How many languages are spoken in the Philippines. I understand not everyone speaks Tagalog?
People who have tried to answer your question in the past have come up with wildly different answers. The reason is simple: As always, it boils down to the definition of terms; even better put, it boils down to the difference between what is considered a "language" and what is considered a "dialect."
The thing is, there are no universally accepted criteria for distinguishing them, and the difference is often a matter of degree rather than of kind. According to Dr. Tucker Childs, professor of Linguistics at Portland State University, it's because:
[T]hey're not objective, scientific terms. People use the words "dialect" and "language" to mean different things. "Language" can often refer to your own linguistic variety and "dialect" to the variety spoken by someone else, usually someone thought of as inferior. Or "language" can mean the generally accepted "standard" or radio-talk language of a country, while dialects are homely versions of it that vary from region to region and may not be pronounced the way the so-called "language" is. Language varieties are called "dialects" rather than "languages" because they're not written, or because speakers of that variety don't run the country, or because their language lacks prestige. In short, the distinction is subjective...Further, according to John R. Rickford, professor of Linguistics at Stanford University:
One of the tests people use to differentiate "language" from "dialect" is mutual intelligibility. You can say that people speak the same language -- or a dialect of the same language -- if they understand each other. If they don't understand one another, they must be speaking different languages. That seems like a good rule. So why, in a case like the Cologne and Bavarian dialects, which aren't mutually intelligible, don't the Germans call them separate languages? Or why are Swedish and Norwegian separate languages, when Swedes and Norwegians have no trouble understanding one another? It's really pretty confusing.
The most significant variations or differences within languages occur at the level of the lexicon (vocabulary), phonology (pronunciation), grammar (morphology and syntax), and usage. Moreover, they are not just qualitative, in the sense that dialect A uses one feature and dialect B another, but they may also be quantitative, in the sense that dialect A uses one feature more often than dialect B does....Finally, variation may be regional, social or stylistic in its origins, and the methods that linguists have used to study each type differ slightly.Thus, in order to answer your question, I turned to Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Ethnologue is a web and print publication of SIL International (SIL stands for Summer Institute of Linguistics), which trains Christian missionaries to be linguists, sending them to learn local languages, design alphabets for unwritten languages and introduce literacy -- primarily to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language. Thus, Ethnologue's history has drawn some criticism from secular linguists, but it has grown so comprehensive since its start in 1951 that it is now THE leading authority on languages and an indispensable resource for academics and governments.
According to Ethnologue, Philippines has a total of 175 languages,171 of which are living languages and 4 are considered extinct, i.e., no known speakers. Yours truly fluently speak and write only 2 of these 175 languages, but can probably survive in a few more. Note that Tagalog, while officially considered the national language, is only spoken as a native language by 28.15% of the total Philippine population (based on the 2000 census).
Today being the eve of Christmas, I decided to do just a little bit of scouring on the Web for Filipino translations of the season's greeting: "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!"
I came up with only the ones below, but the variety floored me nonetheless. I hope other Filipinos who get to read this post can send their version to me so I can keep updating the compilation for the next years to come.
Bicolano - Maugmang Kapaskuhan asin Masaganang Ba-gong TaonGot a question for The Filipino? Email him now at email@example.com.
Cebuano - Malipayong Pasko ug Bulahang Bag-ong Tuig
Chavacano - Felices Pascua y Prospero Anyo
Dibabawon - Marayaw na Pasko aw Bag-ong Tuig
Hiligaynon - Malipayon nga Pascua kag Mahamungaya-on nga Bag-ong Tuig
Ilocano - Naimbag a Pascua ken Naragsac nga Baro nga Tawen
Inakeanon - Malipayon nga Paskwa ag Mahigugmaon nga Bag-ong Dag-on
Inonhan - Malipayon nga Paskwa kag Masadya nga Bag-ong Tuig
Manobo - Mepiya Pagasaulog aw maontong kaling Omay
Mansaka - Madyaw na Pasko aw malipayong Bag-ong Tuig
Pampangan - Malugud Pascu at saca Masayang Bayung Banua
Pangasinan - Maabig ya pasko Maliket ya Balon Taon
Sambal - Maligayang Pasko at Masayang Ba-yon Taon
Tagalog - Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon
Waray-Waray - Maupay nga Pasko ngan Mainuswagon nga Bag-o nga Tuig