Iban language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jaku Iban
Native toBrunei, Indonesia, Malaysia
Native speakers
2,450,000 (2019)[1]
1,900,000 L2 speakers in Malaysia (2019)[1]
Latin, Dunging
Official status
Regulated by
  • Tun Jugah Foundation[2]
  • Ministry of Education Malaysia[3]
  • Dayak Cultural Foundation[3]
Language codes
ISO 639-2iba
ISO 639-3iba
An Iban speaker, recorded in Malaysia.

The Iban language (jaku Iban) is spoken by the Iban, one of the Dayak ethnic groups, who live in Brunei, the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan and in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It belongs to the Malayic subgroup, a Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family.

The Iban language is ranked as Level 5 (safe) in term of endangerment on Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (EGIDS).[2]


The Malayic language is a Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family.[4] The Malayic language can be subdivided into various languages, amongst them are Ibanic, Malay language, and Urak Lawoi languages.[2] The Malayic languages originate from western Borneo,[2][4] and was brought to Sumatra.[2] The Ibanic language is spoken in Sarawak, West Kalimantan,[3] and Brunei within the Borneo island.[2][4] The Urak Lawoi' language was brought to West Malaysia.[2]

Iban language is classified under the Ibanic languages, where the latter is under the Malayic language. The Iban language is closely related to the Malay language, especially the Sarawakian Malay.[4] Other isolects in the Ibanic group of languages are Sebuyau, Mualang, Kantu, and Seberuang. These groups of languages can be identified by the word-final position in certain lexical forms of /-ai/. These lexical forms are similar to other Malayic languages with lexical forms of /-an/, /-ang/, or, less frequently, /-ar/.[3] The Iban language is also related to other dialects such as Sebuyau, Kendayan, Balau and Selaku.[2]


According to the oral history of the Iban people, Benedict Sandin, in 1968, plotted the ancestry of the Iban people as descendants from the Upper Kapuas, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The Iban people arrived in Sarawak in the 16th century, and settled in the regions of Batang Lupar drainage basin and Undop river in southern Sarawak. From there, they migrated north, east, and west, and expanded into Saribas, Batang Sadong, Batang Layar, and Batang Lupar rivers. In the 1800s, they moved into the Rajang basin (middle region of Sarawak) from Batang Lupar river, Katibas river, and Saribas river (Saribas is a tributary of the Rajang River). By 1870s, they had reached Mukah and Oya rivers. In the early 1900s, they reached Balingian, Tatau, and Kemena rivers (near Bintulu). They also reached the Baram area and Limbang rivers around the same time in northern Sarawak and would become the largest ethnic group in Sarawak.[3]

Brooke administration[edit]

Fearing that the Iban tribes outnumbered the pre-existing local tribes with detrimental environmental effects on lands intended for shifting cultivation, the Brooke government restricted the Iban people from further migration to other river systems such as the Baleh river. However, the Brooke government allowed the Ibans to settle in other areas such as Lundu, Balingian, Bintulu, Limbang and Baram to consolidate the government's authority there. As a result of this policy, several minority ethnic groups such as Bukitans living along the Batang Lupar River were assimilated into the Iban people, thus contributing to the growth of Iban tribe and the expansion of the Iban language in the state.[3] The Iban language was taught in schools in the 1940s during the Brooke era.[5]

Borneo Literature Bureau (BLB) (1958-1977)[edit]

During the period of Crown Colony of Sarawak, the Iban language was used in government official letters, courts, announcements, and notices. Radio Sarawak, started by the British, offered Iban language programmes. The Iban language, known under the name of "Asian language", was offered as an examination subject in the Sarawak Junior Certificate. The "Asian language" was renamed to "Iban language" in 1963. Borneo Literature Bureau (BLB) was founded by the British in 1958 to collect and document oral Iban literature. BLB published more than 60 Iban language books during its lifetime until 1973 when it was replaced by a Malaysian federal government agency Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) in 1977. After that, the publication of books in Bornean languages came to a halt.[6] The publication of the Nendak magazine, which was started by BLB in 1967 also came to a halt.[7] Jimbun Tawai, the former vice chairman of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association, called this period under Crown Colony as "golden era" of the Iban language.[8]

After of closure of BLB (1977-2000s)[edit]

After the closure of BLB, other smaller publishers continue in this niche such as the Kuching-based publishing company named Klasik. Examples of works include ensera (Iban epic story) and cherita kelulu (morality novellas). Christian churches such as the Catholic church publish prayer books that adopt certain aspects of Iban adat (culture). Thus, Christian texts bear greater significance as cultural repositories of the Iban language when to compared to other genres after the demise of BLB.[7]

State-sponsored media such as Berita Rakyat was founded in 1974 and ended in the 1990s. The magazine was started by Rajang Security Command (RASCOM) in Sibu to defeat the communists' activities in the Rajang basin. The magazine stopped publication after the cessation of Communist insurgency in Sarawak in 1990. Another magazine named Pembrita was published by the Information Department of the state government and was aimed at providing developmental news to the rural Iban populace such as exemplary longhouses, lucrative cash crops, and animal husbandry. The magazine also called on the rural Ibans to modernise their ways of farming. There were no Iban newspapers in the 1990s and early 2000s. The high cost of imported paper materials and low advertising revenues contributed to the difficulties of Iban newspaper publishing.[7]

Tun Jugah Foundation was established in 1985 after the death of Tun Jugah to record the oral history of the Iban people, producing Iban dictionaries and surveys of the rural-urban migration of the Iban people.[9][10]

Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) expanded their Iban radio broadcasts to 10 hours on Sundays and 9 hours on rest of the week by the 1980s as WaiFM[7][2] Cats FM is the first commercial radio station to broadcast in Iban opening in 1997.[7]

The Iban language was included in the primary school curriculum in 1968 and a few secondary schools in 1988. In 1968-1969, teachers' training colleges offered Iban as an elective subject. It was only in 1988, that Iban was formalised as part of the Malaysian national curriculum.[5] There are no Iban-medium schools in Sarawak.[5] In 2008, Iban was taught as an elective language subject in Malaysian Form 5 secondary schools for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) certificate examination.[2] A survey done in Sarawak in 2008 showed that a total of 367 primary schools and 55 secondary schools have taught the Iban subjects since 1968. The number of primary schools offering the Iban language subject increased to 1,264 in 2015 while the number of secondary schools reduced to 52 in 2015. Most of the schools are located in Kapit, Sibu, Sri Aman, and Sarikei Divisions where there are significant Iban population. The Iban language subject is also offered in undergraduate programmes in two teachers' institutions in Sarawak. In Sultan Idris Education University, Perak, the Iban language is offered as a minor subject for Iban students majoring in Malay studies.[2]

In 2003, Malaysian federal authorities banned the Iban Bible (known as Bup Kudus in Iban) as the use of the word Allah in the Iban bible is the same as the Islamic name of God Allah (Taala) which may confuse the Muslim populace in the state. The ban was lifted by the then deputy prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after persistent protests.[7][11]


The The Borneo Post and Utusan Borneo newspapers started Iban language sections in 2010[12] and 2014 respectively.[2][13] The Borneo Post stopped the Iban section in 2017.[14] The Pegari Iban language monthly magazine was also published by a small company named PEGARI Iban Production from 2012 to 2018.[2][15][16] Borneo Media Solutions, a subsidiary of PEGARI Iban Production, also published several books in Iban language.[17]

RTM later opened their first Borneo-oriented channel TVi in 2011 which later became TV Okey in 2018 which includes a 30-minute Iban news slot.[18][19] TV Sarawak started the Iban language section in October 2020.[20]

Extent of use[edit]

The Iban language is allowed in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly with the special permission from the Speaker and simultaneous interpretations will be provided during the assembly sitting and when written into the Hansard.[2]

Rentap's battle cry while fighting against James Brooke in 1860s “Agi Idup, Agi Ngelaban!” (“I will fight as long I will live!”) was adopted by Sarawak Royal Ranger Regiment as their motto. The battle cry is also used in speeches and car stickers to evoke the warrior spirit of the Iban people.[2] The word "Oo-ha", an Iban call for celebration, was popularised by the former chief minister of Sarawak Adenan Satem as a form of "hello" before giving speeches in order to motivate a crowd.[2] The Chinese-predominant Sarawak United Peoples' Party used the Iban word "Sa'ati" (United) as their party slogan.[21][22] Another Chinese-predominant Sarawak Democratic Action Party has been using the Iban language to garner support from the Iban population.[23][24] Other words include "Segulai sejalai" (going together} that was selected as the slogan for Malaysian national unity,[25] and "Ngap Sayot" (literally means "eat vegetables") used by Sarawak FA football team battle cry to signify taking down opponents just like eating vegetables.[26][27][28]

Iban churches in Sarawak conduct services in the Iban language.[2]

Trades in the Sarawak bazaars are also frequently conducted in the Iban language.[2]



Iban has the following consonant inventory:[29]

Iban consonants
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative s h
Lateral l
Rhotic r
Approximant w j


Iban has a six-vowel system, with five cardinal vowels plus schwa:[30]

Iban vowels
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə o
Open a

Vowel sounds are nasalized when preceded by a nasal consonant.[30]


Lexical roots can be expanded by many affixes in Iban, as exemplified here with the verb gagai.

  • gagai 'chase'
  • begagai 'chasing/playing with each other'
  • begagaika 'chasing something/someone'
  • ngagai 'to chase'
  • digagai 'being chased by'
  • dipegagaika 'being chased by many'
  • pengagai 'chaser'
  • tegagaika 'outrun/outpace'

There are four types of affixes in Iban, namely prefixes, suffixes, circumfixes and infixes.

Type of noun affixes Affix Example of root word Example of derived word
Prefix pe- mangah (angry) pemangah (hot tempered)
pen- datai (arrive) penatai (arrival)
penge- rindu (love) (verb) pengerindu (love) (noun)
be- reta (property, possessions) bereta (rich)
bepe- rindang (entertained) beperindang (being entertained)
beke- bete kitang (hang) bekekitang (hanging in group)
ke- rimpak (break) kerimpak (broken pieces)
m- n- me- nge- nye panduk (cooked) manduk (cooking)
di- sium (kiss) disium (being kissed)
dipe- jaku (word, talk) dipejaku (being talk about, gossiped)
se- iku (tail) seiku, siku (one (person))
sepe(m)- panjai (long) sepemanjai (as long as, measurement of long)
te- indik (footstep) terindik (accidentally stepping on something)
Infix ⟨er⟩ titik (drip) teritik (dripping)
Suffix -ka pasuk (wear) pasukka (wear) (command)
-i garam (salt) garami, gerami (marinade)
Circumfix ng-...-kn ayah (waste) ngayahka (wasting, playing)
be-...-ka kena (hit, for) bekenaka (wears)

Other examples:

  • Sayau 'love'
  • Dikesayauka 'was loved by'
  • Penyayau 'affection'
  • Kiruh 'busy'
  • Ngiruhka 'to make someone busy'
  • Pengiruh 'preoccupied'
  • Pengiruh-ngiruh 'really preoccupied'
  • Enjuk 'give'
  • Berenjuk 'giving each other' (present)
  • ngenjuk[clarification needed]
  • Dienjuk 'gave' (past)
  • Deka ngenjuk 'will be given' (future)
  • Pengenjuk 'giver'
  • Kangau 'call'
  • Bekangau 'calling each other' (present)
  • Ngangau 'calling' (present)
  • Dikangau 'was called' (past)
  • Deka dikangau 'will be called' (future)
  • Pengangau 'caller'

Personal pronouns[edit]

Iban has separate words for inclusive and exclusive we, and distinguishes singular, dual, and plural.[31]

singular dual plural
First-person exclusive aku kami səduai kami
First-person inclusive --- tua kitai
Second person deʔ
deʔ səduai
noan səduai
Third person iya səduai sidaʔ


  • Ke nuan 'for you'
  • Ke aku 'for me'
  • Ke kami 'for us'
  • Bup aku 'my book'
  • Bakih aku 'my friend'
  • Apai aku 'my father'
  • Gamal nuan 'your look'
  • Sulu nuan 'your beloved'
  • Sekula kami 'our school'
  • Ke pangan aku 'for my beloved'
  • Ke anak aku 'for my child'
  • Ari indai di 'from your mother'
  • Ari bakih aku 'from my friend'

Pronouns are primarily put after subjects.

Possessive pronouns[edit]

Iban English
engku mine
enggi di, ngedi your
enggi iya, ngi'ya his/her
enggi tua ours (both of us)
engkita belong to all of you
enggi sida theirs

Sample phases:

  • baju tu engku 'This shirt is mine.'
  • Tu enggi nuan 'This is yours.'
  • Siti nyin enggi tua 'That one belongs to both of us.'

Demonstrative determiners[edit]

There are three demonstrative determiners in Iban. Tu 'this, these' is used for a noun which is generally near to the speaker, nya 'that, those' is used for a noun which is generally far from the speaker, and nyin, which is the furthest from the speaker.

Pronoun Iban English
tu bup tu This book, these books
nya ukui nya That dog, those dogs
nyin bungai nyin That (furthest) flower(s)

These words can also act as demonstrative pronouns where they can stands on theirs own, replacing rather than modifying a noun.


  • Nyamai tu. 'This is good.'
  • Ok meh nya. 'That's ok.'
  • Peda di nyin dih. 'Look at that.'

Demonstrative pronouns[edit]

In Iban, demonstrative pronouns are words that show which person or thing is being referred in relation to the location of the addressee to the speaker. There are three demonstrative pronouns in Iban depending on location to the speaker. They can only be used to refer to an addressee (human) and cannot be used to refer to inanimate objects.

Demonstrative pronouns
Space Form Gloss
Proximal iya tu this person
Medial iya nya that person
Distal iya nyin the other person (furthest)


  • Nama gaga iya tu baka nya? 'Why is this person acting in such a way?'
  • Kini ke iya nya tadi? 'Where is he going?' (Referring to the second closest person to the speaker)
  • Ni iya nyin tadi dih? 'Where is the other (person) one?' (referring to third person which is the furthest from the speaker)


Demonstrative adverbs[edit]

Demonstrative adverbs in Iban are closely related to the demonstrative pronouns in Iban grammar. For example, corresponding to the demonstrative pronouns are the adverbs such as kitu ('going here'), kia ('going there') and kin ('going there (farthest)') equivalent adverbs corresponding to the demonstrative pronoun this are tu, nya and nyin.

Demonstrative adverbs
Space Form Gloss
Proximal kitu going here
Medial kia going there
Distal kin going there, going yonder


  • Kitu nuan. 'Come here (you).'
  • Kini di kia? 'Why are you going there?' (within the sight of the speaker)
  • Aram kin tua. 'Let's go there.' (referring to location far away from speaker)


Locative determiners
Space Form Gloss
Proximal ditu here
Medial dia there
Distal din there, yonder


  • Ditu ku nganti nuan. 'I wait for you here.'
  • Dia ku nganti nuan. 'I wait for you there.' (not far from the speaker's location)
  • Din ku nganti nuan. 'I wait for you there.' (referring to a far place)


Iban also has a set of adverbs referring to manner. They are a combination of baka (ke) ('like/as') and the abbreviated determiner forms tu, nya and nyin.

Locative determiners
Space Form Gloss
Proximal baka tu like this, this way
Medial baka nya like that, that way
Distal baka nyin like that, that way


  • Aku ka iya baka tu. 'I want it to be like this.'
  • Nama di ngaga iya baka nya? 'Why did you treat him like this?'
  • Uji gaga di baka ke nyin. 'Try to do it like that.'

Interrogative words[edit]

Iban also has a few interrogative words: sapa, nama, ni, lapa, kemaya and berapa.

  • Sapa – Who









Sapa empu jam tu?

Who own watch this

Who owns this watch?

  • Nama – What









Nama gaga nuan ditu?

What doing you here

What are you doing here?

  • Ni – Where (Dini and Ba ni also used to ask for specific location)








just now

Ni ai ku tadi?

Where water/drink my {just now}

Where is my drink?

  • Lapa – Why (Nama kebuah also used.)







Lapa nuan nyabak?

Why you crying

Why are you crying?

  • Kemaya – When






going to



Kemaya tua deka betemu?

When we {going to} meet

When are we going to meet?

  • Berapa – How many


How many









Berapa iku manuk tupi nuan?

{How many} CL chicken raise you

How many chicken you raise?

  • Bakani – How





mua ari




Bakani gaya {mua ari} saritu?

How look weather today

How is the weather today?


The first Iban-English Dictionary was published in 1900 by Rev. William Howell, an Anglican priest based at Sabu, near Simanggang (Sri Aman) and D.J.S. Bailey, a Brooke administrative officer as A Sea Dayak Dictionary. The dictionary was important in the early development of the Iban as a written language.[32]

A Comprehensive Iban-English Dictionary, jointly published by The Dayak Cultural Foundation and The Tun Jugah Foundation in 2016, contains 31,000 entries and about 1900 pages.[32]

The Iban-Malay dictionary was first published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), in 1989. The second edition was published in 2015. It contains 11,530 entries dan 9,710 subentries.[33]

Writing system[edit]

According to Iban legend, an ancestor named Renggi devised a writing script on the skin of wood, but it was soaked in water and the writing vanished. Anguished with the tragedy, Renggi munched the script and swallowed it[34] where the script became ingrained in Renggi's brain and blood and also his descendants. Since then, the Ibans became adept at memorising oral traditions, just like exactly written in books.[35] Occasionally, the Ibans used personalised symbols as memory aids on their writing boards.[36]

The Iban language does not have a writing system of its own. Christian missionaries later adopted the Latin alphabet in an attempt to codify the language.[5] During the Crown Colony era, the Borneo Literature Bureau also worked on the written form of the Iban language.[5]

From 1947 to 1962, Dunging anak Gunggu invented an Iban syllabary known as the Dunging script.[37][34] In 2010, Dr. Bromeley Philip of Universiti Teknologi MARA, who is also a grandnephew to Dunging,[34] created digital fonts for Dunging script, named "LaserIban", available for Windows and Macintosh computers. Dr Bromeley also launched a course to promote the use of LaserIban and had transcribed several traditional folktales from Latin alphabet into Dunging script.[38] However, the Dunging script is not widely adopted.[37] As of 2011, only three people in the world mastered the Dunging script, namely Dr Bromeley himself, longhouse chief Tuai Rumah Bagat Nunui and teacher Ngambong Katoi.[39]


Iban can be subdivided into different sub-ethnic groups, each of which speak in different dialects. The most formal, intermediate, and working dialect is the Saribas dialect, and mainly Betong and Saratok. Others such as Balau, Sebuyau, Ulu Ai, and Rejang are mutually intelligible throughout the Sarawak region. The exception is the Iban Remun/Milikin dialect, which is still understood by Ibans from other districts. In West Kalimantan, dialects such as Bugau, Seberuang, Mualang, Chengkang, Sebaru, and Dau are more disparate.

Dialect comparison[edit]

Comparison between Sarawak Iban and Mualang
English Balau (Sarawak) Mualang (Kalimantan)
Rooster Manuk Renyau
Smell Nyium Lulum
Stupid Tuyu, banga Mawa
Twins sapit Rakup
Window Penyinga/jenila Telingu'
Father Apai Mpai
Feel Asai Asa'
And Enggau Aba'
Animal Jelu Ibun
Arrange Tusun Tunsun, tipan
Breathe Seput Penyuan

Sample text (Luke 2:10-11)


10 Baroꞌ mlikat Tuhan Allah madah ke sidaꞌ: “Nang kitaꞌ takot! Ku madah brita bayek ari Tuhan Allah ke kitaꞌ, te nyuroh gaga ugaꞌ bansa.

11 Malam toꞌ de kuta Daode udah adai Penyelamat kitaꞌ, Al Maseh Raja te dedanyi Tuhan Allah, nyaꞌ mah Tuhan.


10 Tang ku melikat nya bejaku ngagai sida, “Anang takut! Laban aku mai ngagai kita Berita Manah ti ngasuh ati semua mensia gaga:

11 sehari tu, di nengeri David, Juruselamat kita udah ada, iya nya Kristus ti Tuhan!

Comparison between Standard Iban and Remun
English Standard Iban Remun/Milikin
No Enda Entai
See Meda Ngilau
Know Nemu Badak
Shirt Gari Kelatang
Run Belanda Belawa
Silence! Anang inggar Sengian
Stupid Beli'/Palui/bangka Labuan
No/Did not Nadai Entai
Tomorrow Pagila Pagi
Later Lagi/legi Ila
Mat Tikai Kelaya
Good Manah Nyelaie

Sample phases in Iban Remun

  • Entai ku ngilauNadai aku meda. ('I did not see it.')
  • Entauk ku badakEnda ku nemu. ('I don't know.')
Comparison between Standard Iban and Sebuyau
English Standard Iban Sebuyau/Kua'
You Nuan Kua'
Why Lapa Mentang
Stupid Tuyu, beli Banga
No Enda Adai
Later Lagi Ila
Tomorrow Pagila Pagi
Know Nemu Siba
To hurry Beguai/Berumban Temengat
Side dishes Engkayu Hempah
Come out Pansut Temenyul
Restless Kekasak Kekajal
Untidy Temerak Kemada
Like this Baka nya Baka nia
Causes Ngasuh Mela
Shocked Tekenyit Tekanyat
Slow Lubah Lumbu



Iban Iban Standard English
San Sa/satu One
Duan Dua Two
Dangku Tiga Three
Dangkan Empat Four
Dana/Tebak Lima Five
Dia/Tunggul Nam Six
Tuchung/Kusil Tujuh Seven
Dalun/Kulat Lapan Eight
Dunggau/Kedu Semilan Nine
Dupuk/Kedat Sepuluh Ten


Iban English
Apai/Aba Father
Indai/Ina Mother
Aki Grandfather
Ini Grandmother
Aya Uncle
Ibu Aunt
Menyadi/Madi Siblings
Aka/Ika/Menyadi tuai Elder brother/Elder sister
Adi/Menyadi biak Younger brother/sister
Uchu Grandchildren
Ichit Great grandchildren

For extended family in Iban

Iban English
Entua Parent-in-law
Entua ke laki Father-in-law
Entua ke indu Mother-in-law
Apai/Indai tiri Stepfather or stepmother
Menyadi/Madi ipar Siblings-in-law
Ipar ke laki Brother-in-law
Ipar ke indu Sister-in-law
Aki ichit Great-grandfather
Ini ichit Great-grandmother
Anak buah Nibling
Anak buah ke laki Nephew
Anak buah ke indu Niece
Petunggal Cousin
Isan One's parent to parents-in-law


  • Anak buah bini ku nya. 'That is my wife's nibling.'
  • Anak buah ke indu laki ku nya. 'That is my husband's niece.'
  • Entua laki ku nya. 'That is my husband's parent-in-law.'
  • Entua ke laki laki ku nya. 'That is my husband's father-in-law.'
  • Petunggal bini ku nya. 'That is my wife's cousin.'


Iban English/Roman
Ensanus/Ensana Day before yesterday
Kemari Yesterday
Saritu Today
Pagila Tomorrow
Lusa Day after tomorrow
Tulat 3 days later
Lupat The fourth day


  • Tulat tua betemu. 'We'll meet again the third day.'
  • Ensanus ku bisi meda iya 'I saw him two days ago.'


The Iban calendar is one month ahead of the Gregorian calendar as follows:

Iban English/Gregorian
Empalai rubai January
Emperega/Empekap February
Lelang March
Turun panggul April
Sandih tundan May
Tujuh June
Berenggang reban July
Kelebun August
Labuh benih September
Gantung senduk October
Chechanguk November
Pangka di labu (first month of Iban calendar) December

Sample phrases[edit]

Iban English/Roman
Nama berita nuan? How are you?
Sapa nama nuan? What is your name?
Berapa/mesa 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!
Lalu nemuai! Welcome!
Anang manchal! Don't be naughty!
Enda ulih datai Couldn't make it
Anang guai Hold on/Wait a second
Nadai ngawa nya/enda ngawa Nevermind/it does not matter
Ka belaya Do you want to fight?
Pulai/mupuk dulu Going back
Aram bekelala tua Let's get to know each other
Pengerindu Love, passion
Aku lelengauka nuan I miss you/I am missing you
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 ke nuan? Where are you going?
Mar amat! Too expensive/difficult
Tusah endar! Too difficult
Kapa nya! Couldn't care less/what is that for!
Selamat pagi, Pengajar Good morning, teacher
Enda nemu aku tu I don't know
Aram ngirup mih kitai Let's we drink[clarification needed]
Ka ke pasar ku pagila I want to go to the town tomorrow
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)
Aku meruan sayauka nuan belama I will always love you
Asai ke kala meda nuan I feel like I have seen you before

Bible translation and Sample Text[edit]

Genesis 1:1–3[edit]

Human Rights

English: Article 1 – All human beings are born free and equal in rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Malay: Perkara 1 – Semua manusia dilahirkan bebas dan sama dalam hak. Mereka dikurniakan akal dan hati nurani dan harus bertindak antara satu sama lain dalam semangat persaudaraan.

Standard Iban: Pekara 1 : Semua mensia ada meratai enggau hak ke sebaka. Sida diberi pemikir enggau ati tuchi lalu patut begulai enggau diri sama diri dalam serakup entara bala menyadi.

Balau Iban Dialect: Pekaha 1 : Semua mensia ada bebas enggau hak ti sebaka. Sida dibehi pikih enggau ati behesi alu patut begulai enggau dihi sama dihi dalam gehempung entaha bala menyadi.

Other Iban Dialect: Pekaro 1 : Semuo mensio ado bebas enggau hak ti sebako. Sida diberi pikir enggau ati tuchi lalu patut begulai enggau diri samo diri dalam serakup entaro balo menyadi.

Pikaro 1 : Simuo minsio ado bibas nggau hak ti sibako. Sida dibiri pikir enggau ati tuchi lalu patut bigulai nggau diri samo diri dalam sirakup intaro balo minyadi.


  1. ^ a b Iban at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Su Hie, Ting; Andyson, Tinggang; Mertom, Lily (28 July 2021). "Language use and attitudes as indicators of subjective vitality: The Iban of Sarawak, Malaysia". Language Documentation and Conservation. 15: 190–218. ISSN 1934-5275. Retrieved 15 October 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Shin, Chong (2021-05-07). "Iban as a koine language in Sarawak". Wacana. 22 (1): 102. doi:10.17510/wacana.v22i1.985. ISSN 2407-6899.
  4. ^ a b c d Bellwood, Peter; Fox, James J.; Tryon, Darrell, eds. (2006). The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. Canberra: ANU Press. doi:10.22459/a.09.2006. ISBN 978-1-920942-85-4.
  5. ^ a b c d e Metom, Lilly; Ting, Su-Hie; Ling, Hsin-Nie (2021). "The Iban of Sarawak, Malaysia Ethnic Language Losing Ground to English and Sarawak Malay". Human Behaviour, Development and Society. 22 (3): 54-64. ISSN 2651-1762. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  6. ^ Tawai, Jimbun A. (1998). "Iban mother tongue education". In Kia Soong (ed.). Mother Tongue Education of Malaysia Ethnic Minorities. Kuala Lumpur: Dong Jiao Zong Higher Learning Center. pp. 100–113.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Postill, John (15 May 2006). Media and Nation Building: How the Iban became Malaysian. Berghahn Books. pp. 59, 71–8. ISBN 978-0-85745-687-8.
  8. ^ Smith, Karla J. (February 2003). "Minority Language Education in Malaysia: Four Ethnic Communities' Experiences". International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. 6 (1): 52–65. doi:10.1080/13670050308667772. ISSN 1367-0050.
  9. ^ "Tun Jugah Remembered As Sarawak's Greatest Hero - Taib". Natural Resources and Environment Board Sarawak. Archived from the original on 26 July 2022. Retrieved 19 February 2024.
  10. ^ "Report on Research Projects". Tun Jugah Foundation. Archived from the original on 29 May 2023. Retrieved 19 February 2024.
  11. ^ Anis, Mazwin Nik (26 April 2003). "Ban on Iban Bible lifted". The Star (Malaysia). Archived from the original on 6 January 2024. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  12. ^ "Berita Iban". The Borneo Post. Archived from the original on 12 June 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  13. ^ "Berita Iban". Utusan Borneo. Archived from the original on 6 January 2024. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  14. ^ "Berita Iban". The Borneo Post. Archived from the original on 31 May 2021. Retrieved 19 February 2024.
  15. ^ "Majalah PEGARI". PEGARI Iban Production. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2024.
  16. ^ Bigol, Alvestor (19 April 2021). "Sukung mih Radio Pegari Web FM (Please support Pegari Web FM Radio)". Suara Sarawak. Archived from the original on 10 June 2023. Retrieved 19 February 2024.
  17. ^ "Seven Iban books published by Borneo Media Solutions so far". The Borneo Post. 3 January 2014. Archived from the original on 9 June 2021. Retrieved 19 February 2024.
  18. ^ "New TV channel for Sabah and Sarawak". The Star (Malaysia). Bernama. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  19. ^ Suzianah, Jiffar; Olivia, Miwil (21 March 2018). "TV OKEY guna bahasa tempatan (TV OKEY uses local languages)". Berita Harian. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  20. ^ "TVS nyerungkai pengidup Iban (TVS unwraps the Iban way of life)". Suara Sarawak. 11 October 2020. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  21. ^ "SUPP members told to move forward with 'Sa'ati'". The Borneo Post. 4 June 2014. Archived from the original on 4 June 2021. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  22. ^ "SUPP to set up Sa'Ati Education Foundation to aid students". Dayak Daily. 22 May 2022. Archived from the original on 5 July 2022. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  23. ^ "YES! Jom Aram Neh Berubah! (Yes! Let's just change!)" (PDF). Perdana Leadership Foundation Library. Democratic Action Party. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  24. ^ "Dayaks As The Kingmaker In Coming State Election". Sarawak Democratic Action Party. Archived from the original on 2 June 2023. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  25. ^ "PM: Segulai sejalai, cogan kata perpaduan dari bahasa Iban (Prime Minister: "Segulai sejalai" slogan from the Iban language)". Malaysiakini. 7 June 2023. Archived from the original on 8 June 2023. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  26. ^ Lau, Ceres. "Ngap Sayot". Behance. Archived from the original on 17 October 2023. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  27. ^ "'Don't use Ngap Sayot for politics'". The Borneo Post. 16 June 2013. Archived from the original on 8 June 2021. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  28. ^ Masilamany, Joseph. "Ngap sayot! Sarawakians upbraid 'Harimau Malaya' on Malaysia Day". The Vibes. Archived from the original on 17 September 2021. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  29. ^ Asmah Haji Omar (1969), p. 38.
  30. ^ a b Asmah Haji Omar (1969), p. 51.
  31. ^ Asmah Haji Omar (1969), p. 185.
  32. ^ a b Clifford, Sather (2016). "A Comprehensive Iban-English Dictionary". Borneo Research Bulletin. 47: 256–261. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  33. ^ Bahaudin, Nurul Hidayah (20 December 2015). "Unik dan kepentingan kamus Iban - Melayu (The uniqueness and the importance of the Iban-Malay dictionary)". Berita Harian. Archived from the original on 24 August 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  34. ^ a b c Churchill Edward (20 June 2012). "'Long Lost' Iban Alphabet Script 'Found'". The Borneo Post. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  35. ^ David, Jacqueline (11 July 2021). "Dunging Script into the millennium". The Borneo Post. Archived from the original on 27 October 2022. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  36. ^ Pringle, Robert (1970). Rajahs & Rebels - The Ibans of Sarawak under Brooke Rule (1841-1941). New York: Cornell University Press. p. 37. Retrieved 12 August 2023.
  37. ^ a b "Iban". Omniglot. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  38. ^ "Reviving the Iban alphabet". UiTM News Hub. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  39. ^ Edward, Churchill (19 September 2011). "'Pioneer Iban alphabet students will promote system'". The Borneo Post. Archived from the original on 2 June 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2024.
  40. ^ "Bup Kudus Baru". G-KRIS. Archived from the original on 2018-10-22.


  • Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia / Jabatan Pelajaran Sarawak /Pusat Perkembangan Kurikulum KPM 2007

External links[edit]