This study provides the first account of the perceptual dialectology of the Chabacano creoles, focusing on the three varieties spoken in Cavite City, Ternate, and Zamboanga, Philippines. It examines Chabacano speakers’ metalinguistic awareness and attitudes about each other’s varieties based on qualitative analysis of sociolinguistic interviews, interviews from a perceptual map task, and an online survey. The results show that the speakers consider the three varieties to be separate but mutually intelligible languages, differing mainly in terms of lexical and phonological differences. These linguistic differences are attributed to each variety’s perceived closeness to Spanish or the adstrate Philippine languages. The responses also show that local and traditional identities are important in shaping perceptions about language use. These findings contribute to research on language attitudes and ideologies in the Chabacano-speaking communities, and more generally, demonstrate the potential of using perceptual dialectology (Preston 1999, Preston 2002) to explore the social dynamics of creole and other contact situations.
Keywords: Chabacano, perceptual dialectology, variation, folk perception, language attitudes.