20 Endangered Languages in Europe: Your Complete Guide
February 21st was an International mother language day.
The Philippines is an archipelagic nation consisting of 7,641 islands in Southeast Asia.
Many of these islands were originally inhabited by distinct tribes of people who developed their own culture and traditions. With this in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that there are a lot of different languages in the Philippines.
According to Ethnologue, there are currently 183 living languages that are spoken in the Philippines. The national language, which is spoken by a majority of the population is Filipino. Many people also speak English as a second language. Even more might speak a third language known as a native dialect, depending on where in the Philippines they live.
There are a lot of ethnic languages in the Philippines because the Philippine archipelago was settled by a variety of ethnolinguistic groups.
Ethnolinguistic groups means people that share an ethnicity and a first language. There are currently about 175 ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines with their own major dialect.
Most of the languages spoken in the Philippines are considered Malayo-Polynesian languages, though there are also several Spanish-influenced Creole versions.
The national language as designated by the 1987 constitution is Filipino. Filipino is also an official language of the Philippines as is English. Filipino has the most number of speakers, both native and second-language speakers, in the Philippines.
English was introduced to the Philippines by the Americans during their occupation. The Americans developed a public education system which used English as the means of instruction.
Till today English is often the language of instruction in the education system and as such is still a common second language. As an official language, English is often used in government dealings and in the legal system. Many business deals are also conducted in English and it is still the common language of publications. English language entertainment, such as movies and TV shows, are also common.
As of 2018, Republic Act 11106 declared Filipino Sign Language as the official sign language of the country and official means of communicating with deaf Filipinos.
Filipino is the national language of the Philippines and one of the official languages. It was developed from Tagalog, which is one of the major dialects in the Philippines. It is not, however, “pure Tagalog” as it also includes elements from other Philippines dialects and some foreign languages like Spanish, English, Chinese, and Malay.
Tagalog was first named the national language in 1937. Then in 1973, the national language was declared “Filipino”.
Filipino was modified to be slightly different from Tagalog. While much of the grammar and vocabulary come from the Tagalog dialect, it incorporates words from the above mentioned foreign languages and several of the other major dialects.
Most of the time, Tagalog and Filipino are used interchangeably to refer to the national language of the Philippines.
Aside from Tagalog, there are 12 languages in the Philippines that are considered major dialects. Here they are arranged by the number of native speakers.
Many Filipino’s still prefer to speak their regional dialects at home and during informal conversations. Many of the other recognized languages are actually variations of one of the major dialects.
These 12, plus Tagalog, are considered the 13 indigenous languages in the Philippines. As indigenous languages, they have over one million native speakers.
Tagalog or Filipino has the most number of native speakers, according to the 2000 census of the Philippine statistics authority. According to the census, 26,387,855 people speak Tagalog.
The second most commonly spoken native dialect is Cebuano, which has 21,340,000 speakers It is often referred to as Bisaya. Cebu, where the language originated, is a major island in the Visayas island group – this is how the dialect got its names.
The third most common native language of the Philippines is Ilocano, it originated in northwest Luzon. Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines. Around 7,779,000 people consider themselves native speakers of Ilocano.
Hiligaynon, or Ilonggo as it is commonly called, is spoken by around 9.1 million people with around 7 million considering themselves native speakers. Hiligaynon is also common in the Visayas, mostly in the Western Visaysas which consists of the major island of Panay and the western half of the island of Negros and a few other smaller islands.
Waray-waray, or just Waray, is the fifth most common native dialect in the Philippines. It was originally spoken by the Waray people who were native to the Eastern Visayas region.
Bikolano Is the sixth most common native dialect and it is mostly spoken in the provinces of Bicol and Camarines Sur.
Kapampangan is the primary language of the provinces of Pampanga and southern Tarlac, which are located on the island of Luzon. Pangasinan is also a language that originated in Luzon, this time in the province of Pangasinan.
The last five dialects on the list are mostly spoken on and around the island of Mindanao, except for Kinaray-a. Kinaray-a is mostly spoken in the province of Antique, which is on the island of Panay which is in the Visayas.
Maranao, Tausug, Maguindanao, and Chavacano are the major dialects spoken in Mindanao.
According to UNESCO, as of 2010, there are several endangered languages in the Philippines. UNESCO has several degrees of endangerment for languages. The number of people who can speak these languages are 500 or below.
Definitely endangered languages are those where children are no longer learning the language at home. There are three in the Philippines: Bataan Agta, Mt. Iraya Agta, and Batak.
Severely endangered languages in the Philippines are those which are only spoken by grandparents. Parents may be able to understand it, but they don’t speak it much less teach it to their children. These are: Faire Atta, Northern Alta, and Camarines Norte Agta.
Critically endangered are languages which are only understood by grandparents and even they only speak it infrequently: Alabat Island Agta, Isarog Agta, and Southern Ayta.
The Spanish colonized the Philippines for around three centuries so Spanish was a lingua franca during the 19th and 20th century. It also influenced Filipino and some other dialects still spoken in the country.
The dialect known as Chavacano, for example, is basically a Spanish Creole language with several versions spoken in different areas in both Luzon and Mindanao.
With the arrival of the American’s back in the 1940’s the use of Spanish began to decline. Spanish is still, however, sometimes taught in schools and spoken by older generations of Filipinos.
There are also a considerable number of people of Chinese descent in the Philippines, known as Filipino-Chinese, who still speak a Chinese language.
The majority of Filipino-Chinese are descendents of immigrants from the Fujian province of China where Hokkein was spoken. Because of this, Hokkein is the most common Chinese dialect in the Philippines. Mandarin Chinese might also be taught in school and some Filipino-Chinese also speak Cantonese and Taishanese.
The Philippines has two major religious denominations: Roman Catholic and Islam. Filipino Muslims, are especially common in Mindanao and there are many who speak and write in Arabic. Arabic is also often taught in Islamic schools.
Malay is foreign language that is particularly common in the southernmost parts of the Philippine archipelago. These are the islands that are closest to Malaysia and Indonesia and saw significant trade with them which resulted in cultural exchanges – including familiarity with the language.
Minorities in Mindanao, such as the Tausug, Sama-Bajau, and the Yakan still commonly speak Malay as their second language.
If you are thinking of going to the Philippines to travel, there is a good chance that you will be able to make yourself understood no matter where you are in the archipelago if you know one of the official languages. Try looking for a good Tagalog tutor before you book your trip or you could try finding a native English speaking tutor.
If you can speak either English or Filipino, you will probably be able to make yourself understood in the major cities and provinces. However, if you are thinking of living or doing business in an area outside of the capital of Metro Manila, it might be a good idea to do some research ahead as to what the common dialect in the area is.
If you will be going to the Visayas region, for example, it could be to your advantage if you picked up some Cebuano. Not only will it make it easier to communicate but it will help you forge beneficial friendships and relationships.
February 21st was an International mother language day.
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