Ivatan language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chirin nu Ibatan
Native toPhilippines
RegionBatanes Islands
Native speakers
(33,000 cited 1996–2007)[1]
  • Ivasay
  • Isamurung
  • Babuyan
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated byKomisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
ivv – Ivatan
ivb – Ibatan (Babuyan)
Glottologivat1242  Ivatan
ibat1238  Ibatan
The Batanic languages.png
The location of the Ivatan language within the Batanic languages

The Ivatan language, also known as Chirin nu Ivatan ("language of the Ivatan people"), is a Philippine language of Austronesian origins spoken in the Batanes Islands of the Philippines.

Although the islands are closer to Taiwan than to Luzon, it is not one of the Formosan languages. Ivatan is one of the Batanic languages, which are perhaps a primary branch of the Malayo-Polynesian family of Austronesian languages.

The language of Babuyan Island (Ibatan) is sometimes classified as a dialect of the Ivatan language. Most of the Babuyan population moved to Batan Island and to Luzon mainland during the Spanish colonial period. The island became repopulated at the end of the 19th century with families from Batan, most of them speakers of one of the Ivatan dialects.[2]


Ivatan is especially characterized by its words, which mostly have the letter v, as in vakul, Ivatan, and valuga. While related to the Northern Philippine group of languages, Ivatan, having been isolated, is most close to the two other members of the Bashiic sub-group of languages, Yami (Tao) and Itbayat, neither of which is indigenous to Luzon. Ibatan dialect, spoken on the nearby Babuyan group of islands, is so similar to Ivatan that it is not entirely clear whether it should be classified as a dialect of Ivatan or a separate language, though each does receive its own code in ISO taxonomy.

Ivatan has two dialects; Basco Ivatan, more commonly known as Ivasay, spoken on the main island of Batan, and Southern Ivatan or Isamurung, spoken on the southern half of Batan and on the most southern island, Sabtang.[2]

Variations in language[edit]

In the capital of Basco and the surrounding northern half of Batan, the area encompassed by Ivasayen, t is prominent, whereas in the Isamurongen zone to the south (Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan and Sabtang) that phoneme becomes a ch.

Examples of the more visible variations of the Ivasayen and Isamurongen words and pronunciations are:

  • tiban ('to look') in Basco is chiban in the southern towns
  • antiyaw ('later') in Basco is anchiyaw in the southern towns
  • kabatiti ('patola') in Basco is kabachichi in the southern towns
  • timoy ('rain') in Basco is chimoy in the southern towns

Itbayaten is sometimes also considered a dialect. 2% of the total vocabulary does not occur in Ivatan dialects. Examples of different Ivasayen, Isamurongen and Itbayaten words that have the same English translation:

  • adkan ('to kiss') in Basco and the southern towns is umahan in Itbayat.
  • arava ('none') in Basco and the southern towns is aralih in Itbayat.
  • bago ('pig') in Basco and the southern towns is kuyis in Itbayat.
  • otioyan ('nest') in Basco is ochoyan in the southern towns and hangtay in Itbayat.
  • ipes ('tail') in Basco is vochivot in the southern towns and also ipes in Itbayat.

Ivatan and Filipino words are sometimes combined, as in the Ivatan word mapatak. It is derived from marunong (Filipino) and chapatak (Ivatan), literally 'someone who knows', which were then compounded to form the word mapatak. This is the result of the influence of non-Ivatans who tend to speak the language and were then eventually adopted.[citation needed]

Examples of metathesis in Ivatan include iskarayla for iskalayra ('stairs') and tumaraya for tumayara ('going up').

Ivatan slang includes examples such as tanchew, coined from mirwa ta anchiyaw – literally 'we’ll meet again later', and nganmu, coined from jinu ngayan mu, literally 'where are you going'. These are results of shortening Ivatan phrases or sentences into one or two words, depending on usage.

Common Ivatan expressions have various origins such as:[clarification needed]

  • Dios mamajes or Dios Mamajes nu mapia
    Literally: 'God reward you with goodness' or 'God bless you'
    Usage: Used to show gratitude to someone
  • Dios mavidin
    Literally: 'May God remain with you'
    Usage: Used by the person who is leaving
  • Dios machivan
    Literally: 'May God go with you'
    Usage: Used by the person who is staying behind


Vowels of Ivatan[3]
Front Central Back
Close i ɯ u
Open a

/u/ can also be lowered to [ʊ]. Vowels [e] and [o] only occur in loanwords from Spanish, Ilocano, and Tagalog.

Consonants of Ivatan[3]
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative v s ɣ h
Approximant l j w
Tap ɾ

/h/ can also be heard as a velar fricative [x]. Ivatan is one of the Philippine languages that do not exhibit [ɾ]-[d] allophony.



The following set of pronouns is found in the Ivatan language.[4]

  Nominative free Nominative bound Genitive free Genitive bound Locative
1st person singular yaken 'ako niaken ko diaken
2nd person singular 'imo 'ka nimo mo dimo
3rd person singular sia sia nia na dia
1st person plural inclusive yaten ta niaten ta diaten
1st person plural exclusive yamen kami niamen namen diamen
2nd person plural 'inio kamo ninio nio dinio
3rd person plural sira/sa sira/sa nira da dira

Cultural terms of the Ivatan people[edit]

  • uve, uvi, sudiyam; staple crop
  • suditaro
  • wakaysweet potato
  • bulyas – onions
  • baka – cow
  • kaddin – goat
  • kayvayvanan – friendship; cooperative work by a community which starts at the blow of a shell horn called a vodiadong
  • payohoan – helping one another; work club of teenagers who alternate their shifts
  • faluwa; chinarem; tataya – three boats used for fishing
  • kabbata – legends
  • laji – lyric folk songs
  • kalusan – working songs
  • sisyavak – humorous anecdotes and tales
  • kabbuni – riddles
  • pananahan – proverbs
  • vachi – song leader
  • mais – corn
  • paray – rice plant
  • dukaylesser yam
  • rakarakanen – vegetables
  • hagsa – an extinct wild deer[which?]
  • vulaw a baguwild boar
  • tatuscoconut crabs
  • lakasan – tops of wooden trunks used for storing cloth and other valuables which serve as benches
  • dulang – low dining table
  • bangku – low bench
  • rahaung, camarin – a storeroom for larger farm equipment such as plows, harrows, sleds, cards, and the ox-drawn pole used for clearing off sweet potatoes and other vines from fields being prepared for re-cultivation
  • vuyavuyPhoenix loureiroi, a small palm growing usually on Batanes coastal hills
  • talugung – a kind of conical hat woven from strips made from the stalk of a local plant called nini
  • pasikin – small bamboo or rattan baskets worn on the back
  • lukoybolo knife
  • suhut – sheath of a bolo knife
  • suut, vakul – a head-and-back covering woven from the stripped leaves of banana or the vuyavuy
  • alat – baskets
  • batulinaw – a necklace made of hollow globules (1½ cm. in diameter) interspersed with smaller pieces of gold in floral patterns and held together by a string made of fiber
  • tamburin – an all-gold necklace whose beads are smaller and more ornate than the batulinaw, and lockets
  • seseng, pamaaw, chingkakawayan, liyano, de pelo, dima s'bato, pitu s'bato, de perlas, bumbolya, karakol, pinatapatan – traditional earrings that come from the Spanish period
  • angang – jars
  • dibangflying fish
  • payilobster
  • arayudorado
  • mataw – dorado fisherman
  • tipuhobreadfruit
  • uhangopandan
  • tamidok – fern
  • chayi – fruit similar to lychee Pometia Pinnata
  • soot – generic term referring to the Ivatan rain cape made from the finely stripped leaves of the vuyavuy palm.
  • vakul – woman's soot, worn on the head.
  • kanayi – man's soot, worn on the shoulders.
  • falowa – Ivatan boat, now usually motorized, for 10–20 passengers.
  • tataya – Ivatan dory with twin oars, for 2–4 passengers.
  • timban – church
  • vanuwa – port
  • avayat – a broad directional term used to indicate the west, a western direction or the western side.
  • valugan – a broad directional term sued to indicate the east, an eastern direction or the eastern side.
  • paleksugar cane wine
  • malisto – fast
  • mawadi – slow
  • mavid – beautiful
  • kuman – eat
  • minem – drink
  • bapor, tataya – boat
  • taw – sea
  • ranum – water
  • salawsaw – wind
  • kayvan – friend
  • mahakay – man
  • mavakes – woman
  • masalawsaw – windy
  • makuhat – hot
  • matimuy/machimuy – raindrops


  • Hello – Kapian capa nu dios
  • How are you? – Ara ca mangu?
  • I am fine – Taytu aco a mapia
  • I am not fine – Ara coava mapia
  • Thank you – Dios mamajes
  • Where are you going? – Ngayan mo?
  • I am going to... – Mangay aco du...
  • Where is ___? – Ara dino si ___?
  • Straight ahead – Direcho
  • How much? – Manyi Pira?
  • How many? – Pira?
  • Good – Mapia
  • No good – Mapia/Mavid ava
  • Yes – Oon
  • I want ___ – Makey ako no ___
  • I don't want – Makey aco ava
  • I have a problem – Mian problema ko
  • No problem – Arava o problema
  • Good luck – Mapia palak
  • What's your name? – Angu ngaran mo?
  • Where is the house of ___? – Jino vahay da ___?
  • There – du nguya, du daw, dawr
  • Here – diaya
  • Hungry – mapteng
  • Thirsty – ma-waw
  • Tired – mavanah, chinagagan (south), navanax
  • Happy – masuyot, masaray
  • Whistling – mamito, mihiñoxay (Itbayat)
  • Soft – mahma, maxma & mayuxma (Itbayat)
  • Sea – taw, hawa (Itbayat)
  • Bird – manumanok, kangkang (Itbayat)
  • Perpendicular – maybatbat, mipatinu-nong (Itbayat)
  • Mud – hetek, xetek (Itbayat)
  • Sea – taw, hawa (Itbayat)
  • Yesterday – kakuyab
  • Afternoon – makuyab
  • When are we going? – Antin mangu ta mangay?
  • When are you going to cut your hair? – Antin mangu ka mapagugud?

Ivatan words[edit]


Coined words are two words combined to form one new word.

Sentence Coined word Meaning Usage
Mirwa ta anchiyaw Tanchew We'll meet again later. Street language
Jinu ngayan mu Nganmu Where are you going? Street language

Similarities with other Philippine languages[edit]

  Person House Dog Coconut Day New
Ivatan Tawo Vahay Chito Niyoy Araw Va-yo
Tagalog Tao Bahay Aso Niyog Araw Bago
Bikol Tawo Harong Ayam Niyog Aldaw Ba-go
Cebuano Tawo Balay Iro Lubi Adlaw Bag-o
Tausug Tau Bay Iru' Niyug Adlaw Ba-gu
Kinaray-a Taho Balay Ayam Niyog Adlaw Bag-o
Kapampangan Tau Bale Asu Ngungut Aldo Bayu
Pangasinan Too Abong Aso Niyog Agew Balo
Ilocano Tao Balay Aso Niog Aldaw Baro
Gaddang Tolay Balay Atu Ayog Aw Bawu
Tboli Tau Gunu Ohu Lefo Kdaw Lomi

Similarities with the Tao language[edit]

  Day Home Friend Eat Drink
Ivatan Araw Vahay Cayvan Kuman Minom
Yami 雅美/達悟 Araw Vahay Kagagan Kuman Minum


Room Mail Water Time
Ivasayen Cuarto Tulas Danum Oras
Itbayaten Cuarto Turas Ranum Oras

Approval and disapproval[edit]

Good Of course Ok Pretty Yes No Nothing Perhaps
Ivasayen Mapia Siyempre Okay Mavid Oon Omba Arava Siguro
Itbayaten Map'pia Siyempre Okay Mavij Uwen Engga Aralih Siguro


Black Blue Brown Dark Gray Green Light Red White Yellow
Ivasayen Mavajeng Maanil Chocolati Masari Mavuavo Berde Marial Mavaya Maydac Mañujama
Itbayaten Mavaweng A'sul Chocolati Masarih Mavu-avo Birdi Marengang Mavayah Mahilak Mayuxama

Days of the week[edit]

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Ivasayen Domingo Lunis Martis Miyirkolis Juibis Biyernis Sabado
Itbayaten Lumingu Lunis Martis Mirkulis Juybis Birnis Sabalu


Left Right Straight ahead
Ivasayen Huli Wanan Diricho
Itbayaten Guri Wanan Diricho

Cardinal numbers[edit]

Zero One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten
Ivayasen Siro, abu Asa Dadua Tatdu Apat Dadima Anem Papito Wawajo Sasyam Sapujo
Itbayaten Siro, a'bu A'sa Daduha Atlu A'pat Lalima A'nem Pito Waxo Sasyam Sapuxu

Writing system[edit]

Ivatan is written using the Latin alphabet. As Ivatan is primarily a spoken language and seldom used in written form, there is currently no consistent way of writing the language and different conventions may be used by different writers. An orthography devised for use in public schools by the Department of Education uses the full 26-letter Latin alphabet, with three extra letters, ch, ñ, and ng.[5]

The schwa sound, or uh, is normally represented by the letter e as in Dios Mamajes, 'di-yos-ma-ma-huhs', and palek 'pa-luhk'.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Ivatan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Ibatan (Babuyan) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Ross, Malcolm (2005). "The Batanic Languages in Relation to the Early History of the Malayo-Polynesian Subgroup of Austronesian" (PDF). Journal of Austronesian Studies. 1 (2). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  3. ^ a b Cottle, Morris (1958). The significant sounds of Ivatan. University of Sydney.
  4. ^ Reid, Lawrence Andrew (1966). "An Ivatan Syntax". Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications. University of Hawai'i Press (2): 1–160. JSTOR 20019114.
  5. ^ Gabilo-Cariaso, Georgann (2015). Ortograpiya Ivatan. SCHOOLS DIVISION OF BATANES. Retrieved 7 June 2020.

External links[edit]