsa
Waray-Waray usa duha tulo upat tawo balay ayam lubi adlaw bag-o kita ano
Tboli sotu lewu tlu fat tau gunu ohu lefo kdaw lomi tekuy tedu
Tausug hambuuk duwa tu upat tau bay iru' niyug adlaw ba-gu kitaniyu unu

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.

  one two three four person house dog coconut day new we (inc.) what
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
Tagalog 22,000,000
Cebuano 20,000,000
Ilokano 7,700,000
Hiligaynon 7,000,000
Waray-Waray 3,100,000
Northern Bikol 2,500,000
Kapampangan 2,400,000
Pangasinan 1,540,000
Southern Bikol 1,200,000
Maranao 1,150,000
Maguindanao 1,100,000
Kinaray-a 1,051,000
Tausug 1,022,000
Chavacano 607,000
Surigaonon 600,000
Masbatenyo 530,000
Aklanon 520,000
Ibanag 320,000

Major Foreign Languages

Spanish

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Spanish began to be introduced in the archipelago from 1565, when the Spanish Conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi founded the first Spanish settlement on Cebu.

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.

There are also several Spanish creole languages in the Philippines, collectively called Chavacano.

They include:

  • Chavacanos of Luzon:
    • Caviteño, spoken in Cavite.
    • Ternateño, spoken in Cavite.
    • Ermitaño, formerly spoken in Ermita, Manila, now extinct.
  • Chavacanos of Mindanao:
    • Zamboangueño (360,000 native speakers, the most spoken creole)
    • Cotabateño
    • Davaoeño

English

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