Yakan language

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Native toPhilippines
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 an Austronesian language primarily spoken on Basilan Island in the Philippines. It is the native language of the 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 languages of the country. It is 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:].[2]


The following chart lists the consonant phonemes of Yakan.[3]

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/.[4]


  1. ^ Yakan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Brainard & Behrens 2002, pp. 5–6.
  3. ^ Brainard & Behrens 2002, p. 5.
  4. ^ Brainard & Behrens 2002, p. 10.


  • Brainard, Sherri; Behrens, Dietlinde (2002). A Grammar of Yakan. Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.

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