Waray-Waray language

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Waray - Waray
Binisaya, Winaray, Samarnon
Native to Philippines
Region Eastern Visayas (entire Samar and northeastern portions of Leyte province), some parts of Biliran and Masbate
Ethnicity Waray people
Native speakers
2.6 million  (2000 census)[1]
5th most spoken native language in the Philippines[2]
Dialects Waray, Samar-Leyte, Northern Samar
Historically Baybayin
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated by Commission on the Filipino Language
Historically regulated by the Sanghiran san Binisaya ha Samar ug Leyte
Language codes
ISO 639-2 war
ISO 639-3 war
Areas where Waray-Waray 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.

Waray-Waray (also Waray, Samar-Leyte, and Samarnon) is the fifth most spoken native language of the Philippines, specific to the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran, and in the north-east of Leyte Island (surrounding Tacloban). The name comes from the word often heard by non-speakers, "waray" (meaning "none", "nothing" or "not"), in the same way that Cebuanos are known in Leyte as "mga Kana" (after the oft-heard word "kana", meaning "that", among people speaking the Cebuano language).

The Waray-Waray language spoken by the Waray people of Samar island, in the north east of Leyte Island (surrounding Tacloban) and in some parts of Biliran island shows dialectal variations. Dialects are spoken in some parts of Masbate, particularly on the island of Ticao which is adjacent to Samar island.

Waray-Waray Sorsogon and Masbate Sorsogon are grouped into the Waray-Waray language. Waray-Waray Sorsogon and Masbate Sorsogon are called Bisakol by the untrained[citation needed] because they are intermediate between the Visayan and Bicolano languages; however, all of these are just variants of the Waray-Waray language.[citation needed]



Pronouns in Waray-Waray include:[citation needed]

  Absolutive Ergative Oblique
1st person singular ako, ak nakon, nak, ko akon, ak
2nd person singular ikaw, ka nimo, nin, mo imo, im
3rd person singular hiya, siya niya iya
1st person plural inclusive kita, kit, kirita naton aton, at
1st person plural exclusive kami namon amon
2nd person plural kamo, kam niyo iyo
3rd person plural hira, sira nira ira

The Waray copula[edit]

Waray-waray, like other Philippine languages, does not have any exact equivalent to the English linking verb be. In Tagalog, for example, the phrase "Siya ay maganda" (She is beautiful) contains the word ay which, contrary to popular belief, does not function as an attributive copula predicating maganda (beautiful) to its subject and topic Siya (he or she). The function of Tagalog's ay is rather a marker of sentence inversion, which is regarded as a literary form but somewhat less common in spoken Tagalog. The same phrase may be spoken as Maganda siya, which has the same meaning.

The Waray-waray language in comparison would express "She is beautiful" only as "Mahosay hiya" or sometimes "Mahosay iton hiya" (iton functioning as a definite article of hiya, she), since Waray doesn't have a present-tense copula or even an inversion marker. As in other Philippine languages, attributive statements are usually represented in predicate-initial form and have no copula at all. Take for example the ordinary English sentence "This is a dog" as translated to Waray:[citation needed]

Ayam ini.

The predicate Ayam (dog) is placed before the subject ini (this); no copula is present. Another example:[original research?]

Amo ini it Winaray o Binisaya nga Lineyte-Samarnon nga Wikipedia.
Asya ini it Winaray o Binisaya nga Lineyte-Samarnon nga Wikipedia.

In English: "This is the Waray/Leyte-Samar Visayan Wikipedia". The predicate Amo ini is roughly translated as "This here" but the rest of the sentence then jumps to its subject, marked by the particle an. It is grammatically impossible to invert a sentence like this into a subject-head form without importing the actual Tagalog inversion marker ay, a growing trend among younger people in Leyte. The word amo is used only in Leyte Waray-Waray. In Samar, asya (this) is used.

Despite the debate[by whom?] regarding the Waray copula, it would be safe to treat structures like magin (to be), an magin/an magigin (will be or will become), and an nagin (became) as the English treat linking verbs:

Makuri magin estudyante. ([It's] hard to be a student.)
Ako it magigin presidente! (I shall be the president!)
Ako an nagin presidente. (I became the president.)


Existential words in Waray-Waray include:[citation needed]

Waray of Leyte Waray of Northern Samar Tagalog English
kamusta? kamusta? kumusta? how are you?
tana / tara tana / tara gala tayo let's go
waray waray wala there is none


Modal words in Waray-Waray include:[citation needed]

Waray Tagalog English
puyde* maaari / pwede* may / can (*from Spanish puede)
diri puyde hindi pwede cannot / not allowed
pahudma or mahoram/ huram pahiram / hiram may I borrow? / borrow
pakita-a patingin let me see

Interrogative words[edit]

Interrogative words in Waray-Waray include:[citation needed]

Waray of Leyte
(Winaray nga pan Leyte)
Waray of Northern Samar
(Winaray nga pan Norte)
Waray of Samar
(Winaray nga pan Samar)
Tagalog English
hin-o sin-o hin-o sino who
kay-ano kaynano kay-nano bakit why
diin / hain diin diin saan where
kanay kanay kankanay kanino whose
gin-aano / a-anhon panano gin-aano / na-ano paano how
san-o san-o san-o kailan when
ano nano nano ano what


Similar to other Visayan languages, such as Cebuano, Waray does not use honorifics.[citation needed]

Orthography issues[edit]

While the now-defunct Sanghiran san Binisaya ha Samar ug Leyte (Academy of the Visayan Language of Samar and Leyte) formulated and recommended a standard orthography, this was never widely disseminated, and therefore as of present there is still no commonly accepted official orthography. In effect, there may exist two spellings of the same word (usually limited to differences in vowels only), such as

  • diri or dire ("no")
  • hira or hera ("them")
  • maupay or mabaysay ("good")
  • guinhatag or ginhatag ("gave")
  • direcho or diritso ("straight [ahead]")
  • ciudad or syudad ("city")
  • espejo or espeho ("mirror")


Waray-Waray is one of the ten officially recognized regional languages in the Philippines and used in local government. It is spoken throughout its islands, especially in the Eastern Visayas region. But it is also spoken in some parts of Mindanao, Masbate, Sorsogon and Metro Manila where Warays have migrated. There is also a small number of Filipinos abroad, especially in the United States, who speak this language. Waray-Waray is widely used in media, especially in radio and television. One good example of this is the regional version of the Philippine news program TV Patrol for Eastern Visayas, TV Patrol Tacloban, which broadcasts in Waray-Waray. There is[when?] also a regional cable channel that broadcasts its programs in Waray-Waray, the An Aton Channel operated by DYVL.[citation needed]

However print media in this language are rare because most regional newspapers are published in English. The language is also used in the Eucharistic celebrations or Holy Masses in the Roman Catholic Church in the region. Bibles published in Waray-Waray are also available. Waray-Waray songs are widely appreciated and can be heard in the radio. In 1993, the LDS Church or Mormonism published a selected Waray-Waray edition of the Book of Mormon entitled "An Libro ni Mormon". Today, many Waray aficionados advocate wider use of this language.



The Waray language has sixteen consonant phonemes: /p, t, k, b, d, ɡ, m, n, ŋ, s, h, w, l, ɾ, j/.[clarification needed] Consonants /d/ and /ɾ/ were once allophones but cannot now interchange, as in palaron (to be lucky) from palad, palm (one's luck is seen on one's palm in fortune-telling) which cannot be paladon, or tagadiín (from where) [from diín, where] which cannot be tagariín.


The voice onset time of Waray voiceless Plosives like /p, t, k/ is very low. And their aspiration, if existing, seems to be only minimal. Respectively, the voiced Plosives /b, d, ɡ/ are always fully voiced. If not fully voiced they will be perceived as /p, t, k/.


There are three vowel phonemes: a [a], i [ɛ ~ i], and u [o ~ u]. This means that the vowel phoneme i can be represented with sounds from a scale of [i ~ ɛ]. This is also the cause of multiple orthographic variations among Waray speakers. Words like lolo (grandfather)can also be written as lulu since o and u are the representatives of the same Phonemes and thus the interchange will never form meaningful contrasts between utterances.


Native numbers are used for numbers one through ten. From eleven onwards, Spanish numbers are exclusively used in Waray-Waray today, their native counterparts being obsolete for the majority of native speakers (except for gatus for hundred and yukot for thousand). Some, especially among the elderly, are spoken alongside the Spanish counterparts.[citation needed]

English Native Waray-Waray Borrowed from Spanish
One Usa Uno
Two Duha Dos
Three Tuló Tres
Four Upat Cuatro
Five Limá Cinco
Six Unom Saiz
Seven Pitó Siete
Eight Waló Ocho
Nine Siyám Nueve
Ten Napúlô Diez
Eleven (Napúlô kag usá) Onse
Twelve (Napúlô kag duhá) Duce
Thirteen (Napúlô kag tulo) Trece
Fourteen (Napúlô kag upat) Katorse
Fifteen (Napúlô kag lima) Kinse
Sixteen (Napúlô kag unom) Diez y Saiz
Seventeen (Napúlô kag pito) Diez y Siete
Eighteen (Napúlô kag walo) Diez y Ocho
Nineteen (Napúlô kag siyam) Diez y Nueve
Twenty (Karuhaan) Biente
Thirty (Katloan) Trenta
Forty (Kap-atan) Kwuarenta
Fifty (Kalim-an) Singkwenta
Sixty (Kaunman) Siesenta
Seventy (Kapitoan) Setenta
Eighty (Kawaloan) Ochienta
Ninety (Kasiaman) Nobenta
One Hundred Usa ka Gatus Cien
One Thousand Usa ka Yukut Mil
One Million Usa ka Ribo Milyon


The language of Waray-Waray borrowed vocabulary extensively from other languages. Most of those words are so-called core B words, which are cultural words which are adopted by a language when heavily exposed to a new culture. These words are being adopted to fill lexical gaps of the recipient language. Spanish colonialization introduced new systems to the Philippine society. Prohibitions and "re-education," as imposed by the Spanish priests, penetrated all domains of everyday life and so led to massive lexical borrowing.

Since World War II many of the Spanish terms, mainly political or technical, have been replaced by English vocabulary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Waray - Waray at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Philippine Census, 2000. Table 11. Household Population by Ethnicity, Sex and Region: 2000

Further reading[edit]

  • Dictionary English Waray-Waray/Tagalog (2005) by Tomas A. Abuyen, National Book Store, 494 pp., ISBN 971-08-6529-3.

External links[edit]