Research Article

Ethnolinguistic Vitality of the Subanen Tribe in Barangay Sebasi, Clarin


  • Alyanah Pantao Associate Professor V, English Department, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Mindanao State University-Marawi City, Mindanao, Philippines


The Philippines is the home of 120-187 dialects by different indigenous groups of people. One of them is the Subanen language which is spoken in various areas of northern, western and southern portions of the Zamboanga peninsula.  Many Subanen shows linguistic inadequacy in their own mother tongue-the Subanen language. This study aimed to identify the language vitality of the Subanen in Sebasi, Clarin. Specifically, this study seeks to determine the variables of ethnolinguistic vitality which are respondents’ status, demography, and institutional support and to identify their skills in understanding, speaking, reading and writing in Subanen language. Through researcher-made instruments, the study conducted an actual test and an assessment of the ethnolinguistic vitality of the Subanen respondents. An observation checklist was used in assessing the respondents’ linguistic competence of the Subanen language which catered to four language skills-comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. This was followed by series of interviews to determine the variables for ethnolinguistic vitality including  status, demography, and institutional support.  Using weighted mean and standard deviation, the researchers was able to determine the respondents’ performance in all linguistic skills tested. Results revealed a weak vitality of the Subanen language in the city. The study revealed that intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as language contact, parental apathy, mixed marriages, and tribal discrimination are contributory factors affecting the language vitality. Further, the interviews revealed the major factors negatively affecting the vitality of the Subanen language in the tribal community in Barangay Sebasi. These factors include (1) language contact, specifically between the Subanen language and the Bisayan dialect, (2) mixed marriages between a Subanen and a “Bisaya," (3) apathy of Subanen parents to teach the language to their children, and (4) discrimination against the Subanen tribe. It is recommended that contemporary Subanen should take more decisive steps in revitalizing their first language for cultural preservation and tribal identity.

Article information


International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

Volume (Issue)

4 (2)





How to Cite

Pantao, A. (2021). Ethnolinguistic Vitality of the Subanen Tribe in Barangay Sebasi, Clarin. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 4(2), 129–137.



Identity, language, culture, Ethnolinguistic Vitality, Barangay Sebasi