The Philippines consists of many islands. Most of these islands have distinct dialects, which differ from one to another. When you go from one island to another, you may be surprised that each island has different dialects. You may be questioning how many dialects the Philippines has.
The Philippines has around 120- 175 dialects. However the eight most common dialects are Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicolano, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. The official languages used by the Philippines are English and Tagalog.
It is not surprising that the Philippines has many dialects because they are not united regarding the landmass. Moreover, the country is governed by many small governments, and each place has its own distinct culture and language. Each island is divided by distance; over time, the language evolves and is developed differently.
Lists Of All the Dialects and the Area Where They are Spoken
The Philippines has so many dialects, which is around 120 – 175 in total. These dialects may differ from one island to another or from one region to another. Some share the language family wherein some words have the same meaning. Foreigners highly influence some of the local dialects in the country.
Below are some of the dialects spoken in the country and where they are spoken.
|Dialect||Areas Where it is Spoken|
|English||This is one of the Official Languages in the country being taught in schools.|
|Aklanon or Aklan||Province of AklanIsland of Panay|
|Asi or Bantoanon||Banton, Romblon.|
|Binol-anon or Boholano Cebuano||A version of the Cebuano language used in the province of Bohol and most parts of Southern Leyte.|
|Bolinao or Binubolinao||Bolinao and Anda of Pangasinan used in Central Luzon|
|Bontoc or Finalig||This is an indigenous language used by people in the Bontoc of the Mountain Province.|
|Botolan||Sambal in Botolan and Cabangan, Zambales.|
|Butuanon||Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur|
|Bicolano||A group of dialects spoken in the Bicol Region|
|Albay Bikol or Albayanon||Albay and Sorsogon|
|Central Bikol or Bikol Naga||Most spoken language in the Bicol Region.|
|Rinconada Bikol||Camarines Sur|
|Pandan Bikol||Pandan and parts of Catanduanes|
|Capiznon||Capiz in the Panay Island|
|Cebuano or Bisaya||Central Visayas and the Western part of Eastern Visayas|
|Chavacano||Cavite, Zamboanga, Cotabato, Davao and Ternate.|
|Cuyonon||A Palawan language used in the Cuyo Island of Palawan.|
|Ibanag||An ethnic language of the Ibanag people.|
|Ilokano||An Austronesian language of Ilocos that is affiliated to languages like Malay, Tetum, Chamorro, Fijian, and more.|
|Itawis||The dialect is spoken by Itawis people is closely related to Ibanag and Ilocano.|
|Hiligaynon or Ilonggo||Western Visayas and Soccskargen|
|Bajaw or Jama Mapun||Bajaw or the sea gypsies|
|Kapampangan or Pampango||Pampanga, Southern Tarlac and Northeastern Bataan|
|Kabalian or Kinabalian||San Juan, Leyte|
|Karay-a or Kinaray-a||Karay-a people in Antique.|
|Manobo||Northern and Central Mindanao|
|Maranao||Maranao tribe of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur|
|Sambal or Sambali||Santa Cruz, Candelana, Masinloc, Palauig, and Iba from Zambales.|
|Sangirese or Sangli||Sangirese people in Mindanao|
|Sinama or Sama||Sama-Bajau people in Sulu|
|Español or Spanish||Previously the official language of the Philippines during the Spanish colonization period.|
|Surigaonon||Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, and the Dinagat Islands.|
|Filipino or Tagalog||One of the two main official languages of the Philippines aside from English.|
Why did the Philippines Have so Many Languages?
The actual reason why the Philippines has many languages is that the country is an archipelago; it is not united by landmass. Due to distance and time, the language evolved distinctly, and that’s where variations happened. As some settlers would move from one place to another, languages changed.
Before the Spanish colonization, there were a lot of foreign traders who came to the Philippines. These foreign traders are from Japan, China, Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, Cambodia, and other islands. Moreover, the languages are also influenced by them since the Filipino language has a lot of loanwords.
Before the Spanish occupied the country, there was already the presence of Muslims, like places in Mindanao, that had reached Manila, which is why Sanskrit influenced the country’s language. Sanskrit has contributed to languages that are spoken in the Philippines.
Some dialects in the country are different because of mixed language. Let’s take, for example, Chavacano, which is a Spanish-based creole in the Philippines. Chavacano is a combination of Spanish vocabulary; the grammar structure is based on Tagalog and Cebuano.
Throughout language development, the dialects in the country are influenced by Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, English, and many other languages due to trading and foreign occupancy in the country. Some native dialects adapt to foreign languages; however, each dialect still maintains its local and native language.
The Most Important Languages in The Philippines
All of the Philippine languages and dialects are important. They have distinct characteristics that showcase the cultures and traditions of each. They represent the native language of each of the islands or groups.
However, the most important language you need to learn when you go to the Philippines is Tagalog.
Though Tagalog may be the most crucial dialect you might know to go to the Philippines, all remaining dialects are still important. When you go to a different island, you may encounter language differences. Though many Filipinos know how to speak Tagalog, not all are fluent. So it is essential to give importance to the dialects spoken in the country.
There are eight significant languages in the Philippines. It is an asset that you will know some significant languages aside from Tagalog. These 8 major languages are Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicolano, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. Let’s check more about these dialects to get further pieces of information.
Tagalog is the most widely spoken language in the Philippines. Most people in Luzon tend to speak Tagalog, and it is also the national language of the Philippines. Since the country has many islands, they use Tagalog as the standard dialect to avoid language barriers.
Cebuano or Binisaya
The second most commonly used and practiced language in the country is Cebuano or Binisaya. Some will argue not to use Cebuano as a term for the language since it will only suggest the language has only been spoken Cebuano when there are many people from Mindanao who speak the same language.
One-fifth of the total Philippine population is Cebuano speakers and is considered the second ethnolinguistic group in the country. It is estimated that there are 15 million Filipinos who speak Binisaya or Cebuano.
The third most spoken language is Ilocano or Iloco and is spoken by seven million Filipinos. This is the lingua franca of people residing in the Northern Region of the Philippines. The Ilocanos had their own system of writing Kur-itan.
Some places in the Northwest part of the country, like Babuyan Islands, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, Mindoro, and some areas in Soccsksargen region, speak Ilocano.
Hiligaynon or Illonggo
Hiligaynon or Ilonggo is the dialect spoken by some people in Negros, Panay, and other islands in the central Philippines. Others would also term the dialect as Binisaya nga Ilonggo. There are over 9.1 million Filipinos who speak Hiligaynon, spoken mainly by people from Western Visayas and Soccsksargen.
Hiligaynon is mostly termed as Ilonngo in areas in Iloilo and Negros Occidental. However, some places that speak the language argue not to call the dialect Ilonggo. They state the term Ilonggo is referring to the ethnolinguistic group of native inhabitants of Iloilo.
The Bicolano Language is mainly spoken by people around the Central Visayas, specifically in the Bicol Peninsula, some areas in Catanduanes, Burias Island in Masbate. The Bicolano language was influenced by the Spanish language and is the fifth most spoken language.
Around 3 million Filipinos mostly speak the Waray language in Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, and Biliran. Waray and Binisaya are nearly related dialects since they share the same language family.
There are insignificant alterations in some of the words, but most of the Binisaya and Waray words share the exact words with similar meanings. Even the language structures in sentence construction is not different from each other.
The Pampango dialect is also termed Kapampangan or Pampangueño. This dialect is spoken by more than 900,000 Filipinos who live in the Central Plain of Luzon. The Kapampangan language is historically spoken in the Kingdom of Tondo, which the Lakans ruled.
Pangasinense is the official language of people residing in Pangasinan, located on the west-central island of Luzon. About 1.5 million people speak the dialect. Aside from Pangasinan, areas in Benguet, areas of Zambales, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao also speak Pangasinense.
There are so many islands in the Philippines, and so are the dialects. There are different local dialects from each island or region. Each is similar, and there are somewhat different. Some languages are influenced by foreign languages which were adapted. There are so many dialects in the country that will lead you in awe.