Sama, Central


A language of Philippines

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

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


Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: Basilan province, Basilan island, Maluso municipality, Malamawi island; Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces, Cagayan de Sulu island, Siasi and Sitangkai municipalities, Bonggao and Tabawan; CALABARZON region: Batangas province; Central Visayas region: Cebu province; Bohol province, Tagbilaran; MIMAROPA region: Palawan province, Puerto Princesa; Northern Mindanao region: Misamis Oriental province, Cagayan de Oro; Negros Island region: Negros Occidental province, Sasa; Zamboanga Peninsula region: Zamboanga del Norte province, Olutangga; Zamboanga del Sur province, Batuan Lumbayaw; Rio Hondo, Sangali, and Taluk Sangay areas in Zamboanga City; Davao City, Isla Verde.

Language Status

4 (Educational).


Sama Deya, Sama Dilaut, Sama Siasi (Siasi Sama), 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).


17 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. Used by all. 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. Literature. Videos. Texts. NT: 1987–2008.


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Muslim, Christian, traditional religion.

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