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Native toPhilippines
RegionZambales, Pangasinan, Metro Manila, Palawan
Native speakers
70,000 (2000)[1]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Philippines (as a regional language)
Regulated byKomisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3xsb
Area where Sambal is spoken
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.

Sambal or Sambali is a Sambalic language spoken primarily in the Zambal municipalities of Santa Cruz, Candelaria, Masinloc, Palauig, and Iba, in the Pangasinense municipality of Infanta, and areas of Pampanga in the boundary with Zambales in the Philippines; speakers can also be found in Panitian, Quezon, Palawan and Barangay Mandaragat or Buncag of Puerto Princesa.[citation needed] The speakers of the language are decreasing due to the fact that many of the speakers are shifting to Tagalog & Ilocano.

The first European-produced reference grammar of any indigenous language of the Philippines was that of Zambal, published circa 1601.[2]


Ethnologue reports Santa Cruz, Masinloc and Iba as dialects of the language.[1]


The language is occasionally referred to as zambal, which is the hispanized form of Sambal.

Sambal had also for a time been referred to as Tina,[3] a term still encountered in older sources. The term, however, which means 'bleached' in the Botolan variety of the language,[4] is considered offensive. The pejorative term was first used in the late 1970s by researchers from the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL International).[4] Sambals would not normally recognize the reference.[5]

External relationships

Sambal language is most closely related to Kapampangan and to a classic form of Tagalog still spoken in Tanay in the province of Rizal. This has been interpreted to mean that Sambal speakers had once inhabited that area, later being displaced by migrating Tagalog settlers, pushing the original inhabitants northward to the modern province of Zambales,[6] in turn, displacing the Aetas. In Zambales, Sambal speakers were almost displaced by Tagalog settlers once again who migrated along with Ilocano settlers to repopulate the less-populated Zambales valley, leading to the assimilation of Sambals to the Tagalog and Ilocano settlers and to the modern decline of Sambal cultural identity & language.[7][8][9] There is also a possible relationship between the Sambal speakers and the population of the island provinces of Marinduque and Romblon based on commonalities in some traditions and practices.


Sambali has 19 phonemes: 16 consonants and three vowels. Syllable structure is relatively simple.


Sambali has three vowels. They are:

There are five main diphthongs: /aɪ/, /uɪ/, /aʊ/, /ij/, and /iʊ/.


Below is a chart of Sambal consonants. All the stops are unaspirated. The velar nasal occurs in all positions including at the beginning of a word.

Sambal consonants
Bilabial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Stops Voiceless p t k (-) [ʔ]
Voiced b d g
Affricates Voiceless (ts) []
Fricatives s h
Nasals m n ng [ŋ]
Laterals l
Flaps ɾ
Semivowels w y [j]

Note: Consonants [d] and [ɾ] sometimes interchange, as they were once allophones. Dy is pronounced [dʒ], ny [ɲ], sy [ʃ], and ty [tʃ].


Stress is phonemic in Sambal. Word stress is very important; it differentiates homonyms, e.g. hikó ('I') and híko ('elbow').

Historical sound changes

Many words pronounced with /s/ and /ɡ/ in Cebuano and Tagalog are pronounced with /h/ and /j/, respectively, in their cognates in Sambal. Compare hiko and ba-yo with the Tagalog siko and bago.


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Zambal pronouns

Common singular pronouns

Common plural pronouns

Personal singular pronouns

Personal plural

Note: In a general conversation, hi is usually omitted or contracted from the pronoun: e.g. Hikunla tana hiya rin (sa kanila na lang iyan) is simply ‘kunla tana ‘ya-rin or even shorter, as ‘kunlay na rin.


'The man arrived.' Dumating ang lalaki:

  1. Nakalato hiyay lalaki or nakalato ‘yay lalaki or ‘yay tawo.
  2. Linu-mato hiyay lalaki; or
  3. Lin’mato ‘yay lalaki or ‘yay tawo.

Nakita ni Juan si Maria – Na-kit ni Juan hi Maria. 'John saw Mary.'

Note that in Philippine languages, even the names of people require an article.

Plural nominal article

'Helen and Robert will go to Miguel's house.'

'Father has the keys.'

'That baby is healthy.'


Personal pronouns are categorized by case. The indirect forms also function as the genitive.

Singular Dual Plural
1st person Exclusive ako – hiko
ko – ko
akin – hikunko (shortened to ‘kunko)
kita – ta, kunta kami – hikami or ‘kami
namin – mi
amin – hikunmi or ‘kunmi
Inclusive tayo – hitamo or ‘tamo
natin – hikuntamo or ‘kuntamo
atin – hikuntamo or ‘kuntamo
2nd person ikáw – hika
mo – mo
iyó – hikunmo or ‘kunmo
kayo – hikamo or ‘kamo
ninyo – moyo
inyo – hikunmoyo or ‘kunmoyo
3rd person siya – hiya
niya – naya
kaniya – hikunnaya or ‘kunnaya
silá – hila
nilá – la
kanilá – hikunla or ‘kunla


'I wrote.'

Sulat is hulat (Masinloc) or sulat (Sta. Cruz)
Sumulat ako. Humulat ko or Sumulat ko.
Sinulatan ako ng liham. Hinulatan nya hiko or hinulatan nya’ ko.
'He/She wrote me a letter.' Hinomulat ya ‘kunko, nanulat ya kunko, or hinulatan mya ko.
Ibibigay ko sa kaniyá. Ebi ko ‘kunna (hikuna).
'I will give it to him/her.'

Genitive pronouns follow the word they modify. Oblique pronouns can take the place of the genitive pronoun but they precede the word they modify.

Ang bahay ko. Yay bali ko.
Ang aking bahay. Yay ‘kunkon bali.
'My house.'

Interrogative words

Sambal Tagalog English
Ayri/Ayti Saan Where
Anya Ano What
Anta/Ongkot Bakit Why
Hino Sino Who
Nakano Kailan When

Sample texts

Philippine national proverb

Below is a translation in Sambal of the Philippine national proverb[10] "He who does not acknowledge his beginnings will not reach his destination," followed by the original in Tagalog.

The Lord's Prayer

Version from Matthew

Ama mi an ison ha langit,
sambawon a ngalan mo.
Ma-kit mi na komon a pa-mag-ari mo.
Ma-honol komon a kalabayan mo iti ha lota
a bilang anamaot ison ha langit.
Biyan mo kami komon nin
pa-mangan mi para konan yadtin awlo;
tan patawaron mo kami komon ha kawkasalanan mi
a bilang anamaot ha pa-matawad mi
konlan ampagkasalanan komi.
Tan komon ando mo aboloyan a matokso kami,
nokay masbali ipa-lilih mo kamin kay makagawa doka,
ta ikon moy kaarian, kapangyarian tan karangalan a homin
panganggawan. Amen.

Version from Luke

Ama mi, maipatnag komon a banal mon kapangyarian.
Lomato ana komon an awlon sikay mag-ari.
Biyan mo kamin pa-mangan mi sa inawlo-awlo.
Inga-rowan mo kami sa kawkasalanan mi bilang
pa-nginganga-ro mi konlan nagkasalanan komi
tan ando mo kami aboloyan manabo sa tokso.



Sambal numbers are listed below.

Sambal English
Sambal numbers
A`sa One
Luwa Two
Tulo Three
A`pat Four
Lima Five
A`num Six
Pito Seven
Walo Eight
Siyam Nine
Mapulo Ten

Common expressions

Sambal Tagalog English
Kay ko tanda / Tanda ko Hindi ko alam / Alam ko I don't know / I know
Papo Lola/lolo Grandparent
Kaka Ate/kuya/pinsan Sibling or cousin
Akay ko labay / Labay ko Hindi ko gusto / Gusto ko I don't like / I like
Murong tamoy na Uwi/balik na tayo Let's go home/back
Hadilap Bukas Tomorrow
Hawanin Ngayon Now/today
Naapon Kahapon Yesterday
Ya Oo Yes
Ka`i Hindi No

See also


  1. ^ a b Sambal at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Mojarro Romero, Jorge (2022-05-03). "The Spanish Friars and Philippine Languages". Manila Times.
  3. ^ Agagas, Pascual (1978). "Tina Sambal". In Antworth, Evan L. (ed.). Folktale Texts (PDF) (Language text). Studies in Philippine Linguistics, Vol. 2, No. 2. Text analysis by Margarete Schuster and Hella Goschnick. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines and Summer Institute of Linguistics. pp. 32–43. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-11-02.
  4. ^ a b "Call me Sambal". Call me Sambal. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  5. ^ Elgincolin, Priscilla R.; Goshnick, Hella E. (1979). "Interclausal Relationships in Tina Sambal". Studies in Philippine Linguistics. 3 (1): 84.
  6. ^ "Sambal". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Archived from the original on 2008-01-21.
  7. ^ Reed, William Allan (1904). Negritos of Zambales. Bureau of Public Printing, U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 24–29.
  8. ^ The Historical Indúng Kapampángan: Evidence from History and Place Names
  9. ^ Zambales Province, Home Province of Subic Bay and Mt. Pinatubo
  10. ^ Rubino, Carl (n.d.). "The Philippine National Proverb: Translated Into Various Philippine Languages". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Sambal, Tinà (Tina, Sambali)". Christus Rex. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2022.