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  • Writer's pictureThe Katig Collective

Ayta, Sorsogon

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Ayta, Sorsogon [ays] is a Central Philippine language spoken by an ethnolinguistic group of the same name in Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon. Ayta, Sorsogon is deemed nearly extinct (EGIDS 8b) and is spoken only by the older generation with little to no opportunity of using it and passing it down to the next generations. In 1984, it was reported that there were 40 speakers of the language (Wurm, 2007) which decreased to 15 in 2000 (Wurm, 2000, as cited in Eberhard et al., 2022).

The few Ayta Sorsogon individuals whom Lobel (2013) interviewed claimed that they speak Bikol Legaspi, the North Coastal Sorsogon dialect. Tagalog [tgl] is also spoken in the area and is commonly used to communicate with outsiders. A priest recounted that a village elder would usually ask his daughter to translate messages to Bikol or Tagalog when conversing with visitors. This anecdote shows that natives have to learn and use the dominant languages to interact with others. In addition, intermarriage also affects the language’s vitality (Wurm, 2007), such that when a native marries a Tagalog speaker, their children would most probably grow up using the dominant Tagalog language. Intergenerational transmission of Ayta, Sorsogon is thus halted, reducing the chance of the younger generations to acquire their native language.

There is almost no data on the form and use of Ayta, Sorsogon. Local community members believe that their ancestors spoke a different language, but Lobel sees that “their descriptions indicated more of a difference in intonational pattern than a difference in language or dialect” (2013, p. 91). A section of the Encyclopedia of the World’s Endangered Languages dedicated to Ayta, Sorsogon briefly mentions that the language “has focusing syntax and verb structure” (Wurm, 2007, p. 476).


Eberhard, D. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D. (Eds.). (2022). Ayta, Sorsogon. Ethnologue: Languages of the world (25th ed.).

Endangered Languages Project. (n.d.). Sorsogon Ayta.

Hammarström, H., Forkel, R., Haspelmath, M., & Bank, S. (Eds.). (2022). Unattested: Sorsogon Ayta. Glottolog 4.6.

Lobel, J. W. (2013). Philippine and North Bornean languages: Issues in description, subgrouping, and reconstruction. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Hawai'i at Manoa]. ScholarSpace.

Wurm, S. (2007). Australasia and the Pacific: Alphabetical list of entries for threatened and extinct languages. In C. Moseley (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the World’s Endangered Languages (p. 476; 522). Routledge.

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