|Native to||Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia|
700,000 L2 speakers in Malaysia (2013)
The Iban language (jaku Iban) is spoken by the Iban, a branch of the Dayak ethnic group, who live in Brunei, the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan and in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It belongs to the Malayic languages, a Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family.
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Iban is classified as a Malayic language, a Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. The language is closely related to Malay, more closely to Sarawakian Malay. It is thought that the homeland of the Malayic languages is in western Borneo, where the Ibanic languages remain. The Malayan branch represents a secondary dispersal, probably from central Sumatra but possibly also from Borneo.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2020)
The Iban language is the native language of the Iban people, who fall under the general grouping of "Dayak"(i.e. native peoples of Borneo). Previously, the Iban were referred to during the colonial period as "Sea Dayaks". Their homeland is the island of Borneo, which is politically divided between Malaysia and Indonesia; the Iban can mostly be found in the Malaysian state of Sarawak.
The language is mostly taught to students in rural areas with a majority Iban population, including Baleh (Kapit), Betong, Sri Aman, Saratok, Lubok Antu, Pelagus (Kapit), Pakan and Julau. In big cities liked Kuching, only a small number of school teaches Iban language. This is due to the limited amount of teacher who are capable of teaching Iban language. Form 5 and Form 3 students are allowed to take Iban language in their SPM & PT3 exam.
The 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.
|English||Balau (Sarawak)||Mualang (Kalimantan)|
-Sample phases in Iban Remun-
- Entai ku ngilau – "Nadai aku meda." (I did not see it.)
- Entauk ku badak – "Enda ku nemu." (I don't know.)
|Like this||Baka nya||Baka nia|
Iban has the following consonant inventory:
Vowel sounds are nasalized when preceded by a nasal consonant.
Although the Iban language is presently written using the Latin alphabet, an Iban syllabary (the Dunging script) was devised by Dunging anak Gunggu, 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 apparently lost in a flood. The Iban syllabary is published but is not widely distributed; recent efforts by Dr. Bromeley Philip of Universiti Teknologi MARA to promote and revitalize the use of script have resulted in the creation of digital fonts, a teaching program, and the transcription of several traditional folktales.
In 2010, extending Dunging's work, Dr Bromeley Philip of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Sarawak developed computer fonts for the Iban alphabet, called LaserIban. His aim is to help preserve the Iban alphabet in digital form in the modern world. The LaserIban is available for Windows and Macintosh computers and is completely cross-platform compatible.
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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
|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)|
- 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)
- 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
|First-person exclusive||aku||kami səduai||kami|
- 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"
Mostly pronouns are put after subjects
|enggi di, ngedi,||your|
|enggi iya, ngi'ya||his/her|
|enggi tua||ours (both of us)|
|engkita||belong to all of you|
- baju tu engku – "This shirt is mine."
- Tu enggi nuan – "This is yours"
- Siti nyin enggi tua – "That one belongs to both of us"
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.
|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.
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.
|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 form the speaker)
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.
|Distal||kin||going there or 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)
|Distal||din||there or 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.
|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.
Iban also has a few interrogative words. Sapa, Nama, Ni, Lapa, Kemaya and Berapa.
- Sapa – Who
|English: Who owns this watch?|
- Nama – What
|English: What are you doing here?|
- Sapa – Who
|English: Who owns this watch?|
- Ni – Where (Dini and Ba ni also used to ask for specific location)
|English: Where is my drink?|
- Lapa – Why (Nama kebuah also used.)
|English: Why are you crying?|
- Kemaya – When
|English: When are we going to meet?|
- Berapa – How many
|English: How many chicken you raise?|
- Bakani – How
|English: How is the weather today?|
|Aka/Ika/Menyadi tuai||Elder brother/Elder sister|
|Adi/Menyadi biak||Younger brother/sister|
For Extended Family in Iban
|Entua||Parent in law|
|Entua ke laki||Father in law|
|Entua ke indu||Mother in law|
|Apai/Indai tiri||Step Father or Step Mother|
|Menyadi/Madi ipar||Siblings in law|
|Ipar ke laki||Brother in law|
|Ipar ke indu||Sister in law|
|Anak buah ke laki||Nephew|
|Anak buah ke indu||Niece|
|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.
|Ensanus/Ensana||Day before yesterday|
|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:
|Pangka di labu(1st month of Iban calendar)||December|
|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!|
|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|
|Ka belaya||Do you want to fight|
|Pulai/mupuk dulu||going back|
|Aram bekelala tua||Let's get to know each other|
|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|
|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 loving you|
|Asai ke kala meda nuan||I feel like that I have seen you before|
Ba pun iya kelia, lebuh Allah Taala berengkah ngaga langit enggau dunya, dunya endang apin bisi bakal tauka gamal sereta nadai utai nguan. Semina ribut ti deras ari Allah Taala aja ti bepuput atas tasik ti agi petang. Allah Taala lalu bejaku, “Awakka penampak pegari.” Penampak lalu pegari. Allah Taala meda penampak nya manah; lalu Iya nyeraraka penampak nya ari pemetang. Iya ngumbai penampak nya “Siang” lalu pemetang nya dikumbai Iya “Malam.” Lemai ambis lalu pagi pen datai. Nya hari ti keterubah.
In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The spirit of God was hovering over the water. Then God said, "Let there be light!" So there was light. God saw the light was good. So God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light "day", and the darkness he named "night". There was evening, then morning, the first day.
- Iban at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Bellwood, Peter; Fox, James J.; Tryon, Darrell (eds.). The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. Canberra: ANU Press. doi:10.22459/a.09.2006. ISBN 978-1-920942-85-4.
- Asmah Haji Omar (1969), p. 38.
- Asmah Haji Omar (1969), p. 51.
- "Iban". Omniglot. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
- Churchill Edward (20 June 2012). "'Long Lost' Iban Alphabet Script 'Found'". The Borneo Post. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
- "Reviving the Iban alphabet". UiTM News Hub. 2016-03-15. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
- Universiti Teknologi MARA (18 May 2015). "Reviving the Iban Alphabet". Phys.org. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
- Asmah Haji Omar (1969), p. 185.
- "Bup Kudus Baru". G-KRIS. Archived from the original on 2018-10-22.
- Richards, Anthony (1981). An Iban-English Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press. [Paperback reprint in the 1988 by Penerbit Fajar Bakti, Petaling Jaya. ISBN 967653384X]
- Asmah Haji Omar (1969). The Iban Language of Sarawak: A Grammatical Description (PhD thesis). SOAS University of London.
- Asmah Haji Omar (1981). The Iban Language of Sarawak: A Grammatical Description. Kuala Lumpur: Kementarian Pelajaran Malaysia.
- Steinmayer, Otto (1999). Jalai Jako' Iban: A Basic Grammar of the Iban Language of Sarawak. Kuching: Klasik Publishing House.
- Renang Anak Ansali (2002), "Jaku Iban serta basa kitai", University of London Magazine
- Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia / Jabatan Pelajaran Sarawak /Pusat Perkembangan Kurikulum KPM 2007
|Iban language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Iban.|
- Digitized books about Iban at the SOAS library
- Ator Sambiang Mass Baru: The Holy Eucharist in Iban (1980) Anglican eucharistic liturgy digitized by Richard Mammana