Waray language

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For other uses, see Waray language (disambiguation).
Waray-Waray, Samar-Leyte Visayan
Winaray, Samareño, Lineyte-Samarnon, Binisayâ nga Winaray, Binisayâ nga Samar-Leyte, Bisayang Waray
Native to Philippines
Region Eastern Visayas, some parts of Masbate, and some parts of Sorsogon
Ethnicity Waray people
Native speakers
3.4 million (2015)[1]
5th most spoken native language in the Philippines[2]
Dialects Standard Waray (Tacloban dialect), Northern Samar dialect, Calbayog dialect, Culaba-Biliran dialect, Abuyog dialect and other 20 identified dialects and subdialects
Historically Badlit
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated by Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Historically regulated by the Sanghiran san Binisaya ha Samar ug Leyte
Language codes
ISO 639-2 war
ISO 639-3 war
Glottolog wara1300[3]
Waray-Waray language map.png
Areas where Waray-Waray is spoken
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Waray is the fifth-most-spoken native regional language of the Philippines, specific to the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, some parts of Biliran, and the north-east of Leyte island (surrounding Tacloban). It is the third most spoken language among the Visayan languages after Cebuano and Hiligaynon (Ilonggo). The language name comes from the word often heard by non-speakers, "waray" (meaning "none" or "nothing" in Waray); similarly, Cebuanos are known in Leyte as "mga Kana" and their language as "Kana" (after the oft-heard word "kana", meaning "that" in the Cebuano language).[not verified in body]


Linguist Jason Lobel (2009) considers there are 25 dialects and subdialects of Waray-Waray.[4]

  • Tacloban: "standard" dialect: the dialect used in television and radio broadcasts and in education
  • Abuyog, Leyte: heavy Cebuano influence
  • Culaba, Biliran: heavy Cebuano influence
  • Calbayog: mixture of the Tacloban dialect and the dialect of Northern Samar
  • Allen, Northern Samar: mostly Southern Sorsoganon mixed with Northern Samarenyo. Dialects in neighboring towns have also borrowed extensively from Southern Sorsoganon.

Waray-Waray is characterized by a unique sound change in which Proto-Bisayan *s becomes /h/ in a small number of common grammatical morphemes. This sound change occurs in all areas of Samar south of the municipalities of Santa Margarita, Matuginao, Las Navas, and Gamay (roughly corresponding to the provinces of Samar and Eastern Samar, but not Northern Samar), as well as in all of the Waray-speaking areas of Leyte, except the towns of Javier and Abuyog. However, this sound change is an areal feature rather than a strictly genetic one (Lobel 2009).[4]

Most Waray dialects in northeastern and eastern Samar have the close central unrounded vowel /ɨ/ as a reflex of Proto-Austronesian *e.[4]


Waray is one of the 19 officially recognized regional languages in the Philippines and used in local government.[citation needed]

It is widely used in media particularly in television and radio broadcasts. However, print media in this language are rare because most regional newspapers are published in English. The language is used in education from kindergarten to primary level as part of the Philippine government's K-12 program where pupils from Kinder to Third grade are taught in their respective indigenous languages.

Waray is also used in the Eucharistic celebrations or Holy Masses in the Roman Catholic Church and in the worship services of different Christian sects present in the region. Bibles published in Waray are also available.[citation needed]


The language of Waray has borrowed vocabulary extensively from other languages, specially from Spanish. These words are being adopted to fill lexical gaps of the recipient language. Spanish colonialization introduced new systems to the Philippine society.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Waray at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Philippine Census, 2000. Table 11. Household Population by Ethnicity, Sex and Region: 2000
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Waray (Philippines)". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  4. ^ a b c Lobel, Jason. 2009. Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World, 914-917. Oxford: Elsevier.

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]