Neha Patil

Ibanag language

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Native to  Philippines
Ethnicity  Ibanag people
Region  Northern Luzon
Native speakers  (500,000 cited 1990)
Ibanag language
Language family  Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian Philippine Northern Luzon Cagayan Valley Ibanag
Official language in  Regional language in the Philippines

The Ibanag language (also Ybanag or Ibanak) is spoken by up to 500,000 speakers, most particularly by the Ibanag people, in the Philippines, in the northeastern provinces of Isabela and Cagayan, especially in Tuguegarao City, Solana, Abulug, Cabagan, and Ilagan City and with overseas immigrants in countries located in the Middle East, United Kingdom and the United States. Most of the speakers can also speak Ilocano, the lingua franca of northern Luzon island. The name Ibanag comes from the prefix "I" which means "people of", and "bannag", meaning river. It is closely related to Gaddang, Itawis, Agta, Atta, Yogad, Isneg, and Malaweg.


Use and current status

As of Oct. 2012, "revival of the Ibanag culture is part of the Mother-Tongue Based (MTB) program of the [Philippine] government which seeks to preserve indigenous cultures, including its languages, for generations to come. Ibanag is one of the MTB languages now taught in Philippine schools," and two current stage plays, “Zininaga Ta Bannag (Heritage of the River)” and “Why Women Wash the Dishes” are being performed in the Ibanag language.


  • A (ah) E (eh) I (ee) O (oh) U (ooh) Y (ee)
  • Monophthongization of diphthongs is observable in Ibanag. For example, the words umay (to go), balay (house) or aggaw (day) are sometimes pronounced as ume, bale, and aggo respectively.


    Ibanag is also one of the Philippine languages which are included in the [ɾ]-[d] allophony.

    The Ibanag language is distinct in that it features sounds that are not present in many related Philippine languages. Certain unique phonemes of Ibanag compared to its sister languages feature consonants specifically [f] as in innafi or rice, [v] as in bavi or pig, [z] as in kazzing or goat and [dʒ] as in madjan or maid.

    In addition to this, Ibanag also features gemination. Therefore, making the language sound guttural such that:

  • gaddua [gad'dwa] (half)
  • mappazzi [mappaz'zɪ] (to squeeze or squeezing)
  • Classification

    Similar to more known languages in the Philippines such as Cebuano and Tagalog, Ibanag is a Philippine language within the Austronesian language family. On the other hand, it belongs to the Northern Philippine languages subgroup where related yet larger Ilokano and Pangasinan also fall under.


    Since Ibanag is spoken in various areas of Northeastern Region of the Philippines (namely within Isabela and Cagayan), there are also minor differences in the way that it is spoken in these areas. Ibanag spoken in Tuguegarao is known to be the standard dialect. And other native Ibanag speakers usually distinguish if the speaker is from Tuguegarao City with the variation of their pronunciation and accent. Most who have adapted the urban dialects of Ibanag tend to have a Hispanic accent.

    In Tuguegarao City, before the Spaniards came, the language was Irraya (a seemingly extinct Gaddang dialect). Spaniards introduced Ibanag to the city from Lal-lo (formerly the city of Nueva Segovia) and made the language as the lingua franca of the Northeastern Philippines. But with the introduction of Ilocano settlers, Ilocano has become the new lingua franca since the late 20th Century.

    Cauayan City speakers and Ilagan speakers in Isabela have a hard accent as opposed to the Tuguegarao Ibanag that sounded Hispanic. But, native speakers of Northern Cagayan have a harder accent.

    For example, Ibanags from towns in Northern Cagayan, which includes Abulug, Aparri, Camalaniugan, Pamplona and Lallo, tend to replace their "p's" with more "f's". Also, certain Ibanag words differ from these areas as opposed to the Tuguegarao and Isabela Ibanag.


  • Mapatu - mafatu (hot)
  • paggipayan - faggifayan (a place to put)
  • dupo - dufo (banana)
  • Tuguegarao Ibanag may be considered as the standard, however, Northern Cagayan Ibanag may be the one closest to the ancient Pre-Hispanic Ibanag existent prior to the spread of the language throughout the province, as Northern Cagayan was the original Ibanag home territory. On the other hand, Tuguegarao Ibanag, besides having Spanish influences may have acquired elements from nearby Itawis. At the same time, Isabela Ibanag may have acquired elements from the original Gaddang language predominant in the province.

    Archaic Ibanag

    Some words used in the present such as innafi or rice, bavi or pig, afi or fire, are listed in Spanish texts as innafuy, bavuy, and afuy respectively. Also, the Ibanag term for the number one, tadday, was once used interchangeably with the word itte, which is no longer used apparently by modern speakers of the language.


    There are two ways that Ibanag can be written. In older texts, the Spanish style is often used. This is where "qu's", "c's" take place of "k's", and words that end with a glottal stop are added with "-c" after the word. However, this method can make the language even harder to read. However, since the language is no longer being maintained, there is no correct standard form of orthography. So, often you will see a combination of both.

    Example 1: Quiminac cami tab bavi - We ate pork.

    Example 2: Napannu tac cunam y langui-c. - The sky is full of clouds.

    The other way of writing Ibanag is the simpler way that tends to be more phonetic.

    Example 1: Kiminak kami ta bavi - We ate pork.

    Example 2: Napannu ta kunam i langi. - The sky is full of clouds.

    Personal pronouns

  • Independent pronouns
  • I - Sakan, So'
  • You - Sikaw
  • He, She, It - Yayya
  • We (inclusive) - Sittam
  • We (exclusive) - Sikami
  • You (plural/polite) - Sikamu
  • They - Ira
  • Sakan/So'

  • I/Me: There are many ways to say I or me in Ibanag. The language is agglutinative. Thus most of the time pronouns are attached to verbs. There are at least 4 ways to indicate the pronoun "I".
  • I am eating - Kuman na' = Kuman (to eat) and na' (I). Sometimes, nga' is used instead of na'.
  • I gave him some food - Neddak ku yeyya ta makan. = Neddan (to give) ku (I).
  • I will be the one to go - So' laman ngana y ume = So' (I)
  • I split it in half - Ginaddwa' = Ginaddwa (to split in half) ' (I) Here the glottal stop on the sentence indicates "I". Without the glottal stop, the sentence would become incomplete and would otherwise not make any sense.
  • Sikaw

  • You: There are also a couple of ways to indicate you.
  • (You) go outside - Mallawak ka - Mallawan (to go) and ka (you)
  • You give - Iddammu - Iddan (to give/to put) and mu (you)
  • Yayya

  • He/She/It: As with the other pronouns there are a couple of ways to say this, but usually people use "na".
  • He lost it: - Nawawan na (Nawawan) lost (na) he/she/it (NOTE: without the glottal stop "na" can mean he she or it.)
  • Sittam

  • We: Often "tam" is attached at the end of the verb or noun. Sittam is We, when you want to include the person being spoken to.
  • Let's go - Tam ngana! or Ume tam!
  • Sikami

  • We: When we want to exclude the person being spoken to, we use Sikami. In this case, you only attach "mi" to the end of the verb, adjective or noun.
  • Ume mi nga innan - We are going to look. Ume (to go) Mi (we)
  • Nabattug kami - We are full (as in food). Nabattug (full) kami (we, just us not you)
  • Ibanag kami - We are Ibanags
  • Sikamu

  • You: this is when we refer to more than one person being spoken to. Often "nu" or "kamu" is used.
  • Apannu yayya! - Go get him/her - Apan (to get) nu(you plural)
  • Umine kamu tari? - You went there? - Umine (went) kamu (you)
  • Ira

  • They: Ira. Ira is seldom used unless emphasizing that it is "them". Instead of ira, the word "da" is used.
  • Ginatang da y bale' - They bought my house. Ginatang (bought) da (they)
  • Possessive pronouns

    "Kua" is the root word that identifies something as belonging to someone. Often "Ku" is added before "Kua" to emphasize this. Note that this is only possible with "Mine" and "Yours" but not with other possessive pronouns.

    Kukua' yatun - That IS Mine.

  • My, mine - ku, kua', kukua'
  • Your, Yours - -m, mu, kuam, kukuam
  • His, Her, Its - na, kuana
  • Our, ours (inclusive) - tam, kuatam
  • Our, ours (exclusive) - mi, kuami
  • Your, Yours - nu, kuanu
  • Their, Theirs - da, kuada
  • My toy - Gaggayam ku
  • Your gift - Regalum
  • Her earring - Aritu' na
  • Our land - Davvut tam
  • Our house - Balay mi
  • Your car - Coche nu
  • Their dog - Kitu da
  • This is mine - Kua' yaw.
  • This is hers/his- Kukua/kua na yaw.
  • That is yours - Kuam yatun.
  • That is hers - Kuana yari.
  • Demonstrative pronouns

  • This - Yaw or Ye or Yawe
  • That (item by person being spoken to) - Yatun or Yane
  • That (far from both speaker and person being spoken to) - Yari or Yore
  • That (sometimes used for objects that are absent or in the past) - Yuri
  • This dog - Ye kitu
  • That cat - Yane kitaw
  • That carabao - Yari nuang
  • That day - Yuri aggaw
  • In order to emphasize or stress the distance or time, the stress on the word falls on the first syllable except for "yatun".

    I.e. Yatun davvun - That land

    Other ways that words are emphasized are by using Locatives.

  • THIS house (here) - Ye balay taw
  • That girl there - Yatun babay tatun
  • That man over there - Yari lalaki tari
  • That old lady a long time ago - Yuri bako' turi*
  • With turi the stress on "tu" is often lengthened to emphasize the distance and time that has passed.

  • Tadday nga aggaw - Isang araw
  • Tadday vulan - Isang buwan
  • Tadday nga dagun/ragun - Isang taon
  • Locatives

  • Here - Taw or Tawe
  • There - Tatun (by person being spoken to)
  • There - Tari (far from both)
  • There - Turi (absent, past time and/or location)
  • Interrogative words

  • What?- Anni?
  • Where?- Sitaw?
  • When?- Nikanni?
  • Why?- Ngatta?
  • Who?- Sinni?
  • How?- Kunnasi?
  • How much? - Piga?
  • Each of the doubled consonants must be pronounced separately.

    I.E. Anni? - "An ni"

  • Anni kuammu? - What are you doing?
  • Sitaw angayat tam? - Where are we going?
  • Kanni labbe' mu? - When did you arrive?
  • Ngatta nga ari ka kuman? - Why are you not eating?
  • Sinni nanga' ta affefec ku? - Who took my fan?
  • Kunnasim lutuan yatun nu awan tu rekadum? - How are you going to cook that if you don't have the ingredients?
  • Piga yaw? Piga yatun? - How much is this? How much is that?
  • Verbs

    Ibanag verbs are not conjugated in the same manner that most Indo-European languages are. They are conjugated based on the tense of the word.

    As with many other Malayo-Polynesian languages, there is no verb for "to be". However this is sometimes compensated by using the verb for "to have".

    Infinitive and present tense

    Many times, the infinitive form is the same as the present tense.

  • Egga - There is/ to have
  • Kuman - To eat/ eat
  • Uminum - To drink/ drink
  • Mawag- To need/ need
  • Kaya' - To want/ want, To like/ like
  • Umay - To go/ go, To come/ com
  • Manaki' - To not want/ not want, To not like/ not like
  • I am here - Egga nga tawe
  • Do you eat goat? - Kumak ka tu kazzing?
  • Drink this - Inumammu yaw.
  • Drink water - Uminum ka tu danum.
  • You need to sleep - Mawag mu makkaturug.
  • Past tense

    There are different ways to form the past tense. Here are a few common ways.

  • Nilutu/ Nallutu - cooked
  • Ginappo' - cut
  • Inusi' - cut (hair)
  • Inirayyu - placed far away
  • Ginatang - bought
  • We cooked dinengdeng - Nallutu kami ta dinengdeng
  • We cooked the pig - Nilutu mi yari bavi. (Y become yari assuming the pig itself is not present since it was already cooked)
  • They cut my hair - Inusi' da y vu' ku
  • I got my hair cut - Nappa usi' na' ta vu' ku
  • They placed him far away - Inirayyu da yayya.
  • I bought you this cow - Ginatang ku yaw baka para nikaw.
  • Future tense

    Again there are a couple of ways of forming future tense. One is by the use of a helping word like "to go".
    Sometimes the present tense can indicate future depending on the context.

  • Apam mi ngana yayya - We are going to pick him up.
  • Sonu mangananwang ka na gumatang tu lichon or Sonu bibbinnay ka na matang tu lichon - Go buy lechon later.
  • Sangaw and Sangawe

  • Sangaw ngana! - later on (Sangawe not used in Tuguegarao)
  • Sangawe ngana! - Do it now..
  • Sonu mangananwan! Or Sonu bibbinnay- later on.
  • Syntax and word order

    Ibanag sentence structure often follows the " Verb + Subject + Object " pattern.

    Example: Nellawan ni Andoy y kitu. - Andoy took out the dog.

    Adjectives often follow the nouns with a marker attached.

    Example: Dakal nga balay - Big house.

    Simple sentences as opposed to descriptive patterns:


    The house is red - Uzzin y balay

    The red house - Uzzin nga balay


    "Y" and "nga" are the two most commonly used markers in Ibanag. They either link adjectives to nouns, or indicate the subject of the sentence.


  • Nagallu nga galo' - Loud laughter. Nagallu indicates loud and the "nga" links it to laughter.
  • Atannang y ana' mu - Your child is tall. With the lack of the verb to be and a switched syntax, "Y" indicates that "your child" is the subject.
  • "Tu" is another marker that is used, but is not very simple to explain. Often it is seen in conjunction with the word "Awan" meaning "nothing or none".


  • Awan tu makan - Wala nang pagkain - There is nothing to eat. Here, "tu" links awan (none) and makan (food). tu - it is like "nang" in Tagalog
  • "Ta" is yet another marker used. ta - is like "sa" in Tagalog


  • Maggangwa ka ta bagu nga silla - Gagawa ka ng bagong upuan. Make a new chair. (Here both "nga" and "ta" are used)
  • "Tu" and "Ta" in the Isabela Dialect

    "Ta" - is used to refer place (Isabela) This is also used in Tuguegarao

    Example: Minay kami ta Tuguegarao - We went to Tuguegarao.

    "Tu" - is used to refer on things

    Example: Kiminang kami tu bavi (Isabela)- We ate pork.

    Consonant mutation

    Ibanag verbs that end in "n" lose the last consonant, which is replaced by the first consonant of the succeeding word. However, when the succeeding word starts with a vowel or another "n", the last "n" is not affected.


  • Apan mu yari libru.
  • Correct = Apam mu yari libru - Go get the book.

  • Nasingan ku y yama na.
  • Correct = Nasingak ku y yama na - I saw his father.

    The marker "ta" and the preposition "na" (not the pronoun) sometimes, depending also on the dialect, acquires the first consonant of the succeeding word.

  • Ta likuk na balay
  • Tal likuk nab balay - at the back of the house

  • Ta utun - On top. Notice that "ta" is succeeded by "utun" which starts with a vowel.
  • Proverbs

    This is an example of an Ibanag proverb, that is also known throughout the archipelago.

    Y tolay nga ari nga mallipay ta pinaggafuanan na ay ari nga makadde ta angayanan na.

    Ang taong Hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay Hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.

    Translated to: He who does not look back into his past, cannot reach his destination.

    Tal langi awan tu binarayang, yatun ta utun na davvun ittam minum.

    Sa langit walang alak, kaya sa ibabaw ng lupa dapat tayo'y lumaklak.

    Translated to: In heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here.

    Ari mu kagian nga piyyo ngana y illuk tapenu ari nga magivung (Tuguegarao Dialect).

    Ammeng kagim tu piyyo ngana y illug tapenu ari nga magivung (Isabela Dialect).

    Huwag mong sabihing sisiw na ang itlog para Hindi ito maging bugok, .

    Translated to: Never call an egg a chick, so that it will not become rotten.

    Cagayan provincial anthem

    Cagayan, Davvun nga kakastan niakan,
    Egga ka laran nakuan ta piam,
    Nu kuruk tu maparrayyu ka niakan,
    Ariat ta ka vuluvvuga nga kattamman.

    Cagayan, Makemmemmi ka nga innan.
    Cagayan, Awan tu kagittam.
    Nu anni paga y kasta na davvun a karuan
    Egga ka la ta futu' nga ideddukan.

    Translation: Cagayan, a beautiful land to me,
    You have done great things,
    If it were true that you will be away from me,
    I will not intently forget you.

    Cagayan, I adore looking at you,
    Cagayan, you are incomparable.
    Even if other lands are beautiful,
    You are in my heart to be loved.

    The direct translation done in here is different from the English Version of the Cagayan Provincial Anthem.

    Loan words

  • Many words in Ibanag are of Spanish origin. The language is infused with Spanish words that are often not seen or heard in any of the other Philippine languages.
  • Eyeglasses - Anchuparra/ Anteojos
  • Plants - Masetas
  • Store - Chenda (from Tienda)
  • Door - Puerta
  • Toilet - Kasilyas
  • Quickly, immediately - Insigida (from "en seguida")
  • Simple greetings

  • Good morning - Dios nikamu ta umma (others say "Mapia nga umma")
  • Good afternoon - Dios nikamu ta fugak (others say "Mapia nga fugak")
  • Good evening/night - Dios nikamu ta gabi (others say "Mapia nga gabi")
  • How are you? - Kunnasi ka?
  • I'm fine/good and you? - Mapia nga gapa, sikaw?
  • I'm just fine, thank God - Mapia gapa, mabbalo' ta Afu
  • Thank you - Mabbalo'
  • Where are you going? - Sitaw y angayammu?
  • I'm going to...- Umay na' ta...
  • What are you doing? - Anni kukuam mu?
  • Nothing in particular. - Awan, maski anni laman.
  • Please come in. - Tullung kamu, Maddulo kami or Mattalung kami.
  • Long time no see. - Nabayag taka nga ari nasingan.
  • Numbers

  • 0-awan
  • 1-tadday
  • 2-duwa
  • 3-tallu
  • 4-appa'
  • 5-lima
  • 6-annam
  • 7-pitu
  • 8-walu
  • 9-siyam
  • 10-mafulu
  • 11-karatadday/onse
  • 12-karaduwa/dose
  • 13-karatallu/trese
  • 14-karappa/katorse
  • 15-karalima/kinse
  • 100-magatu
  • 200-duwa gatu
  • 500-lima gatu
  • 1000-marivu
  • 2000-duwa rivu
  • References

    Ibanag language Wikipedia

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