Phonological Features of Manobo Spoken in Davao Occidental

Phonological features, Manobo, Davao Occidental, vitality of language, segmental, suprasegmental


  • Catherine Palmera-Blanco
    Assistant Professor, Languages Department, School of Arts and Sciences, Mountain View College, Valencia City, Bukidnon, Philippines
May 1, 2022


The study provides a description of the phonological features projected in Manobo, which is spoken in Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental, as an effort to monitor the status and vitality of the language. In eliciting the segmental and suprasegmental features, the respondents translated the questionnaire, a pre-determined word list of Cebuano vocabularies and sentences, and it was documented through audio-recording. The transcribed words were rated through International Phonetic Alphabet symbols. For the suprasegmental features, those focused on length, stress, and intonation in statement form and in answering WH/Yes-No questions. The study identified a total of 42 phonemic units in the Manobo language’s phonetic code: nine (9) vocoids, four (4) vocoid chains, 15 contoids, and four (4) contoid-clusters, and 10 supra-segmental phonemes. Also, factors such as age somewhat affect their phonological features. Native speakers were observed borrowing words from the dominant languages –Bisaya, Tagalog, and English, clipping some of the native words and code-switching to other languages when speaking. Manobo language is still used in home and community; however, it is not being sustained in the formal institution. Finally, the paper echoes the call for future studies of Manobo morphophonemic features of various Manobo speakers.