|Native to||Sarawak, Kalimantan, Brunei|
700,000 L2 speakers in Malaysia (2013)
The Iban language (jaku Iban) is spoken by the Iban, a branch of the Dayak ethnic group formerly known as "Sea Dayak" who live in Sarawak, the Indonesian province of Kalimantan Barat and in Brunei. It belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family, and is related to Malay, more closely to Sarawakian Malay. The Iban language is also a subject tested in PMR and SPM, the Malaysian public examination for Form 3 and Form 5 students respectively. Students comment that questions from these exams mostly cover the classic Iban language, making them a daunting task for many who are more fluent in the contemporary tongue. The language is mostly taught to students in rural areas with a majority Iban population, including Baleh (Kapit), Betong, Saratok, Lubok Antu, Pelagus (Kapit), Pakan and Julau.
The Iban can be subdivided into different sub-ethnic groups. Each of them speak in different dialects. The most formal, intermediate and working dialect is the Saribas (mainly Betong and Saratok), others such as Balaus, Sebuyaus, Ulu Ai, or Rejangs, which are mutually intelligible throughout Sarawak region. With the exceptional of Iban Remun dialects which have a unique dialect, but still intelligible to Ibans from other Districts . In West Kalimantan, dialects such as Bugaus, Seberuangs, Mualangs, Chengkangs, Sebaruks, Daus are more disparate. Here are some examples of the differences in the various dialects spoken in Sarawak and West Kalimantan, with their English equivalents:
-Sample phases in Iban Remun-
- Entai ku ngilau - "Nadai aku meda."
- Entauk ku badak - "Enda ku nemu."
|Front vowel||Central vowel||Back vowel|
|close vowel||i [i]||u [u]|
|half-close vowel||e [e]||ə [ə]||o [o]|
|open vowel||a [a]|
Although the Iban language is presently written using the Latin alphabet, an Iban syllabary was devised by Dunging, who reportedly spent fifteen years from 1947 to 1962 devising the script. Twenty generations before Dunging, which would represent approximately 400-600 years, an ancestor named Renggi also devised a script, but it was lost in a flood apparently. The Iban syllabary is published but is not widely distributed.
The prefix is used to show work or something action to be. Prefix is put in front of the verb. There's a lot of prefix use in Iban language. For example gagai used in many style of prefix base on condition of the word.
- Gagai - chase
- Begagai - chasing each other
- Digagai - was chase by
- Tegagaika - outrun/-outpace
- Sayau - Love
- Dikesayauka - Was loved by
- Penyayau - Affection
- Kiroh - Busy
- Ngirohka - to make someone busy
- Pengiroh - preoccupied
- Enjok - give
- Berenjok - giving each other (present)
- Dienjok - gave (past)
- Deka enjok - will be given (future)
- Kangau - call
- Bekangau - calling each other (present)
- Ngangau - calling (present)
- Dikangau - was called (past)
- Deka dikangau - will be call (future)
|Baka selama||Same as usual|
|Baka nya||Like that|
|Baru||New, just about now|
|Bejalai||To walk or going for a sojourn|
|Reti||The meaning of|
|Ensanus/Ensana||The day before yesterday|
- Nama berita nuan? - "How are you?"
- Sapa nama nuan? - "What is your name?"
- Berapa rega utai tu? - "How much is this?"
- Dini alai ___? - "Where is ___?"
- Ari ni penatai nuan? - "Where are you from?"
- Datai ari ___aku. - "I come from ___."
- Pukul berapa diatu? - "What is the time now?"
- Selamat lemai! - "Good evening!"
- Selamat ngalih ari - "Good afternoon"
- Selamat datai! - "Welcome!"
- Anang manchal! - "Don't be naughty!"
- Enda ulih datai - "Couldn't make it"
- Anang guai - "Hold on" "Wait a sec"
- Nadai ngawa nya/enda ngawa - "Nevermind/it does not matter"
- Nyamai, wai - "nice taste"
- Pulai/mupuk dulu-"I'm going back"
- Aram bekelala-"Let's get to know each other"
- Pengerindu-"Love, Passion"
- Lelengau aku ke nuan-"I miss you/I am missing you"
- Jai-"Bad, damaged"
- Sapa enggau nuan?-"Who came/is with you?"
- Aku enggau ___-"I came / went with ___; I am with ___"
- Alau dinga-"Please listen" (Saratok dialect)
- Anang inggar / ragak-"Silent, please"
- Kini ka nuan?-"Where are you going?"
- Mar amat! - "Too expensive/difficult"
- Tusah endar! - "Too difficult"
- Kapa nya! - "Couldn't care less"
- Selamat pagi, Pengajar. - "Good morning, Teacher."
- Enda nemu aku tu - "I don't know"
- Aram ngirup mih kitai''' - "Let's all drink"
- Ka ke pasar ku pagila - "I want to go to the town tomorrow"
- Sayau - "Love/Darling"
- Mupuk gawa aku - "I'm going to work"
- Ka tinduk aku - "I want to go to sleep/bed"
- Sapa kita ke manchal? - "Who is being naughty?"
- Bajik amat nuan - "You are pretty/beautiful (for women)"
- Sigat amat nuan - "You are handsome (for men)"
- Mali - "Taboo"
- Aku meruan sayauka nuan belama - "I will always loving you"
- Asaika kala meda nuan - "I feel like that I have seen you before"
- Apai kami di serega, kudus mih nama nuan, datai mih perintah nuan, jadi peneka nuan, baka ka dalam serega bakanya dalam bumi. Meri ka kami pengidup tiap ari. Ampunka penyalah kami, baka ka kami ti ngampunka urang ti salah ngelaban kami. Intu kami ari penguji, lepas ke kami ari penyai. Laban nuan ti bempu perintah,enggau kuasa enggau mulia. Dataika belama - lama iya. Amin.
Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Thy kingdom come, on earth as in heaven. Gives us our daily bread. Forgive us of our sin, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours. Now and forever. Amen.
- Apai/Aba'(Informal) - "Father"
- Indai/Ama'(Informal) - "Mother"
- Aka - "Elder brother/sister"
- Adi - "Younger brother/sister"
- Aki - "Grandfather"
- Ine - "Grandmother"
- Jelu - "Animal"
- Utai tumboh - "plant"
- Ai - "Water"
- Kampung - "Jungle/Forest"
- Ai Wong - "Waterfall"
- Pegung - "Pond"
- Letung - "Lake"
- Tasik - "Sea/ocean"
- Sungai/Batang - "River"
- Langit - "Sky"
- Remang - "Cloud"
- Kin - "Go there"
- Kitu - "Come here"
- Din - "There"
- Ditu - "Here"
- Nya - "That"
- Tu - "This"
- Kiba - "Left"
- Kanan - "Right"
|Tu-aa||We, us (excluding ourself)|
|Kitai||We, us (including ourself)|
|Tua||Both of us|
|Seduai di||Both of you|
|Seduai iya||Both of them|
|Kenduai iya||Both of me and him/her|
- Ke nuan - "to you"
- Ke aku - "to me"
- Ke kami - "to us"
- Bup aku - "My book"
- Bakih aku - "My friend"
- Apai aku - "My father"
- Gamal nuan - "You face"
- Sulu nuan - "Your belove"
- Sekula kami - "Our school"
- Ke pangan aku -"To my belove"
- Ke anak aku - "To my child"
- Ari indai dik - "From your mother"
- Ari bakih aku - "From my friend
- mostly pronouns will put after subjects
- Engku - "mine"
- Ngedi, Ngenuan - "yours"
- Ngiya - "his/her"
- Ngetua - "ours (both of us)"
- Ngi sida - "them"
- Engku empu baju tu - "This shirt is mine."
- Tu ngedi - "This is yours"
- Siti nyin ngetua - "That one belong to both of us"
-Active verb sentence-
- Aku benung makai ikan guring - "I am eating fried fish"
- Apai Dom netak manuk ba dapur - "Dom's father is cutting the chicken in the kitchen"
- Indai meri aku RM100 kena meli barang dapur - "My mom gave me RM100 to buy to buy necessities"
-Passive verb sentence-
- Ikan guring nya dempa aku - "That fried fish was eaten by me"
- Manuk nya ditetak Apai Dom ba dapur - "That chicken was cut by Dom's father in the kitchen"
- Aku diberi indai RM100 kena meli barang dapur - "I was given by mother RM100 to buy necessities"
Anthony Richards, An Iban-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 1981. [Paperback reprint in the 1988 by Penerbit Fajar Bakti, Petaling Jaya. ISBN 967653384x]
Otto Steinmayer, Jalai Jako' Iban, a basic grammar of the Iban language of Sarawak. Klasik Publishing House: Kuching, 1999.
Renang Anak Ansali, Jaku Iban serta basa kitai. University of London Magazine, 2002.
Omniglot: Useful Iban phrases: http://omniglot.com/language/phrases/iban.php
- Iban at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Iban". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Ator Sambiang Mass Baru: The Holy Eucharist in Iban (1980) Anglican eucharistic liturgy digitized by Richard Mammana
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