|(30,000 cited 1984)|
Areas where Gaddang language is spoken according to Ethnologue maps
The Gaddang language (also Cagayan) is spoken by up to 30,000 speakers (the Gaddang people) in the Philippines, particularly along the Magat and upper Cagayan rivers in the Region II  provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela and by overseas migrants to countries in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, in the Middle East, United Kingdom and the United States. Most Gaddang speakers also speak Ilocano, the lingua franca of Northern Luzon, as well as Tagalog and English. Gaddang is associated with the "Christianized Gaddang" people, and is closely related to the highland (non-Christian in local literature) tongues of Ga'dang with 6,000 speakers, Yogad, Cagayan Agta with less than 1,000 and Atta with 2,000 (although the Negrito Aeta and Atta are genetically unrelated to the Austronesian Gaddang), and more distantly to Ibanag, Itawis, Isneg and Malaweg.
The Gaddang tongue has been vanishing from daily and public life over the past half-century. Public and church-sponsored education was historically conducted in Spanish (or later in English), and now in Filipino/Tagalog. The Dominicans tried to replace the multitude of Cagayan-valley languages with Ibanag, and later the plantations imported Ilocanos workers in such numbers that they outnumbered the valley natives. Once significantly-Gaddang communities grew exponentially after WWII due to in-migration of Tagalog, Igorot, and other ethnicities; Gaddang is now a minority language. In the 2000 Census, Gaddang was not even an identity option for residents of Nueva Vizcaya. Vocabulary and structural features of Gaddang among native Gaddang speakers have suffered as well, as usages from Ilokano and other languages affect their parole. Finally, many ethnic Gaddang have migrated to other countries, and their children are not learning the ancestral tongue.
The Gaddang people were identified as I-gaddang (likely meaning 'brown-colored people') by the Spanish in the early 1600s, and differentiated from the Igorots of the highlands by physique, skin color, homelands, and lifestyle. Mary Christine Abriza wrote "The Gaddang are found in northern Nueva Vizcaya, especially Bayombong, Solano, and Bagabag on the western bank of the Magat River, and Santiago, Angadanan, Cauayan, and Reina Mercedes on the Cagayan River for Christianed groups; and western Isabela, along the edges of Kalinga and Bontoc, in the towns of Antatet, Dalig, and the barrios of Gamu and Tumauini for the non-Christian communities. The 1960 census reports that there were 25,000 Gaddang, and that 10% or about 2,500 of these were non-Christian."
Distinct versions of Gaddang may be heard down the valleys of the Magat and Cagayan on the Asian Highway 26 (the Pan-Philippine Highway) through Nueva Vizcaya into Isabela after leaving Santa Fe, where its use is infrequent, and successively through Aritao, Bambang, Bayombong, Solano,(including Quezon & Bintawan), and Bagabag. By the time you arrive in Santiago City, in-migration due to the economic development of the lower Cagayan Valley over the last century means you now must search diligently to hear Gaddang spoken at all.
The Gaddang language is related to Ibanag, Itawis, Malaueg and others. It is distinct in that it features phonemes not present in many neighboring Philippine languages. As an example the "f","v","z" and "j" sounds appear in Gaddang. There are notable differences from other languages in the distinction between "r" and "l", and the "f" sound is a voiceless bilabial fricative somewhat distinct from the fortified "p" sound common in many Philippine languages (but not much closer to the English voiceless labiodental fricative). Finally, the (Spanish) minimally-voiced "J" sound has evolved to a plosive (so the name "Joseph" sounds to the American ear as "Kosip").
Most Gaddang speakers use six vowel sounds: /a/, /i/, /u/, /ɛ/, /o/, /ɯ/
Gaddang features doubled consonants, so the language may sound guttural to Tagalog, Ilokano, and even Pangasinan speakers. The uniqueness of this circumstance is often expressed by saying Gaddang speakers have "a hard tongue".
For example: tudda (tood-duh). which means rice.
Gaddang is also one of the Philippine languages which is excluded from [ɾ]-[d] allophony.
|brother||wayi, manung (pollito)||kapatid, kuya (pollito)|
|sister||wayi a bafay, manang (pollito)||kapatid, ate (pollito)|
Like most languages of the Philippines, Gaddang is declensionally, conjugationally and morphologically agglutinative.
Also like them, it is characterized by a dearth of positional/directional adpositional adjunct words. Temporal references are usually accomplished using agglutinated nouns or verbs.
The following describes similar adpositional structure in Tagalog: "The (locative) marker sa, which leads indirect objects in Filipino, corresponds to English prepositions...we can make other prepositional phrases with sa + other particular conjugations." Gaddang uses si in the same manner as the Tagalog sa, as an all-purpose indication that a spatial or temporal relationship exists.
|Nenay inakkannu singkabbulan?||Ano ang kinain mo kanina?||What did you eat a while ago?|
|Nenay inakkan diaw sin kabbulan?||Ano ang kinain ninyo kanina ?||What did you,(all) eat?|
|Nenay inakkan nu?||Ano ang kinain mo?||What did you eat?|
|Nenay a "rainbow" ki gaddang?||Ano ang salitang "rainbow" sa gaddang?||What is the word "rainbow" in Gaddang?|
|Paddatang na manggan kamin.||Pagdating niya, kumakain kami.||We were eating when he came.|
|Nu dimatang baggina, de nanggan kamin.||Kung dumating sana siya, nakakain sana kami.||I (We) hope that by the time he would have arrived, we would have eaten.|
|Mem manggan.||Huwag kang kumain.||Don't eat.|
|Mangngan ka.||Kumain ka na!||Eat!|
|Inquak yan! / Akkuak yan!||Akin yan!||That's mine!|
|Kanggaman ku ikka. / Anggamman ta ka.||Mahal kita.||I love you.|
Below are examples of Gaddang proverbs and riddles. Note the Ilokano and even Spanish loan-words.
Inakkan na lammag ka. (Translated: "eaten by alligator" ha, ha!)
Nu boliaranku ay mabbebed – abanasyo. (If I open it, it gossips – a fan.)
Si liek a mangngan, mabattuak; akkabalin ku mangngan, mabisinnak – caldero. (Before a meal, I'm full; afterward I'm hungry – a pot.)