Filipino Languages

Languages of the Philippines

Filipino (Pilipino) is the national language of the Philippines. Ethnologue.com provides a comprehensive list and brief description of the major Philippine languages. Depending on who you consult, there are anywhere from 70 to 171 distinct languages in the Philippines. These are actually distinct different languages - not dialects. Filipino and English are the two official languages. Taglish is a combination of Tagalog and English. There are 12 Philippine languages with over one million native speakers. The most widely spoken languages are Cebuano, Tagalog, Ilocano, and Hiligaynon (Ilonggo).

Language maps, showing the language for each region of the Philippines, can be viewed at the Ethnologue web site.

There are roughly 3 families of languages broken down by region - Northern, Central, and Southern Philippines. The major languages of the northern region are Ilokano, Tagalog, Kapampangan, and Pangasinan languages which are located in northern and central Luzon. The largest group of central Philippine languages are the Visayan languages and Bikol. The Visayan languages are composed of Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Waray-Waray. The southern Philippine languages such as Maranao and Subanun are concentrated in Mindanao.

There are a number of words shared between the Philippine languages. For example, salamat (thank you) is used in both Tagalog and Cebuano. A common phrase is kumusta ka, a greeting in Tagalog, Cebuano, and Ilocano. In Cebuano, asawa (wife) is used in Tagalog, but means spouse (husband or wife) in Tagalog. Spanish was spoken years ago in the Philippines, and that influence is apparent today. Typically counting is done in Spanish.

 

English

house

dog

day

new

what

fire

person

Tagalog

bahay

aso

araw

bago

ano

apy

tao

Cebuano

balay

iro

adlaw

bag-o

unsa

kalayo

tawo

Ilokano

balay

aso

aldaw

baro

ania

apoy

tao

Waray-Waray

balay

ayam

adlaw

bag-o

ano

kalayo

tawo

Kapampangan

bale

asu

aldo

bayu

nanu

api

tau

Bikol

harong

ayam

aldaw

ba-go

ano

kalayo

tawo

Kinaray-a

balay

ayam

adlaw

bag-o

ano

kalayo

taho

Ibanag

balay

kitu

aggaw

bagu

anni

afi

tolay

Pangasinan

abong

aso

ageo

balo

anto

pool

too

Residents of the Philippines Islands are the third largest group of English speaking people in the world.  Only the United States and the United Kingdom have more English speakers!  In the Philippines English is used in government, education, medicine, science, and the legal system.

The various Philippine languages are sometimes referred to by Filipinos as dialects. While there are hundreds of dialects in the Philippines, they represent variations of no fewer than 70 distinct languages.

Filipino is a required subject in schools, although English is commonly used in higher education. Elementary and secondary schools use the English language as part of instructional means for students.  While some Filipinos continue to primarily speak their indigenous language, instead of Filipino, some Filipinos are trilingual speaking English, Filipino, and their indigenous language.

 

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