Cebuano (), also referred to by most of its speakers as Bisaya or Binisaya (translated into English as ''Visayan'', though this should not be confused with other Bisayan languages
), is an Austronesian language
, spoken in the southern Philippines
. Specifically, it flourishes in Central Visayas
, western parts of Eastern Visayas
and on most of Mindanao
. It originated on the island of Cebu
, and now is spoken primarily by various Visayan ethnolinguistic groups
who are native to those areas, primarily the Cebuanos
. While Tagalog
has the largest number of native speakers among the languages of the Philippines, Cebuano had the largest native-language-speaking population in the Philippines, from the 1950s until about the 1980s.
It is by far the most widely spoken of the Bisayan languages
Cebuano is the ''lingua franca
'' of the Central Visayas, western parts of Eastern Visayas, some western parts of Palawan
and most parts of Mindanao
. The name Cebuano is derived from the island of Cebu
, which is the original locus
of the language.
Cebuano is also the primary language in Western Leyte — noticeably in Ormoc
, and in other municipalities surrounding the city; most of the residents in the area refer to the Cebuano language by their own demonym
s, for example, as "Ormocanon" in Ormoc, and as "Albuerahanon" in Albuera
Cebuano is assigned the ISO 639-2
three-letter code ceb, but not a ISO 639-1
The term ''Cebuano'' derives from "Cebu
''", a Latinate calque, reflective of the Philippines's Spanish colonial heritage. In common or everyday parlance, especially by those speakers from outside of the island of Cebu, Cebuano is more often referred to as ''Bisaya''. ''Bisaya'', however, may become a source of confusion as many other Visayan languages
may also be referred to as ''Bisaya'' even though they are not mutually intelligible with speakers of what is referred to by linguists as Cebuano. Cebuano in this sense applies to all speakers of vernaculars mutually intelligible with the vernaculars of Cebu island, regardless of origin or location, as well as to the language they speak.
The term ''Cebuano'' has garnered some objections. For example, generations of Cebuano speakers in northern Mindanao (Dipolog
, Misamis Occidental
and Misamis Oriental
together with coastal areas of Butuan
) say that their ancestry traces back to Cebuano speakers native to their place and not from immigrants or settlers from the Visayas. Furthermore, they ethnically refer to themselves as ''Bisaya'' and not Cebuano, and their language as ''Binisaya''.
The language is also sometimes referred to in English sources as ''Cebuan'' ( ).
Cebuano is an Austronesian language; it is generally classified as one of the five primary branches of the Visayan languages
, part of the wider genus of Philippine languages
Cebuano is spoken in the provinces of Cebu
, Negros Oriental
, northeastern Negros Occidental
, (as well as the municipality of Hinoba-an
and the cities of Kabankalan
to a great extent, alongside Ilonggo
), southern Masbate
, ( Western portions of Leyte
to a great extent also alongside Waray
) , and large parts of Mindanao
, the second largest island of the Philippines.
Furthermore, "a large portion of the urban population of Zamboanga
, Cagayan de Oro, Davao
, Surigao and Cotabato
is Cebuano speaking".
Some dialects of Cebuano have different names for the language. Cebuano speakers from Cebu are mainly called "Cebuano" while those from Bohol are "Boholano". Cebuano speakers in Leyte identify their dialect as ''Kanâ'' meaning ''that'' (Leyte Cebuano or Leyteño). Speakers in Mindanao
refer to the language simply as ''Binisaya'' or ''Bisaya''.
Cebuano originates from the island of Cebu.
The language "has spread from its base in Cebu" to nearby islands
and also Bohol
, eastern Negros
, western and southern parts of Leyte
and most parts of Mindanao
, especially the northern, southern, and eastern parts of the large island.
Cebuano was first documented in a list of vocabulary compiled by Antonio Pigafetta
, an Italian explorer who was part of and documented Ferdinand Magellan
's 1521 expedition. Spanish missionaries started to write in the language during the early 18th century. As a result of the eventual 300-year Spanish colonial period, Cebuano contains many words of Spanish origin.
While there is evidence of a pre-Spanish writing system for the language, its use appears to have been sporadic. Spaniards recorded the Visayan script
which was called ''Kudlit-kabadlit'' by the natives. The colonists called the ancient Filipino script "Tagalog letters", regardless of the language for which it was used. This script died out by the 17th century as it was gradually supplanted by the Latin script.
The language was heavily influenced by the Spanish language during the period of colonialism from 1565 to 1898. With the arrival of Spanish colonists, for example, a Latin-based writing system was introduced alongside a number of Spanish loanwords.
Below is the vowel system of Cebuano with their corresponding letter representation in angular brackets:
* an open front unrounded vowel
similar to English "father"
* an open-mid front unrounded vowel
similar to English "bed"
* a close front unrounded vowel
similar to English "machine"
* a close-mid back rounded vowel
similar to English "forty"
* a close back rounded vowel
similar to English "flute"
Sometimes, may also be pronounced as the open-mid back unrounded vowel
(as in English "gut"); or as the near-close near-front unrounded vowel
(as in English "bit"); and or as the open-mid back rounded vowel
(as in English "thought") or the near-close near-back rounded vowel
(as in English "hook").
During the precolonial and Spanish
period, Cebuano had only three vowel phonemes: , and . This was later expanded to five vowels with the introduction of Spanish. As a consequence, the vowels or , as well as or , are still mostly allophone
s. They can be freely switched with each other without losing their meaning (free variation
); though it may sound strange to a native listener, depending on their dialect. The vowel has no variations, though it can be pronounced subtly differently, as either or (and very rarely as immediately after the consonant ). Loanword
s, however, are usually more conservative in their orthography and pronunciation (e.g. ''dyip'', "jeepney
" from English "jeep", will never be written or spoken as ''dyep'').
For Cebuano consonants, all the stops are unaspirated. The velar nasal
occurs in all positions, including at the beginning of a word (e.g. ''ngano'', "why"). The glottal stop
is most commonly encountered in between two vowels, but can also appear in all positions.
Like in Tagalog
, glottal stops are usually not indicated in writing. When indicated, it is commonly written as a hyphen
or an apostrophe
if the glottal stop occurs in the middle of the word (e.g. ''tu-o'' or ''tu'o'', "right"). More formally, when it occurs at the end of the word, it is indicated by a circumflex accent
if both a stress and a glottal stop occurs at the final vowel (e.g. ''basâ'', "wet"); or a grave accent
if the glottal stop occurs at the final vowel, but the stress occurs at the penultimate syllable (e.g. ''batà'', "child").
Below is a chart of Cebuano consonants with their corresponding letter representation in parentheses:
In certain dialects, may be interchanged with in between vowels and vice versa depending on the following conditions:
*If is in between and /, the vowel succeeding is usually (but not always) dropped (e.g. ''lalom'', "deep", becomes ''lawom'' or ''lawm'').
*If is in between / and , it is the vowel that is preceding that is instead dropped (e.g. ''bulan'', "moon", becomes ''buwan'' or ''bwan'')
*If is in between two like vowels, the may be dropped completely and the vowel lengthened. For example, ''dala'' ("bring"), becomes ''da'' (); and ''tulod'' ("push") becomes ''tud'' ().
Except if the l is in between closed syllables
or is in the beginning of the penultimate syllable; in which case, the is dropped along with one of the vowels, and no lengthening occurs. For example, ''kalatkat'', "climb", becomes ''katkat'' ( not ).
A final can also be replaced with in certain areas in Bohol (e.g. ''tambal'', "medicine", becomes ''tambaw''). In very rare cases in Cebu, may also be replaced with in between the vowels and / (e.g. ''tingali'', "maybe", becomes ''tingayi'').
In some parts of Bohol and Southern Leyte, is also often replaced with when it is in the beginning of a syllable (e.g. ''kalayo'', "fire", becomes ''kalajo''). It can also happen even if the is at the final position of the syllable and the word, but only if it is moved to the initial position by the addition of the affix
''-a''. For example, ''baboy'' ("pig") can not become ''baboj'', but ''baboya'' can become ''baboja.''
All of the above substitutions are considered allophonic and do not change the meaning of the word.
In rarer instances, the consonant might also be replaced with when it is in between two vowels (e.g. Boholano ''ido'' for standard Cebuano ''iro'', "dog"), but and are not considered allophones,
though they may have been in the past.
Stress accent is phonemic, so that ''dapít'' (adverb) means "near to a place," while ''dāpit'' (noun) means "place."
''dū-ol'' (verb) means "come near," while ''du-ól'' (adverb) means "near" or "close by."
Cebuano is a member of the Philippine languages
. Early trade contact resulted in a large number of older loan words from other languages being embedded in Cebuano, like Sanskrit
(e.g. ''sangka'', "fight" and ''bahandi'', "wealth", from Sanskrit ''sanka'' and ''bhānda'' respectively), and Arabic
(e.g. ''salámat'', "thanks"; ''hukom'' or ''hukm'', "judge").
It has also been influenced by thousands of words from Spanish, such as ''kurus'' 'cruz''
(cross), ''swerte'' 'suerte''
("luck"), ''gwapa'' 'guapa''
("beautiful"), ''merkado'' 'mercado''
("market") and ''brilyante'' 'brillante''
("brilliant"). It has several hundred loan words from English as well, which are altered to conform to the phonemic inventory of Cebuano: ''brislit'' (bracelet), ''hayskul'' (high school), ''syáping'' (shopping), ''bakwit'' (evacuate), and ''dráyber'' (driver). However, today, it is more common for Cebuanos to spell out those words in their original English form rather than with spelling that might conform to Cebuano standards.
A few common phrases in Cebuano include:
* How are you? (used as a greeting) - ''Komosta?''
* Good morning - ''Maayong buntag''
* Good afternoon (specifically at 12:00 Noon up to 12:59 PM) - ''Maayong udto''
* Good afternoon - ''Maayong hapon''
* Good evening - ''Maayong gabii''
* Good bye - ''Ayo-ayo'' ("Take care", formal), ''Adios'' (rare), ''Babay'' (informal, corruption of "Goodbye"), ''Amping'' ("Take care"), ''Hangtod sa sunod nga higayon'' ("Until next time")
* Thank you - ''Salamat''
* Many thanks! - ''Daghang Salamat''
* Thank you very much! - ''Daghan kaayong salamat''
* You're welcome - ''Walay sapayan''
* Do not (imperative
) - ''Ayaw''
* Don't know - ''Ambot''
* Yes - ''O''
* Maybe - ''Tingali'', ''Basin''
:*''Dili'' - for future verb negation ("will not", "does/do not", "not going to"); and negation of identity, membership, property, relation, or position ("e/she/it/this/that
:*''Wala'' - for past and progressive verb negation ("have not", "did not"); and to indicate the absence of ("none", "nothing", "not have", "there is not")
* Who - ''Kinsa''
* What - ''Unsa''
** ''diin'' - where (past)
**''Ása'' - where (present)
* Which - ''Hain''
* When - ''Kanus-a''
* How - ''Giunsa''
The de facto Standard Cebuano dialect (sometimes referred to as General Cebuano) is derived from the conservative Sialo vernacular spoken in southeastern Cebu (also known as the Sialo dialect or the Carcar-Dalaguete dialect). It first gained prominence due to its adoption by the Catholic Church
as the standard for written Cebuano. It retains the intervocalic .
In contrast, the Urban Cebuano dialect spoken by people in Metro Cebu
and surrounding areas is characterized by elision and heavily contracted words and phrases.
For example, ''waláy problema'' ("no problem") in Standard Cebuano can become ''way 'blema'' in Urban Cebuano.
Colloquialisms can also be used to determine the regional origin of the speaker. Cebuano-speaking people from Cagayan de Oro
, for example, say ''chada'' or ''tsada''/''patsada'' (roughly translated to the English colloquialism "awesome") and people from Davao City
say ''atchup'' which also translated to the same English context;
meanwhile Cebuanos from Cebu on the other hand say ''nindot'' or, sometimes, ''aníndot''. However, this word is also commonly used in the same context in other Cebuano-speaking regions, in effect making this word not only limited in use to Cebu.
There is no standardized orthography for Cebuano, but spelling in print usually follow the pronunciation of Standard Cebuano, regardless of how it is actually spoken by the speaker. For example, ''baláy'' ("house") is pronounced in Standard Cebuano and is thus spelled "baláy", even in Urban Cebuano where it is actually pronounced .
Cebuano is spoken natively over a large area of the Philippines and thus has numerous regional dialects. It can vary significantly in terms of lexicon
and phonology depending on where it is spoken.
Increasing usage of spoken English (being the primary language of commerce and education in the Philippines) has also led to the introduction of new pronunciations and spellings of old Cebuano words. Code-switching
forms of English and Bisaya (Bislish
) are also common among the educated younger generations.
There are four main dialectal groups within Cebuano aside from the Standard Cebuano and Urban Cebuano. They are as follows:
The Boholano dialect
shares many similarities with the southern form of the standard Cebuano dialect. It is also spoken in some parts of Siquijor
. Boholano, especially as spoken in central Bohol, can be distinguished from other Cebuano variants by a few phonetic change
*The semivowel ''y'' is pronounced : ''iya'' is pronounced ;
*''Ako'' is pronounced as ;
*Intervocalic ''l'' is occasionally pronounced as when following ''u'' or ''o'': ''kulang'' is pronounced as (the same as Metro Cebu
Southern Kana is a dialect of both southern Leyte
and Southern Leyte
provinces; it is closest to the Mindanao Cebuano dialect at the southern area and northern Cebu dialect at the northern boundaries. Both North and South Kana are subgroups of Leyteño dialect
. Both of these dialects are spoken in western and central Leyte and in the southern province, but the Boholano is more concentrated in Maasin City
North Kana (found in the northern part of Leyte
), is closest to the variety of the language spoken in northern part of Leyte, and shows significant influence from Waray-Waray, quite notably in its pace which speakers from Cebu find very fast, and its more mellow tone (compared to the urban Cebu City dialect, which Kana speakers find "rough"). A distinguishing feature of this dialect is the reduction of prominent, but an often unnoticed feature of this dialect is the labialisation of and into , when these phonemes come before and , velarisation of and into before and , and the dentalisation of and into before , and and sometimes, before vowels and other consonants as well.
This is the variety of Cebuano spoken throughout most of Mindanao
and it is the standard dialect of Cebuano in Northern Mindanao
Local historical sources found in Cagayan de Oro indicates the early presence of Cebuano Visayans in the Misamis-Agusan coastal areas and their contacts with the Lumads and peoples of the Rajahnate of Butuan. Lumads refer to these Visayan groups as "Dumagat" ("people of the sea") as they came in the area seaborne. It became the lingua franca of precolonial Visayan settlers and native Lumads of the area, and particularly of the ancient Rajahnate of Butuan where Butuanon
, a Southern Visayan language, was also spoken. Cebuano influence in Lumad languages around the highlands of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon was furthered with the influx of Cebuano Visayan laborers and conscripts of the Spaniards from Cebuano areas of Visayas (particularly from Bohol) during the colonial period around the present-day region of Northern Mindanao. It has spread west towards the Zamboanga Peninsula
, east towards Caraga
, and south towards Bukidnon
and the Davao Region
in the final years of Spanish colonial rule.
Similar to the Sialo dialect of southeastern Cebu, it is distinctive in retaining /l/ sounds, long since considered archaic in Urban Cebuano. For example: ''bulan'' instead of ''buwan'' ("moon" or "month"), ''dalunggan'' instead of ''dunggan'' (ear), and ''halang'' instead of ''hang'' ("spicy").
Due to the influx of migrants (mostly from Western Visayas and Leyte) during the promotion of settlement in the highlands of Central Mindanao in the 1930s, vocabulary from other Visayan languages (predominantly Hiligaynon
) have also been incorporated into Mindanao Cebuano. For example, the Hiligaynon ''sábat'' ("reply") is commonly used alongside Cebuano ''tubag'', ''bulig'' alongside ''tábang'' ("help"), and Waray ''lutô'' alongside ''kan-on'' ("cooked rice"). Though, these influences are only limited to the speakers along the port area and Hiligaynon-speaking communities.
A branch of Mindanao Cebuano in Davao
is also known as Davaeño (not to be confused with the Davao variant of Chavacano
which is called "Castellano Abakay"). Like the Cebuano-speakers of Luzon, it contains some Tagalog
vocabulary to a greater extent. Its grammar is similar to other varieties. However, speakers nowadays exhibits stronger Tagalog influence in their speech by substituting most Cebuano words with Tagalog ones. One characteristic is the practice of saying ''atà'', derived from Tagalog ''yatà'' to denote uncertainty of a speaker's any aforementioned statements. For instance, ''"Tuá man atà
sa baláy si Manuel"'' instead of ''"Tuá man tingáli
sa baláy si Manuel"''. However, the word ''atà'' exists in Cebuano though it means 'squid ink' (atà sa nukos
Other examples include: ''Nibabâ
ko sa jeep sa kanto, tapos
niulî ko sa among baláy'' ("I got off the jeepney
at the street corner, and then I went home") instead of ''Ninaog
ko sa jeep sa kanto, dayon
niulî ko sa among baláy''. The words ''babâ'' and ''naog'' mean "to disembark" or "to go down", while ''tapos'' and ''dayon'' mean 'then'; the former is Tagalog, and the latter Cebuano. It also sometimes add some Bagobo and Mansakan
vocabulary, like: ''Madayaw
nga adlaw, amigo, kumusta ka?'' ("Good day
, friend, how are you?", literally "Good morning/afternoon") rather than ''"Maayo
nga adlaw, amigo, kamusta ka?"'' The words ''madayaw'' and ''maayo'' mean 'good'; the former is Bagobo, and the latter Cebuano.
The Cebuano dialect in Negros
is somewhat similar to the Standard Cebuano (spoken by the majority of the provincial areas of Cebu), with distinct Hiligaynon
influences. It is distinctive in retaining sounds and longer word forms as well. It is the primary dialectal language of the entire province of Negros Oriental
and northeastern parts of Negros Occidental
(while the majority of the latter province and its bordered areas speaks Hiligaynon/Ilonggo), as well as some parts of Siquijor
. Examples of Negrense Cebuano's distinction from other Cebuano dialects is the usage of the word ''maot'' instead of ''batî'' ("ugly"), ''alálay'', ''kalálag'' instead of ''kalag-kalag'' (Halloween), ''kabaló/kahíbaló'' and ''kaágo/kaántigo'' instead of ''kabawó/kahíbawó'' ("know").
There is no specific Luzon
dialect, as speakers of Cebuano in Luzon come from many different regions in Central Visayas and Mindanao. Cebuano-speaking people from Luzon in Visayas can be easily recognized primarily by their vocabulary which incorporates Tagalog
words. Their accents and some aspects of grammar can also sometimes exhibit Tagalog
influence. The dialect is sometimes colloquially known as "Bisalog
" (a portmanteau
of Tagalog and Binisaya).
The term saksak sinagol
in context means "a collection of miscellaneous things" and literally "inserted mixture", thus those other few Cebuano-influenced regions that have a variety of regional languages uses this term to refer to their dialect with considerable incorporated Cebuano words. Example of these regions are places likes those in Masbate
Cebuano uses two numeral systems:
The native system (currently) is mostly used in counting the number of things, animate and inanimate, e.g. the number of horses, houses.
The spanish-derived system, on the other hand, is exclusively applied in monetary terminology and is also commonly used in counting from 11 and above.
* Boholano dialect
* Cebuano grammar
* Cebuano literature
* Cebuano people
* Languages of the Philippines
Cebuano DictionaryCebuano English Searchable Dictionary
* John U. Wolff, A Dictionary of Cebuano VisayanVolume IVolume IIsearchable interfaceDownloadable text at Project GutenbergAng Dila Natong BisayaLagda Sa Espeling ''Rules of Spelling''
* ttp://www.languagelinks.org/index.html Language Links.org - Philippine Languages to the WorldOnline E-book of Spanish-Cebuano Dictionary
published in 1898 by Fr. Felix Guillén
Cebuano dictionaryOnline bible
video and audio files, publications and other bible
study material in Cebuano languag