Central Philippine languages

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Central Philippine
Linguistic classification: Austronesian
Glottolog: cent2246[1]

The Central Philippine languages are the most geographically widespread demonstrated group of languages in the Philippines, being spoken in southern Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and Sulu. They are also the most populous, including Tagalog (and Filipino), Bikol, and the major Visayan languages Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kinaray-a, and Tausug, with some forty languages altogether.[2]



The languages are generally subdivided thus (languages in italics refer to a single language):

There are in addition several Aeta hill-tribal languages of uncertain affiliation: Ata, Sorsogon Ayta, Tayabas Ayta, Karolanos (Northern Binukidnon), Magahat (Southern Binukidnon), Sulod, and Umiray Dumaget.

Most of the Central Philippine languages in fact form a dialect continuum and cannot be sharply distinguished as separate languages. For instance, in the Sorsogon and Masbate regions of the Philippines, the Bikol and Visayan languages transition into each other, forming the Bisakol languages. Blust (2009) notes that the relatively low diversity found among the Visayan languages is due to recent population expansions.[3]

Zorc (1977)

The expanded tree of the Central Philippine languages below is given in David Zorc's 1977 Ph.D. dissertation.[4] The Visayan subgrouping is Zorc's own work, while the Bikol subgrouping is from McFarland (1974)[5] and the Mansakan subgrouping from Gallman (1974).[6]

Individual languages are marked by italics, and primary branches by bold italics.

Gallman (1997)

Andrew Gallman (1997:4, 103) classifies the Central Philippine languages as follows:

  • Tagalog
  • Bikol
  • South Central Philippine (Bisayan)
    • West Bisayan
    • Banton
    • Central Bisayan
    • Cebuan
    • East Mindanao
      • North East Mindanao
        • Cebuano
        • Mamanwa
        • Surigaonon
        • Butuanon-Tausug
      • Central East Mindanao
        • Kamayo
        • Davawenyo Banganga
        • Davawenyo Digos
      • South East Mindanao
        • Mandaya Kabasagan
        • Mandaya Caraga
        • Mansaka, Mandaya Maragusan, Mandaya Boso
          • (Branch)
            • Mandaya Islam
            • Kalagan Kaagan, Kalagan Tagakaulu

Greater Central Philippine (Blust)

Blust (1991) notes that the central and southern Philippines has low linguistic diversity. He expands the Central Philippine branch with South Mangyan, Palawan, Mindanao, and Gorontalo–Mongondow languages, the latter found in northern Sulawesi. (See Philippine languages.) The 2008 study fully supported a similar group that included South Mindanao and Kalamian, but excluded Gorontalo–Mongondow.


  1. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Central Philippine". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Ethnologue<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  3. Blust, Robert A. The Austronesian Languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, 2009. ISBN 0-85883-602-5, ISBN 978-0-85883-602-0.
  4. Zorc, David Paul. The Bisayan Dialects of the Philippines: Subgrouping and Reconstruction. Canberra, Australia: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1977, p. 33.
  5. McFarland, Curtis D. The Dialects of the Bikol Area. Ph.D. dissertation. New Haven: Dept. of Liunguistics, Yale University, 1974.
  6. Gallman, Andrew Franklin. A Reconstruction of Proto-Mansakan. M.A. dissertation. Arlington, Texas: Dept. of Liunguistics, University of Texas at Arlington, 1974.
  • Blust, Robert (1991). "The Greater Central Philippines hypothesis". Oceanic Linguistics. 30: 73–129. doi:10.2307/3623084.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Gallman, Andrew Franklin. 1997. Proto East Mindanao and its internal relationships. Philippine Journal of Linguistics, Special monograph issue, no. 44. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.