The Bisayan or Visayan languages are a group of languages spoken mainly in the Visayas region of the Philippines. They are part of the large Austronesian language family that includes other Philippine languages such as Tagalog and several outside the country such as Malay and Indonesian, but they are not mutually intelligible with those languages and only to a limited extent with each other.
The most important of these languages is:
- Cebuano, spoken as the main local language throughout Cebu Province, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Siquijor and Camiguin, and in much of Mindanao and Leyte. There are regional differences, but all variants are mutually intelligible to a high degree.
Cebuano is often called Bisaya by its speakers or Visayan in English. Wikipedia ranks it as the 55th most common world language by number of native speakers. It is the second most important local language of the Philippines, after the official language Filipino which is based on Tagalog.
There are over 30 Visayan languages; see Wikipedia for a list. The ones Wikivoyage has phrasebooks for are:
- Cebuano, about 21 million native speakers in several provinces
- Hilgayon or Ilonggo, about 10 million in Negros Occidental, Guimaras, much of Panay and parts of Mindanao.
- Waray, about 3.4 million in Samar, Biliran and parts of Leyte
- Capiznon, about 650,000 in Panay, mainly Capiz province
- Akeanon or Aklanon, about half a million in northern Panay, mainly Aklan province
- Tausug, about 1.1 million, mainly in the Sulu Islands but also on both Mindanao and Borneo
Wikivoyage also has a Chavacano phrasebook; Chavacano is a generic term for a creole that takes much of its vocabulary from Spanish and most of its grammar from Filipino languages. There are about 700,000 native speakers of various Chavacano variants; the largest group are near Zamboanga but others are scattered around the country.
We do not (as of early 2021) have phrasebooks for the Cuyonon language (about 120,000 native speakers in Palawan and the Cuyo Islands), for Surigaonon (500,000 in the two Surigao provinces), or for Butuanon (35,000 mostly in Butuan).
No two of these are fully mutually intelligible, though a speaker of any of them would recognize some words and grammatical features in any of the others. Ilonggo and Capiznon are close enough to allow communication, but with difficulties.
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