Waray is the fifth-most-spoken native regional language of the Philippines, native to Eastern Visayas. It is the native language of the Waray people and second language of the Abaknon people of Capul, Northern Samar and some Cebuano-speaking peoples of eastern and southern parts of Leyte island. It is the third most spoken language among the Visayan languages, only behind Hiligaynon and Cebuano. The language name comes from the word often heard by non-speakers, "waray" (meaning "none" or "nothing" in Waray); similarly, Cebuanos are known in Leyte as "mga Kana" and their language as "Kana" (after the oft-heard word "kana", meaning "that" in the Cebuano language).[not verified in body]


Linguist Jason Lobel (2009) considers there are 25 dialects and subdialects of Waray-Waray.[3]

  • Tacloban: "standard" dialect: the dialect used in television and radio broadcasts and in education
  • Abuyog, Leyte: heavy Cebuano influence
  • Culaba, Biliran: heavy Cebuano influence
  • Catbalogan: "Original" dialect: Pure Waray, Central part of Samar Island
  • Calbayog: mixture of the Tacloban dialect and the dialect of Northern Samar
  • Allen, Northern Samar: mostly Southern Sorsoganon mixed with Northern Samarenyo. Dialects in neighboring towns have also borrowed extensively from Southern Sorsoganon.

Waray-Waray is characterized by a unique sound change in which Proto-Bisayan *s becomes /h/ in a small number of common grammatical morphemes. This sound change occurs in all areas of Samar south of the municipalities of Santa Margarita, Matuginao, Las Navas, and Gamay (roughly corresponding to the provinces of Samar and Eastern Samar, but not Northern Samar), as well as in all of the Waray-speaking areas of Leyte, except the towns of Javier and Abuyog. However, this sound change is an areal feature rather than a strictly genetic one (Lobel 2009).[3]

Most Waray dialects in northeastern and eastern Samar have the close central unrounded vowel /ɨ/ as a reflex of Proto-Austronesian *e.[3]



Waray has a total of 16 consonant phonemes: /p, t, k, b, d, ɡ, m, n, ŋ, s, h, w, l, ɾ, j, ʔ/.


Waray has 3 vowel phonemes: /a/ [a], /i/ [ɛ~i], and /u/ [o~ʊ, u]. Two more vowels /e, o/ are used from Spanish. The use of /u/ instead of an /o/ or /ɔ/ does not lead to a difference in meaning, since they are free variants and their use is therefore dialectal or of other sociolects.


Waray is one of the 19 officially recognized regional languages in the Philippines and used in local government.[citation needed]

It is widely used in media particularly in television and radio broadcasts. However, print media in this language are rare because most regional newspapers are published in English. The language is used in education from kindergarten to primary level as part of the Philippine government's K-12 program where pupils from Kinder to Third grade are taught in their respective indigenous languages.

Waray is also used in the Eucharistic celebrations or Holy Masses in the Roman Catholic Church and in the worship services of different Christian sects present in the region. Bibles published in Waray are also available.[citation needed]


The language of Waray has borrowed vocabulary extensively from other languages, especially from Spanish. These words are being adopted to fill lexical gaps of the recipient language. Spanish colonialization introduced new systems to the Philippine society.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Waray at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Waray (Philippines)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b c Lobel, Jason. 2009. Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World, 914-917. Oxford: Elsevier.

Further reading

  • Dictionary English Waray-Waray/Tagalog (2005) by Tomas A. Abuyen, National Book Store, 494 pp., ISBN 971-08-6529-3.
  • Rubino, Carl. Waray-Waray. In Garry, Jane and Carl Rubino (eds.), Facts About the World's Languages, An Encyclopedia of the World's Languages: Past and Present (2001), pp. 797-800.

External links