Sama, Southern


A language of Philippines

Alternate Names
Sama, Sama Tawi-Tawi, Southern Sinama, Tawi-Tawi Sinama
Sinama, Sinama Tawi-Tawi

200,000 in Philippines (2007 SIL), increasing. 20,000 monolinguals. Total users in all countries: 260,000.


Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: Tawi-Tawi province, Tawi-Tawi, Simunul, and Sibutu municipalities; other major islands.

Language Status

5* (Developing).


Sibutu’ (Sibutu), Simunul, Tandubas, Obian, Balimbing, Bongao, Sitangkai, Languyan, Sapa-Sapa, Sama Sibutu. 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], Molbog [pwm], 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. Literature. Radio. Videos. Dictionary. Bible portions: 1979–2009.


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

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

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