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Philippine Spanish

Philippine Spanish
Español filipino
Castellano filipino
Native to Philippines
Region Manila
Ethnicity Spanish Filipino
Native speakers
unknown (2,700 cited 1990 census)[1]
439,000 (2007) with "native knowledge"[2]
Spanish alphabet
Official status
Official language in
Regulated by Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None

Philippine Spanish is a near-extinct dialect of Spanish in the Philippines.


  • History 1
  • Phonology 2
    • Sound of ⟨ll⟩ 2.1
    • Sound of ⟨z⟩, ⟨ce⟩, ⟨ci⟩ 2.2
    • Sound of ⟨j⟩, ⟨ge⟩, ⟨gi⟩ 2.3
  • Vocabulary 3
  • Writing 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain which was centered in Mexico. It was only administered directly from Spain in 1821 after Mexico gained its independence that same year. Since the Philippines was a former territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain for most of the Spanish colonial period, Spanish as was spoken in the Philippines had a greater affinity to American Spanish rather than that of Peninsular Spanish.


Sound of ll

For Filipinos who studied Spanish in formal institutions, the tendency is to follow the Iberian dialect of the Spanish language called Castilian Spanish. Thus, these speakers will tend to employ the distinction between the sounds written "ll" /ʎ/[3][4] (or more accurately, /lj/) and "y" /j/.

With regard to the consonants, place names and other proper names tend to preserve the sound of /ll/ . Examples of these are Cordillera (Filipino: Kordilyera), ballena (Filipino: balyena; whale), Padilla, Relleve, Villanueva and Arellano. However, there still exist some few words where the sound of [j] is utilised. Most common of these examples are kabayo (Spanish: caballo; horse) and sibuyas (Spanish: cebollas; onions). This is known as yeísmo, this is only happening in loanwords not in Spanish names with /ll/.

Sound of z, ce, ci

These speakers often also distinguish between the sounds written "z, c" /θ/ and "s" /s/. However, for the non-learned population, the sound written "z, c" /θ/ is generally merged with the sound written "s" /s/. Examples of this phenomenon are the names Ciriaco [siˈrjako], sédula [ˈsedula] (Spanish: cédula; document; Philippine English: community tax certificate/residence certificate) and sinturón (Spanish: cinturón; belt). This is known as seseo, common in Andalusian, Canarian, and most Latin American Spanish dialects.

Sound of j, ge, gi

The sound called 'jota' is non-existent in any of the Philippine languages. In words that carry this grapheme, Filipinos usually realize the sound as [h]. Therefore, names such as 'José' are pronounced [hoˈse] instead of [xoˈse]; [h] is common in Andalusian, Canarian, and some Latin American Spanish dialects.

For most of the non-learned population, Spanish is acquired through Hispanic music, or for some, especially children, by watching Dora the Explorer in Nickelodeon. For the learned population, Spanish is further enriched through watching Telenovelas from the internet or watching the cable channel of Televisión Española.[5] This results in the lack of general characteristics that describe its phonological system.


Old Mexican Spanish words entered into the lexicon of the indigenous languages of the Philippines. In fact, of the great number of Spanish loanwords that exist in the various Philippine languages, a few are actually derived from the words of some of the Indigenous languages of the Americas that were first incorporated into American Spanish.[6] These include but not limited to:[7]

tsokolate Nahuatl: xocolatl chocolate chocolate
sayote Nahuatl: chayotl chayote chayote
kamote Nahuatl: camotl camote sweet potato
bayabas Arawakan: guayabo guayaba guava
papaya or kapayas Cariban: papaya papaya papaya
singkamas Nahuatl: xicamatl jícama Mexican turnip

Even words of Nahuatl origin penetrated into the Philippine languages such as nanay [from (Nahuatl: nantl); (mother)] and tatay [from (Nahuatl: tatl); (father)] as a direct result of the Manila galleon. Peninsular Spanish started to influence the vocabulary of Philippine languages after the Philippines was administered directly from Spain.


Diacritic marks are almost always left out, save for the tilde on the ñ, because of the use of American standard machines, and also because of the disallowance of using these marks by English-language media companies. Typewriters sometimes include the ñ, but they do not include accented vowels. Computer keyboards currently and have always used the U.S. standard layout, which includes neither ñ nor combining diacritics. Spanish words, however, are vocally stressed as they would be by Spanish speakers. However, the absence of these diacritic marks makes Filipino learners of Spanish liable to mispronounce (or put the accent on the wrong syllable of) the words from where loanwords in Philippine languages come from, as they pronounce these words that way in their mother languages.

As of 2012, of the younger generation of Filipino Hispanophones are following the Spanish orthographic convention of typing letters with diacritic marks (acute accents and diaeresis) as well as the inverted question and exclamation marks and the rest of the special characters and symbols found in Spanish orthography on their U.S. standard layout computer keyboards by using the AltGr key, Modifier key, Code page 437, Code page 850, Microsoft Windows Alt Key Numeric Codes for character shortcuts, or the US-International keyboard layout.

Microsoft Windows Alt Key Numeric Codes for the Spanish language:[8][9]

Alt 0193
uppercase A with accute accent
Alt 160
lowercase a with acute accent
Alt 144
uppercase E with acute accent
Alt 130
lowercase e with acute accent
Alt 0205
uppercase I with acute accent
Alt 161
lowercase i with acute accent
Alt 0211
uppercase O with acute accent
Alt 162
lowercase o with acute accent
Alt 0218
uppercase U with acute accent
Alt 163
lowercase u with acute accent
Alt 666
uppercase U with umlaut
Alt 129
lowercase u with umlaut
Alt 165
uppercase N with tilde or eñe
Alt 164
lowercase n with tilde or eñe
Alt 167
masculine ordinal indicator
Alt 166
feminine ordinal indicator
Alt 680
inverted question mark
Alt 685
inverted exclamation mark
Alt 174
left angle quote or left guillemet
Alt 175
right angle quote or right guillemet
Alt 0128
euro sign
Alt 158
pesetas (out of circulation)

For the numero signs such as n.o and N.os, superior ordinal letters such as 1.o, 2.a and, superior letters such as, D.a,, M.a and, and superior numbers such as €850, you may use the superscript (hold down the Ctrl, the Shift and the =) and underline (highlight the text then hold down the Ctrl and the letter U) keyboard shortcuts.[10]


  1. ^ Spanish at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mi querida elle: por Rosario González Galicia (Spanish),
  4. ^ Spanish in the Philippines, by Ian Mackenzie
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^

External links

  • The Teaching of Spanish in the Philippines, UNESCO, February 1968
  • List of Tagalog words of Spanish origin, self-published,
  • Semanario de Filipinas, Philippine Weekly news blog
  • E-Dyario Filipinas, online newspaper
  • Alas Filipinas, the first and only Spanish blog in the Philippines
  • Revista Filipina, online magazine
  • Cohen, Margot. Filipinos Learning Not to Scorn Spanish. Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, Yale University. April 2010.
  • Asociacion Cultural Galeon de Manila, Spanish-Philippine cultural research group based in Madrid (in Spanish and English).
  • Círculo Hispano-Filipino (in Spanish and English)
  • Website of Kaibigan Kastila
  • Spanish Made Easy and Practical For Filipinos
  • Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation
  • Casino Español de Manila
  • Casino Español de Cebú
  • Instituto Cervantes de Manila
  • Documentary "El Idioma Español en Filipinas" (Spanish)
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