Ibanag language

Ybanag, Ibanak
Native to Philippines
Region Northern Luzon
Ethnicity Ibanag people
Native speakers
(500,000 cited 1990)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated by Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ibg
Glottolog iban1267[2]
Linguasphere 31-CCB-a

Areas where Ibanag is spoken according to Ethnologue

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.[3]



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:

Table of consonant phonemes of Ibanag
Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p b t d k ɡ ʔ
Fricative f v s z ʃ h
Tap ɾ ~ ɲ
Approximant l j w


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.


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.

Tuguegarao Ibanag Isabela Ibanag English Tagalog
Ari ka nga kuman ta illuk. Kammu nga kuman tu illug. Don't eat eggs. Huwag kang kumain ng itlog.

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

Pronoun Possessive pronouns forms Example of root word Example of derived word(s)
First person Sakan, So' (I) -ku,

-' when subject ends with a vowel or diphthong

kazzing (goat)

lima (hand)

kazzing ku (my goat)

lima' (my hand)

Sikami (Exclusive, Our), Sittam (Inclusive, Our) -mi, -tam libru (book) libru mi (our book), libru tam (our book)
Second person Sikaw (you, singular) -mu, -m mejas (socks)libru (book) mejas mu (your socks)librum (your book)
Sikamu (you(plural/polite)) -nu Bandera (flag) Bandera nu (your flag)
Third person Yeyya, yatun (he, she, it) -na manu' (chicken) manu' na (his, her, its chicken)
Ira (they) -da itubang (chair) itubang da (their chair)








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.

Demonstrative Pronouns

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.

With turi the stress on "tu" is often lengthened to emphasize the distance and time that has passed.


Interrogative Words

Each of the doubled consonants must be pronounced separately.

I.E. Anni? - "An ni"


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.

Past Tense

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

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.

Sangaw and Sangawe


Syntax/ 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.


"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".


"Ta" is yet another marker used. ta - is like "sa" in Tagalog


"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.


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

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.

Tal likuk nab balay - at the back of the house



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

Simple greetings




Ibanag Tagalog English
Anni y kinnam mu ganguri?Ano ang kinain mo kanina?What did you eat?
Anni y kinnan nu?Ano ang kinain ninyo?What did you,(all) eat?
Anni y kanakanam mu? Ano ang kinakain mo? What are you eating?
Anni y kankanam mu sangaw? Ano ang kinakain mo ngayon? What are you eating now?
Kuman ittam sangaw nu pallabbe na. Kakain tayo pagdating niya. We will eat when he/she comes.
Maddaguk kami kuman kustu limibbe yayya. Kumakain kami nang dumating siya. We were eating when he came.
Nakakak kami nakuan nu limibbe yayya. Nakakain sana kami kung dumating siya. We would have eaten I if he had arrived.
Natturukí y gattó. Sumirit ang gatas. The milk shot out.
Ari ka nga kuman. Huwag kang kumain. Don't eat.
kumak ka ngana! Kumain ka na! Eat now!
Kukwa' yatun! Akin yan! That's mine!
Iddu taka/ ay-ayatat taka Mahal kita I love you

External links


  1. Ibanag at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Ibanag". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Benji De Yro (2012-10-16). "DepEd indigenous culture revival in upswing". Philippine Information Agency. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  4. ayya itta
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