Which ASEAN Languages Are Closest to the Filipino Languages Aside from Malay and Indonesian?

Let’s us start this topic with the explanation of Filipino languages themselves. All of us probably would have heard about Tagalog as one of the languages used in Philippines or even believe that it is the sole language there, but what about others? Or even is there any other languages?

As a matter of fact, there is several languages used in Philippines. Some of them are:

  • Cebuano
  • Waray
  • Hiligaynon
  • Ilocano
  • etc.

We have to take note that they are not dialects, because dialect is a different version of a single language. In this case they are not, so they are different.

As for the term of “Filipino Language”, it is a word used to mention Philippines national language nowadays. Since 80 to 90% of Filipino language is composed of mostly of Tagalog, while the remaining 10 to 20% is a mixture of English, Spanish and other Philippine languages, that is why people often call the language as Tagalog itself.

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Now we have understood a lot more about Filipino languages, so let’s dig down the answer of the very question ‘Which ASEAN languages are closest to the Filipino languages aside from Malay and Indonesian’.


If we are referring the ASEAN languages as the national languages, then maybe the first and only that are closest to Filipino language is Tetum.

Tetum is a national language of East Timor. Even though East Timor has not yet become a member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), it is the only remaining national languages (other than Indonesian and Malay) in the Southeast Asia that comes from the same language family with the Filipino language, Austronesian. For the example:

  • Sira/sila – They
  • Ami/kami – We
  • Asu/aso – Dog
  • Inan/ina – Mother

Javanese, Minahasan, and other local languages

If we want to break down the context of ASEAN languages mentioned in the question as all the languages used in the region of Southeast Asia, then there are quite a numbers of them, especially in the Philippine itself.

But, let’s talk about the local languages outside Philippine. There are Minahasan languages and Mogondow languages, a local language used in the northern part of Sulawesi, Indonesia, that are seen as a subgroup of the Philippine languages rather than Malay.

Javanese, which speakers are more than 98 million people in Indonesia, is still related to Filipino languages, as they are from the same language family, Austronesian. Here is the list of Javanese word that quite similar to Tagalog:

  • Telu – three
  • Lima – five
  • Pitu – seven
  • Enem – six
  • Wolu – eight

You might want to check more about others Indonesian language how many languages are there in Indonesia.


We can even pull the context further to only mention the closest language to the Filipino languages, and it is Spanish.

It is necessary to mention Spanish, even though it is not in the Region of ASEAN languages, as most of the structure of Filipino languages is based from Spanish. There is so many similarity in sentence between Filipino and Spanish. Here is the example:

  • In Filipino – Pero ang relasyon sa pamilya ay mas importante.
  • In Spanish – Pero el relacion en la familia es más importante.

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