Philippine English
Native toPhilippines
RegionSoutheast Asia
Native speakers
~28,700 L1 speakers (2005 UNSD)
~40 million L2 speakers (Crystal 2003a)[1]
Early forms
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Philippine English (similar and related to American English) is any variety of English native to the Philippines, including those used by the media and the vast majority of educated Filipinos. English is taught in schools as one of the two official languages of the country, the other being Filipino (Tagalog). Due to the highly multilingual nature of the Philippines, code-switching such as Taglish (Tagalog-infused English) and Bislish (English infused with any of the Bisayan languages) is prevalent across domains from casual settings to formal situations.[3][4][5][6][7][8]


Filipinos were first introduced to English when the British invaded Manila and Cavite in 1762, but this occupation had no lasting effect on English in the country. A national variety called Philippine English evolved eventually, as a result of the American colonization, and was arguably one of the fastest to develop in the postcolonial world. Its origins as an English language spoken by a large segment of the Philippine population can be traced to the American introduction of public education, taught in the English medium of instruction. This was marked by the arrival of the Thomasites in 1901, immediately during re-colonization after the Philippine Revolution in the late 19th century up to the early 1900. After a tumultuous period of colonial transition, Filipino leaders and elites, and the American colonial government alike begun discussing the formation of a Philippine national language. The retained high ethnolinguistic diversity of the new colony was due to low penetration of Spanish under Spain's rule. Spanish was limited to a medium of instruction for the landed elites and gentry. At the end of Spanish colonization, only 3-5% of the colonial population could speak Spanish.[9][10] The lingering effects of Spanish amongst the general population nevertheless had notable effects on the lexical development of many Philippine languages, and even Philippine English, in the form of hispanisms.[11] Tagalog was selected to be the basis for a national language in 1937,[12] and has since remained so. It was re-labelled as Pilipino in 1959,[13] and Filipino in 1987. With the successful establishment of American-style public education having English as a consequential medium, more than 20% of the Philippine population were reported to be able to understand and speak English just before the turn of mid-20th century.[10] This meteoric growth was sustained post-World War II, much further through Philippine mass media (e.g. newsprint, radio, television) where English also became the dominant language,[14] and by the ratification into the current Philippine Constitution in 1987, both Filipino and English were declared co-official languages. In 2020, the Philippines was ranked 27th worldwide (among 100 countries ranked) in the EF English Proficiency Index. In the same report, it was ranked 2nd in Asia next only to Singapore.[15]

Today a certain Philippine English, as formally called based on the World Englishes framework of renowned linguist Braj Kachru, is a recognized variety of English with its distinct lexical, phonological, and grammatical features (with considerable variations across socioeconomic groups and level of education being predictors of English proficiency in the Philippines). As English language became highly embedded in Philippine society, it was only a matter of time before the language was indigenized to the point that it became differentiated from English varieties found in the United States, United Kingdom, or elsewhere. This, along with the formal introduction of the World Englishes (WE) framework to English language scholars in the Philippines opened the floodgates to research on this new emerging English, which has since been branded as such as Philippine English.[16]

Philippine English in the services sector

Main article: Call center industry in the Philippines

The abundant supply of English speakers and competitive labor costs have enabled the Philippines to become a choice destination for foreign companies wishing to establish call centers and other outsourcing.[17][18][19] English proficiency sustains a major call center industry and in 2005, America Online had 1,000 people in what used to be the US Air Force's Clark Air Base in Angeles City answering ninety percent of their global e-mail inquiries. Citibank does its global ATM programming in the country, and Procter & Gamble has over 400 employees in Makati, a central Manila neighborhood, doing back office work for their Asian operations including finance, accounting, Human Resources and payments processing.

An influx of foreign students, principally from South Korea, has also led to growth in the number of English language learning centers,[20] especially in Metro Manila, Baguio, Metro Cebu and Metro Bacolod.[21]

Orthography and grammar


Philippine laws and court decisions, with extremely rare exceptions, are written solely in English. English is also used in higher education, religious affairs, print and broadcast media, and business. Most educated Filipinos are bilinguals and speak English as one of their languages. For highly technical subjects such as nursing, medicine, computing and calculus, English is the preferred medium for textbooks, communication, etc. Very few would prefer highly technical books in either Filipino or the regional language.[22][23] Movies and TV shows in English are usually not dubbed in most cable channels[24] except a few such as Tagalized Movie Channel.[25]

Because English is part of the curricula from primary to secondary education, many Filipinos write and speak in fluent Philippine English, although there might be differences in pronunciation.[26] Most schools in the Philippines, however, are staffed by teachers who are speakers of Philippine English and hence notable differences from the American English from which it was derived are observable.



For the lists of words and terms specifically used in Philippine English, see Philippine English vocabulary.

As a historical colony of the United States, the Philippine English lexicon shares most of its vocabulary from American English, but also has loanwords from native languages and Spanish, as well as some usages, coinages, and slang peculiar to the Philippines. Due to the influence of the Spanish languages, Philippine English also contains Spanish-derived terms, including Anglicizations, some resulting in false friends, such as "salvage". Philippine English also borrowed words from Philippine languages, especially native plant and animal names (e.g. "ampalaya", balimbing"), and cultural concepts with no exact English equivalents (e.g. kilig); some borrowings from Philippine languages have entered mainstream English, such as abaca and ylang-ylang.

Spelling and style

Philippine spelling is significantly closer to American than British spelling, as it adopted the systematic reforms promulgated in Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary.


The DD/MM/YYYY and MM/DD/YYYY date format are used in the Philippines for time notation and the 12-hour clock for time notation.

Keyboard layout

There are two major English language keyboard layouts, the United States layout and the United Kingdom layout. Keyboards and keyboard software for the Philippine market universally use the US keyboard layout, which lacks the pound sterling, euro and negation symbols and uses a different layout for punctuation symbols than the UK keyboard layout.


Philippine English is a rhotic accent mainly due to the influence of Philippine languages, which are the first language of most of its speakers. Another influence is the rhotic characteristic of General American English, which became the longstanding standard in the archipelago since Americans introduced the language in public education.[28][29][30] This is contrary to most Commonwealth English variants spoken in neighboring countries such as Malaysia or Singapore. The only exception to this rule is the word Marlboro, which is frequently read as Malboro. Therefore, /r/ phonemes are pronounced in all positions.[31] However, some children of Overseas Filipinos who are educated in Commonwealth countries (such as Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom) may speak in a non-rhotic accent unless taught otherwise. Native and well-educated speakers (also called acrolectal speakers[28]) may also feature flapping and vowel sounds resembling the California vowel shift due to the influence of Hollywood movies and call center culture mostly pegged towards the American market.[32]

For non-native speakers, Philippine English phonological features are heavily dependent on the speaker's mother tongue, although foreign languages such as Spanish also influenced many Filipinos on the way of pronouncing English words. This is why approximations are very common and so are hypercorrections and hyperforeignisms. The most distinguishable feature is the lack of fricative consonants, particularly /f/, /v/ and /z/. Another feature is the general absence of the schwa /ə/, and therefore pronounced by its respective full equivalent vowel although the r-colored variant [ɚ] is increasingly popular in recent years.


The following consonant changes apply for most non-native speakers of the language:[31]


Vowels in Philippine English are pronounced according to the letter representing each, so that ⟨a, e, i, o, u⟩ are generally pronounced as [a, ɛ, i, o, u], respectively.[29][31] The schwa /ə/—although a phonological feature across numerous Philippine languages such as Kinaray-a, Meranao, or the Abagatan (Southern) dialect of Ilokano—is absent.[30][33]



Many Filipinos often have distinct non-native English pronunciation, and many fall under different lectal variations (i.e. basilectal, mesolectal, acrolectal).[28] Some Philippine languages (e.g. Ibanag, Itawis, Surigaonon, Tausug) feature certain unique phonemes such as [dʒ], [f], [v], and [z], which are also present in English. However, Filipinos' first languages have generally different phonological repertoires (if not more simplified compared to English), and this leads to mis- or distinct pronunciations particularly among basilectal and to some extent mesolectal speakers.

Some examples of non-native pronunciation include:

See also


  1. ^ "Philippines". Ethnologue. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  2. ^ "Philippines". Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  3. ^ Bautista, Ma. Lourdes (2004). "Tagalog-English code-switching as a mode of discourse" (PDF). Asia-Pacific Education Review. 5 (2): 225–233. doi:10.1007/BF03024960. S2CID 145684166.
  4. ^ Bautista, Ma. Lourdes (1998). "Tagalog-English code-switching and the lexicon of Philippine English". Asian Englishes. 1 (1): 51–67. doi:10.1080/13488678.1998.10800994.
  5. ^ Erwin-Billones, Clark (2012). Code-switching in Filipino newspapers: Expansion of language, culture and identity (PDF) (Master's). Colorado State University. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  6. ^ Dayag, Danilo (2002). "Code-switching in Philippine print ads: A syntactic-pragmatic description". Philippine Journal of Linguistics. 33 (1): 34–52.
  7. ^ Bernardo, Andrew (2005). "Bilingual code-switching as a resource for learning and teaching: Alternative reflections on the language and education issue in the Philippines". In Dayag, Danilo; Quakenbush, J. Stephen (eds.). Linguistics and Language Education in the Philippines and Beyond: A Festschrift in Honor of Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista. Linguistic Society of the Philippines. pp. 151–169.
  8. ^ Cook, Erin (March 26, 2018). "How the Philippine media's use of code switching stands apart in Asia". Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  9. ^ Gonzalez, Andrew (1998). "The language planning situation in the Philippines". Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 19 (5): 487–525. doi:10.1080/01434639808666365.
  10. ^ a b Llamzon, Teodoro (1968). "On Tagalog as a dominant language". Philippine Studies. 16 (4): 729–749.
  11. ^ Sibayan, Bonifacio (2000). "Resulting patterns of sociolinguistic, socioeconomic, and cultural practice and behavior after more than four hundred years of language policy and practice in the Philippines". In Bautista, Ma. Lourdes; Llamzon, Teodoro; Sibayan, Bonifacio (eds.). Parangal cang Brother Andrew: Festschrift for Andrew Gonazlez on his sixtieth birthday. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines. pp. 247–261.
  13. ^ Andrew Gonzalez (1998), "The Language Planning Situation in the Philippines" (PDF), Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 19 (5, 6): 487–488, doi:10.1080/01434639808666365, retrieved 2007-03-24.
  14. ^ Dayag, Danilo (2008). "English-language media in the Philippines". In Bautista, Ma. Lourdes; Bolton, Kingsley (eds.). Philippine English: Linguistic and Literary Perspectives. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. pp. 49–66.
  15. ^ "EF English Proficiency Index" (PDF). Education First. 2021-05-30. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-05-30. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  16. ^ Kachru, Braj; Kachru, Yamuna; Nelson, Cecil (2009). The Handbook of World Englishes : Volume 48 of Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics. John Wiley & Sons. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-4051-8831-9.
  17. ^ Carl Marc Ramota (2004). "Economic Woes Drive Bright Graduates to Call Centers". Bulatlat. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  18. ^ Diana G Mendoza (October 1, 2010). "Philippines: Call Centre Boom Breeds New Culture – and Risky Behaviour". Global Geopolitics & Political Economy. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  19. ^ Carlos H. Conde (August 13, 2007). "English getting lost in translation in Philippines". The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  20. ^ Jonathan M. Hicap (September 13, 2009). "Koreans Flock to the Philippines to Learn English". Korea Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  21. ^ "Korean students to study English in Bacolod schools". Manila Bulletin. May 3, 2017. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  22. ^ Author David Crystal remarks that English is used in technical contexts for intelligibility, and Taglish and Bislish are used in social contexts for identity, noting that similar situations exist in other countries (e.g., as with Singlish). See Crystal, David (2003). English as a Global Language (2, illustrated, revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 189. ISBN 0-521-53032-6.
  23. ^ Espinosa, Doray (1997). "English in the Philippines". Global Issues in Language Education. Language Institute of Japan (26): 9. Archived from the original on December 29, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  24. ^ Rowthorn, Chris; Bloom, Greg (2006). Philippines. Lonely Planet Country Guide (9th ed.). Lonely Planet. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-74104-289-4. cinemas.
  25. ^ "Tagalized Movie Channel on SKY". The Philippine Star. November 23, 2014.
  26. ^ Isabel Pefianco Martin (April 12, 2008). "Fearing English in the Philippines". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  27. ^ Examples: Citing Cebu Daily News, "So if they see policemen about to conduct a security survey, they should ask me first because I will be the one who will know about it. They will have to talk to me,", "Security survey for Lapu banks suggested". Philippine Daily Inquirer. March 17, 2008. Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved September 3, 2008. Cite journal requires |journal= (help); "If I will be the one who will talk and explain, that will be self-serving,"Anselmo Roque (January 18, 2007). "Ecija school faculty bares university exec's mess". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on March 5, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2008.;"Whoever wins on the issue of secret balloting will be the one who will win the speakership,",Norman Bordadora (July 22, 2007). "Arroyo can deliver SONA sans Speaker—Salonga". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on August 9, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2008..
  28. ^ a b c Tayao, Ma. Lourdes (2004). "The evolving study of Philippine English phonology". Asian Englishes. 23 (1): 77–90. doi:10.1111/j.1467-971X.2004.00336.x.
  29. ^ a b Llamzon, T. A. (1997). "The phonology of Philippine English". In Bautista, Ma. Lourdes (ed.). English is an Asian Language: The Philippine Context. The Macquarie Library Pty. Ltd. pp. 41–48.
  30. ^ a b Bautista, Ma. Lourdes; Gonzalez, Andrew (2009). "Southeast Asian Englishes". In Kachru, Braj; Kachru, Yamuna; Nelson, Cecil (eds.). English is an Asian Language: The Philippine Context. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 130–144.
  31. ^ a b c Tayao, Ma. Lourdes (2008). "A lectal description of the phonological features of Philippine English". In Bautista, Ma. Lourdes; Bolton, Kingsley (eds.). Philippine English: Linguistic and Literary. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 157–174.
  32. ^ Lee, Don (February 1, 2015). "The Philippines has become the call-center capital of the world". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  33. ^ Tayao, Ma. Lourdes (2008). "Philippine English: Phonology". In Mesthrie, R. (ed.). Varieties of English 4: Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 292–306.

Further reading