Native toPhilippines
Native speakers
(10,000 cited 1991)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3iry

The Iraya language is a language spoken by Mangyans on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. Zorc (1974) places the Iraya language within the North Mangyan group of Malayo-Polynesian languages,[2] though Lobel (2013) notes that it shows "considerable differences" to Tadyawan and Alangan, the other languages in this group.[3] There are 6,000 to 8,000 Iraya speakers, and that number is growing. The language status of Iraya is developing, meaning that this language is being put to use in a strong and healthy manner by its speakers, and it also has its own writing system (though not yet completely common nor maintainable).

Ethnologue reports that Iraya is spoken in the following municipalities of northern Mindoro island.

Barbian (1977) also lists the location of Calamintao, on the northeastern boundary of Santa Cruz municipality (7 km (4.3 mi) up the Pagbahan River from the provincial highway).[4]

The language is not well documented, though a translation of the Bible is available locally.[citation needed]

Dialects and speech registers

There are different dialects spoken in the North East, North West, and Southwest areas.[1] Some of these dialects are the following:

  1. Abra de Ilog
  2. Alag Bako
  3. Pagbahan
  4. Palauan-Calavite
  5. Pambuhan

Basic vocabulary and grammar is shared across the dialects. Besides differences in pronunciation, the dialects differ in their preferred usage of words and expressions from the general Iraya vocabulary stock. Furthermore, there are regional borrowings from adjacent languages. Iraya from the lowland, living between the foothills and the plains, adopted some words from Tagalog. Iraya living in the foothills, or on the lower slopes of Ht. Halcon, adopted words from the closely related Alangan language.

Besides a generally used colloquial register called Ibaba, Iraya knows a quasi-liturgical speech register known as Ita'as. This type of speech is used in power songs[clarification needed] used by shamans of Occidental Mindoro. Ita'as is only understood by Shamans, and other people do not recognize this speech. A recording of the power song can be found in the San Teodoro area of Oriental Mindoro.


The Iraya languages distinguishes 20 phonemes:

The following charts illustrate the phonemes by articulation. The consonant [ŋ] is represented as ⟨ng⟩ in common writing, and the high central vowel [ɨ] is represented by ⟨e⟩. The consonant /s/ can have both a dental or alveolar point of articulation.

Iraya consonants
  Labial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Voiceless stops p t k ʔ
Voiced stops b d g
Nasals m n ŋ
Fricatives s
Laterals l
Flaps (or Trills) ɾ ~ r
Semivowels w j h
Iraya vowels
  Front Central Back
High i ɨ
Mid o
Low a


Declarative paragraph: The first sentence starts at a high pitch. Then, each of the next sentences have a lower pitch. The last sentence will have the lowest pitch.

Emotional or dramatic paragraphs: This is the opposite of declarative paragraphs. Each sentence becomes higher than the previous sentence, until the last sentence ends with a more or less higher pitch and long pause.


The following syllable types are used in the Iraya language. (C = consonant; V = vowel)

  1. CV (e.g. ka.wu 'you'; ta.wa 'who')
  2. CVC (e.g. na.kay 'why; what')
  3. CCV (e.g. kwi.tis 'fireworks')
  4. CCVC (e.g. pwis.tu 'place; put')

In consonant clusters, the Iraya language only uses /w/ or /r/ as the second consonant in an onset cluster, as in the two examples kwitis and pwistu presented above (the latter being a Spanish loanword).


Nominative (or subjective) and genitive (or possessive) cases are distinguished for pronouns. For example, the pronoun 'I' translated to aku in Iraya, and the pronoun 'my' is na'ay. The Iraya language has dual pronoun forms based on the numeral 'two'. The following table presents the Iraya pronominal paradigm.[5]

Iraya pronouns
singular dual plural
nominative genitive
1st person exclusive aku na'ay kidawa yamen
inclusive kita tamu
2nd person kawu kumu kandawa kuyu
3rd person iya kunin sidawa kura


Zorc (1974) lists the following demonstratives:[6]

English Iraya
this tiya'
that (near) nabah
that (far) nata'
here tuwa'
there (near) sabah
there (far) sata'

Question words

Iraya question words
English Iraya
How much bidu'
How much umaning
What kayu, pakayu
Why nakay
Where saru

The two words bidu' and umaning both translate to 'how much, how many' but have different uses. Examples of these question words are given below:

The latter sentence uses umaning because it is counting age.

Temporal adverbs

English Iraya
A little while ago aray
Previously naruwa'an
Now Nguna
Still baywi
In the future duma


Cardinal Ordinal
One/first sa'i una
Two/second darawa, darwa ikadarawa, ikarawa
Three/third tatlu ikatatlu
Four/fourth apat, upat ika'apat


More words
English Iraya
Both tanan
No more, not anymore balen
Few, some buhida
All, whole bu'u
More iben-te
Small, fine uman
Enough, sufficient sibay
Each, every tayma


  1. ^ a b Iraya at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Zorc 1974.
  3. ^ Lobel 2013.
  4. ^ Barbian 1977.
  5. ^ Reid 2017.
  6. ^ Zorc 1974, p. 572.


  • Barbian, Karl-Josef (1977). English–Mangyan Vocabulary. Cebu City: University of San Carlos.
  • Reid, Lawrence A. (2017). "Re-Evaluating the Position of Iraya among Philippine Languages" (PDF). In Hsiu-chuan Liao (ed.). Issues in Austronesian Historical Linguistics. JSEALS Special Publication No. 1. pp. 23–47. hdl:10524/52405.
  • Tweddell, Colin E. (1958). The Iraya (Mangyan) Language of Mindoro, Philippines: Phonology and Morphology (PhD thesis). University of Washington.
  • Tweddell, Colin E.; Tweddell, Thomas E.; Page, Hazel A. (1974). "Iraya Mangyan Phonology and Philippinie Orthography". Anthropological Linguistics. 16 (7): 368–392. JSTOR 30029421.
  • Zorc, R. David (1974). "Internal and External Relationships of the Mangyan Languages". Oceanic Linguistics. 13 (1/2): 561–600. doi:10.2307/3622753. JSTOR 3622753.
  • Lobel, Jason William (2013). Philippine and North Bornean Languages: Issues in Description, Subgrouping, and Reconstruction (PDF) (PhD dissertation). University of Hawaii at Manoa.