Ivatan language

Ivatan language

name=Ivatan/ Ibatan
nativename=Chirin nu Ibatan
region=Batanes Islands
(Population includes 3,448 Itbayatan)
fam4=Northern Philippine
fam5=Batanic-Central Luzon-Northern Mindoro linkage


The Ivatan language, also known as Ibatan or Chirin nu Ibatan (meaning, "language or dialect of the Ivatan people"), is an Austronesian language spoken exclusively in the Batanes Islands. With the islands' proximity to Taiwan, the language is closer linguistically and philologically to Taiwanese aborigine languages than to other Philippine languages. However, the language is not placed in the Formosan languages group.


Ivatan is especially characterized by its words, which mostly have the letter v, as in vakul, Ivatan, and valuga. Letter e, is pronounced as the schwa oun, or uh, as in Dios Mamajes, 'di-yos-ma-ma-huhs', and palek 'pa-luhk'. The Ivatan language is completely different from the rest of the other Philippine languages, having been isolated, and is more closely associated with the Taiwanese aborigines, especially the Yami group.

There are quite different versions of the Ivatan language as their dialect: Itbayaten meaning as spoken by the native of Itbayat, Ivasayen meaning as spoken by an Ivasay for the version of Ivatan spoken by the natives of Basco & Isamurongen.

In spite of the relatively small size of Batanes and its correspondingly few inhabitants, the language is spoken in at least 3 different ways - Ivasayen, Isamurongen and Itbayaten "Ichbayaten", basically differing in the way words are pronounced. In Basco (northern part of Batan island) where Ivasayen is spoken, the letter t is more often used, whereas in the southern towns (Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan and Sabtang) where Isamurongen is spoken, the t is sometimes changed to ch. The variation of the language as spoken is more pronounced in Itbayat, the northern-most town of the province and where Itbayaten is spoken. It not only includes a variation in enounciation, but has also different words.

Examples of the more visible variations of the Ivasayen and Isamurongen words and pronunciations are:

* tiban (to look) in Basco is chiban in the southern towns

* antiyao (later) in Basco is anchiyao in the southern towns

* cabatiti (patola) in Basco is cabachichi in the southern towns

* timoy (rain) in Basco is chimoy in the southern towns

Examples of different Ivasayen, Isamurongen and Itbayaten words that have the same English translation:

* adcan (to kiss) in Basco and the southern towns is umahan in Itbayat.

* arava (none) in Basco and the southern towns is aralih in Itbayat.

* bago (pig) in Basco and the southern towns is cuyis in Itbayat.

* otioyan (nest) in Basco, is ochoyan in the southern towns and hangtay in Itbayat.

* ipos (tail) in Basco is vochivot in the southern towns and also ipos in Itbayat.

The Ivatan language is basically a spoken language. Until lately, not much effort was done to preserve the language in written form. What the young generation know about it is largely through hearing it spoken and speaking it.

Some tend to mix the Ivatan words to Filipino or vise versa in sentences, much worst is the combining or compounding of the Filipino words to the Ivatan words. One common example of this is – mapatak. This is derived from marunong (Filipino) and chapatak (Ivatan) which literally means someone who knows which were then compounded to form the word mapatak. This is actually the result of the influence of non-Ivatans who tend to speak the language & were then eventually adopted.

Another common mistakes that are often heard, is the mispronunciation of the Ivatan word like iskarayla – the correct is iskalayra – which means stairs, and tumaraya – the correct is tumayara – which means going up.

One unique characteristic of the language is its enormous street language. It is called street language because it emanated from the streets. Examples of these are: tanchew, coined from mirwa ta anchiyaw – literally means we’ll meet again later, and nganmu, coined from jinu ngayan mu – literally means where are you going. These are results of shortening the Ivatan phrases or sentences into one or two words depending on its usage.

Common Ivatan expressions have various origin such as:

* Dios Mamajes/ Dios Mamajes nu mapia
Literally: "God reward you with goodness" or "God bless you"
Usage: Used to show gratitude to someone

* Dios Mavidin
Literally: "May God remain with you"
Usage: Used by the person who is leaving

* Dios Machivan
Literally: "May God go with you"
Uasge: Used by the person who is staying behind

The Ivatan language is characterized with its pidgin Spanish, spoken with the musicality of southern Chinese accent.

Similarities of the language to other dialects in the Philippines includes the presence of the glottal stop in the pronunciation of words.


The Ivatan language consists of 4 vowels, 21 consonants and 5 diphthongs.

* Vowels: a, e, i, u

* Diphthongs: aw, iw, ay, ey, oy

* Consonants: b, ch, d, f, g, h, hh, j, k, l , m, n, ng, ny, p, r, s, t, v, w, y


Cultural terms of the Ivatan people

* uve, ubi, sudi- yam; staple crop

* sudi- taro

* wakay- sweet potato

* bulyas- onions

* baka- cow

* kaddin- goat

* kayvayvanan- friendship; cooperative work by a community which starts at the blow of a shell horn called a vodiadong

* payohoan- helping one another; work club of teenagers who alternate their shifts

* paluwa; chinarem; tataya- three boats used for fishing

* kabbata- legends

* lagi- lyric folk songs

* kalusan- working songs

* sisyavak- humorous anecdotes and tales

* kabbuni- riddles

* pananaban- proverbs

* vachi- song leader

* mais- corn

* palay- rice plant

* dukay- sprouted mung beans

* rakarakanen- vegetables

* hagsa- an extinct wild deer

* vulaw a bagu- wild boar

* tatus- coconut crabs

* lakasan- tops of wooden trunks used for storing cloth and other valuables serve as benches

* dulang- low dining table

* bangku- low bench

* rahaung, camarin- a storeroom for larger farm equipment such as plows, harrows, sleds, card, and the ox-drawn pole used for clearing off sweet potatoes and other vines from fields being prepared for recultivation

* vuyavuy- a small palm growing usually on Batanes coastal hills

* talugung- a kind of conical hat woven from strips made from the stalk of a local plant called nini

* pasikin- small bamboo or rattan baskets worn on the back

* lukoy- bolo knife

* suhut- sheath of a bolo knife

* suut, vakul- a head-and-back covering woven from the stripped leaves of banana or the vuyavuy

* alat- baskets

* batulinaw- a necklace made of hollow globules (1½ cm. in diameter) interspersed with smaller pieces of gold in floral patterns and held together by a string made of fiber

* tamburin- an all-gold necklace whose beads are smaller and more ornate than the batulinaw, and lockets

* seseng, pamaaw, chingkakawayan, liyano, de pelo, dima s'bato, pitu s'bato, de perlas, bumbolya, karakol, pinatapatan- traditional earrings that come from the Spanish period

* angang- jars

* dibang - flying fish

* payi - lobster

* arayu - dorado

* mataw - dorado fisherman

* tipuho - breadfruit

* uhango - pandan

* tamidok - fern

* chayi - tree

* soot - generic term referring to the Ivatan rain cape made from the finely stripped leaves of the vuyavuy palm.

* vakul - woman's soot, worn on the head.

* kanayi - man's soot, worn on the shoulders.

* falowa - Ivatan boat, now usually motorized, for 10-20 passengers.

* tataya - Ivatan dory with twin oars, for 2-4 passengers.

* timban - church

* vanuwa - port

* avayat - a broad directional term used to indicate the west, a western direction or the western side.

* valugan - a broad directional term sued to indicate the east, an eastern direction or the eastern side.

* palek - sugar cane wine

* malisto- fast

* mawadi- slow

* mavid- beautiful

* kuman- eat

* minom- drink

* bapor, tataya- boat

* taw- sea

* ranum- water

* salao sao- wind

* cayvan- friend

* mahacay- man

* mavakes- woman

Ivatan literature

Ivatan legends

* Datu Tayong and Batbatan Otang

* Orayen and Pudalan

* The Origin of the "Nato"

* The Origin of the People of Sabtang

* The Legend of Layin

* The Two Fishermen

Ivatan songs

* Laganitan

* An Domana ‘O’ Vohan

* Taao Di Valogan

* Hapnit

* Ladji No Minasbang

* Didiwen Ko


* I Wanted Wings
* Meetings
* Alone
* Guide Me, My Guardian Angel

Ivatan Proverbs

*Ipangudidi mu u mapya nanawu. Carry with you good teaching, always bear in mind sound advice.

*Arava u mayet an namaes u ryes. There is no strong man when the sea is at its worst.

*Arava u ryes a abu su vinyedi. There is no current that does not bounce back.

*Tumuhutuhud makaysed a tachi. The feces that is dropped is sure comfort.

*Ulungen mu ava u kakedkeran mu. Do not gore the peg where you are tied.

*Matakaw ava dimu u kasulivan. Nobody can steal your knowledge.

*Nyeng mu a hukbiten ta isek ni tatumuk. Grasp the opportunity because the bed bugs will carry and hide them inside the floor.

*Kanen mu ava u kakamay mu. Do not eat your fingers.

*Arava u susuhan da su vahay a mapsek. No one burns the house of a good man.

elected Idioms

*Mahmahma u vatu kan uhu naw. Stones are softer than his head.

*Umsi ava su vahusa u kamates.Tomatoes do not bear eggplants.

*Tud da payramun u vinata naw. They washed their face with what he said.

*Inulay mu ta tya naydited u uhu na. Leave him alone for his head is tangled.

*Machitbatbay ka avan asa ka kaban amed. Do not speak of a cavan for a measuring lime unit.

Ivatan Phrases

* Hello - Kapian capa nu dios

* How are you? - Ara ca mangu?

* I am fine - Taytu aco a mapia

* I am not fine - Ara coava mapia

* Thank you - Dios mamajes

* Where are you going? - Ngayan mo?

* I am going to... - Mangay aco du...

* Where is ___? - Ara dino si ___?

* Straight ahead - Diretso

* How much? - Pira?

* Good - Mapia

* No good - Mapia/Mavid ava

* Yes - Oon

* I want ___ - Makey ako no ___

* I don't want - Makey aco ava

* I have a problem - Mian problema ko

* No problem - Arava o problema

* Good luck - Mapia palak

* What's your name? - Sino ngaran mo?

* Where is the house of ___? - Jino vahay da ___?

*There- Du nguya

*Here- Diaya

*Hungy- Mapteng

*Thirsty- Ma-waw

*Tired- Mavanah

*Happy- Masuyot

Ivatan Words


Coined words are two words combined to form one new word.

imilarities with the Tao language

Approval & Disapproval

Days of the Week

Ordinal numbers

ee also

*Languages of the Philippines
*Ivatan people
*Tao language

External links

* [http://www.batanes.gov.ph/ Official Site of the Batanes Province]
* [http://www.batanesonline.com/ BatanesOnline.com]
* [http://www.ncca.gov.ph/culture&arts/cularts/ccta/northern/northern-batanes.htm The Ivatan]
* [http://www.uga.edu/~asian-lp/jpn_html/yami/chpt.1.html Affiliation with the Yami of Taiwan]
* [http://www.bansa.org/?q=dictionaries/cmd&dict_lang=Ivatan Bansa.org Ivatan Dictionary]
* [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/translation/Ivatan/ Ivatan-English Dictionary] from [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org Webster's Dictionary]
* [http://members.tripod.com/~jontecyro/mainframe6.html]
* [http://www.batanesonline.com/LiteraryArts/IvatanLanguage.htm]
* [http://iloko.tripod.com/Ivatan.htm]
* [http://uproar.fortunecity.com/sports/490/Batanes/kanta.htm]
* [http://uproar.fortunecity.com/sports/490/Batanes/istorya.htm]
* [http://uproar.fortunecity.com/sports/490/Batanes/wings.htm]
* [http://www.batanes.gov.ph/culture.html]
* [http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Shores/7012/]
* [http://www.philsite.net/batanes.htm]
* [http://www.uyuganbatanes.com/history.html]


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