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|Languages of the Philippines|
Map of the dominant ethnolinguistic groups of the Philippines.
|Official language(s)||Filipino (Tagalog), English|
|Regional language(s)||Bicol, Sama-Bajaw, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Pangasinan, Surigaonon, Tausug, Waray-Waray & Zamboangueño Chavacano|
|Main foreign language(s)||Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, Korean, Malay, Spanish.|
|Sign language(s)||Philippine Sign Language|
|Common keyboard layout(s)||
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Life in the Philippines
In the Philippines, there are between 120 and 175 languages, depending on the method of classification. Four languages no longer have any known speakers. Almost all the Philippine languages belong to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. Of all of these languages, only 2 are considered official in the country while (as of 2010) about 12 are considered official auxiliary.
Spanish was the original official language of the country for more than three centuries, and became the lingua franca of the Philippines in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1863 a Spanish decree introduced universal education, creating free public schooling in Spanish. It was also the language of the Philippine Revolution, and the 1899 Malolos Constitution effectively proclaimed it as the official language of the First Philippine Republic. National hero José Rizal wrote most of his works in Spanish. Luciano de la Rosa established that Spanish was spoken by a total of 60% of the population in the early 20th century as a first, second or third language. Following the American occupation of the Philippines and the imposition of English, the use of Spanish declined gradually, especially after the 1940s.
Under the U.S. occupation and civil regime, English began to be taught in schools. By 1901, public education used English 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. Quezón 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 as the base language December 30, 1937.
In 1939, President Manuel L. Quezón renamed the Tagalog language as Wikang Pambansa ("national language" in English translation). The language was further renamed in 1959 as Pilipino by Secretary of Education Jose Romero. The 1973 constitution declared the Pilipino language to be co-official, along with English, and mandated the development of a national language, to be known as Filipino.
The present constitution, ratified in 1987, designates Filipino and English as joint official languages. 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 the capital, 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.
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-technological 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 within 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.
A diglossia exists in the case of regional languages (locals may use regional form amongst themselves but switch to standard Filipino when addressing outsiders). In this case, Filipino can clearly be labelled as the acrolect (the "standard") and the regional languages the basilect.
The Constitution of the Philippines provides for the use of the vernacular languages as official auxiliary languages in provinces where Filipino is not the lingua franca. This is however not implemented as Filipinos at large would be polyglots. In the case where the vernacular language is a regional language, Filipinos would speak in Filipino when speaking in formal situations while the regional languages are spoken in non-formal settings. This is evident in major urban areas outside Metro Manila like Camarines Norte in the Bikol-speaking area, and Davao in the Cebuano-speaking area. Although the case of Ilocano and Cebuano are becoming more of bilingualism than diglossia due to the publication of materials written in these languages.
The diglossia is more evident in the case of other languages such as Pangasinan, Kapampangan, Bikol, Waray, Hiligaynon, Sambal, and Maranao, where the written variant of the language is becoming less and less popular to give way to the use of Filipino. Although Philippine laws consider some of these languages as "major languages" there is little, if any, support coming from the government to preserve these languages. This may be bound to change, however, given current policy trends. Although Philippine linguists would agree that there is still no danger of these languages becoming extinct in the near future, the lack of support from the government makes these languages prone to “bastardisation”.
There still exists another type of diglossia, which is between the regional languages and the minority languages. Here, we label the regional languages as acrolects while the minority languages as the basilect. In this case, the minority language is spoken only in very intimate circles, like the family or the tribe one belongs to. Outside this circle, one would speak in the prevalent regional language, while maintaining an adequate command of Filipino for formal situations. Unlike the case of the regional languages, these minority languages are always in danger of becoming extinct because of speakers favoring the more prevalent regional language. Moreover, most of the users of these languages are illiterate[specify] and as expected, there is a chance that these languages will no longer be revived due to lack of written records.
According to Ethnologue, a total of 171 native languages are spoken in the country. Except for English, Spanish, Hokkien (Lan-nang), Cantonese, Mandarin, and Chavacano, all of the languages belong to the Malayo-Polynesian language family.
There are 13 indigenous languages with at least one million native speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Bikol, Albay Bikol , Pangasinan, Maranao, Maguindanao, Kinaray-a, and Tausug. One or more of these is spoken natively by more than 90% of the population.
A Philippine language family identified by Robert Blust includes languages of north Sulawesi and the Yami language of Taiwan, but excludes the Sama–Bajaw languages of the Sulu Archipelago as well as a couple North Bornean languages spoken in southern Palawan.
Philippine languages are often referred to by Filipinos as dialects, partly as a relic of the inaccurate vocabulary used in literature during the American period (1898–1946). While there are indeed many hundreds of dialects in the Philippines, they represent variations of no fewer than 120 distinct languages, and many of these languages maintain greater differences than those between established European languages like French and Spanish.
The vast differences between the languages can be seen in the following translations of the Philippine national proverb meaning "He who does not (know how to) look back at his past (where he came from) will not reach his destination."
|Aklanon||Ro uwa' gatan-aw sa anang ginhalinan hay indi makaabut sa anang ginapaeangpan.|
|Asi (Bantoanon)||Kag tawong waya giruromroma it ida ginghalinan, indi makaabot sa ida apagtuan.|
|Bangon||No fuktaw hadwa bumontag idwan dasog at bato lawan.|
|Bicolano (Albay)||Kan idi tatao magkiling sa inalian,idi makaabot sa papaidtuhan|
|Bicolano (Bulan, Gubat, Irosin, Matnog, Sta Magdalena, Bulusan)||An diri maaram mag-imud sa pinaghalian, diri makaabot sa pakakadtu-an.|
|Biko (Buhi)||Yu di nikiling sa pinagalinan, di makaantos sa pupuntahan.|
|Bikol Central||An dai tataong magsalingoy sa saiyang ginikanan, dai makakaabot sa padudumanan.|
|Daraga/East Miraya Bikol||Su indi tataw makarumdom nung ginitan, indi makaabot sa adunan.|
|Oasnon/West Miraya Bikol||Kan na taw na idi tataw mag linguy sa sanyang inalian, idi man maka abot sa sanyang paidtunan.|
|Bicolano (Iriga)||A diri maglili sa pinaggalinan, diri makaaabot sa pigiyanan.|
|Capiznon||Ang indi kabalo magbalikid sa iya ginhalinan, indi makalab-ot sa iya palakadtuan.|
|Cuyonon||Ang ara agabalikid sa anang ing-alinan, indi enged maka-abot sa anang papakonan.|
|Cebuano||Kadtong dili kahibalo molingi sa iyang ginikanan, dili makaabot sa iyang gipadulongan.|
|Caviteño Chabacano||Quien no ta bira cara na su origen no de incarsa na su destinacion.|
|Ternateño Chabacano||Ay nung sabi mira i donde ya bini no di yega na destinasyon.|
|Zamboangueño Chavacano||Quien no sabe vira el cara na su orígen, hay jendéh puede llega na su destinacion.|
|Castellano Abakay Chavacano|
|Ibanag||I tolay nga ari mallipay ta naggafuananna, ari makadde ta angayanna.|
|Itawis||Ya tolay nga mari mallipay tsa naggafuananna, mari makakandet tsa angayanna.|
|Ilokano||Ti saan nga ammo a tumaliaw iti naggapuanna ket saan a makadanon iti papananna.|
|Hiligaynon ("Ilonggo")||Ang indi makahibalo magbalikid sang iya ginhalinan, 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 penibatan, e ya miras king kayang pupuntalan.|
|Kinaray-a||Ang indi kamaan magbalikid sa ana ginhalinan, indi makaabot sa ana paaragtunan.|
|Manobo (Obo)||Iddos minuvu no konnod kotuig nod loingoy to id pomonan din, konna mandad od poko-uma riyon tod undiyonnan din.|
|Maranao||So tao a di matao domingil ko poonan iyan na di niyan kakwa so singanin iyan.|
|Malay||Orang yang melupakan asal-usulnya tak mungkin mencapai tujuannya.|
|Pangasinan||Say toon agga onlingao ed pinanlapuan to, agga makasabi'd laen to.|
|Romlomanon (Ini)||Adtong tawo nga indi ansyano mag lingig sa iya guinghalinan hay indi da makasampot sa iya ning pagakadtoan.|
|Sambal (Botolan)||Hay ahe nin nanlek ha pinag-ibatan, ay ahe makarateng ha lalakwen.|
|Sambal (Sambal)||Hay kay tanda mamanomtom ha pinangibatan, kay immabot sa kakaon.|
|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.|
|Surigaonon||Adon dili mahibayo molingi sa ija ing-gikanan, dili gajod makaabot sa ija pasingdan.|
|Sorsoganon||An diri mag-imud sa pinaghalian diri makaabot sa kakadtuan.|
|Tayabas Tagalog||Ang dili maalam lumingon sa pinaroonan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.|
|Tagalog/Filipino||Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan.|
|Tausug||In di' maingat lumingi' pa bakas liyabayan niya, di' makasampay pa kadtuun niya.|
|Waray-Waray of Leyte||An diri maaram lumingi ha tinikangan, diri maulpot ha kakadtoan.|
|Waray-Waray of Northern Samar||An diri maaram lumingi sa tinikangan, diri maulpot sa 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 dialect and language, and town in Bicol where they are spoken. The final translation is in Tagalog.
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, the chart confirms that most have similarities, yet are not mutually comprehensible. These languages are arranged according to the regions they are natively spoken (from north to south, then east to west).
|Tagalog||isa||dalawa||tatlo||apat||tao||bahay||aso||niyog||araw||bago||tayo, kamí, kata||ano||at|
|Kinaray-a||sara||darwa||tatlo||apat||taho||balay||ayam||niyog||adlaw||bag-o||kita, taten||ano, iwan||kag|
|Chavacano||uno||dos||tres||cuatro||gente||cása||pérro||coco||día||nuevo||Zamboangueño: nosotros/kame, Bahra: mijotros/motros, Caviteño: nisos||cosá/ qué|
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||gara||ngata||araw||vayo||tata||vela|
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.
|Name of Philippine language||Number of native speakers|
Diplomatic ties with the Ming dynasties among some established states or kingdoms in Luzon and direct interactions and trade overall within the archipelago as a whole go perhaps as far back as early 10th 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 Hokkien (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.
The first exposure to English occurred in 1762, when the British invaded Manila. However, use of English in that era was minimal and had no lasting influence. English became an important language in the Philippines in the period between 1898 and 1946, when the Philippines was under U.S. sovereignty. English remains an official language in the Philippines.
English is the dominant language in business, government, the legal system, medicine, the sciences and education. Filipinos tend to want their textbooks for subjects like calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, etc., written in English rather than Filipino. By way of contrast, the native languages are often heard in colloquial settings, and in the home, with family and friends, most people 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 percentage of the media such as cable television and newspapers are also in English; major television networks (i.e. ABS-CBN and GMA) and all AM radio stations are in Filipino. English proficiency sustains a significant call center industry for American companies.
A large influx of English words has been assimilated into Tagalog and the other native languages called Taglish or Bislish. There is a debate, however, on whether there is diglossia or bilingualism, or even semilingualism, between Filipino and English. Filipino is also used both in formal and informal situations. Though the masses would prefer to speak in Filipino, government officials tend to speak in English when performing government functions. There is still resistance in the use of Filipino in courts and the drafting of national statutes.
On August 22, 2007, three Malolos City regional trial courts in Bulacan decided to use Filipino, instead of English, in order to promote the national language. Twelve stenographers from Branches 6, 80 and 81, as model courts, had undergone training at Marcelo H. del Pilar College of Law of Bulacan State University College of Law following a directive from the Supreme Court of the Philippines. De la Rama said it was the dream of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno to implement the program in other areas such as Laguna, Cavite, Quezón, Nueva Écija, Batangas, Rizal, and Metro Manila.
Advocates of English say that it is the wave of the future, with science, world trade and the Internet become more important every decade. However, Philippine-language advocates respond that although the growing influence of English may be unstoppable, 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 in the country, 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 this is not increasing very rapidly. On the other hand, Filipino, Cebuano, and Ilocano continue to grow vigorously, as lingua francas, second languages, and as first languages as well.
Arabic is used by some Filipino Muslims in both a liturgical and instructional capacity since the arrival of Islam in the 14th century. Along with Malay, Arabic was the lingua franca of the Malay Archipelago among Muslim traders and the Malay aristocracy.
The 1987 Constitution mandates that Arabic (along with Spanish) is to be promoted on a voluntary basis. Arabic is currently taught for free and is promoted in some Islamic centres. It is used primarily in religious activities and education (such as in a madrasa or Islamic school) and rarely for official events or daily conversation. In this respect, its function and use is somewhat like the traditional roles of Latin and Spanish in Filipino Catholicism vis-à-vis other currently spoken languages.
The Japanese first came to the Philippines around the 11th Century C.E., the first country they emigrated to, as well as in waves from the 15th century, 17th century, late 19th century, 1900s, 1930s, and the 1940s. 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, Baguio City, 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 hard work and industry. During World War II, Japanese schools were present in Davao City.
Malay is spoken as a lingua franca in the southernmost parts of the Philippines, from Zamboanga down to Tawi-Tawi among a minority of the Tausug, Bajau, and Yakan peoples. It is also spoken as a daily language by Malays and Indonesians who have settled, or do business in the Philippines. It is also spoken in southern Palawan to some extent. It is not spoken among the Maranao and Maguindanao people. The liturgical language of Islam is Arabic, but the vast majority of Muslims in the Philippines have little practical knowledge of it beyond limited religious terminology.
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. The Malay language, along with Philippine languages belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian language family, 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. This is because Old Malay used to be the lingua franca throughout the archipelago, a good example of this is Magellan's translator Enrique using Malay to converse with the native Sugbuanon(Cebuano) during this time period.
When the Spanish had first arrived in the Philippines in the 16th century, Old Malay was spoken among the aristocracy.
Today, Bahasa Indonesia is taught as one of the foreign languages in the Department of Linguistics and Asian Languages in the University of the Philippines. Also, the Indonesian School in Davao City teaches the language to preserve the culture of Indonesian immigrants there. The Indonesian Embassy in Manila also offers occasional classes for Filipinos and foreigners.
In 1593, the first printing press in the Philippines was founded and it released the first (albeit polyglot) book, the Doctrina Christiana that same year. In the 17th century, Spanish religious orders founded the first universities in the Philippines, some of which are considered the oldest in Asia. During colonial rule through Mexico City, Spanish was the language of education, trade, politics and religion, and by the 19th century, became the country's lingua franca although it was mainly used by the educated Filipinos. In 1863, a Spanish decree introduced a system of public education, creating free public schooling in Spanish. In the 1890s, the Philippines had a prominent group of Spanish-speaking scholars called the Ilustrados, such as José Rizal. Some of these scholars participated in the Philippine Revolution and later in the struggle against American occupation. In 1899, the short-lived First Philippine Republic established Spanish as the country's official language; both the Malolos Constitution and the Lupang Hinirang (national anthem) were written in Spanish.
The use of Spanish began to decline after Spain ceded the islands to the United States as a result of the Spanish–American War of 1898. Under U.S. rule, the English language began to be promoted instead of Spanish. In 1940, there were six million people with Spanish speaking skills in the Philippines. The 1950 Census stated that Filipinos who spoke Spanish as a first or second language made up only 6% of the population. In 1990, the census reported that the number had dwindled to just 2500.
Spanish ceased to be an official language in 1973 and in 1987, it was dropped as a college requirement during Corazón Aquino's administration. Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a third-language Spanish speaker, introduced legislation to re-establish the instruction of Spanish in 2009. Today, the language is still spoken today by Filipino-Spanish mestizos and Spanish families who are mainly concentrated in Metro Manila, Iloílo and Cebú. It remains a required subject in some academic institutions, such as the University of Santo Tomás in Manila and the University of San Carlos in Cebú.
Many historical documents, land titles, and literature were written in the Spanish language, and many of these documents were often left untranslated, although some of them as land titles still have legal value. Spanish, through colonization and subjugation of other influences, has contributed the most number of loanwords and expressions in Tagalog, Cebuano, and other Philippine 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. Urdu is spoken among the Pakistani community. Only few South Asians, such as Pakistani, as well as the recent newcomers like the Marathi, Nepali, and Tamil retain their own native languages.
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