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Chavacano / Chabacano Resources

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507 posts - 1097 votes 
Studies: German

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06 May 2020 at 2:07am | IP Logged 
During the period from February 2020 through May 2020, I conducted a complete revision to the twenty-eight (28) lists of resources which I had posted on the LLORG during the previous three-year period. As revising these types of documents directly on the LLORG in the “Edit Mode” is fraught with difficulties, I removed their contents from the LLORG, stored them on my computer, and completed the revisions. During the revision process an event occurred which prevented me from reposting the contents to their original files and, as a contingency measure, I have posted them here on the HTLAL in the anticipation that either the Administrator or the Moderators of the LLORG will copy/paste them to the LLORG. - Speakeasy


The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands that are broadly categorized under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Japan to the northeast, Palau to the east, Indonesia to the south, Malaysia and Brunei to the southwest, Vietnam to the west, and China to the northwest.

Languages of the Philippines
There are some 120 to 187 languages spoken in the Philippines, depending on the method of classification.[4][5][6] Almost all are Malayo-Polynesian languages native to the archipelago. A number of Spanish-influenced creole varieties generally called Chavacano are also spoken in certain communities. The 1987 constitution designates Filipino, a standardized version of Tagalog, as the national language and an official language along with English. Filipino is regulated by Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and therefore serves as a lingua franca used by Filipinos of various ethnolinguistic backgrounds. The also provides for the use of the vernacular languages as official auxiliary languages in provinces where Filipino is not the lingua franca. There are four indigenous languages with approximately 9 million or more native speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, and Hiligaynon. Source: Wikipedia

Chavacano/Chabacano, Philippine Creole Spanish Language
Chavacano or Chabacano refers to a number of Spanish-based creole language varieties spoken in the Philippines. The variety spoken in Zamboanga City, located in the southern Philippine island group of Mindanao, has the highest concentration of speakers. Other currently existing varieties are found in Cavite City and Ternate, located in the Cavite province on the island of Luzon. Chavacano is the only Spanish-based creole in Asia. The different varieties of Chavacano differ in certain aspects like vocabulary but they are generally mutually intelligible by speakers of these varieties, especially between neighboring varieties. While a majority of the lexicon of the different Chavacano varieties derive from Spanish, their grammatical structures are generally similar to other Philippine languages. Among Philippine languages, it is the only one that is not an Austronesian language, but like Malayo-Polynesian languages, it uses reduplication. The word Chabacano is derived from Spanish, roughly meaning "poor taste" or "vulgar", though the term itself carries no negative connotations to contemporary speakers and has lost its original Spanish meaning. – Source: Wikipedia.

Are Spanish and Chavacano mutually intelligible?
In November 2017, on Quora, Joey Guadalupe wrote:
As a Chavacano speaker myself, I think that in some dialects Chavacano is mutually intelligible to Spanish, particularly the Mexican and the mainland European side. I can conservatively say that I understand 60% of what the Spanish speaker say in their own tongue. And this was even before I was conversant with the language. However, I usually have a brain fog whenever someone speak Spanish in dialects from Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela and Costa Rica. I can describe it in a way that they seem to speak it very blurrily, rapidly (and shall I say windy?) that I have to ask them to repeat 2 times and slowly. They also use words that, although familiar, seemed odd in a sentence. Mainland Spanish is also very fast, but the pronunciation are spoken with clarity for each syllables because it sounds more like a percussion than a wind instrument. And therefore are more understood. Mexican speak Spanish is relatively slowly and has a familiar accent. (I am currently conversant in Spanish now, but not yet as fluent. I can handle conversations fairly well with a Spanish speaker.)

Also, I have met Spanish people from Spain who went to Zamboanga. From what Ive seen, the Spaniard spoke Spanish to the barbecue seller while the barbecue seller spoke to him in Chavacano. They understood each other as much as I did. And this wasnt just talking about buying a barbecue and the conversation were over. They actually spoke it to get to jnow each other. The Spaniard spoke about working in the army, while the barbecue seller talked about what brought him in that part of the place. What im trying to say that a random person in the streets of Zamboanga speaks with a Spaniard in each others language and are able to communicate themselves accurately, then I can say this is the definition of mutual intelligibility. However, this is only one case, I have not witnessed this encounter ever since. Particularly because it is very rare for a Spaniard to have a reason to be there. I can safely say that it may partly be mutually intelligible but that always depends on the individiual. Recent Chavacano learners arent familiar with some archaic for of chavacano vocabularies that are actual Spanish words. It is more likely that a Chavacano speaker from the rural areas would understand a Spaniard more than the Chavacano speaker who lives in the city and who are constantly code-switching the Chavacano, Tagalog, Visayan and English languages in their practical life. In my conservative opinion, I can say it is partly ‘mutually intelligible’, and partly ‘assymetrically intelligible’, with Spaniards understanding Chavacano speaker more than the reverse.

Further Reading

Are Spanish and Chavacano mutually intelligible? - Quora
Spanish-based creole languages - Wikipedia
Newcastle University: Chabacano

Chavacano Language (PDF) - About Philippines
Chabacano: The Case of Philippine Creole Spanish in Cavite - Researchgate
Philippine Creole Spanish (Chabacano) -

It would be an understatement to say that Chavacano is a less-frequently-studied language. There are, nonetheless, sufficient resources, mostly accessible via the Internet, for developing a sound grasp of the basics of the language. The preliminary study of elementary Spanish would be a sensible preparatory step.

Chavacano Courses, Supplements, etc.

DLI Headstart2 Chavacano
Familiarization language course. First half, civilian oriented. Second half, mission oriented. CEFR A0+

National Foreign Language Center (NFLC):Chavacano – University of Maryland
Collection of graded exercise sets for supplemental practice (reading, aural, occasionally videos). Similar to DLI GLOSS. Access: US$ 5.00 monthly subscription.

Chavacano Phrasebooks, Language Guides, etc.

Chabacano de Zamboanga: Die Entwicklung einer spanisch – philippinischen Kreolsprache (1823, reprinted 2013) by Susanne Merx
Available in German only.

DLI Familiarization: Language Survival Kits: Chavacano

Introduction to Chavanco -

Omniglot - Chavancano

Spanisch Basierte Kreolsprachen. Palenquero, Chabacano Und Papiamento (2016), 32 pages, by Anne Lipp
Available in German only.

Wikapinoy Cebuano, Bisaya, Tagalog, Chavacano Lessons Online

Wikitravel- Chavacano phrasebook
Chavacano Grammars, etc.


Chavacano Dictionaries, etc. - Chavacano - Chabacano: The original online Chavacano - English Dictionary

Chavacano Readers, Literature, etc.

Chavacano Reader (2009) by Rommel M. Miravite et al; Dunwoody Press

Chavacano Miscellany

Bien Chabacano - blogspot

Chavacano Handbook -
Chavacano Handbook - Wordpress
Learning Chabacano Handbook - Lutong Cavite Blogspot

Reddit - I want to learn chavacano. Philippines

YouTube - Chavacano language
Yahoo Answers - How to learn Tagalog and Chavacano quickly
Please feel at liberty to post your own recommendations and/or comments and I’ll see what I can do about incorporating them into the lists above.

Visitors to this file are encouraged to review the subsequent comments, posted below, as they include members’ suggestions concerning materials and forms a running commentary on resources for the study of this language.

Revised, reformatted: April 2020

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