Languages Spoken in the Philippines

Manila Bulletin, January 24, 2010 | Go to article overview

Languages Spoken in the Philippines


(Continued from January 17, 2010 column)But it is not as simple as this, as linguists would be the first to admit. For instance, in the case of a dialect continuum, communities that are contiguous to each other might speak varieties that are mutually intelligible, but the dialects at the opposite ends of the continuum might not be mutually intelligible.This is identified as a Language-complex or L-complex. According to the linguist Curtis McFarland, the dialects of Kalinga, the dialects of Bontok, the dialects of Kankanaey, the dialects of Ifugao, and the dialects of Subanon all constitute L-complexes. Because of the mutual intelligibility of varieties in geographical proximity which are members of these L-complexes, he considers the whole L-complex as a single language for purposes of counting. In his A Linguistic Atlas of the Philippines (1980), he had a list of 118 speech varieties which are probably distinct languages. Other linguists might sort the varieties differently and might count them differently.We see this clearly when we look at the number of Philippine languages listed in Ethnologue: Languages of the World, now on its fifteenth edition (2005). This is the most comprehensive cataloguing of the languages of the world, and has been published by the same publisher, SIL International, since the first edition in 1951. …

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