|Native to||Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia|
|Region||Tawi-Tawi and neighboring islands of the Sulu Archipelago (Sibutu, Siasi), Darvel Bay north coast of Sabah and some part of Indonesia|
The Sama language, Sinama (Sama + the infix -in-; also known as Bahasa Bajau), is the language of Sama-Bajau people of the Sulu Archipelago, Philippines; Sabah, Malaysia and parts of Indonesia. The Sama are one of the most widely dispersed peoples in Southeast Asia.
The Ethnologue divides Sinama into 7 languages based on mutual intelligibility. The 7 Sinama languages are Northern Sinama, Central Sinama, Southern Sinama, Sinama Pangutaran from the island of Pangutaran off of Jolo island, Mapun, Bajau West Coast of Sabah and Bajau Indonesia. Jama Mapun, a language from the island of Mapun, formerly known as Cagayan de Sulu, is a related language and sometimes also referred to as Sinama. These classifications are rarely recognized by Sama themselves who instead classify their Sinama by the village or island it originates from. The emic classification of a Sama person's language e.g. Silumpak, Laminusa, Tabawan generally form the different dialects of the 7 Sinama or Bajau languages.
|Northern Sinama||Central Sinama||Southern Sinama||Sinama Pangutaran||Sinama Mapun||Bajau West Coast Sabah||Bajau Indonesia|
|Tagtabun Balangingi'||Sama Kaulungan||Simunul||Pangutaran||Kota Belud||Torosiaje|
|Tonquil Balangingi'||Sama Dilaut||Sibutu'||Ubian (North)||Tuaran|
|Pilas||Manubal||Berau East Kalimantan|
The following list of Sama dialects is from Ethnologue, with some additions from Pallesen (1985) (individual languages with separately assigned ISO codes highlighted in bold; locations and speaker populations are from Palleson (1985:45-50)):
Ethnologue provides the following location information for various Sama languages.
Northern Sama is located in western Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago northeast of Jolo, Zamboanga coast peninsula and islands, and Basilan island.
Central Sama is located in:
Southern Sama is located in Tawi-Tawi Island Province (in Tawi-Tawi, Simunul, Sibutu, and other major islands) and East Kalimantan (Berau)
Pangutaran Sama is spoken on Pangutaran Island, located to the west of Jolo; and in Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi, southern Palawan
Yakan is spoken in Basilan and small surrounding islands; Sakol island; and the eastern coast of Zamboanga. Yakan tends to be concentrated away from the coast.
Inabaknon is spoken on Capul Island, Northern Samar Province. Capul Island is located in the San Bernardino Strait, which separates Samar from the Bicol Peninsula of Luzon.
Bajau West Coast Sabah is spoken in Kota Belud, Kudat, and Tuaran which is on mutual intelligibility with Bajau East Coast of Sabah.
Bajau Indonesia is spoken on some part of Indonesia, Torosiaje island.
Sinama languages have 21 to 24 phonemes. All Sinama languages have 17 consonants. Each language has from 5 to 7 vowels.
The consonants of the Sinama languages are represented by the letters b, d, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, ng, p, r, s, t, w, y and '.
Representation of the glottal stop in Sinama has not yet reached a consensus among Sinama speakers. Linguists have suggested the use of an apostrophe like character (') for word final glottal stops. Central Sinama has adopted this for glottal stops in between vowels as well (i.e. a'a, the Sinama word for human). Other Sinama languages have chosen to follow Tagalog orthography and to leave this vowel medial glottal stop ambiguous. Sinama speakers often spell the word final glottal stop with an h at the end. Sinama speakers in Malaysia may also spell it with a k following the vowel softening patterns of Bahasa Melayu.
In certain dialects of Sinama /b/ becomes [β] and /ɡ/ becomes [ɣ] when found between two vowels. Allophones of /d, s, l/ are heard as [ɾ, ʃ, ɭ].
The vowels a, e, i, o, u are found in all Sinama languages and dialects. In addition to these 5 vowels ə, and ɤ are found in one or more Sinama language.
Allophones of /i, e, a, o, u/ are heard as [ɪ, ɛ, ʌ, ɔ, ʊ].
Many of the Sinama languages have contrastive vowel lengthening. This is represented by a macron over the vowel (ā ē ī ō ū).
Sinama pronunciation is quite distinct from other nearby languages such as Tausug and Tagalog in that all of the Sinama languages primary stress occurs on the penultimate syllable of the word.: 124 Stress will remain on the penultimate syllable even with the addition of suffixes including enclitic pronouns. In Northern Sinama (Balanguingi') the stress will shift to the ultima when the penult is the mid central vowel /ə/.
The 1st, 2nd, & 3rd singular pronouns -ku, -nu and -na respectively, the 1st plural inclusive pronouns -ta and -tam, as well as the 2nd plural pronoun -bi are all enclitics. These enclitic pronouns change the pronunciation by shifting the stress of a word through the addition of a syllable; a verb or noun combined with a suffixed one syllable enclitic pronoun. Some Sinama orthographies represent this by writing both noun/verb and pronoun as one word e.g. luma'ta for "our house" in Central Sinama. Other orthographies represent this with a hypen e.g. luma'-ta for "our house" in Southern Sinama. Still others write this keeping the noun/verb separate from the prounoun e.g. luma' ta for "our house" in Northern Sinama.
The lyrics of the song called Kiriring Pakiriring (popularly known as Dayang Dayang) were written in the Simunul dialect of the Southern Sinama language.
Central Sinama and Southern Sinama are 2 of 6 languages used in the 2012 Filipino drama film, Thy Womb.
Sinama is featured on the 1991 edition of the Philippine one thousand peso bill. Langgal is written under a picture of a Sama place of worship. Langgal is the Sinama for that place of worship.