Sama, Central


A language of Philippines

Alternate Names
“Bajaw” (pej.), Central Sinama, Orang Laut, Sama Dilaut, Samal, Siasi Sama, Sinama

90,000 in Philippines (2000). 30,000 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 105,000. Total users in all countries: 105,000.


Muslim Mindinao autonomous region, Sulu andTawi-Tawi provinces, Siasi, Tabawan, Bonggao Sitangkai, Cagayan de Sulu island; Basilan island, Maluso, Malamawi, Bohe’ Lobbong; Zamboanga del Sur Province, Rio Hondo, Batuan Lumbayaw, Taluk Sangay, Sanggali; Zamboanga del Norte Province, Olutangga; Davao City, Isla Verde, and Sasa; Cagayan de Oro; Visayas, Cebu and Tagbilaran; Palawan, Puerto Princesa; Batangas.

Language Status

4 (Educational).


Sama Deya, Sama Dilaut, Sama Siasi, Sama Laminusa, Sama Tabawan. Intelligibility of Bangingih Sama [sse] 79%. Lexical similarity: 47% with Inabaknon [abx], 62% with Yakan [yka], 76% with Pangutaran Sama [slm], 77% with Balangingi [sse], 72–78% with Southern Sama [ssb], 59% with West Coast Bajau [bdr], 66% with Mapun [sjm], 48–51% with Indonesian Bajau [bdl], 25% with Cebuano [ceb], 45% with Tausug [tsg] (Pallesen 1985).


13 consonant and 6 vowel phonemes,which occur as geminate clusters word-medially. Vowel harmony between front and back vowels in bisyllabic roots (Pallesen and Soderberg 2012:355–357).

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use Cebuano [ceb], Chavacano [cbk], Malay [zlm], Tagalog [tgl], Tausug [tsg]. Used as L2 by Southern Sama [ssb].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 15%. Literacy rate in L2: 15%. Taught in primary schools, as a language of instruction, but only in Davao and Zamboanga in a few classes run by non-governmental organizations. New media. Films. Videos. NT: 1987–2008.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Muslim, Christian, traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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