How many people in the Philippines speak Spanish?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

While we're on the subject, the Spanish Wikipedia has a section here with a lot more information than can be found on the English Wikipedia. Spanish in the Philippines can be divided into three types:

- Spanish spoken as a mother tongue (just a few thousand)
- Spanish spoken as a second language (hundreds of thousands to a few million)
- Chavacano, the Spanish-based creole spoken in and around the city of Zamboanga. Chavacano seems quite reminiscent of Lingua Franca Nova in places, such as using ya (LFN ia) as a past tense marker, and ele seems to be the same as LFN el in meaning either he or she. It's not the same language, but Spanish comments below videos in Chavacano always seem to be amazed at how much they can understand, so Chavacano is a definite aid to the position of Spanish in the Philippines.

The Spanish Wikipedia has the following chart estimating the number of speakers, and every source except one is a pdf.

Source # of Spanish speakers as 2nd or 3rd language # of Chavacano speakers Spanish + Chavacano combined
Mackencie (s.f.) -
1.816.773 1.200.000 3.016.773
Instituto Cervantes de Manila - 2+ million 600.000+ Around 3 million
R.W.Thompson - "Pluricentric
languages: differing norms in different nations" página 45

Novara, Instituto Geográfico
de Agostino, 1996, p. 315 y
Antonio Quilis "El español en
cuatro mundos", 1992
(Anuario del Instituto
Cervantes del 98.
1.816.389 689.000 2.450.000
Real Instituto Elcano
(página 6).
Between 1,5 and 2 million

The last link seems to be the most recent (2006) and looking at all the numbers it seems like a good estimate might be 2.5 million.

On a personal note, it would be interesting to see a stronger Spanish language here in Asia as I'm interested in hearing more and more personal accounts from Koreans, Japanese and others on whether they find the language easier to learn than English. Spanish is definitely the easier language on the whole, but English is of course a language many are comfortable with, even if they are far from fluent and Spanish may still seem a bit intimidating.

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