Ilokano language

Ilokano language

states=Philippines, Hawaii
region=Northern Luzon
speakers=7.7 million, 2.3 million 2nd language = 10 million total
fam4=Northern Luzon
script=Latin (Filipino variant);
"Historically written in Baybayin"
nation=Regional language in the Philippines
agency=Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
(Commission on the Filipino Language)
:"To view the Ilokano edition of this Wikipedia article, select from the "in other languages" section, to the side of this page."Ilokano (variants: "Ilocano", "Iluko", "Iloco", and "Iloko") is the third most-spoken language of the Republic of the Philippines.

An Austronesian language, it is related to such languages as Indonesian, Malay, Fijian, Maori (of New Zealand), Hawaiian, Malagasy (of Madagascar), Samoan, Tahitian, Chamorro (of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands), Tetum (of East Timor), and Paiwan (of Taiwan).


Ilocanos are descendants of Austronesian-speaking people from southern China via Taiwan.Fact|date=September 2007 Families and clans arrived by "viray" or "bilog", meaning "boat". The term "Ilokano" originates from "i-", "from", and "looc", "cove or bay", thus "people of the bay." Ilokanos also refer to themselves as "Samtoy", a contraction from the Ilokano phrase "sao mi ditoy", "our language here".


Ilocano comprises its own branch in the Philippine Cordilleran family of languages. It is spoken as a native language by eight million people.Fact|date=September 2007

A lingua franca of the northern region, it is spoken as a secondary language by more than two million people who are native speakers of Pangasinan, Ibanag, Ivatan, and other languages in Northern Luzon.Fact|date=September 2007

Geographic distribution

Ilocanos occupy the narrow, barren strip of land in the northwestern tip of Luzon, squeezed in between the inhospitable Cordillera mountain range to the east and the South China Sea to the west. This harsh geography molded a people known for their clannishness, tenacious industry and frugality, traits that were vital for survival.Fact|date=September 2007 It also induced Ilokanos to become a migratory people, always in search for better opportunities and for land to build a life on. Although their homeland constitutes the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Abra, their population has spread east and south of their original territorial borders.

Ilocano pioneers flocked to the more fertile Cagayan Valley, Apayao mountains and the Pangasinan plains during the 18th and 19th centuries and now constitute a majority in many of these areas.Fact|date=September 2007 In the 20th century, many Ilokano families moved to Metro Manila and further south to Mindanao. They became the first Filipino ethnic group to immigrate en masse to North America (the so-called "Manong" generation), forming sizable communities in the American states of Hawaii, California, Washington and Alaska. Ilokano is the native language of most of the original Filipino immigrants in the United States, but Tagalog is used by more Filipino-Americans because it is the basis for Filipino, the national language of the people of the Philippines.Fact|date=September 2007

A large, growing number of Ilokanos can also be found in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Canada and Europe.Fact|date=September 2007

Writing system


Pre-colonial Ilocanos of all classes wrote in a syllabic system prior to European arrival. They used a system that is termed as an "abugida", or an alphasyllabary. It was similar to the Tagalog and Pangasinan scripts, where each character represented a consonant-vowel, or CV, sequence. The Ilokano version, however, was the first to designate coda consonants with a diacritic mark - a cross or virama - shown in the "Doctrina Cristiana" of 1621, one of the earliest surviving Ilokano publications. Before the addition of the virama, writers had no way to designate coda consonants. The reader, on the other hand, had to guess whether the vowel was read or not.


In recent times, there have been two systems in use: The "Spanish" system and the "Tagalog" system. In the "Spanish" system words of Spanish origin kept their spellings. Native words, on the other hand, conformed to the Spanish rules of spelling. Nowadays, only the older generation of Ilocanos use the "Spanish" system.

The system based on that of Tagalog is more phonetic. Each letter receives one phonetic value, and better reflects the actual pronunciation of the word.The reverse is true for the vowel /IPA|u/ where it has two representations in native words. The vowel /IPA|u/ is written o when it appears in the last syllable of the word or of the root, for example kitaemonto /ki.ta.e.mun.tu/. In addition, e represents two vowels in the southern dialect: IPA| [ɛ] and IPA| [ɯ] .] The letters "ng", however, constitute a digraph and counts as a single letter, following "n" in alphabetization. As a result, numo "humility" appears before ngalngal "to chew" in newer dictionaries. Words of foreign origin, most notably those from Spanish, need to be changed in spelling to better reflect Ilokano phonology. The weekly magazine "Bannawag" is known to use this system.

amples of the Two Systems

The following are two versions of the Lord's Prayer. The one on the left is written using the Spanish-based orthography, while the one on the right uses the Tagalog-based system.

: "Amami, ñga addaca sadi lañgit,": "Madaydayao coma ti Naganmo.": "Umay cuma ti pagariam.": "Maaramid cuma ti pagayatam" : "Cas sadi lañgit casta met ditoy daga.": "Itedmo cadacam ita ti taraonmi iti inaldao.": "Quet pacaoanennacami cadaguiti ut-utangmi,": "A cas met panamacaoanmi": "Cadaguiti nacautang cadacami.": "Quet dinacam iyeg iti pannacasulisog,": "No di quet isalacannacami iti daques."

: "Amami, nga addaka sadi langit,": "Madaydayaw kuma ti Naganmo.": "Umay kuma ti pagariam.": "Maaramid kuma ti pagayatam" : "Kas sadi langit kasta met ditoy daga.": "Itedmo kadakam ita ti taraonmi iti inaldaw.": "Ket pakawanennakami kadagiti ut-utangmi,": "A kas met panamakawanmi": "Kadagiti nakautang kadakami.": "Ket dinakam iyeg iti pannakasulisog,": "No di ket isalakannakami iti dakes."col-end

Ilokano and Education


Ilocano animistic past offers a rich background in folklore, mythology and superstition (see Religion in the Philippines). There are many stories of good and malevolent spirits and beings. Its creation mythology centers on the giants Aran and her husband Angngalo, and Namarsua (the Creator).

The epic story "Biag ni Lam-ang" (The Life of Lam-ang) is undoubtedly one of the few indigenous stories from the Philippines that survived colonialism, although much of it is now acculturated and shows many foreign elements in the retelling. It reflects values important to traditional Ilokano society; it is a hero’s journey steeped in courage, loyalty, pragmatism, honor, and ancestral and familial bonds.

Ilocano culture revolves around life rituals, festivities and oral history. These were celebrated in songs ("kankanta"), dances ("sala"), poems ("daniw"), riddles ("burburtia"), proverbs ("pagsasao"), literary verbal jousts called "bucanegan" (named after the writer Pedro Bucaneg, and is the equivalent of the Balagtasan of the Tagalogs) and epic stories.




Modern Ilocano has two dialects, which are differentiated only by the way the letter "e" is pronounced. In the Amianan ("Northern") Dialect, there exist only five vowels while the Abagatan ("Southern") Dialect employs six.
* Amianan: /IPA|a/, /IPA|i/, /IPA|u/,/IPA|ɛ/,/IPA|o/
* Abagatan: /IPA|a/, /IPA|i/, /IPA|u/,/IPA|ɛ/,/IPA|o/,/IPA|ɯ/

The letter in bold is the graphic (written) representation of the vowel.

The diphthong [ei] is a variant of [ai] in native words. Other occurrences are in words of Spanish and English origin. Examples are "reyna" IPA| [ˈɾ] (from Spanish "reina", "queen") and "treyner" IPA| [ˈtɾei.nɛɾ] ("trainer"). The diphthongs [oi] and [ui] may be interchanged since [o] is an allophone of [u] in final syllables. Thus, "apúy" (fire) may be pronounced [IPA|ɐ.’poi] and "baboy" (pig) may be pronounced [‘ba.bui] .


Numbers ("Bilang"), Days ("Aldaw"), Months ("Bulan")

Numbers ("Bilang")

Ilokano uses two number systems, one native and the other derived from Spanish.

Units of time

The names of the units of time are either native or are derived from Spanish. The first entries in the following table are native; the second entries are Spanish derived.

To mention time, Ilokanos use a mixture of Spanish and Ilokano:

: 1:00 a.m. "A la una iti bigat" (One in the morning): 2:30 p.m. "A las dos imedia iti malem" (in Spanish," Son las dos y media de la tarde" or "half past two in the afternoon")

More Ilokano words

*"ading" = younger brother/sister
*"awan" = none
*"adda" = there is
*"al-alya" = ghost/spirit
*"apay" = why?
*"apong" = grandparent
*"apong baket" = grandmother
*"an-nay!" = Ouch!
*"aso" = dog
*"aysus!" = Oh, Jesus/Oh, my God!
*"apong lakay" = grandfather
*"babai" = female
*"bakla/maing" = effeminate male
*"baket" = old women / wife
*"balla" = crazy
*"bangsit" = stink
*"barok" = young boy
*"basang" = young girl
*"(ag)basa" = (to) read
*"basul" = fault, wrongdoing
*"bisin" = hunger
*"(ag)buya" = (to) watch
*"dadael" = destroy/ruin
*"digos = bath
*"gayyem" = friend
*"kaanakan" = niece / nephew
*"kabalyo" = horse
*"kabsat" = sibling
*"kanayon" = always
*"kasinsin" = cousin
*"katawa" = laugh
*"kuddot" = pinch
*"inang/nanang" = mother
*"laing" = intelligence
*"lakay" = old men / husband
*"lalaki" = male
*"latteg"= testicle
*"mabisin" = hungry
*"manang" = older sister or relative; can also be applied to women a little older than the speaker
*"mangan" = eat
*"manong" = older brother or relative; can also be applied to men a little older than the speaker
*"mari" = female friend/mother
*"naimas" = taste/feel good/delicious
*"nana" = grandmother
*"nasam-it" = sweet
*"naalsem" = sour
*"napait" = bitter
*"naapgad" = salty
*"(na)pintas" = beautiful (woman)
*"nataraki" = cute (man, slightly impolite connotation, but properly used on an animal, as for a rooster), usually interchanged with 'handsome'
*"nataengan" = adult
*"(na)guapo" = handsome (man)
*"(na)rago, (na)laad" = ugly
*"pari" = close male friend
*"papet/pepet/uki" = vagina
*"padi" = father (priest)
*"(na)peggad = danger(ous)
*"pusa"= cat
*"pustaan" = bet or wager
*"pimmusay(en)"= died
*"riing" = wake up
*"rupa" = face
*"sala" = dance
*"(na)sakit" = (it) hurts
*"(ag)sangit" = (to) cry
*"(ag)surat" = (to) write
*"takrot/tarkok" = coward/afraid
*"tata" = grandfather
*"tatang" = father
*"(ag)takder" = (to) stand
*"(ag)tugaw" = (to) sit
*"(na)tawid" = inherit(ed)
*"tun-bigat" = tomorrow.
*"turog" = sleep
*"ubing" = child
*"ulo" = head
*"ubet" = butt


External links

* [ Ethnologue entry for Ilokano]
* [ Ilokano Dictionary]
* [] A project for building an online Ilokano dictionary. Also features Ilokano songs, and a community forum.
* [ Ilocano: Ti pagsasao ti amianan] - Webpage by linguist Dr. Carl R. Galvez Rubino, author of dictionaries on Iloko and Tagalog.
* [] popular Ilokano web portal featuring Ilokano songs, Iloko fiction and poetry, Ilokano riddles, and a lively Ilokano forum (Dap-ayan).
* [] blog of an Ilokano fictionist and poet written in Iloko and featuring original and Iloko fiction and poetry, literary analysis and criticism focused on Ilokano Literature, and literary news about Iloko writing and writers and organization like the GUMIL (Gunglo dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano).
* [] Yloco Blog maintained by Ilokano writers Raymundo Pascua Addun and Joel Manuel
* [ Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database]
* [] - an Iloko literature portal featuring Iloko works by Ilokano writers and forum for Iloko literary study, criticism and online workshop.

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