(Redirected from Proto-Philippine language)

The Proto-Philippine language is a reconstructed ancestral proto-language of the Philippine languages, a proposed subgroup of the Austronesian languages which includes all languages within the Philippines (except for the Sama–Bajaw languages) as well as those within the northern portions of Sulawesi in Indonesia.[1][2][3][4] Proto-Philippine is not directly attested to in any written work, but linguistic reconstruction by the comparative method has found regular similarities among languages that cannot be explained by coincidence or word-borrowing.

Reconstruction ofPhilippine languages
Lower-order reconstructions


There have been three initial proposals in delineating the southern boundaries of the Philippine group: Northern Borneo in Malaysia, southern Philippines (encompassing southern Luzon all the way to Mindanao and the Sulu Sea area), and northern Sulawesi in Indonesia.[4] The earliest boundary was proposed by Esser (1938) between the Gorontalo languages and the Tomini languages of Sulawesi. While it was later found decades after (Himmelmann, 1990) that there are shared innovations between Philippine and Tomini languages, there are still uncertainties as to whether the latter do validly form one genetic group, or should be relegated as a mere geographic unit.[5] Meanwhile, Charles (1974) in particular proposed that languages in Sabah and of northern Sarawak are descendants of this Proto-Philippines,[6] which has subsequently garnered counter-evidences (Blust, 1974; Reid, 1982; Zorc, 1986). Lastly, there have been several proposals establishing southern Philippines as the boundary (Thomas & Healey, 1962; Dyen, 1965; Zorc, 1977; 1986) with the "Macro Meso-Philippine" and "Sangiric" as two primary branches.[7] Walton (1979) and McFarland (1980) included the Sama-Bajau group as the third branch, but such has been later disputed as entirely separate directly under Malayo-Polynesian.[3]


Due to issues in the validity of a Philippine genetic group, and thus the existence of an ancestral Proto-Philippines language, most of its features particularly its phonology remain as proposals.


Llamzon's reconstructionEdit

Llamzon's (1975) proposed phonology of Proto-Philippines was derived from earlier reconstructions of Dempwolff's (1934-1938) works by Dyen (1947; 1951; 1953a; 1953b; 1953c). Used in this reconstruction were nine languages—Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Bikol (Central?), Ilokano, Ibanag, Ifugao, and Kankanaey—with the rationale that the aforementioned have "relatively better structural description and vocabularies" than other related and geographically contiguous languages at that time.[1] While his analysis focused on attested Proto-Austronesian phonemes which were retained in this Proto-Philippines, features that were lost or merged were not highlighted.

Proto-Philippine consonants by Llamzon (1975)
Labial Dental/Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Voiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Unvoiced
Nasal *m *n *ng /ŋ/ *q /ʔ/
Stop *p *b *t *d /d/ *D /ɖ/ *j /ɟ/ *k /k/ *g /ɡ/
Affricate *Z /ɟʝ/
Fricative *s *h /h/
Flap/Tap *r /ɾ/
Trill *R1234 /ʀ/
Approximant *w /w/ *l *y /j/

Proto-phonemes *Z and *D were restricted to medial positions, and were not retained in any of the languages.

The proto-phonemes *j and *R are not preserved as such in any Philippine language: *j became either *g or *d (e.g. *púsəj became Ilocano púsəg, Tagalog púsod), whereas *R shifted to *r (e.g. in Ilokano), *l (e.g. in Pangasinan), *g (e.g. in Tagalog) or *y (e.g. in Kapampangan).[1][4]

Proto-Philippine vowels by Llamzon (1975)
Height Front Central Back
Close *i *u
Open *a

The Proto-Austronesian schwa *ə is said to have been lost in Proto-Philippines, and merged with other vowels (e.g. /u/ in Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray; /a/ in Ibanag, /i/ in Tagalog). However, the limited selection of lanuages overlooked retentions in a diverse range of other Philippine languages (e.g. Gaddang, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao. Rinconada Bikol, Palawano), and in southern dialects of Ilokano, which were not attested despite the inclusion of the language to the analysis.

Proto-Philippine diphthongs by Llamzon (1975)
*ay *uy *aw *iw

Paz' reconstructionEdit

Another notable proposal is by Paz (1981) who conducted a bottom-up approach by reconstructing using her own symbols.[8]

Proto-Philippine consonants by Paz (1981)
Labial Dental/Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Voiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced
Nasal m n N /ŋ/ ? /ʔ/
Stop p b t d /d/ ḍ /ɖ/ g̯ /ɡʲ/ k /k/ g /ɡ/
Fricative s h /h/
Trill *r
Approximant w /w/ l̩ // *l y /j/

Paz revisits two types of proto-Austronesian L as part of her reconstruction (l, l̥), which makes it distinct from other reconstructions.

Proto-Philippine vowels by Paz (1981)
Height Front Central Back Stress
Close i u V:
Mid ə
Open a

In comparison to Llamzon, Paz presents five diphthongs instead.

Proto-Philippine diphthongs by Paz (1981)
ay uy əy aw iw


Below is a table comparing core vocabulary from modern Philippine languages in relation to the follow Proto-Philippine innovations. Note that the accented vowels (e.g. á) under Proto-Philippine indicate the stress, while q represents glottal stop.

Proto-Philippine Tagalog Ilokano Kapampangan Visayan group Gloss
*ásu aso aso asu dog
*baláy bahay balay bale balay house
*bábuy baboy baboy babi baboy pig
*baqRu bago baro bayu bag-o new
*báqi babae babai babai babayi
*dəkət dikit dekket dukut adhesive/(to) stick
*dáRaq dara daya blood
*duRúq dugo dugo
*hajək halik agek halok (to) kiss
*ŋájan pangalan
nagan ngalan pangalan
*danúm danum danum water
*túbiR tubig tubi
*laŋúy langoy langoy langoy (to) swim
*táu tao tao tau tawo human

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Llamzon, Teodoro A. "Proto-Philippine Phonology." In: Archipel, volume 9, 1975. pp. 29-42.
  2. ^ Charles, Mathew (1974). "Problems in the Reconstruction of Proto-Philippine Phonology and the Subgrouping of the Philippine Languages". Oceanic Linguistics. 13 (1/2): 457–509. doi:10.2307/3622751. JSTOR 3622751.
  3. ^ a b Zorc, R.D. (1986). "The genetic relationships of Philippine languages." In Geraghty, P., Carrington, L. and Wurm, S.A. editors, FOCAL II: Papers from the Fourth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. C-94:147-173. Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University, 1986.
  4. ^ a b c Blust, Robert (1991). "The Greater Central Philippines hypothesis". Oceanic Linguistics. 30 (2): 73–129. doi:10.2307/3623084. JSTOR 3623084.
  5. ^ Himmelmann, Nikolaus (1990). "Sourcebook on Tomini-Tolitoli languages". Typescript. Department of Linguistics, University of Köln: 336.
  6. ^ Charles, Matthew (1974). "Problems in the reconstruction of Proto-Philippine phonology and the subgrouping of the Philippine languages". Oceanic Linguistics. 13: 457–509.
  7. ^ Dyen, Isidore (1965). "Language distribution and migration theory". Language. 32: 611–626.
  8. ^ Paz, Consuelo (1981). A reconstruction of Proto-Philippine phonemes and morphemes. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Linguistic Circle.

Further readingEdit