A Morphological Analysis of the Sinama Variety in Iligan City, Philippines

Author Information

Keven Opamin,
Iligan Medical Center College, the Philippines

DOI: 10.47298/cala2022.3-1
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in Asia 2022


The Sinama languages are spoken mostly in the Sulu Archipelago, in the Philippines, in Sabah, Malaysia, and in Eastern Indonesia. These languages are also known as ‘Bajau’ or ‘Sama-Bajau,’ particularly in linguistics literature. As such, the Bajau, also known as the Sama, are a culturally and linguistically diverse people who live primarily in the southern central Philippines and in eastern regions of Indonesia and Malaysia.

I interviewed women from the Bajau community to investigate the morphology of Binajau­ Tambacan, spoken in Barangay Tambacan, Iligan City. I divided the morphological analysis into two parts; identifying morphemes and investigating morphological processes. As such, we classify the Sinama dialect of Binajau Tambacan in various respects. The data set contains 195 Binajau Tambacan morphemes, which includes 138 lexical morphemes, 20 grammatical/functional morphemes, and seven bound morphemes.

The findings indicate that a variety of morphological processes appear in the Binajau Tambacan. These are; affixations, reduplication, borrowing, and indigenization. Furthermore, the results also indicate that Binajau Tambacan, spoken by the Bajau women, has the highest similarity to Central Sinama, at 82%. This lends credence to the notion that it is most likely classified as Central Sinama.

Keywords: Sinama, The Philippines, morphology, linguistic anthropology, Bajau


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