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Bantayanon language

Native toPhilippines
RegionBantayan Island, Cebu Province
Native speakers
72,000 (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bfx

The Bantayanon language is the regional language of the Bantayan islands in the Philippines. It is a part of the Bisayan language family and is closely related to Hiligaynon. There are three dialects of Bantayanon, based in the three municipalities that comprise the island group: Binantayanun (in Bantayan), Linawisanun (in Madridejos), and Sinantapihanun (in Santa Fe), the most idiosyncratic of the three. There are also significant dialectical differences between the speech patterns of those that live in the town centers and those that live outside of the more rural areas of the islands.

History of the Bantayanon language

The first mention of the language spoken on the Bantayan islands seems to be from the Spanish historian and Jesuit missionary Ignacio Alcina, who wrote in 1668,

"Finally, it could have happened that people from various larger or smaller islands passed over to the others, as is an established fact among them. For instance, those on the Island of Bantayan, which is near Cebu, are actually descendants of the people living on Samar Island and on the western side or opposite that of Ibabao. Today, they admit that they are related by blood due to the fact that the latter were populated in more recent times." (translation by editors)[3]

The substratum of Bantayanon is that Old Waray dialect that moved across Bantayan and eventually onto Panay Island, and later Bantayanon was heavily influenced in its lexicon by Cebuano.[4]

Modern Scholarship on the Bantayanon language

The only published scholarship on the Bantayanon language is a Master of Arts thesis presented to Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) by Minda Carabio-Sexon,[5] in which she looks at the lexical relationship between Bantayanon and its neighboring languages, presents findings from mutual-intelligibility tests with related languages, and provides a sociolinguistic profile of the island’s inhabitants. She also provides transcriptions and English translations of two of her collected interviews.

There is currently a documentation project of Bantayanon underway by researcher Jarrette K. Allen, a PhD candidate at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.

Phonology and Orthography

Bantayanon has 16 consonantal phonemes and 3 vocalic phonemes. The following orthography is the one currently being developed, since Bantayanon is still considered an undocumented / undescribed language with no literary history. It draws on the orthographies of Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Filipino, but also diverges in some ways.

The Pulmonic Consonant Phonemes of Bantayanon
bilabial dental




palatal velar glottal
plosive p b t d k g ɂ
nasal m n ŋ
tap or flap ɾ
fricative s h
central approximant j w
lateral approximant (w) l
Symbols to the right in a cell are voiced, to the left are voiceless.

All final plosives in Bantayanon are unreleased. It has not been demonstrated that Bantayanon aspirates any consonants. There are no syllabic consonants in Bantayanon.

The following phonemes are written as they are in the IPA (above table): p b t d k g m n s h w l.

These phonemes are written as such:

  • If a root in Bantayanon does not begin with another consonant, it begins with a glottal stop stop /ɂ/, but this glottal is only ever indicated in the orthography when that glottal appears word-medially due to affixation or reduplication.
  • The glottal stop /ɂ/ is written as a hyphen (-) in all word-medial positions. This is atypical of Central Bisayan languages, which assume a glottal between vowels (i.e. aa = /aɂa/). However, it is necessary to write long vowels in Bantayanon, for they are contrastive, and this is done by doubling the vowel (i.e. aa = /aː/) and marking all word-medial glottals (a-a = /aɂa/).
  • The glottal stop /ɂ/ in word-final positions (always over a vowel) is indicated with a grave accent (e.g. isdà /ɂis.dáɂ/).
  • The velar nasal /ŋ/ is written with ng and can appear word-initially, medially, and finally.
  • The tap or flap /ɾ/ is written with an r.
  • The glides /w/ and /j/ are written with a w and a y, respectively.
The Vocalic Phonemes of Bantayanon
HIGH i u

Like Cebuano, Bantayanon has only 3 vocalic phonemes. There is no /o/ or /e/ in Bantayanon, although many use the letters o and e when writing. All syllables in Bantayanon contain one and only one vowel.


  1. ^ Bantayanon at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bantayanon". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Alcina, Ignacio Francisco (2002). Kobak, Cantius; Gutiérrez, Lucio (eds.). History of the Bisayan People in the Philippine Islands. Evangelization and Culture at the Contact Period (Historia de La Islas e Indios de Bisayas... 1668). 1. Manila: UST Publishing House. pp. 78–79.
  4. ^ Zorc, R. David Paul (1977). "The Bisayan Dialects of the Philippines: Subgrouping and Reconstruction". Pacific Linguistics. C. Canberra, ACT (44).
  5. ^ Carabio-Sexon, Minda. 2007. “Bantayanon: A Lexical Comparison and Sociolinguistic Description.” Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology.