Ilocano language

Ilocano (also Ilokano; /iːloʊˈkɑːnoʊ/;[7] Ilocano: Pagsasao nga Ilokano) is the third most-spoken native language of the Philippines.

An Austronesian language, it is related to such languages as Malay (Indonesian and Malaysian), Tetum, Chamorro, Fijian, Maori, Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian, Paiwan and Malagasy. It is closely related to some of the other Austronesian languages of Northern Luzon, and has slight mutual intelligibility with the Balangao language and the eastern dialects of the Bontoc language. [8]

The Ilokano people had their own distinct indigenous writing system and script known as kur-itan. There have been proposals to revive the kur-itan script by teaching it in Ilokano-majority public and private schools in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.[9]

Iloko, Iluko, Pagsasao nga Ilokano
Native toPhilippines
RegionNorthern Luzon, many parts of Central Luzon (northern Tarlac, northern sections of Zambales, Aurora, and Nueva Ecija), and few parts of SOCCSKSARGEN
EthnicityIlocano people
Filipino Americans
(Filipinos in Hawaii)
Native speakers
9.1 million (2015)[1]
2 million L2 speakers (2000)[2]
Third most spoken native language in the Philippines[3]
Latin (Ilocano alphabet),
Ilokano Braille
Historically Baybayin
Official status
Official language in
La Union[4]
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byKomisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-2ilo
ISO 639-3ilo
Ilokano language map
Area where Ilokano is spoken according to Ethnologue[6]
Striped areas are Itneg-Ilokano bilingual communities in Abra province


Ilocano, like all Philippine languages, is an Austronesian language, a very expansive language family believed to originate in Taiwan.[10][11] Ilocano comprises its own branch within the Philippine Cordilleran language subfamily. It is spoken as first language by seven million people.[3]

A lingua franca of the northern region of the Philippines, it is spoken as a secondary language by more than two million people who are native speakers of Ibanag, Ivatan, and other languages in Northern Luzon.[2]

Geographic distribution

Ilokano-speaking density per province. Enlarge picture to see percent distribution.

The language is spoken in northwest Luzon, the Babuyan Islands, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, northern parts of Central Luzon, Mindoro and scattered areas in Mindanao (the SOCCSKSARGEN region in particular).[12] The language is also spoken in the United States, with Hawaii and California having the largest number of speakers.[13] It is the third most spoken non-English language in Hawaii after Tagalog and Japanese, with 17% of those speaking languages other than English at home (25.4% of the population) speaking the language.[14]

In September 2012, the province of La Union passed an ordinance recognizing Ilocano (Iloko) as an official provincial language, alongside Filipino and English, as national and official languages of the Philippines, respectively.[4] 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.[4]

Writing system

Our Father prayer from Doctrina Cristiana, 1621. Written in Ilocano using Baybayin script.

Modern alphabet

The modern Ilokano Alphabet of 28 letters[15]

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Ññ NGng Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz


Precolonial Ilocano people of all classes wrote in a syllabic system known as Baybayin 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. Most 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.[a] 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.

Amami, ñga addaca sadi lañgit,
Madaydayao coma ti Naganmo.
Umay cuma ti pagariam.
Maaramid cuma ti pagayatam
Cas sadi lañgit casta met ditoy daga.
Itedmo cadacam ita ti taraonmi iti inaldao.
Quet pacaoanennacami cadaguiti ut-utangmi,
A cas met panamacaoanmi
Cadaguiti nacautang cadacami.
Quet dinacam iyeg iti pannacasulisog,
No di quet isalacannacami iti daques.
Amami, nga addaka sadi langit,
Madaydayaw koma ti Naganmo.
Umay koma ti pagariam.
Maaramid koma ti pagayatam
Kas sadi langit kasta met ditoy daga.
Itedmo kadakami iti taraonmi iti inaldaw.
Ket pakawanennakami kadagiti ut-utangmi,
A kas met panamakawanmi
Kadagiti nakautang kadakami.
Ket dinakam iyeg iti pannakasulisog,
No di ket isalakannakami iti dakes.

Ilocano 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.[16] Constitutionally, Ilocano is an auxiliary official language in the regions where it is spoken and serves as auxiliary media of instruction therein.[17]

In 2009, the Philippine Department of Education instituted department order 74, s. 2009 stipulating that "mother tongue-based multilingual education" would be implemented. In 2012, department order 16, s. 2012 stipulated that the mother tongue-based multilingual system was to be implemented for kindergarten to grade 3 effective school year 2012-2013.[18] Ilocano is used in public schools mostly in the Ilocos region and the Cordilleras. It is the primary medium of instruction from kindergarten to grade 3 (except for the Filipino and English subjects) and is also a separate subject from grade 1 to grade 3. Thereafter, English and Filipino are introduced as mediums of instructions.


10 commandments in Ilokano
The ten commandments in Ilocano.

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 Angalo, 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 (salsala), poems (dandaniw), 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 with an intervening glottal stop:

  • saan: /sa.ʔan/ no
  • siit: /si.ʔit/ thorn

The letter in bold is the graphic (written) representation of the vowel.

Ilokano vowel chart
Height Front Central Back
Close i /i/ u/o /u/

e /ɯ/

Mid e /ɛ/ o /o/
Open a /a/

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.

In native morphemes, the close back rounded vowel /u/ is written differently depending on the syllable. If the vowel occurs in the ultima of the morpheme, it is written o; elsewhere, u.

    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.

    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).

The two closed vowels become glides when followed by another vowel. The close back rounded vowel /u/ becomes [w] before another vowel; and the close front unrounded vowel /i/, [j].

    kuarta /kwaɾ.ta/ money
    paria /paɾ.ja/ bitter melon

In addition, dental/alveolar consonants become palatalized before /i/. (See Consonants below).

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].

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].

Realization of ⟨e⟩
Word Gloss Origin Nuclear Non-nuclear
keddeng assign Native [kɛd.dɛŋ] [kɯd.dɯŋ]
elepante elephant Spanish [ʔɛ.lɛ.pan.tɛ] [ʔɛ.lɛ.pan.tɛ]


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/, /aw/ 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/.

Diphthong Orthography Example
/au/ aw kabaw "senile"
/iu/ iw iliw "home sick"
/ai/ ay maysa "one"
/ei/[b] ey idiey "there" (Regional variant. Standard: "idiay")
/oi/, /ui/[c] 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 /ˈɾ (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/.


Bilabial Dental/
Palatal Velar Glottal
Stops Voiceless p t k (#[d][e] V/∅V∅/C-V)[ʔ][f]
Voiced b d g
Affricates Voiceless (ts, tiV) [tʃ][g]
Voiced (diV) [dʒ][g]
Fricatives s (siV) [ʃ][g] h
Nasals m n (niV) [nʲ][g] ng [ŋ]
Laterals l (liV) [lʲ][g]
Flaps r [ɾ]
Trills (rr [r])
Semivowels (w, CuV) [w][g] (y, CiV) [j][g]

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 *R, compare bago (Tagalog) and baró (Ilokano) new.

The language marginally has a trill [r] which was spelled as "rr", for example, serrek [sɛ.ˈrɛk] to enter. Trill [r] is sometimes an allophone of [ɾ] in word-initial position and word-final positions, spelled as single <r>. 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].


Primary stress

The placement of primary stress is lexical in Ilocano. This results in minimal pairs such as /ˈkaː.yo/ (wood) and /ka.ˈyo/ (you (plural or polite)) or /ˈkiː.ta/ (class, type, kind) and /ki.ˈta/ (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.[2]

  • Foreign Words – The stress of foreign (mostly Spanish) words adopted into Ilokano fall on the same syllable as the original.[h]
Ilocano Gloss Comment
doktór doctor Spanish origin
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.
Ilocano Gloss Comment
addá there is/are Closed Penult
takkí feces Closed Penult
bibíngka (a type of delicacy) -ŋ.k sequence
  • 'C(j/w)V# – In words whose ultima is a glide plus a vowel, stress falls on the ultima.
Ilocano Gloss Comment
al-aliá ghost Consonant-Glide-Vowel
ibiáng to involve (someone or something) Consonant-Glide-Vowel
ressuát creation 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.
Ilocano Gloss Comment
buggúong fermented fish or shrimp paste Vowel-Glottal-Vowel
máag idiot Vowel-Glottal-Vowel
síit thorn, spine, fish bone Vowel-Glottal-Vowel

Secondary stress

Secondary stress occurs in the following environments:

  • Syllables whose coda is the onset of the next, i.e., the syllable before a geminate.
Ilocano Gloss Comment
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
Ilocano Gloss Comment
agsàsaó speaks,is speaking Reduplicate CV
àl-aliá ghost, spirit Reduplicate CV
agdàdáit sews, is sewing Reduplicate CV

Vowel length

Vowel length coincides with stressed syllables (primary or secondary) and only on open syllables except for ultimas, for example, /'ka:.yo/ tree versus /ka.'yo/ (second person plural ergative pronoun).

Stress shift

As primary stress can fall only on the penult or the ultima, suffixation causes a shift in stress one syllable to the right. The vowel of open penults that result lengthen as a consequence.

Stem Suffix Result Gloss
/ˈpuː.dut/ (heat) /-ɯn/ (Goal focus) /pu.ˈduː.tɯn/ to warm/heat (something)
/da.ˈlus/ (clean) /-an/ (Directional focus) /ˈsan/ to clean (something)


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.

Ilocano 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.[19]


Ilocano Dictionary Published by the CICM in 1930
An Ilocano Dictionary by Morice Vanoverbergh, CICM, published in 1955 by the CICM Fathers in Baguio City to help them in evangelizing in Ilocandia.


Foreign accretion comes largely from Spanish, followed by English and smatterings of much older accretion from Hokkien (Min Nan), Arabic and Sanskrit.[20][21][22]

Examples of Borrowing
Word Source Original Meaning Ilocano 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?

Common expressions

Ilokano shows a T-V distinction.

English Ilocano
Yes Wen
No Saan

Haan (variant)

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 Ania't nagan mo? or Ana't nagan mo)

Ania ti naganyo?

Where's the bathroom? Ayanna ti banio?
I do not understand Saanko a maawatan/matarusan.

Haanko a maawatan/matarusan.

Diak maawatan/matarusan.

I love you Ay-ayatenka.


I'm sorry. Pakawanennak.


Thank you. Agyamannak apo.

Dios ti agngina.

Goodbye Kastan/Kasta pay. (Till then)
Sige. (Okay. Continue.)
Innakon. (I'm going)
Inkamin. (We are going)

Ditakan. (You stay)
Ditakayon. (You stay (pl.))


Numbers, days, months


Ilocano uses two number systems, one native and the other derived from Spanish.

0 ibbong
awan (lit. none)
0.25 (1/4) pagkapat kuatro
0.50 (1/2) kagudua mitad
1 maysa uno
2 dua dos
3 tallo tres
4 uppat kuatro
5 lima singko
6 innem sais
7 pito siete
8 walo otso
9 siam nuebe
10 sangapulo (lit. a group of ten) dies
11 sangapulo ket maysa onse
20 duapulo bainte
50 limapulo singkuenta
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

Ilocano 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 ikanna.
He has two fish. (lit. There are two fish with him.)

Days of the week

Days of the week are directly borrowed from Spanish.

Days of the Week
Monday Lunes
Tuesday Martes
Wednesday Mierkoles
Thursday Huebes
Friday Biernes
Saturday Sabado
Sunday Dominggo


Like the days of the week, the names of the months are taken from Spanish.

January Enero July Hulio
February Pebrero August Agosto
March Marso September Septiembre
April Abril October Oktubre
May Mayo November Nobiembre
June Hunio December Disiembre

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.

Units of time
second kanito
minute daras
hour oras
day aldaw
week lawas
dominggo (lit. Sunday)
month bulan
year tawen

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, A las dos y media de la tarde or "half past two in the afternoon")
6:00 p.m Alas sais iti sardang (six in the evening)
7:00 p.m Alas siete iti rabii (seven in the evening)
12:00 noon Alas dose iti pangaldaw (twelve noon)

More Ilocano words

  • abay = beside; wedding party
  • abalayan = parents-in-law
  • adal = study (Southern dialect)
  • adda = affirming the presence or existence of a person, place, or object
  • ading = younger sibling; can also be applied to someone who is younger than the speaker
  • ala = to take
  • ammo = know
  • anus = perseverance, patience (depends on the usage)
  • anya = what/what is it
  • apan = go; to go
  • apa = fight, argument; ice cream cone
  • apay = why
  • apong = grandparent
  • apong baket / lilang / lola = grandmother
  • apong lakay / lilong / lolo= grandfather
  • aramid = build, work (Southern dialect)
  • aysus!/ Ay Apo! = oh, Jesus/oh, my God!
  • baak = ancient; old
  • bado = clothes
  • bagi = one’s body; ownership
  • balong = same as baro
  • bangles = spoiled food
  • (i/bag)baga = (to) tell/speak
  • bagtit / mauyong = crazy/bad word in Ilokano, drunk person, meager
  • balasang = young female/lass
  • balatong = mung beans
  • balong = infant/child
  • bangsit = stink/unpleasant/spoiled
  • baro = young male/lad
  • basa = study (Northern dialect); read (Southern dialect)
  • basang = same as balasang
  • bassit = few, small, tiny
  • kabarbaro = new
  • basol = fault, wrongdoing, sin
  • baut = spank
  • bayag = slow
  • binting = 25 cents/quarter
  • dadael = destroy/ruin
  • (ma)damdama = later
  • danon = to arrive at
  • diding / taleb = wall
  • dumanon = come
  • kiaw/amarilio = yellow
  • buneng = bladed tool / sword
  • gasto = spend
  • ganus = unripe
  • gaw-at = reach
  • (ag) gawid = go home
  • giddan = simultaneous
  • iggem = holding
  • ikkan = to give
  • inipis = cards
  • inton bigat / intono bigat = tomorrow
  • kaanakan = niece / nephew
  • kabalio = horse
  • kabatiti = loofah
  • kalub = cover
  • kanayon = always
  • karuba = neighbor
  • kayat = want
  • kayumanggi-kunig = yellowish brown
  • kibin = hold hands
  • kigtut = startle
  • kuddot/keddel = pinch
  • kumá / komá = hoping for
  • ina/inang/nanang = mother
  • lastog = boast/arrogant
  • lag-an = light/not heavy
  • laing / sirib = intelligence
  • lawa / nalawa = wide
  • lugan = vehicle
  • madi = hate
  • manang = older sister or relative; can also be applied to women a little older than the speaker
  • manó = how many/how much
  • manong = older brother or relative; can also be applied to men a little older than the speaker
  • mare = female friend/mother
  • met = also, too
  • obra = work (Northern dialect)
  • naimbag nga agsapa = good morning
  • naapgad = salty
  • nagasang, naadat=spicy
  • (na)pintas = beautiful/pretty (woman)
  • (na)ngato = high/above/up
  • panaw = leave
  • pare = close male friend
  • padi = priest
  • (na)peggad = danger(ous)
  • (ag) perdi = (to) break/ruin/damage
  • pigis= tear
  • pigsa = strength; strong
  • pustaan = bet, wager
  • pimmusay(en) = died
  • riing = wake up
  • rigat = hardship
  • rugi = start
  • rugit = dirt/not clean
  • ruot = weed/s
  • rupa = face
  • ruar = outside
  • sagad = broom
  • sala = dance
  • sang-gol = arm wrestling
  • sapul = find; need
  • (na)sakit = (it) hurts
  • sida = noun for fish, main dish, side dish, viand
  • siit = fish bone/thorn
  • (na)singpet = kind/obedient
  • suli = corner
  • (ag)surat = (to) write
  • tadem = sharpness (use for tools)
  • takaw = steal
  • takrot/tarkok = coward/afraid
  • tangken = hard (texture)
  • tinnag = fall down
  • (ag)tokar = to play music or a musical instrument
  • torpe = rude
  • tudo = rain
  • (ag)tugaw = (to) sit
  • tugawan = anything to sit on
  • tugaw = chair, seat
  • tuno = grill
  • (na)tawid = inherit(ed)
  • ubing = kid; baby; child
  • umay = welcome
  • unay = very much
  • uliteg = uncle
  • uray = even though/wait
  • uray siak met = me too; even I/me
  • ulo = head
  • upa = hen
  • utong = string beans
  • utot = mouse/rat
  • uttot = fart

See also


  1. ^ 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 [].
  2. ^ The diphthong /ei/ is a variant of /ai/.
  3. ^ The distinction between /o/ and /u/ is minimal.
  4. ^ The '#' represents the start of the word boundary
  5. ^ the symbol '' represents zero or an absence of a phoneme.
  6. ^ 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].
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Letters in parentheses are orthographic conventions that are used.
  8. ^ 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 Ilocano.


  1. ^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. ^ a b c Galvez Rubino, Carl Ralph (2000). Ilocano Dictionary and Grammar: Ilocano-English, English-Ilocano. University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 0-8248-2088-6.
  3. ^ a b Philippine Census, 2000. Table 11. Household Population by Ethnicity, Sex and Region: 2000
  4. ^ a b c Elias, Jun (19 September 2012). "Iloko La Union's official language". Philippine Star. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  5. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Iloko". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  6. ^ Ethnologue. "Language Map of Northern Philippines". Ethnologue. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  7. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
  8. ^ Lewis (2013). Ethnologue Languages of the World. Retrieved from:
  9. ^
  10. ^ Bellwood, Peter (1998). "Taiwan and the Prehistory of the Austronesians-speaking Peoples". Review of Archaeology 18: 39–48.
  11. ^ Diamond, Jared M. (2000). "Taiwan's gift to the world." Nature 403 (6771): 709–10. doi:10.1038/35001685. PMID 10693781.
  12. ^ Lewis, M. Paul; Simmons, Gary F; Fennig, Charles D. "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Eighteenth edition". SIL International. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  13. ^ Rubino, Carl (2005). "Chapter Eleven: Iloko". In Adelaar, Alexander (ed.). The Austronesian Language of Asia and Madagascar. Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. Routledge. p. 326. ISBN 0-7007-1286-0.
  14. ^ Detailed Languages Spoken at Home in the State of Hawaii (PDF). Hawaii: Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. March 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  15. ^ Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (2012). Tarabay iti Ortograpia ti Pagsasao nga Ilokano. Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. p. 25.
  16. ^ Panfilio D. Catacataca (30 April 2015). "The Commission on the Filipino Language". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  17. ^ 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, (Article XIV, Section 7)
  18. ^ Dumlao, Artemio (16 May 2012). "K+12 to use 12 mother tongues". Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  19. ^ Vanoverbergh, Morice (1955). Iloco Grammar Catholic School Press/Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Baguio City, Philippines. 348pp.
  20. ^ Gelade, George P. (1993). Ilokano English Dictionary. CICM Missionaries/Progressive Printing Palace, Quezon City, Philippines. 719pp.
  21. ^ Vanoverbergh, Morice (1956). Iloko-English Dictionary:Rev. Andres Carro's Vocabulario Iloco-Español. Catholic School Press, Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Baguio City, Philippines. 370pp.
  22. ^ Vanoverbergh, Morice (1968). English-Iloko Thesaurus. Catholic School Press, Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Baguio City, Philippines. 365pp.

External links

Abakada alphabet

The Abakada alphabet was an "indigenized" Latin alphabet adopted for the Tagalog-based Filipino national language in 1940.

The alphabet, which contains 20 letters, was introduced in the grammar book developed by Lope K. Santos for the newly-designated national language based on Tagalog. The alphabet was officially adopted by the Institute of National Language (Filipino: Surián ng Wikang Pambansâ).

The Abakada alphabet has since been superseded by the modern Filipino alphabet adopted in 1987.

Ariel S. Tabag

Ariel S. Tabag (born August 16, 1978), is a bilingual Ilocano fiction author (he writes in Ilocano language and Tagalog/Filipino), poet, editor, translator, and musician. He has received the Palanca Awards for his Ilokano short stories. He has also been awarded the Talaang Ginto-Gantimpalang Collantes. He has received awards from Ilocano literary contests such as AMMAFLA, GUMIL California, SABALI, RFAAFIL, ATILA, Tugade Awards. He is the author of Karapote (Curion), an anthology of Ilocano short stories. Tabag is also a fellow to the 41st UP National Writers Workshop (2002).

As a musician, he plays bass guitar for the underground band Pilo and the Ilocano rock band Manong Diego (formerly Samtoy). With Mighty C. Rasing, another Ilocano writer-musician, they started Danirock, a poetry performance with rock music.

Bagoong terong

Bagoong Terong or bagoong, and bugguong in the Ilocano language, is a common ingredient used in the Philippines and particularly in Northern Ilocano cuisine. It is made by salting and fermenting the bonnet mouth fish. This bagoong is coarser than Bagoong Monamon, and contains fragments of the salted and fermented fish [1]; they are similar in flavor. The odor is distinct and unique. Those who are unfamiliar with this condiment may find the smell repulsive. Bagoong is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Fish sauce, common throughout Southeast Asian cuisine, is a by-product of the bagoong process.[2] Known in the Philippines as patis, it is distinguished as the clear refined layer floating on the thicker bagoong. Patis and bagoong can be interchanged in recipes, depending on personal taste and preference.

Bagoong is used as a flavor enhancing agent in the place of salt, soy sauce, or monosodium glutamate (MSG). It is used to make a fish stock, the base of many Ilocano dishes, such as pinakbet, dinengdeng, inabraw or as a dressing for cold steamed greens in the dish kinilnat (ensalada), like ferns, bitter melon leaves, or sweet potato leaves. Bagoong is used as a condiment, or dipping sauce, for chicharon, whole fried fish, green and ripe mangoes, or hard boiled eggs.

It is similar in taste and odor to anchovy paste.


Bannawag (Iloko word meaning "dawn") is a Philippine weekly magazine published in the Philippines by Liwayway Publications Inc. It contains serialized novels/comics, short stories, poetry, essays, news features, entertainment news and articles, among others, that are written in Ilokano, a language common in the northern regions of the Philippines.

Bannawag has been acknowledged as one foundation of the existence of contemporary Iloko literature. It is through the Bannawag that every Ilokano writer has proved his mettle by publishing his first Iloko short story, poetry, or essay, and thereafter his succeeding works, in its pages. The magazine is also instrumental in the establishment of GUMIL Filipinas, the umbrella organization of Ilokano writers in the Philippines and in other countries.

F. Sionil José

Francisco Sionil José (born 3 December 1924) is one of the most widely read Filipino writers in the English language. His novels and short stories depict the social underpinnings of class struggles and colonialism in Filipino society. José's works—written in English—have been translated into 28 languages, including Korean, Indonesian, Czech, Russian, Latvian, Ukrainian and Dutch..

Filipino alphabet

The modern Filipino alphabet (Filipino: makabagong alpabetong Filipino), otherwise known as the Filipino alphabet (Filipino: alpabetong Filipino), is the alphabet of the Filipino language, the official national language and one of the two official languages of the Philippines. The modern Filipino alphabet is made up of 28 letters, which includes the entire 26-letter set of the ISO basic Latin alphabet, the Spanish Ñ and the Ng digraph of Tagalog. It replaced the Pilipino alphabet of the Fourth Republic. Today, the modern Filipino alphabet may also be used to write all autochthonous languages of the Philippines and Chavacano, a Spanish-derived creole.

In 2013, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino released the Ortograpiyang Pambansa ("National Orthography"), a new set of guidelines that resolved phonemic representation problems previously encountered when writing some Philippine languages and dialects.

GUMIL Filipinas

GUMIL Filipinas (Gunglo dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano iti Filipinas) or Ilokano Writers Association of the Philippines, is one of the most active group of regional writers in the Philippines. It has hundreds of active writer-members in provincial and municipal chapters as well as in overseas chapters in the mainland U.S. and Hawaii and in Greece.

Greg Laconsay

Gregorio “Greg” C. Laconsay (born March 12, 1931) is a Filipino-Ilocano editor and writer in the Philippines. He was the former chief editor for two prominent literary magazines in the Philippines, namely the Ilocano-language Bannawag and the Tagalog-language Liwayway.

Gregorio C. Brillantes

Gregorio C. Brillantes, a Palanca Award Hall of Famer and a multi-awarded fiction writer, is one of the Philippines' most popular writers in English.

Known for his sophisticated and elegant style, he has been compared to James Joyce. He often writes about individuals under thirty, adolescent or post adolescent ones who struggle with alienation from family, society and from themselves. His earlier collection of short stories earned him the title of the "Catholic Writer". But elements of the fantastic also come in his works. In the 2006 Graphic/Fiction Awards, the main local sponsor of the contest, specialty book shop Fully Booked, acknowledged Brillantes as one of the godfathers of fantastic literature in English by naming the first category the Gregorio C. Brillantes Prize for Prose.

Brillantes is a native of Camiling, Tarlac. He obtained his Litt. B. degree in the Ateneo de Manila University. He has edited Sunburst, The Manila Review, Focus, Asia-Philippines Leader and the Philippines Free Press. Among his published collections of short stories are: The Distance to Andromeda and Other Stories, The Apollo Centennial, Help, and On a Clear Day in November Shortly Before the Millennium, Stories for a Quarter Century.

He also has published collections of essays: Looking for Rizal in Madrid, Chronicles of Interesting Times, and The Cardinal's Sins, the General's Cross, the Martyr's Testimony and other Affirmations.

He acted as one of the judges of the Philippine Graphic Novel Awards in 2007. Lovely

Ilocano numbers

Ilocano has two number systems: one is native and the other is derived from Spanish. The systems are virtually used interchangeably. Yet, the situation can dictate which system is preferred.

Typically, Ilocanos use native numbers for one through 10, and Spanish numbers for amounts of 10 and higher.

Specific time is told using the Spanish system and numbers for hours and minutes, for example, Alas dos (2 o'clock).

For dates, cardinal Spanish numbers are the norm; for example, 12 (dose) ti Julio (the twelfth of July).

As with other roots in the language, numbers can undergo various forms of agglutination.


The Ilongot (or Ibilao) are a tribe who inhabit the southern Sierra Madre and Caraballo Mountains, on the east side of Luzon in the Philippines, primarily in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija and along the mountain border between the provinces of Quirino and Aurora. An alternative name of this tribe and its language is "Bugkalot". They are known as a tribe of headhunters.

Presently, there are about 87,000 Ilongots. The Ilongots tend to inhabit areas close to rivers, as they provide a food source and a means for transportation. Their native language is the Ilongot language, currently spoken by about 50,000 people. They also speak the Ilocano language.

Jose Garvida Flores

José Garvida Flores (December 9, 1900 – August 12, 1944) was an Ilocano poet and playwright, from Bangui, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. His works include Wayawaya ken Sabsabali a Dandaniw (Liberty and a Collection of Poems), Pitik Ti Puso (Heartbeat), Kaanunto (When Will It Be), Tanda Ti Ayanayat (In Remembrance of Love), and plays such as Dagiti Ayayat ni Dr. Rizal (The Many Loves of Dr. Rizal), and Ayat Iti Ili ken Dadduma Pay a Drama (Love of Country and Other Dramas).

His articles were not only written in Ilocano (Bannawag* and Ti Bagnos*), but also in English (The Tribune), and in Spanish (La Lucha* and El Norte*), etc. He was also editor-in-chief of Dangadang*, another Ilocano newspaper, which he published together with Santiago S. Fonacier.

Jose Maria Sison

José María Canlás Sison (born February 8, 1939), also known by his nickname Joma, is a Filipino writer and activist who founded the Communist Party of the Philippines and added elements of Maoism to its philosophy. He applied the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism on Philippine history and current circumstances.

Since August 2002, he has been classified as a "person supporting terrorism" by the United States. The European Union's second highest court ruled in September 2009 to delist him as a "person supporting terrorism" and reversed a decision by member governments to freeze assets. He is a recognized political refugee in The Netherlands and enjoys the protection of the Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


KNDI is a radio station located in Honolulu, Hawaii. The station is owned by Geronimo and Nellie Malabed, through licensee Geronimo Broadcasting, LLC, and offers a multicultural format, broadcasting at 1270. Its on-air liners are "Voices from Around the World" and has been on the air since 1960. It was also Hawaii's first radio station to have an all-female airstaff, hence the KNDI calls, which phonetically spells out "Candy." KNDI features programming in Philippine languages (Ilocano and Tagalog), Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Okinawan, Vietnamese, Lao, Spanish, Samoan, Tongan, Marshallese, Chuukese, Pohnpeian and English.

Kankanaey language

Kankanaey (also spelled Kankana-ey) is a South-Central Cordilleran language under the Austronesian family spoken on the island of Luzon in the Philippines primarily by the Kankanaey people. Alternate names for the language include Central Kankanaey, Kankanai, and Kankanay. It is widely used by Cordillerans, alongside Ilocano, specifically people from the Mountain Province and people from the northern part of the Benguet Province. Kankanaey has a slight mutual intelligibility with the Ilocano language.

Manuel Arguilla

Manuel Estabilla Arguilla (Nagrebcan, Bauang, June 17, 1911 – beheaded, Manila Chinese Cemetery, August 30, 1944) was an Ilokano writer in English, patriot, and martyr.

He is known for his widely anthologized short story "How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife," the main story in the collection How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife and Other Short Stories, which won first prize in the Commonwealth Literary Contest in 1940.

His stories "Midsummer" and "Heat" were published in Tondo, Manila by the Prairie Schooner.

Most of Arguilla's stories depict scenes in Barrio Nagrebcan, Bauang, La Union, where he was born. His bond with his birthplace, forged by his dealings with the peasant folk of Ilocos, remained strong even after he moved to Manila, where he studied at the University of the Philippines, finished his BS in Education in 1933, and became a member and later the president of the U.P. Writer's Club and editor of the university's Literary Apprentice.

He married Lydia Villanueva, another talented writer in English, and they lived in Ermita, Manila. Here, F. Sionil José, another seminal Filipino writer in English, recalls often seeing him in the National Library, which was then in the basement of what is now the National Museum. "You couldn't miss him", José describes Arguilla, "because he had this black patch on his cheek, a birthmark or an overgrown mole. He was writing then those famous short stories and essays which I admired."He became a creative writing teacher at the University of Manila and later worked at the Bureau of Public Welfare as managing editor of the bureau's publication Welfare Advocate until 1943. He was later appointed to the Board of Censors. He secretly organized a guerrilla intelligence unit against the Japanese.

On August 5, 1944, he was captured and tortured by the Japanese army at Fort Santiago.

In one account, he was later transferred to the grounds of the Manila Chinese Cemetery. Along with him were guerrilla leaders, along with more than 10 men. They were then asked to dig their own graves, after which, they were immediately, one by one, beheaded with swords. His remains, as well as the others', have never been recovered, as they were dumped into one unmarked grave.

The remains of the executed men were said to be located and identified by their compatriots after the war, after a Japanese-American officer (working in the Japanese Army as a spy), revealed what he had seen and the location of the grave after the executions of August 30 of 1944. At present, their remains lie within the Manila North Cemetery..

Philippine Braille

Philippine Braille or Filipino Braille, is the braille alphabet of the Philippines. Besides Filipino (Tagalog), essentially the same alphabet is used for Ilocano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Bicol (UNESCO 2013).Philippine Braille is based on the 26 letters of the basic braille alphabet used for Grade-1 English Braille, so the print digraph ng is written as a digraph ⠝⠛ in braille as well. The print letter ñ is rendered with the generic accent point, ⠈⠝. These are considered part of the alphabet, which is therefore,

Numbers and punctuation are as in traditional English Braille, though the virgule / is ⠸⠌ as in Unified English Braille.

Reynaldo A. Duque

Reynaldo A. Duque (October 29, 1945–April 8, 2013) was a multilingual Ilocano writer (he writes in Ilocano, Filipino, and English), is the former editor-in-chief of Liwayway magazine, the leading Filipino (Tagalog) weekly magazine in the Philippines. He is a fictionist, novelist, poet, playwright, radio/TV/movie scriptwriter, editor, and translator.A multi-awarded author, among his numerous literary decorations is the Palanca Hall of Fame Award bestowed on him in 2003 for having won five first prizes in the prestigious Palanca Awards. He is also first prize winner in Filipino Epic in the 1998 Centennial Literary Awards sponsored by the Philippine Government.

He is a native of Bagani Ubbog, Candon, Ilocos Sur.

Roy V. Aragon

Roy V. Aragon (born October 31, 1968) is a Filipino writer writing in the Iloko and Filipino languages. He is an award-winning fictionist and poet, and also works as a translator. Among his awards and prizes are two third-place prizes and one second-place prize in the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature's short story contest in the Iloko and Filipino divisions, received in 1999, 2001, and 2014 respectively. He has also won numerous prizes in Ilokano literary contests, such as the Gov. Roque Ablan Awards for Iloko Literature (GRAAFIL). He has published most of his short stories, poems, and feature articles in Bannawag, the leading Ilokano magazine in the Philippines.

He is a member of GUMIL Filipinas, the leading association of Ilokano writers which is considered the most active regional writer's group in the Philippines.

He is a native of Mabasa, Dupax del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya.

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