Cebuano, referred to by most of its speakers as Binisaya (or Visayan in English), is an Austronesian language spoken in the Philippines by about 20 million people, mostly in the Central Visayas, most of whom belong to the Bisaya ethnic group. It is the most widely spoken of the languages within the so-named Bisayan subgroup and is closely related to other Filipino languages.
It has the largest native language-speaking population of the Philippines despite not being taught formally in schools and universities. It is the lingua franca of the Central Visayas and parts of Mindanao. The name Cebuano is derived from the island of Cebu where the prestige register is spoken.
Cebuano is given the ISO 639-2 three letter code ceb, but has no ISO 639-1 two-letter code.
Cebuano/Binisaya is spoken in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, western parts of Leyte, some parts of Samar, Negros Occidental, Biliran islands, southern region of Masbate Island and Mindanao. Some dialects of Cebuano/Binisaya have different names for the language. Ethnic groups from Cebuano speakers from Cebu is called "Cebuano", Cebuano speaker from Bohol is refer to "Bol-anon", while Cebuano speakers in Leyte identify their dialect as Kana (Leyteño). Speakers in Mindanao and Luzon refer to the language simply as Binisaya or Bisaya (the word "Bisaya" is a short form of the word "Binisaya" if we are referring to the language spoken). The term "Bisaya" has been disagreed by its speakers for limiting the term to Cebuano only and not to the other Visayan languages, such as Waray-waray and Hiligaynon.
Cebuano/Binisaya speakers can be easily distinguished from speakers who live in the Visayas region or some parts of the Philippines by the use of the word "sa" ("of"), the verb formation "to go" and the word "and". For example: For Cebuano/Binisaya speakers, the word "of" is "sa" instead of "sang" (in Hiligaynon) or "ha/han" (in Waray). The verb "to go" in Cebuano/Binisaya Language is "moadto" instead of "makadto" in Waray/Waray-Waray Language or "magkadto" in Hiligaynon/Ilongo Language. The word "and" for Cebuano/Binisaya Language is "ug", for Waray/Waray-Waray Language is "ngan" and for Hiligaynon/Ilongo Language is "kag". Cebuano/Binisaya Language is ultimately different grammatical structure in terms of marking and verb system compared to Waray/Waray-Waray Language and Hiligaynon/Ilongo language.
Two standards of spelling are used. The traditional form, called the "Bisaya Standard", is widely disseminated by Bisaya Magasin, the oldest surviving publication published in Cebuano. The more modern form, the "Tamdanan Standard", is widely used by the Superbalita magazine published by Sun.Star Publications.
Cebuano has 21 phonemes. There are 16 consonants: p, t, k, ʔ (the glottal stop), b, d, g, m, n, ng, s, h, w, l, r and y. There are five vowels: i, e, a, o and u.
Below is the vowel system of Cebuano:
During the precolonial and Spanish period, Cebuano had three vowel phonemes: /a/, /i/ and /u/. This was later expanded to five vowels with the introduction of Spanish entries. The vowels o and u are still mostly allophones, however, with u always being used when it is the beginning of a syllable and o always used when it ends a syllable. But there are some exceptions, like kamatuoran (truth) and hangtúd (until). "E" originally appeared only in a few words, such as "babaye" (girl/woman), "dayeg" (praise, compliment), "parayeg" (loving), and "pangadye" (prayer), and only in last syllables, as "E" was mostly an allophone of "I" in final syllables. Under the influence of Spanish, more words with e have been added with the introduction of loanwords.
Below is a chart of Cebuano consonants. All the stops are unaspirated. The velar nasal occurs in all positions including at the beginning of a word.
Stress accent is phonemic, so that dápit means "act of inviting", while dapít means "near" or "nearby place". Consonants [d] and [ɾ] were once allophones, but cannot interchange, like kabungturan (uplands) [from bungtód, mountain] is correct but not *kabungtudan and tagadihá (from there) [from dihá, there] is correct but not *tagarihá.
Cebuano is a language with the verb–subject–object sentence order. Nouns and adjectives are joined by the nga connector with their order arbitrary as long as the connector is in between them.
While Cebuano nouns are not inflected, they are usually preceded by case markers. There are three types of case markers: kinsa (nominative), tag-iya (genitive) and gitagan'an (oblique).
Unlike English or Spanish which are nominative–accusative languages, Cebuano is an ergative–absolutive language. This may have led to a misconception about Cebuano as being often spoken in a passive voice.
Kinsa or nominative markers mark the topic of most sentences and both the topic and complementary predicate of an equational sentence. Tag-iya or genitive markers mark the owner of the thing or the doer of an action. Gitagan'an markers are similar to prepositions in English. They mark things such as location and direction. Furthermore, noun markers are divided into two classes: one for names of people (personal) and the second for everything else (general).
Below is a chart of case markers. Mga (pronounced [maˈŋa]) marks the plural.
|general plural||ang mga||og mga||sa mga|
|Personal plural||sila si/ silang||nila ni/ nilang*||kanila ni/ kanilang|
Tag-iya case functions like an adjective. Sometimes an adjective acts as a complementary predicate. When a tag'iya case noun is a complementary predicate it uses kang in singular and ila ni/ilang in plural.
Cebuano: Mga gobernador sa Pilipinas.
The governors of the Philippines
"The governors of the Philippines."
Cebuano: Init kaáyo ang adlaw karon.
Hot very the day now.
"It's a very hot day today."
Cebuano: Hain/Asa ang mga libro?
At-where the those book?
"Where are the books?"
Cebuano: Tόa kang Presidente ang yawe/lyabe.
with the President the keys.
"The keys are with the President."
When the pronoun is not the first word of the sentence, the short form is more commonly used than the full form.
|Kinsa||Tag-iya (primary)||Tag-iya (modifier)||Oblique|
|1st person singular||ko||ako||ko||nako|
|2nd person singular||ka||imo||mo||nimo|
|3rd person singular||siya||iya||niya||niya|
|1st person plural inclusive||ta||ato||nato||nato|
|1st person plural exclusive||mi||amo||namo||namo|
|2nd person plural||kamo||inyo||ninyo||ninyo|
|3rd person plural||sila||ila||nila||nila|
When the object is a second person pronoun, use ta instead of ko.
Ang akong sakyanan.
Ang akong sakyanan.
Special attention should be given to the short form ta. When the subject is second person it means first person singular.
Hatagan/Taga-an ta ka.
"I will give you"
Nakit-an ta ka kagahapon sa dagat.
"I saw you at the beach yesterday."
Higala ta ka.
"You are my friend."
The inclusive pronoun kita refers to the first and second persons. It may also refer to a number of persons.
The exclusive pronoun kamí refers to the first and a number of persons in a group.
Wa ta'y klase karon
"We don't have school today."
Wa mi'y libro para basahon karon
"We don't have a book to read today."
The short form is often used when the pronoun is not the first word in the sentence.
The pronouns are gender neutral, hence siyá means either he or she.
Cebuano demonstrative pronouns are as follows.
|Nearest to speaker (this, here)||kiri
|Near speaker and addressee (this, here)||kini
|Nearest addressee (that, there)†||kana||na||niana||ana||nganha||diha
|Remote (yon, yonder)||kadto||to||niadto||adto||ngadto||didto|
* When the demonstrative is used as a predicate, the full form must be used.
** Both forms, those beginning with 'ng-' and those with 'd-', are interchangeable.
† Although not represented in the orthography, forms in this row end in a glottal stop: kana /kanaˀ/, na /naˀ/, niana /niˀanaˀ/, nganha /ŋanhaˀ/, diha /dihaˀ/, dinha /dinhaˀ/.
Cebuano verbs are morphologically complex (agglutinative) and take on a variety of affixes reflecting focus, aspect, mode and others. This is the functional view. There is disagreement over the issue. A number of linguists do not believe there is a verb at all. Cebuano controls arguments (subject–object) from an inflectional affix.
Cebuano verbs conjugate for aspect rather than for tense. Cebuano verbs inflect for the following: imperative, incepted and incepting.
Examples of Incepted Aspect:
Nag-ihaw mi og kabaw.
We butchered carabao.
The act had been started in the past therefore the Cebuano translation is:
Nagsalo mi sa mga lamian nga pagkaon ug nanginom og beer.
We feast on delicious food and drink beer.
The act has been started before the statement is spoken therefore the Cebuano translation is:
Examples of Incepting Aspect:
Mangadto mi sa akong higala sa Europa.
My friend and I will go to Europe.
The act has not happened yet; therefore it has not yet started.
Moadto ko kada fiesta sa San Fernando.
I always go to the festival in San Fernando.
Although the act had already happened she will still have to start the same act again and again (every morning) so the act itself is still to be started or pagasugdan pa.
An interesting feature of the functional categorization of verbs in Cebuano and in other Philippine languages is its orientation (forms) system. This means that the role or relationship of the topic (marked by the absolutive marker) is reflected in the verb.
There are nine common orientation types: um verbs, pag verbs, pang verbs, ka verbs, magka verbs, on verbs, an verbs, i verbs and reciprocative.
There are several grammatical moods in Cebuano: intuitive, non-intuitive and aptative.
|non-intuitive||incepted aspect||incepting aspect||wala form|
|aptative||incepted aspect||incepting aspect||wala form|
Cebuano adjectives (and also nouns) are linked to the word they modify by the unifying linker nga or na. However if nga follows a word ending in a vowel, a glottal stop, or the letter N, then it often becomes suffixed to that word as -ng. In cases of words ending with Y or W, it sometimes becomes the contraction 'ng.
1) equational ( topic = predicate ) ~ in this sentence type you can interchange the topic and the predicate without changing the thought of the sentence.
|a) "Ma'o kini ang Kabisay'an".||= This is the Visayas.|
|b) "Ma'o ’na ang amo'ang balay"||= That is our house.|
2) non-equational ( topic < predicate ) ~ in this sentence type the topic and the predicate are not interchangeable.
|a) "Taga-Asia ang mga Bisaya."||= Visayans are from Asia.|
|b) "Mo simba mi karon."||= We are going to church now.|
3) existential sentence of presence ~ sentences of this type tells the existence of a thing or idea.
|a) "Adunay Diyos sa langit."||= There is God in heaven.|
|b) "Didtoy halas sa kahoy."||= There was a snake in the tree.|
4) existential sentence of possession. ~ sentences of this type tell about someone or something possessing something.
|a) "Ang mga anghel sa langit adunay Diyos."||= The angels in heaven have a God.|
|b) "Naa koy ilimnon sa balay."||= I had a drink at home.|
5) locative sentence ~ this type of sentence tells the location of a thing.
|a) "Ani'a/Na'ara ang kwarta."||= Here is the money.|
|b) "’To'a siya sa bukid."||= He/She is in the mountain.|
6) meteorologic sentence ~ this type of sentence tells about weather condition, noise level, etc., of a place.
|a) "Tugnaw dinhi sa Bukidnon."||= It is cold here in Bukidnon.|
|b) "Hilom kaganiha sa plaza/Mingao ka'ayo didto sa plaza."||= It was calm in the square.|
7) exclamatory remark ~ praises and unexpected discoveries belong here.
|a) "Kadaghan man nimo og sakyanan!"||= You have a lot of cars.|
|b) "Guapa'ha nimo."||= You are pretty.|
|c) "Kasaba ba ninyo."||= You are so noisy.|
8) imperatives ~ commands and requests.
|a) "Isugba kanang isda."||= Grill that fish.|
|b) "Ako nang gi sugba."||= I already grilled it.|
9) interrogatives ~ questions that are not answerable by yes or no.
|a) "Kinsa ka?"||= Who are you?|
|b) "Unsay imong ngalan?"||= What is your name?|
10) confirmation ~ questions that are basically answered by yes or no. Constructed sentence like the first 6 sentence type with the insertion of the particle "ba" as a second term.
|a) "Kini ba ang Kabisay'an?"||= Is this the Visayas?|
|b) "Unsa ba ang imohang kinahanglan?"||= What do you want?|
|c) "Na unsa ba ang Politica?"||= What is wrong with politics?|
|d) "Isugba ba kining isda?"||= Shall this fish be grilled?|
There are three negation words: dili, wala and ayaw.
Dili negates adjectives, nouns and incepting verbs.
Dili ko mo trabaho ugma.
"I will not work tomorrow."
Wala negates existentials and incepted verbs.
Wala ko mo trabaho tibuok adlaw.
"I did not work the whole day."
Ayaw is used in expressing negative commands.
Ayaw og hilak.
Ayaw mo pagdagan'dagan dinhi.
"Don't run here."
In response to interrogatives, Dili is used to reply negatively to future actions, while Wala is used to reply negatively to past and progressive actions. Ayaw is used when the intended response is the imperative "Don't" (Dili can also be used).
Are you going to eat?
Did you eat?
Are you eating?
Kaonon nako ni?
Should I eat this?
Ayaw. or Dili.
Asa, diin and hain—both mean where—have distinct uses in formal Cebuano usage.
Asa - is used when asking about a place.
Hain is used when asking about a person or thing.
Diin is used when asking a person where is he/she came from, and also asking the origin of an object.
In spoken Cebuano in Metro Cebu, however, asa is commonly used to replace hain. Some use hain, especially by Southern Cebu, Negros, and Mindanao Cebuano speakers.
Cebuano is a Philippine language closely related to the languages of Malaysia, Indonesia with some Latin influences. It is also a member of the Borneo–Philippine languages. It has also been influenced by thousands of words from Spanish, such as kurus [cruz] (cross), swerte [suerte] ("luck"), gwapa [guapa], ("beautiful"), merkado [mercado] ("market") and brilyante [brillante] ("brilliant"). It has several hundred loan words from English as well by Cebuanos who were not given an opportunity to go to school, which are altered to conform to the limited phonemic inventory of Cebuano: brislit (bracelet), hayskul (high school), syápin (shopping) and dráyber (driver), nonetheless, Cebuanos are good English speakers. There are also words from other languages like Arabic like Salámat ("thanks"), [Hukom or Hukm] ("judge") and Islamic words used in Mindanao like Imam, Syarip, dyihad and Islam and Sanskrit Mahárlika ("nobility") and Karma.
|1||usà / uno / isà||úna|
|2||duhà / dos||ika-duhà|
|3||tulò / tres||ika-tulò|
|4||upàt / quatro / kwatro||ika-upàt|
|5||limà / cinco / singko||ika-limà|
|6||unòm / seis / says / sais||ika-unòm|
|7||pitò / siete / site / syite||ika-pitò|
|8||walò / ocho / utso||ika-walò|
|9||siyàm / nueve / nuybe||ika-siyàm|
|10||napú'ô / napulo / diez / dyes / dies||ika-napú'ô / ika-napulo|
|11||napú'ô'g usá / napulo'g / napulo ug usá /once||ika-napú'ô'g usá / ika-napulo'g usá / ika-napulo ug usá / ika-once|
|20||kawhaan / veinte / baynte|
|30||katlo-an / treinta / traynta|
|40||kap-atan / quarienta / kwarenta|
|100||usa ka gatos / ciento / syento|
|1000||usa ka libo / mil|
|100,000||usa ka gatos ka libo / ciento mil / syento mil|
|500,000||lima ka gatos ka libo / tunga sa milyon|
|1,000,000||usa ka milyon / milliones / milyones|
Note: Shorter terms are the ones mostly used.
English - Cebuano
Cebuano can vary significantly depending on where it is spoken, particularly on the preference for vowel allophones or consonants. Words like kalayo ("fire") can become kalajo or kajo in some regions. Gahì ("hard") forms of vowels are also preferred in some areas. For example, /o/ or /ɛ/ sounds in some areas can become /u/ or /i/ sounds in others.
Colloquialisms can also be used to determine the regional origin of the speaker. Cebuano-speaking people from Cagayan de Oro, for example, say "chada" or tsada/patsada (roughly translated to the English colloquialism "awesome"), while Cebuanos from Cebu say nindot or anindot.
Increasing usage of spoken English (being the primary language of commerce and education in the Philippines) has led to the introduction of new pronunciations and spellings of old Cebuano words. /dʒ/ now routinely replace /dj/ sounds, /tʃ/ for /ts/, etc. Code-switching forms of English and Bisaya (Bislish) is also common among the educated younger generations.
There are four main dialectal groups within Cebuano. They are as follows:
The Boholano dialect of Bohol shares many similarities with the southern form of the standard Cebuano dialect; while the Southern Kana of southern Leyte and in Southern Leyte is closest to the Mindanao Cebuano dialect at the southern area and northern Cebu dialect at the northern boundaries. Both North and South Kana are subgroups of Leyteño dialect. Both of these dialects are spoken in western and central Leyte and in the southern province, but the Boholano is more concentrated in Maasin City.
Speakers of these two dialects can be distinguished by their distinctive modification of /j/ into /dʒ/. Like the Mindanao dialects, they are notable for their usage of a vocabulary containing archaic longer words like kalatkat ("climb") instead of katkat.
Southern Kana can be further distinguished from Boholano by slight vocabulary differences, such as arang ("very") for northern kana hastang and standard dialect kaayo.
In South Kana, there are some words that are influences from Waray-waray and used in everyday conversations. For example, luto in place of kan-on (rice), suoy in place of suka (vinegar), kaunan in place of kan-anan (dining room), tamsi in place of langgam (bird, but in Hiligaynon tamsi means snake), and bungto in place of lungsod (town or municipality).
North Kana (found in the northern part of Leyte), is closest to the variety of the language spoken in northern part of Leyte , with significant influence from Waray-Waray, quite notably its pace, which speakers from Cebu find very fast, and its more mellow tone (compared to the standard Cebu City dialect, which Kana speakers find "rough"). A distinguishing feature of this dialect is the reduction of /A prominent, but often unnoticed feature of this dialect is the labialisation of /n/ and /ŋ/ into /m/ before /p/ /b/ and /m/, velarisation of /m/ and /n/ into /ŋ/ before /k/ /g/ and /ŋ/ and the dentalisation of /ŋ/ and /m/ into /n/ before /t/ /d/ and /n/ and sometimes, before vowels and other consonants as well.
This dialect generally contains less /l/ sounds than standard Cebuano. In between vowels /l/ is removed, and depending on what vowel chain follows, it may create a long vowel or have /y/ or /w/ take its place. (Elision) For example: balud ("wave") becomes baōd or bawod; balay ("house") becomes bāi/bāy. Aside from /l/ elision, /l/ may also change to either the alveolar flap /ɽ/ or the velar flap /ɾ/.
There may be slight vocabulary differences and shortened words like the use of āga for buntag (morning), ika for ikaw ("you"), and mā or mana for mga (plural subject marker). The prefixes hin- and hi- are also used in place of the standard ming-/mi- in Cebuano.
Some words also hold different meanings, like how the word "ramāw"/"lamāw" refers to the meat of young coconut suspended in either coconut juice or sugared milk in N. Kana; while in Standard Cebuano, "lamāw" means "rice leftovers", which is "bahāw" in S. Kana and Mindanao Cebuano.
Aside from that, there are also very rare alternate shortenings of phrases, such as saze instead of sas for asa si.
Sample Kana words and prefixes and their equivalents in standard cebuano. Those words that may have originated in Waray-waray have their waray-waray equivalents included.
|Mi-/ Ming-||Hi- / Hin-||Gi- / Gin-|
The Cebuano dialect in Mindanao is a unique blending of several dialects and other languages like Waray-waray, Ilonggo, and Tagalog. It is distinctive in retaining /l/ sounds and longer word forms, long since considered archaic in northern Cebuano dialects. For example: bulan instead of buwan ("moon" or "month"), hulam instead of huwam ("borrow"), "dula" instead of ("duwa") and the occasional lamang instead of lang or ra ("only").
In some instances, bulig can be heard or read in some signs, prayers, and public speeches thus it is used in place of tabang. Both of these words means "help". Although the former is Hiligaynon and Waray-waray, it is also in Cebuano vocabulary, but the latter is more frequent.
Not to be confused with Chavacano language.
The Cebuano dialectal variant in Davao is also known as Davaoeño, not the Davao variant of Chavacano. Like the Luzon Cebuano dialect, it contains some Tagalog vocabulary, though to a lesser extent. Its grammar is somewhat in between the original Cebuano language and the Luzon Cebuano dialect. For example: Ninaug ko sa dyip sa kanto, tapos miuli ko sa among balay ("I got off the jeepney at the street corner, and then I went home") instead of Ninaug ko sa dyip sa kanto, dayon miuli ko sa among balay. The words tapos and dayon mean "then"; the former is Tagalog, and the latter Cebuano. It also sometimes add some Bagobo and Mansakan vocabulary, like: Madayaw nga adlaw, amigo, kamusta ka? ("Good day, friend, how are you?", literally "Good morning/afternoon") rather than "Maayo nga adlaw, amigo, kamusta ka?" The words madayaw and maayo mean "good"; the former is Bagobo, and the latter Cebuano.
There is no specific Luzon dialect, as speakers of Cebuano in Luzon come from many different regions in Central Visayas and Mindanao. Cebuano-speaking people from Luzon in the Visayas can be easily recognized primarily by their vocabulary which incorporates Tagalog words. Their accents and some aspects of grammar can also sometimes exhibit Tagalog influence. The dialect is sometimes colloquially known as "Tagbis" (a portmanteau of Tagalog and Binisaya).