Philippine Language Relations in a Map.

I’m always on the lookout for useful visualizations of linguistic relationships, and Nathaniel P. “Nath” Hermosa posted one back in 2013, Philippine language relations in a map. He writes:

First things first: I am not a linguist and I am not a geographer/ cartographer. I am a physicist who is in dire need of a stress reliever. Mapping this is therapeutic while in the thick of preparing a manuscript for submission. […] This map is my rendering of data used by ref [2] where they propose an algorithm whose goal is to reconstruct the ancient proto-Austronesian language. The proto-Austronesian language gave birth to the modern Austronesian languages. Comprised of 1000 to 1200 languages, the Austronesian language family is the largest language family in the world. Geographically, it is spoken from Madagascar to the Easter Islands, and as far North as Taiwan and Hawai’i, and as far South as New Zealand. The languages of the Philippines are part of this large family.

The authors of course, tested their algorithm with what the Linguists have and they say that their reconstructed relationship between languages does not differ much from what the linguists have obtained. They just have a different goal when they study the language relationship.

I specifically chose the results of the paper above because it listed 77 languages from the Philippines, the most number in recent studies about the Austronesian languages.

There are more maps and many further details, and a bunch of comments to which he responded both in the thread and in a later post, Philippine language relations: Reply to comments. We’ve discussed the Austronesian languages a number of times, e.g. in 2014 and 2016.


  1. Very nice. It’s challenging to make a map which shows geographical and genetic relationships together in a clear way.

    I notice Inabaknon, an out of place Sama-Ajaw language (in green), on Capul island in the middle of the archipelago.

  2. David Eddyshaw says

    Comprised of 1000 to 1200 languages, the Austronesian language family is the largest language family in the world


    Admittedly, I myself am not persuaded that Atlantic has been shown to be related to Volta-Congo, but I’m being rhetorical here. In any case, I think Volta-Congo alone can trump 1200 languages, but tbh it’s actually an unanswerable question for both Austronesian and Volta-Congo how many languages they contain.

    Incidentally, there seems to have been a (welcome) outbreak of splitterism wrt “Niger-Congo” on WP since I last looked, with Niger-Congo now described as “hypothetical.” Progress!

  3. A phylogenetic tree is a concept in evolutionary biology.
    [From the text.]

    IIRC a phylogenetic tree is a concept in Linguistics (or Philology as probably it was called at the time), that Darwin stole, with acknowledgment. Wikip is not unequivocally backing me up. Linguistics Tree model maybe attributed to Welshman James Howell ~1645.

Speak Your Mind