|Region||Northern Luzon and most parts of Central Luzon|
|9.1 million (2007)
3rd most spoken native language in the Philippines
|Latin (Ilocano alphabet),
Official language in
|Regional language in the Philippines
Official provincial language in La Union
|Regulated by||Commission on the Filipino Language|
An Austronesian language, it is related to such languages as Indonesian, Malay, Fijian, Maori, Hawaiian, Malagasy, Samoan, Tahitian, Chamorro, Tetum, and Paiwan. It is closely related to some of the other Austronesian languages of Northern Luzon, and has slight mutual intelligibility with the Balangao language and Eastern dialects of the Bontoc language.
In September 2012, the province of La Union passed an ordinance recognizing Ilokano (Iloko) as an official provincial language, alongside Filipino and English, as national and official languages of the Philippines, respectively. It is the first province in the Philippines to pass an ordinance protecting and revitalizing a native language, although there are also other languages spoken in the province of La Union, including Pangasinan and Kankanaey.
- Geographic distribution
- Writing system
- Ilokano and education
- More Ilokano words
- See also
- Notes and references
- External links
Ilocano comprises its own branch in the Philippine Cordilleran family of languages. It is spoken as a native language by seven million people.
A lingua franca of the northern region, it is spoken as a secondary language by more than two million people who are native speakers of Pangasinan, Ibanag, Ivatan, and other languages in Northern Luzon.
Ilocanos occupy the narrow, barren strip of land in the northwestern tip of Luzon, squeezed in between the inhospitable Cordillera mountain range to the east and the South China Sea to the west. This harsh geography molded a people known for their clannishness, tenacious industry and frugality, traits that were vital for survival. It also induced Ilokanos to become a migratory people, always in search for better opportunities and for land to build a life on. Although their homeland constitutes the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Abra, their population has spread east and south of their original territorial borders.
Ilocano migrants flocked to the more fertile Cagayan Valley; including Isabela, Apayao mountains and the Pangasinan plains during the 18th and 19th centuries and now constitute a majority in many of these areas. In the 20th century, many Ilokano families moved to Metro Manila and further south to Mindanao, specifically in North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sarangani, and the Zamboanga Peninsula but the bulk mostly settled in Sultan Kudarat Province.
Called the "Manong" generation, the Ilocano became the first Filipino ethnic group to emigrate en masse to the United States, where they formed sizable communities in Hawaii, California, Washington and Alaska. Ilokano is the native language of most of the early Filipino immigrants in the United States. Tagalog is used by more contemporary Filipino Americans because it is the basis for Filipino, the national language of the people of the Philippines.
The modern Ilokano Alphabet of 32 letters
A B C Ch D E F G H I J K L Ll M N Ñ Ng O P Q Qu R S Sh T U V W X Y Z
Precolonial Ilocanos of all classes wrote in a syllabic system prior to European arrival. They used a system that is termed as an abugida, or an alphasyllabary. It was similar to the Tagalog and Pangasinan scripts, where each character represented a consonant-vowel, or CV, sequence. The Ilocano version, however, was the first to designate coda consonants with a diacritic mark – a cross or virama – shown in the Doctrina Cristiana of 1621, one of the earliest surviving Ilokano publications. Before the addition of the virama, writers had no way to designate coda consonants. The reader, on the other hand, had to guess whether the vowel was read or not, due to this vowels "e" and "i" are interchangeable and letters "o" and "u", for instance "tendera" and tindira" (shop-assistant)
In recent times, there have been two systems in use: The "Spanish" system and the "Tagalog" system. In the Spanish system words of Spanish origin kept their spellings. Native words, on the other hand, conformed to the Spanish rules of spelling. Nowadays, only the older generation of Ilocanos use the Spanish system.
In the system based on that of Tagalog there is more of a phoneme-to-letter correspondence, and better reflects the actual pronunciation of the word. The letters ng constitute a digraph and counts as a single letter, following n in alphabetization. As a result, numo humility appears before ngalngal to chew in newer dictionaries. Words of foreign origin, most notably those from Spanish, need to be changed in spelling to better reflect Ilocano phonology. Words of English origin may or may not conform to this orthography. A prime example using this system is the weekly magazine Bannawag.
Samples of the two systems
The following are two versions of the Lord's Prayer. The one on the left is written using the Spanish-based orthography, while the one on the right uses the Tagalog-based system.
Ilokano and education
With the implementation by the Spanish of the Bilingual Education System of 1897, Ilocano, together with the other seven major languages (those that have at least a million speakers), was allowed to be used as a medium of instruction until the second grade. It is recognized by the Commission on the Filipino Language as one of the major languages of the Philippines. Constitutionally, Ilocano is an auxiliary official language in the regions where it is spoken and serves as auxiliary media of instruction therein.
In recent years, a movement in both the Lower and the Upper House of the Congress pressed for the usage of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction until the sixth grade.
Ilocano animistic past offers a rich background in folklore, mythology and superstition (see Religion in the Philippines). There are many stories of good and malevolent spirits and beings. Its creation mythology centers on the giants Aran and her husband Angngalo, and Namarsua (the Creator).
The epic story Biag ni Lam-ang (The Life of Lam-ang) is undoubtedly one of the few indigenous stories from the Philippines that survived colonialism, although much of it is now acculturated and shows many foreign elements in the retelling. It reflects values important to traditional Ilokano society; it is a hero’s journey steeped in courage, loyalty, pragmatism, honor, and ancestral and familial bonds.
Ilocano culture revolves around life rituals, festivities and oral history. These were celebrated in songs (kankanta), dances (sala), poems (daniw), riddles (burburtia), proverbs (pagsasao), literary verbal jousts called bucanegan (named after the writer Pedro Bucaneg, and is the equivalent of the Balagtasan of the Tagalogs) and epic stories.
Modern Ilocano has two dialects, which are differentiated only by the way the letter e is pronounced. In the Amianan (Northern) Dialect, there exist only five vowels while the Abagatan (Southern) Dialect employs six.
- Amianan: /a/, /i/, /u/, /ɛ/, /o/
- Abagatan: /a/, /i/, /u/, /ɛ/, /o/, /ɯ/
Reduplicate vowels are not slurred together, but voiced separately:
- saan: sa-an (no)
The letter in bold is the graphic (written) representation of the vowel.
|Close||i /i/||u/o /u/
|Mid||e /ɛ/||o /o/|
For a better rendition of vowel distribution, please refer to the IPA Vowel Chart.
Unstressed /a/ is pronounced [ɐ] in all positions except final syllables, like madí [mɐˈdi] (cannot be) but ngiwat (mouth) is pronounced [ˈŋiwat].
Although the modern (Tagalog) writing system is largely phonetic, there are some notable conventions.
O/U and I/E
Example: Root: luto cook agluto to cook lutuen to cook (something) example:lutuen dayta
Instances such as masapulmonto, You will manage to find it, to need it, are still consistent. Note that masapulmonto is, in fact, three morphemes: masapul (verb base), -mo (pronoun) and -(n)to (future particle). An exception to this rule, however, is laud /la.ʔud/ (west). Also, u in final stressed syllables can be pronounced [o], like [dɐ.ˈnom] for danum (water).
The two vowels are not highly differentiated in native words due to fact that /o/ was an allophone of /u/ in the history of the language. In words of foreign origin, notably Spanish, they are phonemic.
Example: uso use oso bear
Unlike u and o, i and e are not allophones, but i in final stressed syllables in words ending in consonants can be [ɛ], like ubíng [ʊ.ˈbɛŋ] (child).
Example: kuarta /kwaɾ.ta/ money paria /paɾ.ja/ bitter melon
Unstressed /i/ and /u/ are pronounced [ɪ] and [ʊ] except in final syllables, like pintás (beauty) [pɪn.ˈtas] and buténg (fear) [bʊ.ˈtɛŋ] but bangir (other side) and parabur (grace) are pronounced [ˈba.ŋiɾ] and [pɐ.ˈɾa.buɾ].
Pronunciation of ⟨e⟩
The letter ⟨e⟩ represents two vowels in the non-nuclear dialects (areas outside the Ilocos provinces) [ɛ] in words of foreign origin and [ɯ] in native words, and only one in the nuclear dialects of the Ilocos provinces, [ɛ].
Diphthongs are combination of a vowel and /i/ or /u/. In the orthography, the secondary vowels (underlying /i/ or /u/) are written with their corresponding glide, y or w, respectively. Of all the possible combinations, only /aj/ or /ej/, /iw/, /aj/ and /uj/ occur. In the orthography, vowels in sequence such as uo and ai, do not coalesce into a diphthong, rather, they are pronounced with an intervening glottal stop, for example, buok hair /bʊ.ʔuk/ and dait sew /da.ʔit/.
|/iu/||iw||iliw "home sick"|
|/ei/||ey||idiey "there" (Regional variant. Standard: "idiay")|
|/oi/, /ui/||oy, uy||baboy "pig"|
The diphthong /ei/ is a variant of /ai/ in native words. Other occurrences are in words of Spanish and English origin. Examples are reyna /ˈɾei.na/ (from Spanish reina, queen) and treyner /ˈtɾei.nɛɾ/ (trainer). The diphthongs /oi/ and /ui/ may be interchanged since /o/ is an allophone of /u/ in final syllables. Thus, apúy (fire) may be pronounced /ɐ.ˈpui/ and baboy (pig) may be pronounced /ˈba.bui/.
|Affricates||Voiceless||(ts, tiV) [tʃ]|
|Nasals||m||n||(niV) [nj]||ng [ŋ]|
|Semivowels||(w, CuV) w||(y, CiV) [j]|
All consonantal phonemes except /h, ʔ/ may be a syllable onset or coda. The phoneme /h/ is a borrowed sound and rarely occurs in coda position. Although, the Spanish word, reloj, clock, would have been heard as [re.loh], the final /h/ is dropped resulting in /re.lo/. However, this word also may have entered the Ilokano lexicon at early enough a time that the word was still pronounced /re.loʒ/, with the j pronounced as in French, resulting in /re.los/ in Ilokano. As a result, both /re.lo/ and /re.los/ occur.
The glottal stop /ʔ/ is not permissible as coda; it can only occur as onset. Even as an onset, the glottal stop disappears in affixation. Take for example the root aramat [ʔɐ.ra.mat], use. When prefixed with ag-, the expected form is *[ʔɐɡ.ʔɐ.ra.mat]. But, the actual form is [ʔɐ.ɡɐ.ra.mat]; the glottal stop disappears. In a reduplicated form, the glottal stop returns and participates in the template, CVC, agar-aramat [ʔɐ.ɡar.ʔɐ.ra.mat].
Stops are pronounced without aspiration. When they occur as coda, they are not released, for example, sungbat [sʊŋ.bat̚] answer, response.
Ilokano is one of the Philippine languages which is excluded from [ɾ]-[d] allophony, as /r/ in many cases is derived from a Proto-Austonesian */G/, compare dugô (Tagalog) and dara (Ilokano) blood.
The language marginally has a trill [r] which was spelled as “rr”, for example, serrek [sɛ.ˈrɛk] to enter. But it is different in proper names of foreign origin, mostly Spanish, like Serrano, which is correctly pronounced [sɛ.ˈrano]. Some speakers, however, pronounce Serrano as [sɛ.ˈɾano].
The placement of primary stress is lexical in Ilokano. This results in minimal pairs such as káyo (wood) and kayó (you (plural or polite)) or kíta (class, type, kind) and kitá (see). In written Ilokano the reader must rely on context, thus kayo and kita. Primary stress can fall only on either the penult or the ultima of the root, as seen in the previous examples.
While stress is unpredictable in Ilokano, there are notable patterns that can determine where stress will fall depending on the structures of the penult, the ultima and the origin of the word.
- Foreign Words – The stress of foreign (mostly Spanish) words adopted into Ilokano fall on the same syllable as the original.
|agmaného||(to) drive||Spanish origin (I drive)|
|agrekórd||(to) record||English origin (verb)|
- CVC.'CV(C)# but 'CVŋ.kV(C)# – In words with a closed penult, stress falls on the ultima, except for instances of /-ŋ.k-/ where it is the penult.
|addá||there is/are||Closed Penult|
|bibíngka||(a type of delicasie)||-ŋ.k sequence|
- 'C(j/w)V# – In words whose ultima is a glide plus a vowel, stress falls on the ultima.
|ibiáng||to involve (someone or something)||Consonant-Glide-Vowel|
- C.'CV:.ʔVC# – In words where VʔV and V is the same vowel for the penult and ultima, the stress falls on the penult.
|buggúong||fermented fish or shrimp paste||Vowel-Glottal-Vowel|
|síit||thorn, spine, fish bone||Vowel-Glottal-Vowel|
Secondary stress occurs in the following environments:
- Syllables whose coda is the onset of the next, i.e., the syllable before a geminate.
|pànnakakíta||ability to see||Syllable before geminate|
|kèddéng||judgement, decision||Syllable before geminate|
|ùbbíng||children||Syllable before geminate|
- Reduplicated consonant-vowel sequence resulting from morphology or lexicon
|agsàsaó||speaks,is speaking||Reduplicate CV|
|àl-aliá||ghost, spirit||Reduplicate CV|
|agdàdáit||sews, is sewing||Reduplicate CV|
Vowel length coincides with stressed syllables (primary or secondary) and only on open syllables, for example, kayo /'ka:.yo/ tree and kayo /ka.'yo/' (second person plural ergative pronoun).
Ilokano is typified by a predicate-initial structure. Verbs and adjectives occur in the first position of the sentence, then the rest of the sentence follows.
Ilokano uses a highly complex list of affixes (prefixes, suffixes, infixes and enclitics) and reduplications to indicate a wide array of grammatical categories. Learning simple root words and corresponding affixes goes a long way in forming cohesive sentences.
Ilokano's vocabulary has a closer affinity to languages from Borneo. Foreign accretion comes largely from Spanish, followed by English and smatterings of much older accretion from Hokkien (Min Nan), Arabic and Sanskrit.
|Word||Source||Original Meaning||Ilokano meaning|
|arak||Arabic||drink similar to sake||generic alcoholic drink|
|karma||Sanskrit||deed (see Buddhism)||spirit|
|sanglay||Hokkien||to deliver goods||to deliver/Chinese merchant|
|agbuldos||English||to bulldoze||to bulldoze|
|kuarta||Spanish||cuarta ("quarter", a kind of copper coin)||money|
|kumusta||Spanish||greeting: ¿Cómo está? ("How are you?")||how are you|
|Yes||Wen (or Win)|
|How are you?||Kumustaka?
Kumustakayo? (polite and plural)
|Good day||Naimbag nga aldaw.
Naimbag nga aldawyo. (polite and plural)
|Good morning||Naimbag a bigatmo.
Naimbag a bigatyo. (polite and plural)
|Good afternoon||Naimbag a malemmo.
Naimbag a malemyo. (polite and plural)
|Good evening||Naimbag a rabiim.
Naimbag a rabiiyo. (polite and plural)
|What is your name?||Ania ti naganmo? (often contracted to Aniat' nagan mo? or Ana't nagan mo)
Ania ti naganyo?
|Where's the bathroom?||Ayan na ti banio?|
|I cannot understand||Diak matarusan/maawatan.
Saanko a maawatan/ diak maawatan, haan ko maawatan
|I love you||Ay-ayatenka.
|Thank you.||Agyamannak apo.
Dios ti agngina.
Kastan/Kasta pay. (Till then)
Numbers, days, months
Ilokano uses two number systems, one native and the other derived from Spanish.
awan (lit. none)
|10||sangapulo (lit. a group of ten)||dies|
|11||sangapulo ket maysa||onse|
|100||sangagasut (lit. a group of one hundred)||sien, siento|
|1,000||sangaribo (lit. a group of one thousand)||mil|
|10,000||sangalaksa (lit. a group of ten thousand)||dies mil|
|1,000,000||sangariwriw (lit. a group of one million)||milion|
|1,000,000,000||sangabilion (American English, billion)||bilion|
Ilokano uses a mixture of native and Spanish numbers. Traditionally Ilokano numbers are used for quantities and Spanish numbers for time or days and references. Examples:
- Mano ti tawenmo?
- How old are you (in years)? (Lit. How many years do you have?)
- Twenty one.
- Luktanyo dagiti Bibliayo iti libro ni Juan kapitulo tres bersikolo diesiseis.
- Open your Bibles to the book of John chapter three verse sixteen.
- Mano a kilo ti bagas ti kayatmo?
- How many kilos of rice do you want?
- Sangapulo laeng.
- Ten only.
- Adda dua nga ikan kenkuana.
- He has two fish. (lit. There are two fish with him.)
Days of the week
Days of the week are directly borrowed from Spanish.
Like the days of the week, the names of the months are taken from Spanish.
Units of time
The names of the units of time are either native or are derived from Spanish. The first entries in the following table are native; the second entries are Spanish derived.
dominggo (lit. Sunday)
To mention time, Ilokanos use a mixture of Spanish and Ilokano:
- 1:00 a.m. A la una iti bigat (One in the morning)
- 2:30 p.m. A las dos imedia iti malem (in Spanish, Son las dos y media de la tarde or "half past two in the afternoon")
More Ilokano words
Notes and references
- Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
- Philippine Census, 2000. Table 11. Household Population by Ethnicity, Sex and Region: 2000
- Elias, Jun (19 September 2012). "Iloko La Union's official language". Philippine Star. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Iloko". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
- Lewis (2013). Ethnologue Languages of the World. Retrieved from:[www.ethnologue.com]
- Galvez Rubino, Carl Ralph (2000). Ilocano Dictionary and Grammar: Ilocano-English, English-Ilocano. University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 0-8248-2088-6.
- However, there are notable exceptions. The reverse is true for the vowel /u/ where it has two representations in native words. The vowel /u/ is written o when it appears in the last syllable of the word or of the root, for example kitaemonto /ki.ta.e.mun.tu/. In addition, e represents two vowels in the southern dialect: [ɛ] and .
- 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, thecorpusjuris.com (Article XIV, Section 7)
- The diphthong /ei/ is a variant of /ai/.
- The distinction between /o/ and /u/ is minimal.
- The '#' represents the start of the word boundary
- the symbol '∅' represents zero or an absence of a phoneme.
- Ilocano syllables always begin with a consonant onset. Words that begin with a vowel actually begin with a glottal stop ('[ʔ]'), but it is not shown in the orthography. When the glottal stop occurs within a word there are two ways it is represented. When two vowels are juxtaposed, except certain vowel combinations beginning with /i/ or /u/ which in fact imply a glide /j/ or /w/, the glottal stop is implied. Examples: buok hair [buː.ʔok], dait sew [daː.ʔit], but not ruar outside [ɾwaɾ]. However, if the previous syllable is closed (ends in a consonant) and the following syllable begins with a glottal stop, a hyphen is used to represent it, for example lab-ay bland [lab.ʔai].
- Letters in parentheses are orthographic conventions that are used.
- Spanish permits stress to fall on the antepenult. As a result, Ilokano will shift the stress to fall on the penult. For example,árabe an Arab becomes arábo in Ilokano.
|Iloko edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ilocano phrasebook.|
- Tarabay iti Ortograpia ti Pagsasao nga Ilokano – A free ebook version of the Guide on the Orthography of the Ilokano Language developed by the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) in consultation with various stakeholders in Ilokano language and culture. Developed back in 2012 as a resource material for the implementation of the Department of Education’s K-12 curriculum with the integration of MTB-MLE or Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education.
- The Online Ilokano Dictionary Project (TOIDP) Android Applications – Check out the Ilokano applications available for Android devices!
- The Online Ilokano Dictionary Project (TOIDP) – A free Ilokano dictionary application for people to utilize so that they may overcome the language barriers existing between the English and Ilokano languages.
- Bansa.org Ilokano Dictionary
- Ilocano.org A project for building an online Ilokano dictionary. Also features Ilokano songs, and a community forum.
- Ilokano Swadesh vocabulary list
- Ilocano: Ti pagsasao ti amianan – Webpage by linguist Dr. Carl R. Galvez Rubino, author of dictionaries on Iloko and Tagalog.
- Iluko.com popular Ilokano web portal featuring Ilokano songs, Iloko fiction and poetry, Ilokano riddles, and a lively Ilokano forum (Dap-ayan).
- mannurat.com blog of an Ilokano fictionist and poet written in Iloko and featuring original and Iloko fiction and poetry, literary analysis and criticism focused on Ilokano Literature, and literary news about Iloko writing and writers and organization like the GUMIL (Gunglo dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano).
- samtoy.blogspot.com Yloco Blog maintained by Ilokano writers Raymundo Pascua Addun and Joel Manuel
- Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database
- dadapilan.com – an Iloko literature portal featuring Iloko works by Ilokano writers and forum for Iloko literary study, criticism and online workshop.
- Vocabularios de la Lengua Ilocana by N.P.S. Agustin, published in 1849.
- Tugot A blog maintained by Ilokano writer Jake Ilac.