Sama, Southern


A language of Philippines

Alternate Names
Sama Tawi-Tawi, Southern Sinama

200,000 in Philippines (2007 SIL), increasing. Population total all countries: 215,000. 20,000 monolinguals.


Muslim Mindanao autonomous region, southern Sulu, Tawi-Tawi Island Province, Tawi-Tawi, Simunul, Sibutu, and other major islands.

Language Status

5 (Developing).


Balimbing, Bongao, Languyan, Obian, Sama Sibutu, Sapa-Sapa, Sibutu’ (Sibutu), Simunul, Sitangkai, Tandubas. Sibutu intelligibility of Sama Central [sml] 77%, of the Simunul dialect 89%. Simunul intelligibility of Sama Central [sml] 77%, of the Sibutu dialect 80%.

Language Use

Vigorous. Home, neighborhood, local level official functions, religious services, commerce, and labor relations. Positive attitudes. Also use Central Sama [sml], English [eng], Filipino [fil], Malay [zlm], Mapun [sjm], Pangutaran Sama [slm], Tausug [tsg].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 65%–70%. Literacy rate in L2: 40% in Tausug [tsg], 40% in Filipino [fil], 30% in Malay [zlm], 10% in English [eng]. 130,000 can read, 100,000 can write. Literature may not be acceptable to other dialect speakers due to marginal intelligibility and strong regional loyalties. Taught in primary schools, as language of instruction. Radio programs. Bible portions: 1979–2009.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Simunul is central, prestige dialect. Bongao dialect from political, economic center of Southern Sama. Muslim.

Also spoken in:

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