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Ethnologue to Remove Offensive Name Sambal Tina

January 12, 2011

Ethnologue, the official publication of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), will no longer use the offensive name Sambal Tina  to refer to the Sambal language when it releases its 17th Edition, according to its Managing Editor, Charles Fennig. The name Sambal Tina, which was  first used by SIL researchers in 1976-1979 to refer to the Zambal language, is considered an offensive term and was never recognized by the Zambal-speakers as a name of their language. The publication and the subsequent online availability of the 1976-1979 SIL papers had caused the use of the term to spread and eventually  gaining  a  language code “xsb” under ISO 639-3. SIL is the designated ISO 639-3 Registration Authority or the International Standard, Codes for the representation of names of languages – Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages.

Below is the copy of the email received from the Editor of Ethnologue.

Email copy (W.R.’s real name is changed to Johnny Ong on this copy):

RE: Sambal Tina – Philippines – language code xsb

From: Editor Ethnologue <>
To: Johnny Ong (W.R.)
Cc: Roger Stone <>; Info Philippines <>; William Hall <>

Dear Johnny Ong,

Thank you for communicating with us about the offensive word in the Tina Sambal [xsb] language name.

We have begun the process to have this name changed with the goal of having it removed by the time that the 17th edition is published.

Thank you.

Charles Fennig

Managing Editor

From: Johnny Ong (WR)
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2011 5:19 PM
Subject: Sambal Tina – Philippines – language code xsb

Dear Sirs,

I wish to present the attached photo and a link why Sambal Tina should not be used to refer to our language. The word Tina is an offensive word to use to refer to us as it means “bleached” people.  The name of our language is simply Sambal and we do not want to be called Sambal Tina people. We are simply called Sambals or Zambals as a people.

As a member of this ethno-linguistics group, I respectfully request  that language code xsb be renamed as simply Sambal without the offensive word Tina. I hope you would find this email meriting your kind attention.

Thank you.

Johnny Ong (WR)

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