Ibanag language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ybanag, Ibanak
Native toPhilippines
RegionNorthern Luzon
Native speakers
400,000 (2010)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated byKomisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3ibg
Ibanag language map.png
Areas where Ibanag is spoken according to Ethnologue
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Ibanag language (also Ybanag or Ibanak) is an Austronesian language spoken by up to 500,000 speakers, most particularly by the Ibanag people, in the Philippines, in the northeastern provinces of Isabela and Cagayan, especially in Tuguegarao, Solana, Abulug, Cabagan, and Ilagan and with overseas immigrants in countries located in the Middle East, United Kingdom and the United States. Most of the speakers can also speak Ilocano, the lingua franca of northern Luzon island. The name Ibanag comes from the prefix I which means 'people of', and bannag, meaning 'river'. It is closely related to Gaddang, Itawis, Agta, Atta, Yogad, Isneg, and Malaweg.


Similar to more known languages in the Philippines such as Cebuano and Tagalog, Ibanag is a Philippine language within the Austronesian language family. On the other hand, it belongs to the Northern Philippine languages subgroup where related yet larger Ilocano and Pangasinan also fall under.

Distribution and dialects[edit]

Ibanag is spoken in various areas of Northeastern Region of the Philippines (namely within Isabela and Cagayan), and because of this there are also minor differences in the way that it is spoken in these areas. Ibanag spoken in Tuguegarao is known to be the standard dialect. And other native Ibanag speakers usually distinguish if the speaker is from Tuguegarao City with the variation of their pronunciation and accent. Most who have adapted the urban dialects of Ibanag tend to have a Hispanic accent.[citation needed]

In Tuguegarao, before the Spaniards came, the language was Irraya (an almost-extinct Gaddang dialect). Spaniards introduced Ibanag to the city from Lal-lo (formerly the city of Nueva Segovia) and made the language as the lingua franca of the northeastern Philippines. But with the introduction of Ilocano settlers, Ilocano has become the new lingua franca since the late 20th century.[2][3]

Cauayan speakers and Ilagan speakers in Isabela have a hard accent as opposed to the Tuguegarao Ibanag that sounded Hispanic. But, native speakers of Northern Cagayan have a harder accent.[citation needed]

For example, Ibanags from towns in northern Cagayan, which includes Abulug, Aparri, Camalaniugan, Pamplona and Lallo, tend to replace their ps with fs.[4] Also, certain Ibanag words differ from these areas as opposed to the Tuguegarao and Isabela Ibanag. The dialects are South Ibanag and North Ibanag.[5]


  • mapatumafatu ('hot')
  • paggipayanfaggifayan ('a place to put')
  • dupodufo ('banana')

Tuguegarao Ibanag may be considered the standard; however, Northern Cagayan Ibanag may be closest to the ancient Pre-Hispanic Ibanag existent prior to the spread of the language throughout the province, as Northern Cagayan was the original Ibanag home territory. On the other hand, Tuguegarao Ibanag, besides having Spanish influences, may have acquired elements from nearby Itawis. At the same time, Isabela Ibanag may have acquired elements from the original Gaddang language predominant in the province.

Tuguegarao Ibanag Isabela Ibanag English Tagalog
Ari ka nga kuman ta illuk. Kammu nga kumang tu illug. Don't eat eggs. Huwag kang kumain ng itlog.

Archaic Ibanag[edit]

Some words used in the present such as innafi 'rice', bavi 'pig', afi 'fire', are listed in Spanish texts as innafuy, bavuy, and afuy respectively. Also, the Ibanag term for the number one, tadday, was once used interchangeably with the word itte, which is no longer used apparently by modern speakers of the language.[6][7]

Use and current status[edit]

As of Oct. 2012, "revival of the Ibanag culture is part of the Mother-Tongue Based (MTB) program of the [Philippine] government which seeks to preserve indigenous cultures, including its languages, for generations to come. Ibanag is one of the MTB languages now taught in Philippine schools," and two current stage plays, Zininaga Ta Bannag (Heritage of the River) and Why Women Wash the Dishes are being performed in the Ibanag language.[8]



Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə
Open a ɔ

Monophthongization of diphthongs is observable in Ibanag. For example, the words umay ('to go'), balay ('house') or aggaw ('day') are sometimes pronounced as ume, bale, and aggo respectively.[citation needed]


Ibanag is one of the Philippine languages which are excluded in the [ɾ]-[d] allophony.[clarification needed]

Ibanag features phonemes that are not present in many related Philippine languages; phonemes unique to Ibanag compared to its sister languages include [f] as in innafi, 'rice', [v] as in bavi, 'pig', [z] as in kazzing, 'goat' and [dʒ] as in madjan, 'maid'.[citation needed]

Ibanag features gemination:

  • gaddua [ɡadˈdwa] ('half')
  • mappazzi [mappazˈzɪ] ('to squeeze, squeezing')
Table of consonant phonemes of Ibanag
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z
Tap ɾ ~ r
Approximant l j w


There are two ways that Ibanag can be written. In older texts, the "Spanish style" is often used: ⟨c⟩, and ⟨qu⟩ are used to represent /k/, and words that end with a glottal stop have -c added to the end of the word.[9]

Example: Quiminac cami tab bavi. 'We ate pork.'

Example: Napannu tac cunam y langui-c. 'The sky is full of clouds.'

The other way of writing Ibanag is the new, simplified way which tends to be more phonetic. This modern spelling system is consistent with that of the Filipino language and other languages such as Bisaya and Ilokano. Moreover, silent letters are omitted. This orthography is the one being adopted for use in public schools for the purpose of the Department of Education's Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education policy in Ibanag-speaking areas and is prescribed by the Ibanag Heritage Foundation, Inc.[10][11][12]

Example: Kiminak kami tu bavi. 'We ate pork.'

Example: Napannu tu kunam i langi. 'The sky is full of clouds.'



Personal pronouns[edit]

  • Independent pronouns
  • I: Sakan, Sakang (Isabela), So'
  • You: Sikaw, siko (Isabela)
  • He, she, it: Yayya
  • We (inclusive): Sittam, sittang (Isabela)
  • We (exclusive): Sikami
  • You (plural/polite): Sikamu
  • They: Ira
Pronoun Possessive pronoun forms Example of root word Example of derived word(s)
First person Sakan, Sakang (Isabela), So' (I) -ku,

-' when subject ends with a vowel or diphthong

kazzing (goat)

lima (hand)

kazzing ku (my goat)

lima' (my hand)

Sikami (exclusive, our), Sittam, sittang (Isabela) (inclusive, our) -mi, -tam libru (book) libru mi (our book), libru tam (our book)
Second person Sikaw (you, singular) -mu, -m mejas (socks), libru (book) mejas mu (your socks), librum (your book)
Sikamu (you (plural/polite)) -nu bandera (flag) bandera nu (your flag)
Third person Yayya, yatun (he, she, it) -na manu' (chicken) manu' na (his, her, its chicken)
Ira (they) -da itubang (chair) itubang da (their chair)


  • I/me: There are many ways to say I or me in Ibanag. The language is agglutinative. Thus most of the time pronouns are attached to verbs. There are at least four ways to indicate the pronoun I.
  • 'I am eating': Kuman na' = kuman ('to eat') and na' ('I'). Sometimes, nga' is used instead of na'.
  • 'I gave him some food': Neddak ku yayya ta makan = neddan ('to give') ku ('I').
  • 'I will be the one to go': So' laman ngana y ume = So' ('I')
  • 'I split it in half': Ginaddwa' = ginaddwa ('to split in half') ' ('I'). Here the glottal stop on the sentence indicates 'I'. Without the glottal stop, the sentence would become incomplete and would otherwise not make any sense.


  • You: There are also a couple of ways to indicate you.
  • '(You) go outside': Mallawak ka = Mallawan ('to go') and ka ('you')
  • 'You give': Iddammu = Iddan ('to give/to put') and mu ('you')


  • He/she/it: As with the other pronouns, there are a couple of ways to say this, but usually people use na.
  • 'He lost it': Nawawan na (Nawawan) 'lost' (na) 'he/she/it' (NOTE: without the glottal stop, na can mean 'he', 'she', or 'it'.)


  • We: Often tam or tang is attached at the end of the verb or noun. Sittam/sittang is inclusive 'we'.
  • 'Let's go': Tam ngana!/Ettang ngana! (Isabela) or Ume tam!


  • We: To exclude the person being spoken to, Sikami is used. In this case, mi is attached to the end of the verb, adjective or noun.
  • 'We are going to look': Ume mi nga innan = ume ('to go'), mi ('we')
  • 'We are full' (as in food): Nabattug kami = nabattug ('full'), kami (exclusive 'we')
  • 'We are Ibanags': Ibanag kami


  • You: This is for plural 'you'. Often nu or kamu is used.
  • 'Go get him/her': Apannu yayya! = apan ('to get'), nu (plural 'you')
  • 'You went there?': Uminé kamu tari? = umine ('went') kamu ('you')


  • They: Ira. Ira is seldom used unless emphasizing that it is 'them'. Instead of ira, the word da is used.
  • 'They bought my house': Ginatang da y bale' = ginatang ('bought'), da ('they')

Possessive pronouns[edit]

Kua is the root word that identifies something as belonging to someone. Often ku is added before kua to emphasize this. This is only possible with 'mine' and 'yours' but not with other possessive pronouns.

'That IS mine.': Kukua' yatun

  • 'My, mine': ku, kua', kukua'
  • 'Me': tanyo'
  • 'Your, yours': -m, mu, kuam, kukuam
  • 'His, her, its': na, kuana
  • 'Our, ours' (inclusive): tam, kuatam
  • 'Our, ours' (exclusive): mi, kuami
  • 'Your, yours': nu, kuanu
  • 'Their, theirs': da, kuada
  • 'My toy': gaggayam
  • 'Your gift': regalum
  • 'Her earring': aritu' na
  • 'Our land': davvut tam
  • 'Our house': balay mi
  • 'Your car': coche nu
  • 'Their dog': kitu da
  • 'This is mine': kua' yaw
  • 'This is hers/his': kukua/kua na yaw
  • 'That is yours': kuam yatun
  • 'That is hers': kuana yari/kuana yatung

Demonstrative pronouns[edit]

  • 'This': yaw, ye, yawe
  • 'That' (item by person being spoken to): yatun or yane (Isabela)
  • 'That' (far from both speaker and person being spoken to): yari or yore
  • 'That' (sometimes used for objects that are absent or in the past): yuri
  • 'This dog': ye kitu
  • 'That cat': yane kitaw
  • 'That carabao': yari nuang
  • 'That day': yuri aggaw

In order to emphasize or stress the distance or time, the stress on the word falls on the first syllable except for yatun – i.e. yatun davvun 'that land'.

Other ways that words are emphasized are by using locatives.

  • 'THIS house' (here): ye balay taw
  • 'That girl there': yatun babay tatun
  • 'That man over there': yari lalaki tari
  • 'That old lady a long time ago': yuri bako' turi*

With turi the stress on tu is often lengthened to emphasize the distance and time that has passed.

  • Tadday nga aggaw – Tagalog: Isang araw – English: One day
  • Tadday vulan – Tagalog: Isang buwan – English: One month
  • Tadday nga dagun/ragun – Tagalog: Isang taon – English: One year


  • 'Here': taw or tawe
  • 'There': tatun (by person being spoken to)
  • 'There': tari (far from both)
  • 'There': turi (absent, past time and/or location)

Enclitic particles[edit]

Interrogative Words[edit]

  • 'What?': anni?
  • 'When?': nikanni?
  • 'Where?': sitaw?
  • 'Who?': sinni?
  • 'Why?': ngatta?
  • 'How?': kunnasi?
  • 'How much?': piga?

Each of the doubled consonants must be pronounced separately – i.e. anni?an ni

  • 'What are you doing?': Anni kuammu?
  • 'When did you arrive?': Kanni labbe' mu?
  • 'Where are we going?': Sitaw angayat tam?
  • 'Who took my fan?': Sinni nanga' ta affefec ku?
  • 'Why are you not eating?': Ngatta nga ari ka kuman?
  • 'How are you going to cook that if you don't have the ingredients?': Kunnasim lutuan yatun nu awan tu rekadum?
  • 'How much is this? How much is that?': Piga yaw? Piga yatun?


Ibanag verbs are conjugated based on tense, but not person.

Like most other Malayo-Polynesian languages, Ibanag does not have a copula, which means there is no verb equivalent to English to be. However, this is sometimes compensated for by using the verb for to have.

Infinitive and present tense[edit]

Many times, the infinitive form is the same as the present tense.

  • 'There is'/'to have': egga
  • 'To eat/eat': kuman
  • 'To drink/drink': minum
  • 'To need/need': mawag
  • 'To want/want', 'to like/like': kaya'
  • 'To go/go', 'to come/come': umay
  • 'To not want/not want', 'to not like/not like': manaki'
  • 'I am here': Egga nga tawe
  • 'Do you eat goat?': Kumak ka tu kazzing?
  • 'Drink this': Inumang mu/inumammu yaw.
  • 'Drink water': Uminum/mininum/mininung ka tu danum/danung.
  • 'You need to sleep': Mawag mu makkaturug.
  • 'To ask': mangiyavu

Past tense[edit]

There are different ways to form the past tense. Here are a few common ways.

  • 'Cooked': nilutu/nallutu
  • 'Cut': ginappo'
  • 'Cut (hair)': inusi'
  • 'Placed far away': inirayyu
  • 'Bought': ginatang
  • 'We cooked dinengdeng': Nallutu kami tu dinengdeng
  • 'We cooked the pig': Nilutu mi yari bavi. (Y becomes yari assuming the pig itself is not present since it was already cooked)
  • 'They cut my hair': Inusi' da y vu' ku.
  • 'I got my hair cut': Nappa usi' na' tu vu' ku.
  • 'They placed him far away': Inirayyu da yayya.
  • 'I bought you this cow': Ginatang ku yaw baka para nikaw/niko.

Future tense[edit]

Again, there are a couple of ways of forming future tense. One is by the use of a helping word like to go.
Sometimes the present tense can indicate future depending on the context.

  • 'We are going to pick him up.': Apam mi ngana yayya
  • 'Go buy lechon later.': Sonu manannwang ka na gumatang tu lichon or Sonu bibbinnay ka na matang tu lichon (Isabela), Sonu mangananwan ka ngana gumatang ta lechon. (Tuguegarao)

Sangaw and Sangawe[edit]

  • 'Do it now': Sangaw ngana! (Sangawe not used in Tuguegarao)
  • 'Do it now': Sangawe ngana! (Isabela)
  • 'Later on': Sonu mangananwan!, Sonu bibbinnay


Syntax and word order[edit]

Ibanag sentence structure often follows the verb–subject–object pattern.

  • 'Andoy took out the dog.': Nellawan ni Andoy y kitu.

Adjectives often follow the nouns with a marker attached.

  • 'Big house': Dakal nga balay

Simple sentences as opposed to descriptive patterns:

  • 'The house is red': Uzzin y balay
  • 'The red house': Uzzin nga balay


Y and nga are the two most commonly used markers in Ibanag. They either link adjectives to nouns or indicate the subject of the sentence.

  • 'Loud laughter': Nagallu nga galo'. Nagallu indicates 'loud' and the nga links it to laughter.
  • 'Your child is tall.': Atannang y ana' mu. With the lack of the verb to be and a switched syntax, y indicates that your child is the subject.

Tu is another marker that is used, but is not very simple to explain.[citation needed] Often it is seen in conjunction with the word awan, meaning 'nothing, none'.

  • 'There is nothing to eat.': Awan tu makan – Tagalog: Wala nang pagkain. Here, tu links awan ('none') and makan ('food'). Tu is like nang in Tagalog.

Ta is yet another marker used. Ta is like sa in Tagalog.

  • 'Make a new chair.': Maggangwa ka ta bagu nga silla. – Tagalog: Gagawa ka ng bagong upuan. (Here both nga and ta are used)

Tu and ta in the Isabela dialect[edit]

Ta is used to refer to place (Isabela). This is also used in Tuguegarao.

Example: 'We went to Tuguegarao.': Minay kami ta Tuguegarao.

Tu is used to refer to things.

Example: 'We ate pork.' Kiminang kami tu bavi. (Isabela)

Consonant mutation[edit]

Ibanag verbs that end in n lose the last consonant, which is replaced by the first consonant of the succeeding word. However, when the succeeding word starts with a vowel or another n, the last n is not affected.


  • *Apan mu yari libru.

Correct: Apam mu yari libru 'Go get the book.'

  • *Nasingan ku y yama na.

Correct: Nasingak ku y yama na 'I saw his father.'

The marker ta and the preposition na (not the pronoun) sometimes, depending also on the dialect, acquire the first consonant of the succeeding word.

  • Ta likuk/likug na balay

Tal likuk nab balay 'at the back of the house'

  • Ta utun 'on top.' Notice that ta is succeeded by utun, which starts with a vowel.



This is an example of an Ibanag proverb, which is also known throughout the archipelago.

Ibanag: Y tolay nga/tu ari nga/amme* na mallipay ta pinaggafuanan na ay ari nga/amme na makadde ta angayanan na. (*Isabela)

Tagalog: Ang taong Hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay Hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.

English: 'He who does not look back into his past, cannot reach his destination.'

Ibanag: Ta langi awan tu binarayang, yatun ta utun na davvun ittam minum.

Tagalog: Sa langit walang alak, kaya sa ibabaw ng lupa dapat tayo'y lumaklak.

English: 'In heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here.'

Ibanag: Ari mu kagian nga piyyo ngana y illuk tapenu ari nga magivung. (Tuguegarao)

Ibanag: Ammeng kagim tu piyyo ngana y illug tapenu ari nga magivung. (Isabela)

Tagalog: Huwag mong sabihing sisiw na ang itlog para Hindi ito maging bugok.

English: 'Never call an egg a chick, so that it will not become rotten.'

Cagayan provincial anthem[edit]

The direct translation here is different from the English version of the Cagayan Provincial Anthem.


Loan words[edit]

  • Many words in Ibanag are of Spanish origin. The language is infused with Spanish words that are often not seen or heard in any of the other Philippine languages.
  • Eyeglasses: anchuparra/anteojos
  • Plants: masetas
  • Store: chenda (from Spanish: tienda)
  • Door: puerta
  • Toilet: kasilyas
  • Quickly, immediately: insigida (from en seguida)

Simple greetings[edit]

  • Good morning: Dios nikamu ta umma (others say Mapia nga umma)
  • Good afternoon: Dios nikamu ta fugak (others say Mapia nga fugak)
  • Good evening/night: Dios nikamu ta gabi (others say Mapia nga gabi)
  • How are you?: Kunnasi ka?
  • I'm fine/good, and you?: Mapia so' gapa, sikaw?
  • I'm just fine, thank God: Mapia so' gapa, mabbalo' ta Afu
  • Thank you: Mabbalo'
  • Where are you going?: Sitaw y angayammu?
  • I'm going to...: Umay na' ta...
  • What are you doing?: Anni kukuam mu?
  • Nothing in particular: Awan, maski anni laman.
  • Please come in: Tullung kamu, Maddulo kamu or Mattalung kamu.
  • Long time no see: Nabayag taka nga ari nasingan.


  • 0: awan
  • 1: tadday
  • 2: duwa
  • 3: tallu
  • 4: appa'
  • 5: lima
  • 6: annam
  • 7: pitu
  • 8: walu
  • 9: siyam
  • 10: mafulu
  • 11: karatadday/onse
  • 12: karaduwa/dose
  • 13: karatallu/trese
  • 14: karappa/katorse
  • 15: karalima/kinse
  • 20: duwafulu/beinte
  • 100: magatu
  • 200: duwa gatu
  • 500: lima gatu
  • 1000: marivu
  • 2000: duwa rivu

[13][clarification needed]


Ibanag Tagalog English
Anni y kinnam mu ganguri? Ano ang kinain mo kanina? What did you eat?
Anni y kinnan nu? Ano ang kinain ninyo? What did you,(all) eat?
Anni y kanakanam mu? Ano ang kinakain mo? What are you eating?
Anni y kankanam mu sangaw? Ano ang kinakain mo ngayon? What are you eating now?
Kuman ittam sangaw nu pallabbe na. Kakain tayo pagdating niya. We will eat when he/she comes.
Maddaguk kami kuman kustu limibbe yayya. Kumakain kami nang dumating siya. We were eating when he came.
Nakakak kami nakwang nu minilubbe yayya. Nakakain sana kami kung dumating siya. We would have eaten I if he had arrived.
Natturukí y gattó. Sumirit ang gatas. The milk shot out.
Ari ka nga kuman. Huwag kang kumain. Don't eat.
Kumak ka ngana! Kumain ka na! Eat now!
Kukwa' yatun! Akin yan! That's mine!
Iddu taka/ay-ayatat taka Mahal kita I love you


  1. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing, Report No. 2A - Demographic and Housing Characteristics (Non-Sample Variables)" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  2. ^ Keesing, Felix Maxwell (1962). The Ethnohistory of Northern Luzon. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  3. ^ Salgado, Pedro V. (2002). Cagayan valley and eastern Cordillera, 1581-1898. Vol. 1. Quezon City: Rex Commercial.
  4. ^ Da Ayong Anni Dagga. https://archive.org/stream/rosettaproject_ibg_vertxt-1/rosettaproject_ibg_vertxt-1_djvu.txt
  5. ^ "Ethnologue".(subscription required)
  6. ^ Bugarin, Jose (1854). Diccionario ybanag-español. Manila: Imp. de los Amigos del País.
  7. ^ Fernández, Miguel (1867). Diccionario españól-ibanág: ó sea, Tesauro hispánocagayán. Manila: Imp. de Ramirez y Giraudier.
  8. ^ Benji De Yro (2012-10-16). "DepEd indigenous culture revival in upswing". Philippine Information Agency. Archived from the original on 2012-12-21. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  9. ^ Nolasco de Medio, Pedro (1892). Agguiguiammuan tac Cagui Gasila / Grammatica Ibanag-Castellana (second ed.). Manila: Estab. Tipog. del Colegio de Santo Tomás.
  10. ^ Dita, S. N. (2013). The Orthography of Ibanag. Manila: Ibanag Heritage Foundation, Inc.
  11. ^ Cabalza, Chester (2013). Ibanag Language and Culture. http://cbclawmatters.blogspot.com/2013/07/ibanag-language-anc-culture.html
  12. ^ Clapano, Jose Rodel (May 10, 2012). "Ibanag to be a medium of instruction in DepEd's multi-lingual education program - VP Binay". philstar.com. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  13. ^ ayya itta

Further reading[edit]

  • Dita, Shirley N. (2011). "The Structure of Ibanag Nominals". Philippine Journal of Linguistics. Linguistic Society of the Philippines. 42: 41–57. Archived from the original on 2019-12-31. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  • Moses Esteban. Editing Ibanag–Tagalog–English Ibanag–Tagalog–English Survey. Ibanag people's of Benguet and the City Hall of Benguet (Ifugao)
  • Nepomuceno, Vicente (1919). Historia nac Cagayán. Manila: Tip. Linotype del Colegio de Sto. Tomás.
  • Salgado, Pedro V. (2002). Cagayan valley and eastern Cordillera, 1581-1898, Volume 1. Quezon City: Rex Commercial.