Taiwan, Northern Philippines (TNP)
Geographic location: Taiwan, northern Philippines
Number of Languages: 20
Number of Genetic Units: 14
Genetic Index: .700
Mean Level of Endangerment: 3.64
Mean Documentation Status:
Threat Level: low
map of TNP hotspot


Taiwan and the Philippines hold a huge number of diverse languages. In Taiwan, many of these languages have already been lost, and many of the other aboriginal languages are extremely endangered due to pressure to speak larger languages. In the Philippines, indigenous languages are threatened by the more prestigious Tagalog and Filipino languages.

A language of this Hotspot is Yami, spoken by around 3,000 people on the small island of Irala (Orchard Island), south of Taiwan. The Yami people rely on the flying fish they catch during the summer as a major source of food year-round. They have names for around 450 species of fish. Their fish taxonomy splits first into edible fish (ovod a among) and inedible fish (maharet a among). These are further divided into fish that are forbidden for men or forbidden for women. Pregnant women are only allowed to eat four species of fish, and other species are only allowed for elderly people. Yami knowledge of fish behavior and fish as food is stored in their language.

Genetic Units found in Hotspot (14):

  1. Atayalic
  2. Bunun
  3. Central East Formosan
  4. Central Western Plains
  5. Meso-Philippine
  6. Northern East Formosan
  7. Northern Philippine
  8. Northwest Formosan
  9. Paiwanic
  10. Puyuma
  11. Rukai
  12. Sinitic
  13. Thao Western Plains
  14. Tsouic

Hotspots Formula:

List of Languages:

  1. Agta Alabet Island
  2. Agta Camarines Norte
  3. Agta Casiguran Dumagat
  4. Agta Dupaninan
  5. Agta Isarog
  6. Agta Remontado
  7. Agta Umiray Dumagat
  8. Alta, Northern
  9. Alta, Southern
  10. Amis
  11. Arta
  12. Atayal
  13. Atta Faire
  14. Atta Pamplona
  15. Atta Pudtol
  16. Ayta Abenlen
  17. Ayta Ambala
  18. Ayta Bataan
  19. Ayta Mag-Anchi
  20. Ayta Mag-Indi
  21. Balangao
  22. Babuza
  23. Bicolano Central
  24. Bolinao
  25. Bunun
  26. Central Bontoc
  27. Finallig
  28. Ga’dang
  29. Gaddang
  30. Hakka Chinese
  31. Ibaloi
  32. Ibanag
  33. Ifugao Amganad
  34. Ifugao Batad
  35. Ifugao Mayoyao
  36. Ilocano
  37. Ilongot
  38. Isinai
  39. Isnag
  40. Itawit
  41. Itneg Adasen
  42. Itneg Banao
  43. Itneg Binongan
  44. Itneg Inlaod
  45. Itneg Maeng
  46. Itneg Masadiit
  47. Itneg Moyadan
  48. I-Wak
  49. Kalinga Butbut
  50. Kalinga Limos
  51. Kalinga Lower Tanudan
  52. Kalinga Mabaka Valley
  53. Kalinga Madukayang
  54. Kalinga Upper Tanudan
  55. Kallahan Kayapa
  56. Kallahan Keley-I
  57. Kallahan Tinoc
  58. Kanakanabu
  59. Kankanaey
  60. Karao
  61. Kasiguranin
  62. Kavalan
  63. Mayrinax
  64. Min Nan Chinese
  65. Nataoran Amis
  66. Northern Kankanay
  67. Paiwan
  68. Pampangan
  69. Pangasinan
  70. Paranan
  71. Pazeh
  72. Pyuma
  73. Rukai
  74. Saaroa
  75. Saisiyat
  76. Sambal Botolan
  77. Sambal Tiną
  78. Tagalog
  79. Taroko
  80. Thao
  81. Tsou
  82. Tuwali Ifugao
  83. Yami
  84. Yogad

Endangered Languages include:

  • Arta (< 5 speakers, Northern Philippine, spoken in Philippines)
  • Ata (< 5 speakers, Meso-Philippine, spoken in Philippines)
  • Babuza (< 5 speakers, Central Western Plains, spoken in Taiwan)
  • Kavalan (< 25 speakers, Northern East Formosan, spoken in Taiwan)
  • Saaroa (< 10 speakers, Tsouic, spoken in Taiwan)

Some Features of Languages in Hotspot include:

  • Few palatal consonants
  • simple syllables, mostly CV (consonant vowel)
  • many vowels, few consonants
  • speech styles


  • Ubun means 'sitting period,' a period of 30 to 60 minutes, or the amount of time one might sit down and rest during a journey in Ifugao (43,000 speakers, Philippines)

  • Tiwatiw means 'to frighten animals, birds or chickens away from drying rice' in Ifugao (43,000 speakers, Philippines)


courtesy of Ironbound films, Pan Jin-yu (born 1914) speaker of Pazih

Ifugao man

Butway, an Ifugao elder and shaman, chants the geneaologies over a sacrifice of grain, chicken and pork, to bless the rice harvest. (Photo David Harrison, 2001)

Ifugao elder

An Ifugao elder observes the rice harvest with her son. (Photo David Harrison, 2001)

Ifugao youth

An Ifugao youth carries bundles of freshly harvested rice to the granary. (Photo David Harrison, 2001)


Benedek, Dezso. 1991. The Songs of the Ancestors: A Comparative Study of Bashiic Folklore. Taipei, ROC, Southern Materials Center, Inc. Online at http://www.uga.edu/~asian-lp/jpn_html/yami/content.html.

Diamond, Jared M. 2000. Taiwan's Gift to the World. Nature 403 (2): 709-710. Available online at http://faculty.washington.edu/plape/pacificarchwin06/readings/Diamond%20nature%202000.pdf

Conklin, Harold C. 1980. Ethnographic Atlas of the Ifugao. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Headland, Thomas N. 2003. Thirty Endangered Languages in the Philippines. Working Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session. Volume 47. Online at http://www.und.edu/dept/linguistics/wp/2003Headland.PDF

Providence University in Taiwan’s Yami Language Documentation Project: http://yamiproject.cs.pu.edu.tw/yami/en_index_flash.htm