Even Kapampangan and Pangasinan are now
By Rene Q. Bas
Experts expect Kapampangan and the Pangasinan language—out of the 10 major Philippine languages—to be extinct 20 years from now.
How can this happen? It’s easy to visualize how our Negrito (or Agta or Aeta or Ata) fellow Filipinos can disappear completely from the scene. (See “Negrito (Agta) languages’ descent to extinction” below by Prof. Fred S. Cabuang.) They die and their languages go with them forever.
Experts give different figures about the number of our languages. Most say there are 120 living languages and 175 in all including our extinct languages.
The eight major languages, according to number of speakers, and their percentage of the total Philippine population are: Tagalog 29 percent, Cebuano Bisayan 21.17 percent, Ilocano 9.31 percent, Hiligaynon Bisayan 9.11 percent, Bicolano 5.69 percent, Waray Bisayan 3.81 percent, Kapampangan 2.9 percent and Pangasinan 1.01 percent.
Language experts are agreed that languages spoken by less than 300,000 persons are endangered. They can become extinct soon enough. They see that within 20 years both Kapam-pangan and Pangasinan will no longer be spoken by a native speaker.
That the other non-Tagalog languages could also someday be in peril is indicated by the steady decline of their native speakers as a part of the population. In the past 20 years, Cebuano speakers have been reduced to just about one-fifth of the Filipino people. They were one-fourth less than 10 years ago. Ilocanos were 12 percent of the population in 1948. They now make up only 9 percent of the population. The Ilonggos show the same decline…