Philippines Spanish

The Philippines were incorporated to the Spanish crown in 1571. The capital, Manila was founded by López de Legazpi. Spanish achieved rather less success in this Asian country than in the Americas. This appears to be due to a varied number of factors, mainly the low number of Spanish settlers in the islands.

Heavy debates are still taking place among Filipinos about the cause of the Spanish language's decline after World War II. According to the latest figures, only 1,800,000 persons (3% of the population) speak Spanish. It can be added to that figure the 1,200,000 speakers of Chabacano (Philippine Creole Spanish).

In Philippine Spanish there is a tendency to raise the mid vowels /o/ and /e/ . The other salient feature involving vowels is the frequent insertion of a glottal stop before stressed syllable-initial vowels, as occurs in indigenous Philippine languages. The statistically most frequent realization of /f/ is bilabial . Occasionally, the realization may be [p], which mirrors the process whereby Spanish /f/ is usually merged with /p/ in indigenous Philippine languages (which all lack the phoneme /f/).

In keeping with the islands’ historical links with the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the Philippine vocabulary contains quite a few Latin Americanisms, mainly from Mexico. There are also many words from indigenous Philippine languages: bolo (type of machete), abacá (plant that produces Manila hemp), baguio ‘typhoon’, jambunguero ‘braggart’…

There are approximately 4,000 Spanish words in the local language Tagalog, and around 6,000 Spanish words in other dialects. The Spanish counting system, calendar, time, etc are still in use with slight modifications. Archaic Spanish words have been preserved in Tagalog like pera (perras - coins), sabon (jabón - the j used to be pronounced as in French and Portugese:'jsh' or roughly the j sound in beige or garage), relos (reloj with the j sound), kwarta (cuarta), etc

Chavacano, also called Zamboangueño and Chabacano, is a Spanish creole spoken in the Philippines. Chavacano is concentrated mostly in the South, in the provinces of Zamboanga, with some speakers found in Cavite.