Philippines Language and Languages

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Most pre-1900 genealogical material is written in Spanish, although you will also occasionally find records in Latin, French, Dutch, or Hebrew. You do not need to be fluent in Spanish to research Philippine records. Language aids can give you the language information you need. Use a good Spanish dictionary or:

There are over 87 distinct dialects in the Philippines, and many records are partly in a local dialect. Some common dialects are Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Waray, Bicolano, Pangasinan, and Pampango. If you find foreign words in your research, find out which dialect was spoken in the province where the document was created, and then look the word up in an appropriate dictionary. You may know someone who speaks that language who can help you.

Useful references for Philippine languages are:

Llamzon, Teodoro A. Handbook of Philippine Language Groups. Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1978. (FHL book Asia 499.21 L77h.)

Garcia, Pilar Cruz. A List of Dictionaries in Tagalog and Other Philippine Languages. Manila, Philippines: Institute of Science and Technology Library, 1958.

Although Filipino is the official language of the Philippines, some provincial records are written in different dialects. English has also been used extensively from the time Philippines was a U.S. territory. Dictionaries for various dialects are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under: