Maranao language

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Pronunciation [ˈmәranaw]
Native to Philippines
Region 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

Maranao (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/. However, in modern Maranao spelling, "AE"/"Ë" is merged with "E", except in some pronunciation guides.

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

In some older orthographies, "q" is used for the glottal stop regardless of position[6], while in others an apostrophe is used. Nowadays, the glottal stop, regardless of position, is not marked in contemporary spelling.

The final /w/ sound in diphthongs and "W" were marked with "-o" in older orthographies, as in other Philippine languages, but both are nowadays spelled as "W". Also, "i" was used in older orthographies to transcribe /j/, which is currently spelled as "Y".

"H" is only used for Malay loanwords[4], and "sh" (pronounced as /ʃ/) is used for Arabic loanwords and names such as "Ishak" (Isaac)[6].

"Di" or "j" are used to transcribe the /d͡ʒ/ sound, such as "radia/raja" (from the Sanskrit word for "king", "Rāja") or the English name "John"[6].


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 p t k ʔ
Voiced b d ɡ
Fricative (s) (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 [solutːan] (Sultan of Gandamatu) Sultan sa Gandamatu.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maranao at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Maranao". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  4. ^ a b [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ a b c 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]