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Waray-Waray language

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Title: Waray-Waray language  
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Waray-Waray language

Waray - Waray
Winaray, Samarnon, Binisaya nga Winaray
Native to Philippines
Region Eastern Visayas (entire Samar and northeastern portions of Leyte province), eastern parts of Biliran and some parts of Masbate and Sorsogon
Ethnicity Waray people
Native speakers
3 million[1]  (2014)[2]
5th most spoken native language in the Philippines[3]
Dialects Waray, Samar-Leyte, Northern Samar
Historically Badlit
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated by Commission on the Filipino Language
Historically regulated by the Sanghiran san Binisaya ha Samar ug Leyte
Language codes
ISO 639-2 war
ISO 639-3 war
Glottolog wara1300[4]
Areas where Waray-Waray is spoken

Waray-Waray (also Waray, Samar-Leyte, and Samarnon) is the fifth most spoken native language of the Philippines, specific to the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran, and in the north-east of Leyte Island (surrounding Tacloban). The name comes from the word often heard by non-speakers, "waray" (meaning "none", "nothing" or "not"), in the same way that Cebuanos are known in Leyte as "mga Kana" (after the oft-heard word "kana", meaning "that", among people speaking the Cebuano language).

The Waray-Waray language spoken by the Waray people of Samar island, in the north east of Leyte Island (surrounding Tacloban) and in some parts of Biliran island shows dialectal variations. Dialects are spoken in some parts of Masbate, particularly on the island of Ticao which is adjacent to Samar island.



Pronouns in Waray-Waray include:
  Absolutive Ergative Oblique
1st person singular ako, ak nakon, nak, ko akon, ak
2nd person singular ikaw, ka nimo, nin, mo imo, im
3rd person singular hiya, siya niya iya
1st person plural inclusive kita, kit, kirita naton aton, at
1st person plural exclusive kami namon amon
2nd person plural kamo, kam niyo iyo
3rd person plural hira, sira nira ira

Orthography issues

While the now-defunct Sanghiran san Binisaya ha Samar ug Leyte (Academy of the Visayan Language of Samar and Leyte) formulated and recommended a standard orthography, this was never widely disseminated, and therefore as of present there is still no commonly accepted official orthography. In effect, there may exist two spellings of the same word (usually limited to differences in vowels only), such as

  • diri or dire ("no")
  • hira or hera ("them")
  • maupay or mabaysay ("good")
  • guinhatag or ginhatag ("gave")
  • direcho or diritso ("straight [ahead]")
  • ciudad or syudad ("city")
  • espejo or espeho ("mirror")


Waray-Waray is one of the ten officially recognized regional languages in the Philippines and used in local government.

However, print media in this language are rare because most regional newspapers are published in English. The language is also used in the Eucharistic celebrations or Holy Masses in the Roman Catholic Church in the region. Bibles published in Waray-Waray are also available.

Waray-Waray songs are widely appreciated and can be heard in the radio. In 1993, the LDS Church or Mormonism published a selected Waray-Waray edition of the Book of Mormon entitled "An Libro ni Mormon". Today, many Waray aficionados advocate wider use of this language.



The Waray language has sixteen consonant phonemes: /p, t, k, b, d, ɡ, m, n, ŋ, s, h, w, l, ɾ, j/. Consonants /d/ and /ɾ/ were once allophones but cannot now interchange, as in palaron (to be lucky) from palad, palm (one's luck is seen on one's palm in fortune-telling) which cannot be paladon, or tagadiín (from where) [from diín, where] which cannot be tagariín.


The voice onset time of Waray voiceless Plosives like /p, t, k/ is very low. And their aspiration, if existing, seems to be only minimal. Respectively, the voiced Plosives /b, d, ɡ/ are always fully voiced. If not fully voiced they will be perceived as /p, t, k/.


There are three vowel phonemes: a [a], i [ɛ ~ i], and u [o ~ u]. This means that the vowel phoneme i can be represented with sounds from a scale of [i ~ ɛ]. This is also the cause of multiple orthographic variations among Waray speakers. Words like lolo (grandfather) can also be written as lulu since o and u are the representatives of the same phonemes, and thus the interchange will never form meaningful contrasts between utterances.


The language of Waray-Waray borrowed vocabulary extensively from other languages. Most of those words are so-called core B words, which are cultural words adopted by a language when heavily exposed to a new culture. These words are being adopted to fill lexical gaps of the recipient language. Spanish colonialization introduced new systems to the Philippine society. Prohibitions and "re-education," as imposed by the Spanish priests, penetrated all domains of everyday life and so led to massive lexical borrowing.

Since World War II many of the Spanish terms, mainly political or technical, have been replaced by English vocabulary.

See also


  1. ^ "September 2014 Nationwide Survey on the May 2016 Elections".  
  2. ^ Waray - Waray at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  3. ^ Philippine Census, 2000. Table 11. Household Population by Ethnicity, Sex and Region: 2000
  4. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Waray (Philippines)". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 

Further reading

  • Dictionary English Waray-Waray/Tagalog (2005) by Tomas A. Abuyen, National Book Store, 494 pp., ISBN 971-08-6529-3.

External links

  • Radyo Waraynon - Waraynon Internet Radio Station
  • Waray Museum Blog featuring Waray literature
  • Online Lineyte-Samarnon (Waray)-English Dictionary (also with Videos, Photos, Music, News, Local Destinations)
  • Waray lessons
  • Waray Dictionary
  • Waray dictionary, literary database & teaching resource
  • [1] - with Bicol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon &c. cognates and some Proto-Malayo-Polynesian etymologies
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