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About Waray-Waray Language

Wáray-Wáray or Waráy (commonly spelled as Waray; also referred to as Winaray or Lineyte-Samarnon) is a language spoken in the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte (eastern portion), and Biliran in the Philippines.

The Waraynon group of languages consists of Waray, Waray Sorsogon and Masbate Sorsogon. Waray Sorsogon and Masbate Sorsogon are called Bisakol because they are intermediate between Visayan and Bicolano languages. All the Warayan languages belong to the Visayan languages and are related to Cebuano and more closely to Hiligaynon and Masbatenyo.

The Waray copula

Waray, like other Philippine languages, does not have any exact equivalent to the English linking verb be. In Tagalog, for example, the phrase "Siya ay maganda" (She is beautiful) contains the word ay which, contrary to popular belief, does not function as an attributive copula predicating maganda (beautiful) to its subject and topic Siya (he or she). The function of Tagalog's ay is rather a marker of sentence inversion, which is regarded as a literary form but somewhat less common in spoken Tagalog. The same phrase may be spoken as Maganda siya, which has the same meaning.

The Waray language in comparison would express "She is beautiful" only as "Mahusay hiya" or sometimes "Mahusay iton hiya" (iton functioning as a definite article of hiya, she), since Waray doesn't have a present-tense copula or even an inversion marker. As in other Philippine languages, attributive statements are usually represented in predicate-initial form and have no copula at all. Take for example the ordinary English sentence "This is a dog" as translated to Waray:

  • Ayam ini.

The predicate Ayam (dog) is placed before the subject ini (this); no copula is present. Another example:

  • Amo ito an balay han Winaray o Binisaya nga Lineyte-Samarnon nga Wikipedia.
  • Asya it an balay han Winaray o Binisaya nga Lineyte-Samarnon nga Wikipedia.

In English: "This is the Waray/Leyte-Samar Visayan Wikipedia". The predicate Amo ini is roughly translated as "This here" but the rest of the sentence then jumps to its subject, marked by the particle an. A more literal translation would therefore be "This is the Waray/Leyte-Samar Visayan Wikipedia". Unlike Tagalog, it is grammatically impossible to invert a sentence like this into a subject-head form without importing the actual Tagalog inversion marker ay, a growing trend among younger people in Leyte. The word amo is used only in Leyte Waray-Waray. In Samar, asya (this) is used.

Despite the debate regarding the Waray copula, it would be safe to treat structures like magin (to be), an magin/an magigin (will be or will become), and an nagin (became) as the English treat linking verbs:

  • Makuri magin estudyante. ([It's] hard to be a student.)
  • Ako it magigin presidente! (I will be the president!)
  • Ako an nagin presidente. (I became the president.)


Waray-Waray is one of the ten officially recognized regional languages in the Philippines and used in the local government. It is spoken through out the islands especially in the Eastern Visayas region. But it is also spoken in some parts of Mindanao, Masbate, Sorsogon and Metro Manila where Warays migrated. There is also a very small number of Filipinos abroad, especially in the United States, that speaks this language. Waray-Waray is widely used in media especially in radio and television. One good example of this is the regional version of the Philippine news program TV Patrol for Eastern Visayas , TV Patrol Tacloban , which broadcasts in Waray-Waray. There is also a regional cable channel that broadcasts its programs in Waray-Waray, the An Aton Channel operated by DYVL. However print media in this language is seldom because most regional newspapers are published in English. The language is also used in the eucharistic celebrations or Holy Masses in the Roman Catholic Church in the region. Bibles published in Waray-Waray are also available. Waray-Waray songs are widely appreciated and can always be heared in the radio. In 1993, the LDS Church or Mormonism published a selected Waray-Waray edition of the Book of Mormon entitled "An Libro ni Mormon". Today, many Waray aficionados advocate the spread of usage of this language.


The Waray language has sixteen consonants: /p, t, k, b, d, ɡ, m, n, ŋ, s, h, w, l, ɾ, j/. There are three main vowels: a [a], i [ɛ ~ i], and u [o ~ ʊ]. [i ~ ɛ] and [ʊ ~ o] sound the same,[clarification needed] but [o] is still an allophone of [ʊ] in final syllables. But they now have separate sounds for each.[clarification needed] Consonants /d/ and /ɾ/ were once allophones but cannot interchange, like palaron (to be lucky) [from palad, palm (because someone's luck is seen in the palm] but not paladon and tagadiín (from where) [from diín, where] but not tagariín.


Native numbers are used for numbers one through ten. From eleven onwards, Spanish numbers are exclusively used in Waray today, their native counterparts being almost unheard of by the majority of native speakers numbers (except for gatus for hundred and yukot for thousand). Some, specially the old ones, are spoken alongside the Spanish counterparts.


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