Maranao language

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Not to be confused with Melanau language.
Pronunciation [ˈmәranaw]
Native to Philippines
Region twin provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur
Ethnicity Maranao people
Native speakers
(780,000 cited 1990 census)[1]
Historically written in Arabic
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated by Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mrw
Glottolog mara1404[2]
Maranao language map.png
Area where Maranao is spoken

Maranaoan (Mëranaw [ˈmәranaw])[3] is an Austronesian language spoken by the Maranao people in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur in the Philippines, and in Sabah, Malaysia.

Iranun was once considered a dialect.

Unique among other Danao languages, Maranaoan is spoken with a distinct downstep accent, as opposed to stress accent.


Maranao is spoken in the following areas (Ethnologue).


Maranaoan was historically written in Arabic letters, which were known as Batang Arab. It is now written with Latin letters. [4]

A, B, D, AE/Ë, E, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, NG, O, P, R, S, T, U, W, Y [5]

"AE", also spelled as "Ë", is pronounced as /ə/.

Double vowels are pronounced separately. For example, "kapaar" is pronounced as /kapaʔaɾ/.

However, in some orthographies, "q" is used for the glottal stop regardless of position, and "di" is used to transcribe the /d͡ʒ/ sound, such as "radia" (from the Sanskrit word for "king", "Rāja").[6]

"H" is only used for Malay loanwords. [4]


Below is the sound system of Mëranaw including underlying phonetic features.[7]


Front Central Back
Close ɪ u
Mid ə o
Open a


Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive Voiceless ʔ
Voiced b d ɡ
Fricative (h)
Flap ɾ
Lateral l
Approximant w j

Velar fricative [h][edit]

According to Lobel (2013), [h] only occurs in a select number of Malay loanwords:

  • tohan 'God'
  • tahon 'astrological sign'
  • hadapan 'in front (of God)'

Consonant elongation[edit]

Consonants are also pronounced longer if preceded with a schwa ə. However, this process is not a form of gemination since consonant elongation in Mëranaw is not distinctive as seen in other Philippine languages such as Ilokano and Ibanag. Some of these are:

  • tëpad [təpːad] 'get off a vehicle'
  • tëkaw [təkːaw] 'startled; surprised'
  • Mëranaw is spoken by the Maranao tribe.
  • Solutan (Sultan) (Sultan of Gandamatu) Sultan sa Gandamatu.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maranaoan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Maranao". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ A Maranao Dictionary, compiled by Howard P. McKaughan and Batua A. Macaraya.
  7. ^ Lobel, Jason William. 2013. Philippine and North Bornean languages: issues in description, subgrouping, and reconstruction. Ph.D. dissertation. Manoa: University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

External links[edit]