Masbateño language

Masbateño or Minasbate is a member of Central Philippine languages and of the Bisayan subgroup of the Austronesian language family spoken by more than 724,000 people[2] in the province of Masbate and some parts of Sorsogon in the Philippines. Masbatenyo (sometimes written as Masbateño) is the name used by the speakers of the language and for themselves, although the term Minásbate is sometimes also used to distinguish the language from the people.[3] It has 350,000 speakers as of 2002, with 50,000 who speak it as their first language. About 250,000 speakers use it as their second language.[2]

Native toPhilippines
RegionMasbate province (almost whole portion of Masbate island proper, entire Ticao island and southern half of Burias island)
EthnicityMasbateño people
Native speakers
680,000 (2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3msb
Masbatenyo language map.png
Areas where Masbateño 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.

Masbatenyo is closely related to Capiznon, with 79% lexical similarity, and Hiligaynon, with 76% lexical similarity.[2] Waray language is closely related and significantly similar to Masbatenyo as well. It is also closely related to Waray Sorsogon language, the language of Sorsogon. This is because Masbate was once part of Sorsogon Province and was governed from Sorsogon City until the 1920s. It has three major dialects: the western dialect centered around the town of Balud on the western coast which is close to Capiz, the southern dialect centered about the town of Cataingan in the southeastern part of Masbate, and the northern dialect covering the whole northern half of Masbate and centered on Masbate City.


There are several accounts on the origins of the word Masbate. One account says that it came from the words masa 'to mix' and batî 'to beat'. The other account says it came from mas batî 'heard better' as in Lumúsad kamó kag umapíke agúd mas batî an íyo ginasábi 'Get down here and get closer so that we can hear better whatever you're saying.' Another account further says that it came from the term that Cebuano migrants used to describe the place, mas batí, which means 'a place where living condition is worse'.[4]

According to a certain Fray Martin de Rada,[5] Masbate took its name from Masbat or Basbat which means 'having many gold mines'. Another claims that the name Masbate came from Masbad. The term Masbad possibly originated from Masbaranon, a barrio that used to be part of the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Placer but is now under the Municipality of Esperanza. This barrio used to be called Surosimbahan because it looks like a church. Its name was then changed Agoho from the tree called agoho. Then, for the third time, its name was changed to Masbaranon because of the supposed abundance of small fish called masbad.[6][5]


Wolfenden[7] identified three major dialects of Masbatenyo: the western dialect centered around the town of Balud on the western coast which is close to Capiz, the southern dialect centered about the town of Cataingan in the southeastern part of Masbate and the northern dialect covering the whole northern half of Masbate and centered on Masbate City, the capital.

Language and/or Dialect Used in the Municipalities of Masbate[8]
Municipality Language and/or Dialect Used
Burias Island, First Congressional District
Claveria Masbatenyo
Masbatenyo with strong Cebuano influence
Masbatenyo with Bikol influence
San Pascual Cebuano with Masbatenyo influence
Bikol with Masbatenyo influence
Masbatenyo with strong Cebuano influence
Ticao Island, Second Congressional District
Batuan Masbatenyo with strong Waray influence
Monreal Masbatenyo with strong Waray influence
San Fernando Masbatenyo with strong Waray influence
San Jacinto Masbatenyo with strong Waray influence
Second Congressional District
Aroroy Masbatenyo
Baleno Masbatenyo
Balud Hiligaynon with Masbatenyo influence
Mandaon Masbatenyo with strong Hiligaynon influence
Hiligaynon with Masbatenyo influence
Masbate City Masbatenyo
Milagros Masbatenyo
Mobo Masbatenyo
Third Congressional District
Cawayan Cebuano with Masbatenyo influence
Cataingan Cebuano with Masbatenyo influence
Masbatenyo with strong Waray influence
Masbatenyo with strong Cebuano influence
Dimasalang Cebuano with Masbatenyo influence
Masbatenyo with strong Waray influence
Masbatenyo with strong Cebuano influence
Esperanza Cebuano with Masbatenyo influence
Palanas Cebuano with Masbatenyo influence
Masbatenyo with strong Waray influence
Masbatenyo with strong Cebuano influence
Pio V. Corpuz Cebuano with Masbatenyo influence
Placer Cebuano
Uson Cebuano with Masbatenyo influence
Masbatenyo with strong Cebuano influence

Masbatenyo and its neighboring languagesEdit

Wolfenden [7] reported that although Sorsogon (the southernmost province of Bicol) and Masbate are very much closer to Bicol Peninsula, Sorsoganon and Masbatenyo shared the same grammatical systems which are rather closer to those of Waray and Hiligaynon, the trade languages in the Visayas, rather than that of Bicol.

The presence of competing grammatical and lexical subsystems in the language is the most striking characteristic of Masbatenyo. This has probably been brought on by the influx of settlers from surrounding major language groups who mixed in elements of their language with and alongside of the Masbatenyo. This results to a number of semantic concepts that can be expressed by two to five alternate different words for a single concept.[7]

This led Wolfenden[7] to think that Masbatenyo is unique in the sense of its being a mixed-up language. Speakers of the language often thought that their language is just a mixture of its neighboring languages which are Bikol, Waray-Waray, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Tagalog. There are still who refer to their own speech as 'Bisaya'.

Masbatenyo shares different types of mutual intelligibility with its neighboring languages. Speakers of Masbatenyo can easily and conveniently converse with speakers of the neighboring languages using their own language. However, speakers of Cebuano, Waray or Hiligaynon would sometimes find it difficult to understand Masbatenyo because of its lexicon. Furthermore, Zorc [9] considered Masbatenyo, together with Kinaray-a, Bulalakaw, Hiligayon, Waray, and Surigaonon, as "linking dialects" because they serve as "centers of dialect complexes".

McFarland[10] presented different views on the classification of the language spoken in Masbate. One view excluded Masbate and the southern part of Sorsogon from the Bikol area on the grounds that the language spoken in these areas was not Bikol. The other view considered the language as dialect of Bikol.

Other claim on the language of Masbate was that 'the language and dialects of Masbate are basically Visayan, with the major influence being Cebuano.' Zorc[9] made a subgrouping and reconstruction of the Bisayan dialects and included Masbatenyo in his work. He stated that while it is true that there are immigrants from the areas that speak Bikol, Cebuano and Hiligaynon languages, the "native dialect" throughout the island is Masbatenyo.

Zorc[9] presented four types of intelligibility among the Bisayan languages and dialects: a) natural or primary intelligibility, where speakers of different dialects can communicate freely, even they never hear the other dialect before (e.g. Bulalakawnon and Ratagnon, Capiznon and Hiligaynon); b) learned or secondary intelligibility, where speakers can adjust to another dialect in a matter of time (e.g. Bulalakawnon and Aklanon); c) sesquilingualism, whereby a speaker is fluent in his native language (dialect), but can only understand (not speak) another (Waray and Cebuano, where speakers of both languages can understand both perfectly but speakers of Cebuano understand Waray poorly); and d) one-way intelligibility, whereby A understands B but B does not understand A.

Masbatenyo speakers in the town of Masbate belong to the fourth kind. The residents of the town can readily understand the speech of the outsiders but the outsiders cannot understand the speech of the local residents. Speakers can understand Sorsoganon, Capiznon, Hiligaynon, and Cebuano but the latter experience varying degrees of difficulty in understanding Masbatenyo.[9]

Regarding the duration of the Bisayan occupancy of the Central Philippines, Zorc reported that there are no pre-Hispanic writings that would account for their existence in the area. Zorc[9] stipulated that current speakers of many of the Bisayan languages and dialects could have given up their original languages long ago in favor of an intrusive or more prestigious language, or in favor of the language already spoken in the region that they invaded and conquered.


In 2016, researchers from the Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology (DEBESMSCAT) together with the members of newly established Minasbate Language Society, composed of various stakeholders from Masbate, developed a working orthography on the language based on the discussions in the 1st Minasbate Orthography Congress.

The Minasbate Working Orthography[11] distinguishes between the native Minasbate orthography and the extended working orthography.

A. Native Minasbaté Orthography

  1. The following symbols are used in the native Minasbaté orthography:
    Aa, Bb, Dd, Gg, Hh, Ii, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, NGng, Pp, Rr, Ss, Tt, Uu, Ww, Yy, ` (for glottal stop)
  2. Minasbaté has three phonemic vowels (V): Aa, Ii, Uu and 16 consonants (C): Bb, Dd, Gg, Hh, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, NGng, Pp, Rr, Ss, Tt, Ww, Yy, ` (for glottal stop).
  3. The glottal stop is a distinct consonant sound in Minasbaté and part of its alphabet. The grave accent ( ` ) will be used to represent the glottal stop.
    • The glottal stop may occur between a C and V, e.g pus`on, bag`o
    • It may also occur in the final position of the word, e.g. túro`, pakó`
    • The glottal may also occur between two V, e.g. ti`il, di`in, gu`ol,
    • The glottal stop is also the obligatory onset of the written syllable that begins with a vowel. It will be symbolized when the word begins with a vowel, e.g. `adlaw, `ako, `amó`
  4. The syllable pattern of Minasbaté words is CV and CVC, e.g. ba.láy = CV.CVC.
    • All Cs can occur in the beginning of a word (onset) or ending (coda). Examples: pahá` 'thirsty,' dakóp 'to catch'
    • All Vs are used to form a syllable nucleus. Examples:ba.láy, `a.kó
  5. In writing stress or accent, the acute accent ( ' ) above the V is used, e.g. buháy, 'alive', dakó`, 'big', ribók 'noise'.
    • A stressed non-final syllable is usually lengthened. For example, in the case of hay 'life' vs buháy 'alive', the syllable in 'life' is longer than the syllable bu in 'alive'.
    • It is possible to have more than one stress in a word, e.g. hámabáw, `ámamáknit.
    • The stress is symbolized by the acute accent ( ' ) if it falls on the last syllable, e.g. hubág, sulód. The stress may not be symbolized if it falls on the penultimate syllable, e.g. gab`i 'night', kiray 'eyebrow'.

B. Extended Orthography

The inclusion of borrowed terms in native Minasbaté vocabulary has resulted in the change in the structure of the language. There is a need to develop an extended orthography to accommodate these words.

  1. The extended orthography will consist of the following:
    Aa "ey", Bb "bi", Cc "si", Dd "di", Ee "I", Ff "ef", Gg "ji", Hh "eych", Ii "ay", Jj "jey", Kk "key", Ll "el", Mm "em", Nn "en", Ññ "enye", NGng "en ji", Oo "o", Pp "pi", Qq "kyu", Rr "ar", Ss "es", Tt "ti", Uu "yu", Vv "vi", Ww "dobol yu", Xx "eks", Yy "way", Zz "zi", ` (for glottal stop)
  2. All Minasbaté words (native and borrowed) use a, i, e, o and u. The "i" and "e" are indistinct and alternate in written native words and so are/do "o" and "u." The alternation rules are explained below. The "i" and "e" are distinct in borrowed words (e.g. misa vs. mesa).
  3. The use of the back vowels "u" and "o":
    • If the word has only one back vowel sound that occurs in the ultimate position, o is used. Examples: pitó, lisód, li`og, didto, `amó, itóm, nano, ka`aralo. Exceptions: kun
    • If the word has more than two back vowels, u is used in the second or third to the last syllable and o is used in the final syllable. Examples: kudkód, bukbók, gu`ól, pumuluyo`, burubaruto, `uru`adlaw, alu`alo, tudló`, katuninungan
    • O in borrowed words is retained in writing. Example: ospital, obra, oro
  4. The use of front vowels "i" and "e":
    • All Minasbaté words with an "i" sound will be written as i. Examples: kilmi`, di`ín, didí, silhig, `ikog, tindog, `iní, sin
    • e in borrowed words will be retained in writing. Examples: eroplano, ahente, karné, `onse, dose, nwebe, kwento; i will be used to represent the front vowel ("i") that is added in the original form of borrowed words. Examples: `istorya for storia, `isponsor for sponsor, `ismagol for smuggle
  5. The hyphen will be used in the following instances:
    • Reduplication of full words, e.g. tawu-tawo 'toy', balay-balay 'little house', kalan-kalan 'improvised stove'
    • Compound words, e.g. tagúm-matá 'conjunctivitis', supa`-tulon 'very easy', atras-abante 'indecisive'
    • Affixation of borrowed words that are proper names, e.g. pa-LBC, pa-Manila
    • Time expressions, e.g. `alas-dose, `ala-una, `alas-diye
  6. The hyphen will be used in the following instances:
    • Partial reduplication of the word, e.g. burubaruto, not *buru-baruto; burubugsay, not *buru-bugsay
    • Affixation of native root words, e.g. ginaka`on, not *gina-kaun; ginsusog, not *gin-susog
    • Affixation of borrowed verbs and nouns, e.g. magtext, not *mag-text; pamerkado, not *pamerkado
    • Linkers, duha ka bilog, not duha ka-bilog.
  7. In writing borrowed words, the equivalent sounds in the native Minasbaté will be used to represent the borrowed sounds. The following symbols are used to represent the borrowed sounds:
Borrowed letters Minasbaté letters Examples
c when followed by o, u, or a k kwarto for cuarto
c when followed by i or e s sentimo for centimo
ch ts tsokolate for chocolate
f p pyesta for fiesta
j h Hulyo for Julio
ll y or ly lyabe for llave
ñ ny Hunyo for Juño
q k kwestyon vs question
v b lyabe for llave
x ks taksi for taxi
z S sigsag for zigzag

8. Consonant clusters exist in both native and borrowed words in Minasbaté.

  • In representing the off-glides or the sequence of u and w, and i and y, the vowels are dropped and the w and y are used, e.g. pwede instead of puwede, sya instead of siya, kwento instead of kuwento.
Consonant Clusters Examples
pl plato
pr prito
pw pwerta
py pyano
tr trapo
tw twerka
ty tyán
kl klaro
kr krus
kw kwento
bl blangko
br braso
bw bweno
by Byernes
dr drama
dw dwende
dy dyis
gl glorya
gr grasya
gw gwapo
my myintras
sw swerte
sy sya
hw hwebes

9. The apostrophe symbol ( ' ) is used in contracted words. The particles san and sin are often contracted to the immediately preceding word if it ends in either a glottal or vowel sound. The unstressed vowel can also be deleted in fast speech.


damó` sin kwarta damo'n kwarta
wara` sin tawo wara'n tawo
darahán dar'hán
nano man na'man
`idto `an `idto'n
sadto san sadto'n
`ina` `an `ina'n


Masbatenyo has 19 segmental phonemes: 16 consonant sounds /p, t, k, b, d, g, m, n, ŋ, l, r, w, j, s, h, ʔ/ and three vowel sounds /a, ɪ, ʊ/. /ɪ/ has the mid front unrounded, lax vowel [ɛ] (written orthographically as e) as its variant; /ʊ/ has the mid back rounded lax [ɔ] (written orthographically as o) as its variant. The sound [ɛ] only appears in loan words from English and Spanish and occurs in free variation with [ɪ]. Similarly, the sound [ɔ] is a variant of [ʊ] and its occurrence might have been brought by the interaction with the Tagalog language and the incorporation of Spanish and English loan words in Masbatenyo language.[3]

The glottal stop /ʔ/ is the conventional onset of the orthographically vowel-initial words, thus vowels cannot occur in initial position. They only occur in medial and final position.[7][3]

There are two major syllable patterns in Masbatenyo, namely, open syllable /C(C)V, (C(C)VC)/ and closed syllable /CVC/. Most root words in Masbatenyo are disyllabic (they are composed of two syllables) and follows the CV(C).CV(C) pattern. There are monosyllabic words; however, most of them are functors that have no lexical meaning. Most of the disyllabic words contain an affix, reduplicated or compound.

Masbatenyo also has a suprasegmental phoneme, the stress, which is characterized by vowel length. The acoustic analysis of stress correlates using Praat showed that duration is the most consistent factor that characterizes stress. Stressed syllables are longer than their unstressed counterparts.[3]

The diphthongs in Masbatenyo are: [aw] in sabaw 'soup', [ɪw] in agiw 'soot', [aj] in balay 'house', and [ʊj] or [ɔj] in baboy 'pig'.

Consonant clusters are non-native to Masbatenyo phonology. Their occurrence in the language is brought by the entry of borrowed words from Spanish and English.

The form of a morpheme can changed when they are combined to form words or phrases. Such changes are called mophophonemic changes. Among these changes are: vowel deletion; contraction of particles san and sin, assimilation, metathesis, epenthesis and degemination.[3][7]


Word formationEdit

Masbatenyo provides support for the claim that root words are pre-categorial or neutral by themselves.[12][13] Take the following examples: Dakó 'big (size, abstract)' is a root which can express a property or state, as seen in: Dakó an baláy niya 'His house is big'. But it can also be combined with certain affixes to form a process verb in: Nagdaragkó na an atáman 'His pet has grown already.' It can also combine with a determiner, an, to form a noun in the context: Dilí ko nakita an pagdakó san báta niya 'I didn't see his child growing up.'

Dalágan is considered a verb when used in command form: Dalágan! 'Run!' But it can be analyzed as a noun in forms such as Malúya an dalágan san trak niya. 'His truck runs slowly.'

Masbatenyo employs the following operations in deriving new words:

  1. Affixation, the process to which an affix is attached to a root or an 'intermediate stem; e.g. karaút + m- > maraút 'ugly';
  2. Reduplication, the repetition of word or part of word to form a new word; e.g., barúto + PWr reduplication > baru-barúto 'mini boat';
  3. Stress shift, e.g., báyad 'pay' > bayád 'paid'

However, the existence of bare root forms of modifiers (adjectives and adverbs) in Masbatenyo can also provide evidence that root forms also have lexical properties. Examples of this are lab`as 'fresh (fish)' versus lúb`ok 'rotten', hilaw 'raw' versus lutô 'cooked'.[3]

Noun and noun phrasesEdit

Proper and common nouns are distinguishable from each other because they have their respective determiners; proper nouns are marked by si/sinda, ni/ninda, and kan/kanda while common nouns are accompanied by an, san/sin, and sa.

In Masbatenyo, there is a subgroup of common nouns that can be inflected as imitative. The imitative affix can be the reduplicative or the Curu- 'imitative/diminutive'. The reduplicative affix – the reduplication of the whole word – is applicable to a stem that is disyllabic and has open penult (CV). Regardless of the original position of the stress, the stress of the reduplicated form is always in the penult, such as in táwu 'man' > tawu-táwu 'toy'

The Curu- is attached to a stem that has more than two syllables. It also attaches to a stem that has a close penult (CVC). The stress does not shift after reduplication. An example of this is barúto 'boat' > burubarúto 'mini-boat'

Temporal nouns can also be reduplicated and affixed with Curu-. The meaning, however, is no longer imitative. It means 'every …' as illustrated in adláw 'day' > uru`adláw 'everyday'.

Nouns can also be derived from other word classes by adding nominalizing morphemes or voice affixes.

Nominalizing morphemes
Affix Base Meaning of Derivation Examples Root/Stem
-ero N, V occupation/profession tindéro 'vendor' tindá 'to sell'
ka- V reciprocal action kaúpod 'companion' upód 'accompany'
N result of the action kautód 'piece' utód 'cut'
para- N, V one who regularly does the action


paralába 'laundry washer'

paratukdó 'teacher'

labá 'wash (laundry)'

tukdó 'teach'

pagka- N, V nature, essence of ... pagkatáwo 'human-ness tawó 'human'
pag- V abstract entity/concept pagkáon 'food' káon 'to eat'
paN- V abstract entity/concept pamatyág 'feeling' batyág 'to feel'
taga-/tiga- N native of a certain place taga-Manila 'native of Manila' Manila 'Manila
V doer of a definite action tagapudó 'harvester' pudó 'harvest'
tika- V almost happening tikaúran 'will rain' urán 'rain'
tag-/ tig- N season/time of tag`urán 'rainy season urán 'rain'
tag- N owner of tagbaláy 'owner of the house' baláy 'house'
tig- N distributive tig`urúsad 'one each' usád 'one'
Nominalizing voice affix
Affix Base Gloss Example Root/Stem
-(h)an N, V location of a thing, action or process atubángan

'in front of'

atúbang 'front'
V Instrument kanáman 'toy' kánam 'play
V someone addicted to a particular action kawatán 'thief' káwat 'to steal'
ka-STEM + -an V degree, quantity karaútan 'ugliness' raút 'ugly'
N collection or group ka`igmanghúdan 'brothers' igmanghúd 'relative/brother'
N place for N kahadían 'kingdom' hádi 'king'
-in- V resultant state pinaláypay

sinugbá 'smoked fish/meat'


sugbá 'to smoke fish/meat'

N in the manner of Minásbate

'Masbate style'

Masbáte 'Masbate'
-(h)un N, V made of/

has the quality of

langitnón 'heavenly' lángit 'heaven'
N, V something to be V-ed anihún '(crop) to be harvested' áni 'harvest'
-Vr- + -on V inherently V sarawáyon 'mischievous' sawáy 'mischief'

Masbatenyo employs three types of possession strategies: (a) possessive clauses (may and igwá and oblique phrases sa/kan); (b) lexical noun phrases (ni and san/sin constructions) and; (c) genitive case pronouns (personal and demonstrative pronouns).[3]


Masbatenyo verbs, like verbs in other Philippine languages, are marked for their voice, aspect and modality. Further, as Nolasco[12] observed in Philippine languages, voice and tense/aspect/mode often interact and it is sometimes difficult to tease them apart.


Masbatenyo is marked for aspect to show the condition of the action; whether it has begun or not, and whether it is viewed as a process or in a static state. What is important to the speakers is not a temporal relation of the activity to the moment of speaking, but the internal stages of the activity. It is not marked for tense since its action is not correlated with time.

Masbatenyo has the five aspects: infinitive or neutral, perfective, imperfective, prospective and recent perfective.


Mode describes the speakers' attitude toward a situation, including the speakers' belief in its reality, or likelihood (Payne 1997). It describes the view of the speaker as to how the action is done. The term mode, mood and modality are often used interchangeably. There are at least six types of mode that occur in Masbatenyo: (a) indicative; (b) imperative; (c) aptative/abilitative; (d) reciprocal/social; (e) causative; and (f) distributive.

Summary of modes in Masbatenyo
Mode Affix Meaning
Indicative um, m-, -an, -on, i- action is performed
Imperative -on, -an, -a, -i request or command
Aptative paka- possibility/ accidental
Reciprocal paki(g) action is done together by the actor and the goal of the action; exchange of actions between two or more actors
Causative pa- the actor is the reason why the action is done but the actor is not doing the action
Distributive pang- plurality of an action or that an action is done repeatedly


In Masbatenyo, the so-called "adjectives" and "adverbs" are similar morphologically; hence, there exists no persuasive reasons for separating the modifiers of verbs and non-verbs.

Modifiers can either occur in their root forms or they can be inflected by affixes. The first type belongs to a class of unaffixed form of statives. These forms denote that the properties they exhibit are not derived from a process or those that are possessed innately by the thing being described. Examples are lab`as 'fresh (fish)' versus lúb`ok 'rotten', hilaw 'raw' versus lutô 'cooked'.

Affixed forms of the statives are classified according to the affix that attaches to their root forms. There are three types of affixed forms in Masbaenyo: (a) m- type; (b) hi-/ha- type; and (c) those with voice affix. The first subtype inflected for by the m- replacive affix expresses the state or attribute of the referent or entity being described, e.g., madulom 'dark'.

The second subtype, which is inflected for by the hi-/ha-, is used to describe measurements (depth, height, length), e.g., harayo 'far'; hitaas 'high'.

The third subtype is affixed with voice affix.

Voice affixes deriving stative verbs
Affix Lexical Base Gloss Examples Stem/Root
-an N, V personal character talawán 'coward' tálaw 'cowardice'
V person performing action kawatán 'thief' káwat 'to steal'
<in> N manner Minásbaté 'Masbatenyo style' Masbáte 'Masbate'
ma- + -on V mental or physical qualities malangáson 'joker' langás 'joke'
maka-V1r Stative making one become makaarálo 'embarrassing' álo 'shame'
-(a)-n-on N state /human modifier langitnón 'heavenly' lángit 'heaven'
-on N, V quality; description of a person buwáon 'liar'

tibíhon 'person suffering from tuberculosis'

búwà 'lie'

tíbi 'tuberculosis'

para- V fond of

habitual action

paralángas 'joker' langás 'to joke'

Masbatenyo modifiers are inflected by means of affixes for four degrees of intensity: basic, comparative, superlative, and intensive.

  • Mabuot na bátà si Chai. 'Chai is a kind child.' (Basic)
  • Mas maganda si Benj. 'Benj is more beautiful.' (Comparative)
  • Pinakamadagmit si Karl. 'Karl is the fastest.' (Superlative)

In Masbatenyo, intensive degree is expressed by the affix ka- accompanied by the non-obligatory particle man attached to bare forms (roots), e.g. Kaganda san boses ni Tinne. 'Tinne's voice is so beautiful.'

Intensive degree may also be expressed by Curu reduplication. ka- intensification also co-occurs with the Curu intensification. Katurutam`is saní na biko. 'This rice cake is very sweet.'

Adverbial properties in Masbatenyo are rather expressed by clitic particles such as na 'already', pa 'still', ngáni 'really', kunó 'reportedly', etc.


In Philippine-type languages, pronouns replace the full noun phrases in a clause. Pronouns, however, do not take the place of nouns in most expressions (e.g. an bata > siya, not an siya), but do so in oblique phrases (e.g. sa batà 'to the child' > sa iya 'to him/her.'

There are five important types of pronouns in Philippine languages: personal pronouns, interrogative pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, reflexive pronouns and indefinite pronouns.

Personal pronouns refer to entities already mentioned in the discourse or known to the hearer. They are classified according to person, case and number.

Masbatenyo personal pronouns
1st sing 1SG =ako =ko ako ákon ákon
2nd sing 2SG =ka/ikaw =mo/nímo ikaw ímo ímo
3rd sing 3SG =siya =níya siya íya íya
1st excl pl 1+2 =kami =námon kami ámon ámon
1st incl pl 1+2PL =kita =náton kita áton áton
2nd pl 2PL =kamo =níyo kamo íyo íyo
3rd pl 3PL =sinda =nínda sinda índa índa

Demonstrative pronouns or deictics refer to entities in relation to distance, and space and also refer to their location on a timeline. In discourse, demonstratives are also used to track reference across clauses. They sometimes take the place of third personal pronouns.

Demonstrative pronouns in Masbatenyo
Spatial orientation Absolutive (S/O) Ergative (A) Oblique
Non-specific Specific
near speaker iní siní saní didî
near hearer inâ sinâ sanâ didâ
far from both idtó sidtó sadtó didtó

Interrogative pronouns are those that take place of the nouns in questions. Interrogatives are used when a concept is being questioned and to elicit information so that an item can be identified. The interrogative pronouns are sin`o 'who', náno 'what', pan`o 'how', san`o 'when', pirá 'how much', háin 'where', and diín 'where'.

Nano kay 'why' differs from the rest of interrogative words since it does not replace a noun phrase but an entire clause. It consists of the interrogative pronoun náno and the reason particle kay.

Reflexive pronouns are special words which refer to the same referent in a construction. It is made up of the word sadíri plus the relevant pronoun, as in the phrase sa sadíri niya or sa iya sadíri.

Indefinite pronouns refer to entities, persons, places or times which cannot be clearly established. The indefinite pronouns can either be expressed in two ways: (a) by the same form as the interrogatives plus the particle man or (b) by the use of the connectors bísan 'even, including', máski 'even though' or kun 'if' plus interrogative word.

Amó is a general pro-form that can be used to replace any noun, verb, modifier, or even whole clauses. Wolfenden[7] refers to amó as the universal substitute. Amo is also used to track an antecedent in a previous sentence.

Numeral termsEdit

Masbatenyo has native terms for numbers. However, in the domain of money and time, Spanish terms are used. Numerals typically go with nouns to specify the number of items talked about. They can also modify verbs and other predicates to indicate degree and quantity of action.

Numeral expressions in Masbatenyo[3]
Numeral Cardinal Ordinal Distributive Time expression
one isád/uno primiro tig-isád ala-úna
two duwá/duhá/dos ikaduwá tigduwá alas-dos
three tuló/tres ikatuló tigtuló alas-tres
four upát/kwatro ikaupát tig-upát alas-kwatro
five lima/singko ikalimá tiglimá alas-singko
six unóm/sais ikaunóm tig-unóm alas-sais
seven pitó/syete ikapitó tigpitó alas-syete
eight waló/otso ikawaló tigwaló alas-otso
nine siyám/nwebe ikasiyám tigsyám alas-nwebe
ten napúlo/dyis pangnapúlò tignapúlò alas-dyis
eleven ónse pang-ónse tig-ónse alas-ónse
twelve dose pandóse tigdóse alas-dóse
thirteen trese pantrese tigtrese
twenty beynte pambeynte tigbeynte
thirty treynta pantreynta tigtreynta
one-hundred syin/isád ka gatús tigsyin
one thousand mil/isád ka líbo tig`isád ka líbo

Basic mathematical operationsEdit

The following are basic mathematical operations in Masbateño:[14]

  • one plus one equals two (1 + 1 = 2) – An usad gindagdagan san usad, duha/duwa ka bilog
  • two times two equals four (2 x 2 = 4) – An duwa ginpilô san duwa na bes, nagin upat
  • eight minus five equals three (8 – 5 = 3) – An walo gin-ibanan san lima, tulo an nabilin
  • nine divided by three equals three (9 ÷ 3 = 3) – An siyam ginbarahin sa tulo, tig-turulo

Advanced algebraic operationsEdit

The following are advanced algebraic operations in Masbateño:[14]

  • x raised to the power of y, or in symbols, (x^y). In Minasbate, an x piluon sa y na beses.
  • square root of x, or in symbols, sqrt(x). In Minasbate, an ikaduha na gamot san x o an numero na pinilo sa duwa na beses na nagin x.
  • x over y, or in symbols, x/y. In Minasbate, x kada y.
  • one and a half plus two and one-fourth equals three and three-fourths, or in symbols, 1 1/2 + 2 1/4 = 3 3/4. In Minasbate, an usad kag katunga gindagdagan san duha kag kaupat, tulo kag tulo-kaupat tanan.

Useful terms and expressionsEdit

Parts of the bodyEdit

English Tagalog Masbatenyo IPA Transcription
ankle bukung-bukong, sakong tikód [tɪ'kɔd]
arm bisig butkún [bʊt'kʊn]
armpit kili-kili kilikili [kɪlɪˈkɪlɪ]
back likod likod [lɪ'kɔd]
beard balbas barbas [bar'bas]
belly tiyan tiyan [tɪ'jan]
bile apdu apdû [ɁapˈdʊɁ]
blood dugo dugô [dʊ'gɔɁ]
body katawan lawas ['lawas]
breast suso dudu ['dʊdʊ]
buttocks puwit, puwitan bubót [bʊˈbɔt]
cheek pisngi pisngi [pɪs'ŋɪ]
chest dibdib dughán [dʊg'han]
chin baba babà, sulan, sulay ['babaɁ], [sʊˈlan], ['sʊˈlaɪ̯]
curly hair kurong kurung [kʊˈrʊŋ]
ear tainga talinga [ta'lɪŋa]
elbow siko siko ['sɪkɔ]
eye mata mata [maˈta]
eyebrow kilay kíray ['kɪɾaɪ̯]
face mukha bayhón [bajˈhɔn]
finger daliri tudlo [tʊd'lʊɁ]
fingernail kuko kuko [kʊ'kɔ]
forehead noo agtang [Ɂagˈtaŋ]
foot paa tiíl [tɪˈɁɪl]
gray hair uban uban ['Ɂʊban]
hair buhok buhok [bʊ'hɔk]
hand kamay kamút [kaˈmʊt]
head ulo úlo ['Ɂʊlɔ]
heart puso puso [pʊsɔɁ]
intestines bituka tinái [tɪ'naɁɪ]
jaw panga pangá [pa'ŋa]
knee tuhod tuhod ['tʊhɔd]
left (hand) kaliwa walá [wa'la]
lip labi ngawít [ŋa'wɪt]
liver atay atáy [Ɂa'taɪ̯]
lungs baga bagà ['bagaɁ]
mouth bibig bibíg [bɪˈbɪg]
nail (finger or toe) kuko kukó [kʊ'kɔ]
nape batok lùong [lʊ'Ɂɔŋ]
navel pusod pusod ['pʊsɔd]
neck leeg líog ['lɪɁʊg]
nose ilong iróng [Ɂɪ'rʊŋ]
palm (hand) palad pálad ['palad]
penis ari ng lalaki, utin, titi, buto butò ['bʊtʊɁ]
rib tadyang gúsok ['gʊsɔk]
right (hand) kanan tuó [tʊ'Ɂɔ]
shoulder balikat abága [Ɂa'baga]
skull bungo bungô, alimpatakan [bʊ'ŋɔɁ], [Ɂalɪmpaˈtakan]
stomach tiyan tiyan [tɪ'jan]
thigh hita híta ['hɪtaɁ]
throat lalamunan tutunlán [tʊtʊnˈlan]
toe daliri sa paa tudlô ['tʊdlɔɁ]
tooth ngipin ngípon ['ŋɪpɔn]
vagina pekpek, puki putáy [pʊ'taɪ̯]


English Tagalog Masbatenyo IPA Transcription
ant langgam guyom, hurmigas ['gʊjɔm]; [hʊr'mɪgas]
bird ibon sapát [sa'pat]
butterfly paruparo alibangbang [Ɂalɪˈbaŋbaŋ]
cat pusa miyà [mɪjaɁ]
chick sisiw pisû [pɪ'sʊɁ]
chicken manok manok [ma'nɔk]
cockroach ipis kuratsa [kʊ'ratsa]
carabao kalabaw karabáw [karaˈbaʊ̯]
crocodile buwaya buwáya [bʊ'waja]
crow uwak uwák [Ɂʊ'wak]
deer usa usa ['Ɂʊsa]
dog aso ido, ayam [ɁɪdʊɁ], ['Ɂajam]
eel igat (freshwater) palos (saltwater) palós [pa'lɔs]
fish isda isdâ [Ɂɪs'daɁ]
fly (the insect) langaw (small),

bangaw (big)

lángaw ['laŋaʊ̯]
frog palaka pakâ [pa'kaɁ]
mosquito lamok lamúk [la'mʊk]
octopus pugita pugíta [pʊˈgɪta]
pig baboy baboy ['babɔɪ̯]
snake ahas sawá [sa'wa]
spider gagamba lawà ['lawaɁ]


English Tagalog Masbatenyo IPA Transcription
alive buhay buháy [bʊˈhaɪ̯]
all lahat tanán [ta'nan]
awake gising matá [ma'ta]
bald kalbo kalbo [kalbɔ]
beautiful maganda magandá [maganˈda]
big malaki dakû [daˈkʊɁ]
bitter mapait mapaít [mapaɁɪt]
black itim, maitim itúm, maitúm [Ɂɪ'tʊm], [maɁɪ'tʊm]
clean malinis malínis, limpio [ma'lɪnɪs], ['lɪmpjɔ]
cold (objects) malamig matúgnaw [maˈtʊgnaʊ̯]
cold (weather) maginaw, malamig mahágkot [ma'hagkɔt]
curly hair kulot kurúng [kʊˈrʊŋ]
dark, dim madilim madulúm [madʊ'lʊm]
deaf bingi bungól [bʊˈŋɔl]
deep malalim madalúm [mada'lʊm]
dumb (mute) pipi apâ [Ɂa'paɁ]
far malayo harayû [hara'jʊɁ]
fast mabilis madagmít [madag'mɪt]
few kaunti, iilan dyútay [djʊ'taɪ̯]
first una úna, primero ['Ɂʊna], [prɪ'merɔ]
foul-smelling mabaho mabahò [ma'bahʊɁ]
fragrant mabango mahumot [maˈhʊmɔt]
full (after eating) busog busóg [bʊˈsɔg]
full (not empty) puno punô [pʊ'nʊɁ]
good mabuti mabúot, maayo [ma'bʊɁɔt], [maˈɁajʊ]
healthy malusog mapawà [ma'pawaɁ]
heavy mabigat mabug-at [mabʊgˈɁat]
hungry gutom gutóm [gʊ'tɔm]
last huli urhí [Ɂʊrˈhɪ]
light magaan(g) magaán [maga'Ɂan]
many marami damû [daˈmʊɁ]
narrow makitid, makipot makípot [maˈkɪpʊt]
rotten (as fruit) sira sirâ [sɪ'raɁ]
rotten (log) bulok lub-ok [lʊb'Ɂɔk]
shallow mababaw hamábaw [haˈmabaʊ̯]
sharp (knife) matalim, matalas matarúm [mata'rʊm]
short maliit (size), maikli, maiksi (length), pandak (height) dyutáy, putót [djʊ'taɪ̯], [pʊ'tɔt]
sleepy inaantok ginapiráw [gɪnapɪˈraʊ̯]
slow mabagal mahínay [maˈhɪnaɪ̯]
small maliit dyutáy [djʊˈtaɪ̯]
sweet matamis matam-is [matam'Ɂɪs]
thick makapal dakmól [dakˈmɔl]
thin manipis manipís [manɪ'pɪs]
thin (human) payat maníwang [ma'nɪwaŋ]
thirsty uhaw uháw [Ɂʊ'haʊ̯]
tight masikip gutók [gʊ'tɔk]
ugly pangit maraót [mara'Ɂɔt]
warm (weather), warm (humid) mainit, maalinsangan maínit [ma'Ɂɪnɪt]
weak mahina maluya [maˈlʊja]
wet basa basâ [ba'saɁ]
wide malawak halápad [haˈlapad]
wrong mali malî [ma'lɪɁ]

Common phrasesEdit

  • I hate you! – Badli ako sa imo! / Habo ko sa imo!
  • I love you. – Namomo-ot ako sa imo. Namumot-an ta ikaw. (Bicolano-influenced)
  • I love you. – Palangga ta ikaw. (Masbate Mainland)
  • Let's talk. – Mag-istoryahan kita.
  • Can I join? – Pwede ako kaintra?
  • Pleased to meet you. – Malipay ako na nagbagat kita.
  • How you doin'? – Matiano ka dida?
  • Please let me know. – Ipaaram la sa akon.
  • Please help me. – Buligi man ako.
  • Can you teach me? – Pwede mo ba ako matukduan? Pwede magpatukdo?
  • I want to learn Masbatenyo. – Gusto ko makaaram mag-istoryahan san Masbatenyo.
  • Good morning! – Maayo na aga!
  • Good afternoon! – Maayo na hapon!
  • Good evening! – Maayo na gab-i!
  • Good night! – Turog maayo.
  • Let's eat. – Karaon na kita.
  • You're (really) beautiful. – Kaganda mo (gayud).
  • Please call me. – Tawagi tabi ako.
  • Can I ask you a favor? – Pwede mangayo pabor (o bulig)?

Literary worksEdit

Pulong Ko Yadto[15]

Pulong ko yadto mato-od kag tunay
An imo sa akon tuga na pagmahal
Nano an nangyari kay imo guin bayaan
Mga pangako mo san nag-agi na adlaw
Mili kay sugad an akon kamotangan
Imo guin bayaan, imo guin bayaan
Nagtios sin labi na kasakitan
Kay gusto mo ada na ako mamatay
Kon dili pa lamang an akon paglaom
Sa imo binilin na mga surmaton
Di kunta nagios inin tagipusu-on
Di kunta nasayang inin lawas nakon.


  1. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing, Report No. 2A - Demographic and Housing Characteristics (Non-Sample Variables)" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  2. ^ a b c "Masbatenyo". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Rosero, Michael Wilson (2011). A Grammatical Sketch of Masbatenyo (BA thesis). University of the Philippines.{{cite thesis}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Doctolero, Eduardo (2004). Paglikom at Pagsusuri ng mga Karunungang Bayan ng Masbate. Iriga City, Philippines: University of Saint Anthony.
  5. ^ a b Zaide, Gregorio F.; Zaide, Sonia M., eds. (1990). Documentary Sources of Philippine History. Metro Manila, Philippines: National Book Store. ISBN 978-971-08-4831-7.
  6. ^ Pelorina, Renato (2020). "Local History From Below: The Pulahanes of Masbate, Philippines (1898–1905)" (PDF). Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia. 56: 20–44.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Wolfenden, Elmer (2001). A Masbatenyo-English Dictionary. Manila, Philippines: Linguistic Society of the Philippines. ISBN 9789717800097.
  8. ^ Blancaver, P.; Bermudo, C.; Vargas, M. (2015), Variants in Minasbate Orthography.
  9. ^ a b c d e Zorc, David Paul (1977). The Bisayan Dialects of the Philippines: Subgrouping and Reconstruction. Canberra, Australia: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University. doi:10.15144/PL-C44. ISBN 0-85883-157-0.
  10. ^ McFarland, Curtis (1974). The Dialects of the Bikol Area (PDF) (PhD thesis). Yale University.
  11. ^ Rosero, Michael Wilson I.; Balbuena, Sherwin E. (2016). 'An 'Ortograpiya san Minasbaté / Draft Minasbate Working Orthography (in Masbateño and English). Mandaon, Philippines: Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology – via{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  12. ^ a b Nolasco, Ricardo Ma. Duran (2011), Grammar Notes on the National Language.
  13. ^ Foley, William (1998). "Symmetrical Voice Systems and Precategoriality in Philippine Languages". CiteSeerX {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ a b Balbuena, Sherwin E.; Cantoria, Uranus E.; Cantoria, Amancio L. Jr.; Ferriol, Eny B. (2015). "Minásbate Equivalents of Mathematical Concepts: Their Socio-Cultural Undertones" (PDF). Asia Pacific Journal of Education, Arts and Sciences. 2 (1): 37–43.
  15. ^ Almario, Orlando (1995). Masbate: Men and Events.

External linksEdit