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Reconstruction ofPhilippine languages
Lower-order reconstructions
  • Proto-Batanic
  • Proto-Northern Luzon
  • Proto-Central Luzon
  • Proto-Greater Central Philippine
  • Proto-South Mindanao
  • Proto-Minahasan
  • Proto-Sangiric

The Proto-Philippine language is a reconstructed ancestral proto-language of the Philippine languages, a proposed subgroup of the Austronesian languages which includes all languages within the Philippines (except for the Sama–Bajaw languages) as well as those within the northern portions of Sulawesi in Indonesia.[1][2][3][4] Proto-Philippine is not directly attested to in any written work, but linguistic reconstruction by the comparative method has found regular similarities among languages that cannot be explained by coincidence or word-borrowing.


Further information: Philippine languages § Classification

There have been three initial proposals in delineating the southern boundaries of the Philippine group: Northern Borneo in Malaysia, southern Philippines (encompassing southern Luzon all the way to Mindanao and the Sulu Sea area), and northern Sulawesi in Indonesia.[4] The earliest boundary was proposed by Esser (1938) between the Gorontalo languages and the Tomini languages of Sulawesi. While it was later found decades after (Himmelmann, 1990) that there are shared innovations between Philippine and Tomini languages, there are still uncertainties as to whether the latter do validly form one genetic group, or should be relegated as a mere geographic unit.[5] Meanwhile, Charles (1974) in particular proposed that languages in Sabah and of northern Sarawak are descendants of this Proto-Philippines,[6] which has subsequently garnered counter-evidences (Blust, 1974; Reid, 1982; Zorc, 1986). Lastly, there have been several proposals establishing southern Philippines as the boundary (Thomas & Healey, 1962; Dyen, 1965; Zorc, 1977; 1986) with the "Macro Meso-Philippine" and "Sangiric" as two primary branches.[7] Walton (1979) and McFarland (1980) included the Sama-Bajau group as the third branch, but such has been later disputed as entirely separate directly under Malayo-Polynesian.[3]


Due to issues in the validity of a Philippine genetic group, and thus the existence of an ancestral Proto-Philippines language, most of its features particularly its phonology remain as proposals.


Llamzon's reconstruction

Llamzon's (1975) proposed phonology of Proto-Philippines was derived from earlier reconstructions of Dempwolff's (1934-1938) works by Dyen (1947; 1951; 1953a; 1953b; 1953c). Used in this reconstruction were nine languages—Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Bikol (Central?), Ilokano, Ibanag, Ifugao, and Kankanaey—with the rationale that the aforementioned have "relatively better structural description and vocabularies" than other related and geographically contiguous languages at that time.[1] While his analysis focused on attested Proto-Austronesian phonemes which were retained in this Proto-Philippines, features that were lost or merged were not highlighted.

Proto-Philippine consonants by Llamzon (1975)
Labial Dental/Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Voiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Unvoiced
Nasal *m /m/ *n /n/ *ng /ŋ/
Stop *p /p/ *b /b/ *t /t/ *d /d/ *D /ɖ/ *j /ɟ/ *k /k/ *g /ɡ/ *q /ʔ/
Affricate *Z /ɟʝ/
Fricative *s /s/ *h /h/
Flap/Tap *r /ɾ/
Trill *R134 /ʀ/
Approximant *w /w/ *l /l/ *y /j/

Proto-phonemes *Z and *D were restricted to medial positions, and were not retained in any of the languages.

The proto-phonemes *j and *R are not preserved as such in any Philippine language: *j became either *g or *d (e.g. *púsəj became Ilocano púsəg, Tagalog púsod), whereas *R shifted to *r (e.g. in Ilokano), *l (e.g. in Pangasinan), *g (e.g. in Tagalog) or *y (e.g. in Kapampangan).[1][4]

PPh vowels by Llamzon (1975)
Front Central Back
Close *i /i/ *u /u/
Mid /ə/
Open *a /a/

Proto-Philippines schwa *ə often merged with other vowels (e.g. /u/ in Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray; /a/ in Ibanag, /i/ in Tagalog), but is retained in a diverse range of Philippine languages (e.g. Gaddang, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, Rinconada Bikol, Palawano), and in southern dialects of Ilokano.

Proto-Philippine diphthongs by Llamzon (1975)
*ay *uy *aw *iw

Paz' reconstruction

Another notable proposal is by Paz (1981) who conducted a bottom-up approach by reconstructing using her own symbols.[8]

Proto-Philippine consonants by Paz (1981)
Labial Dental/Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Voiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ N /ŋ/
Stop p /p/ b /b/ t /t/ d /d/ /ɖ/ /ɡʲ/ k /k/ g /ɡ/ ? /ʔ/
Fricative s /s/ h /h/
Trill *r /r/
Approximant w /w/ // *l /l/ y /j/

Paz revisits two types of proto-Austronesian L as part of her reconstruction (l, l̥), which makes it distinct from other reconstructions.

Proto-Philippine vowels by Paz (1981)
Height Front Central Back Stress
Close i u
Mid ə
Open a

In comparison to Llamzon, Paz presents five diphthongs instead.

Proto-Philippine diphthongs by Paz (1981)
ay uy əy aw iw


Below is a table comparing core vocabulary from modern Philippine languages in relation to the follow Proto-Philippine innovations. Note that the accented vowels (e.g. á) under Proto-Philippine indicate the stress, while q represents glottal stop.

Proto-Philippine Tagalog Ilokano Kapampangan Maguindanaon Visayan group Gloss
*ásu aso aso asu asu dog
*baláy bahay balay bale waláy baláy house
*bábuy baboy baboy babi babuy baboy pig
*baqRu bago baro bayu bagu bag-o new
*báqi babae babai babai babay babayi
*dəkət dikít dekket deket dukót adhesive/(to) stick
*dáRaq dara daya dara blood
*duRúq dugô lugu dugô
*hajək halík agek alek halók (to) kiss
*ŋájan pangalan
nagan ngalan ngala
*danúm danum danum water
*túbiR tubig tubig
*laŋúy langóy langóy langúy langóy (to) swim
*táu tao tao tau taw tawo human

Below are selected animal and plant names in Proto-Philippine from the Austronesian Comparative Dictionary.[9]

Animal names

No. Common name Scientific name Proto-Philippine
9207 fish sp., slipmouth Leiognathus sp. *sapsáp
10806 kind of mackerel Rastrelliger spp. *tuliŋan
10964 a sea fish, the rudderfish Kyphosus cinerascens *hilek
1631 anchovy Stolephorus spp. *bulínaw
12682 milkfish Chanos chanos *baŋús
11877 parrot fish Scarus spp. *mulmúl
9819 kind of water bird, the Oriental darter Anhinga melanogaster *kasíli
10671 a bird and its call, probably the tailor bird Orthotomus atrogularis *tiwtiw
11077 coconut crab Birgus latro *tatus
12348 large marine mollusk Turbo marmoratus *RaRaŋ

Plant names

No. Common name Scientific name Proto-Philippine
9369 a flowering plant Ixora spp. *santán
9568 a fruit tree, the pomelo Citrus decumana *suháq
2940 a leguminous shrub Leucaena glauca *ipil ipil
8957 a palm Corypha spp. *silaR
12394 a plant Acalypha spp. *abilus
10807 a plant Astronia spp., Melastomataceae *tuŋaw₂
11068 a plant Glochidion spp. *anam
9810 a plant Impatiens balsamina *kamantigi
6876 a plant Lunasia amara *paqit-an
10007 a plant Sesbania grandiflora *katúday
9565 a plant Solanum spp. *sili-sili
10064 a plant in the banana family Musa textilis? *qaRutay
12593 a plant with medicinal value, probably Blumea spp. *qalibun
11080 a shrub or tree Melanolepis multiglandulosa *álem
9651 a shrub, the Jew's mallow Corchorus spp., fam. Malvaceae *salúyut
12668 a small tree with leaves used as medicine Citrus aurantifolia *dayap
10265 a tall tree Parkia spp. *kúpaŋ
7998 a tree Acalypha amentacea *beRus
12362 a tree Diospyros sp. *kanadem
947 a tree Diospyros spp. *talaŋ₁
9647 a tree Erythrina spp. *sabaŋ₂
10966 a tree Ficus sp. *lab(e)nuR
10563 a tree Ficus sp. *tebéR
11024 a tree Ganua obovatifolia, Sapotaceae *piaŋa
608 a tree Lagerstroemia speciosa *banabá
11756 a tree Mallotus lackeyi *lamay
12325 a tree Myristica spp. *lagu₂
9093 a tree Planchonella obovata *banisah
9092 a tree Pongamia spp. *bani₂
10722 a tree Prunus sp. *taŋa₄
12392 a tree Shorea polysperma *taŋíliq
11555 a tree and its fruit, the Java plum Syzygium cumini *luŋ(e)búy
12198 a tree with bark that can be used as a shampoo Ganophyllum falcatum *gúguq
12228 a tree with edible fruit Diplodiscus paniculatus *baRubu
1208 a tree; Macaranga tanarius *binuŋa
12434 a vine Caesalpinia bonduc *kabit₃
10233 a vine with gourd or cucumber-like fruit Luffa sp.? *kabatíti
11595 a vine with red flower clusters, the Chinese honeysuckle Quisqualis indica *taluluŋ
12477 an edible plant, swamp cabbage Ipomoea aquatica *taŋkuŋ
11071 beautyberry Callicarpa spp. *anayup
11088 creeping vine that grows on sandy beaches, the beach morning glory Ipomoea pes-caprae *balinu
11148 hairy eggplant Solanum ferox *basula
10234 kind of aromatic herb Pogostemon cablin *kab(e)liŋ
9922 kind of ebony or persimmon tree with fruits that are pounded and used to stupefy fish Diospyros spp. *kanúmay
10312 kind of edible squash or gourd Lagenaria leucantha *tabayaR
11075 kind of tall grass Themeda gigantea *taŋ(e)laj
9750 kind of wild lemon tree, possibly Citrus hystrix *kabuRaw
9806 large forest tree with edible brown, hairy fruits Diospyros discolor *kamaguŋ
10412 lesser yam Dioscorea sp. *tugíq
10885 lima bean Phaseolus lunatus *patániq
2 Manila hemp Musa textilis *abaká
11872 mountain apple Eugenia spp. *makúpa
12657 native spinach Amaranthus spp. *kulitis
11653 Philippine cedar tree Cedrela sp. *kalantas
10749 plant with leaves used as a vegetable Talinum paniculatum or Talinum triangulare *talínum
1854 silk cotton tree Ceiba pentandra *buybuy
11145 small tree Morinda citrifolia? *apatut
12468 taro Colocasia esculenta *gabi
10978 the almasiga tree Agathis celebica *gala
11073 the castor bean plant Ricinus communis *katana
10163 the horseradish tree Moringa oleifera *maruŋgay
12753 the Philippine mahogany Shorea or Hopea sp. *yakál
9615 the sappan tree Caesalpinia sappan *sibukaw
12361 the seeded breadfruit tree Artocarpus camansi *kamansi
12253 the seeded breadfruit tree Artocarpus camansi *kamansiq
10762 tree with bright yellow fruit that has dry flesh Lucuma nervosa *tisaq
8970 wild palm tree with fruit similar to areca nut Heterospathe elata *sagisí

See also


  1. ^ a b c Llamzon, Teodoro A. "Proto-Philippine Phonology." In: Archipel, volume 9, 1975. pp. 29-42.
  2. ^ Charles, Mathew (1974). "Problems in the Reconstruction of Proto-Philippine Phonology and the Subgrouping of the Philippine Languages". Oceanic Linguistics. 13 (1/2): 457–509. doi:10.2307/3622751. JSTOR 3622751.
  3. ^ a b Zorc, R.D. (1986). "The genetic relationships of Philippine languages." In Geraghty, P., Carrington, L. and Wurm, S.A. editors, FOCAL II: Papers from the Fourth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. C-94:147-173. Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University, 1986.
  4. ^ a b c Blust, Robert (1991). "The Greater Central Philippines hypothesis". Oceanic Linguistics. 30 (2): 73–129. doi:10.2307/3623084. JSTOR 3623084.
  5. ^ Himmelmann, Nikolaus (1990). "Sourcebook on Tomini-Tolitoli languages". Typescript. Department of Linguistics, University of Köln: 336.
  6. ^ Charles, Matthew (1974). "Problems in the reconstruction of Proto-Philippine phonology and the subgrouping of the Philippine languages". Oceanic Linguistics. 13 (1/2): 457–509. doi:10.2307/3622751. JSTOR 3622751.
  7. ^ Dyen, Isidore (1965). "Language distribution and migration theory". Language. 32 (4): 611–626. doi:10.2307/411084. JSTOR 411084.
  8. ^ Paz, Consuelo (1981). A reconstruction of Proto-Philippine phonemes and morphemes. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Linguistic Circle.
  9. ^ Blust, Robert; Trussel, Stephen (April 25, 2020). "Austronesian Comparative Dictionary, web edition". Retrieved May 1, 2020.

Further reading