Yakan language

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Native toPhilippines
EthnicityYakan people
Filipinos in Malaysia
Native speakers
(110,000 cited 1990 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated byKomisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3yka
Yakan language map.png
Area where Yakan is spoken

Yakan is a language of Basilan Island in the Philippines. It is the native language of Yakan people, the indigenous as well as the largest ethnic group on the island. It has a total of 110,000 native speakers. Despite being located in the Philippines, it is not closely related to other Philippine languages, but rather a member of the Sama-Bajaw languages, which in turn are related to the Barito languages spoken in southern Borneo, Madagascar and Mayotte.



Yakan has a simple five-vowel system: [a], [e], [i], [o], [u], with phonemic vowel length: ā [a:], ē [e:], ī [i:], ō [o:], ū [u:].[3]


The following chart lists the consonant phonemes of Yakan.[4]

Labial Alveolar Palatal/
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate d͡ʒ
Fricative s h
Semivowel j w
Lateral l

The consonant d is usually realized between vowels as a flap [ɾ], although some speakers use the stop [d] in all positions.

All consonants except for /d͡ʒ/, /h/, /j/, /w/ and /ʔ/ can occur as lengthened consonants.

The following spelling conventions are used: y /j/, j /d͡ʒ/, ng /ŋ/, ' /ʔ/.[5]


  1. ^ Yakan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Yakan". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Brainard & Behrens 2002, pp. 5–6.
  4. ^ Brainard & Behrens 2002, p. 5.
  5. ^ Brainard & Behrens 2002, p. 10.


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