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Chirin nu Ibatan
Native toPhilippines
RegionBatanes Islands
Native speakers
(33,000 cited 1996–2007)[1]
  • Ivasay
  • Isamurung
  • Babuyan
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated byKomisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
ivv – Ivatan
ivb – Ibatan (Babuyan)
Glottologivat1242  Ivatan
ibat1238  Ibatan
The Batanic languages.png
The location of the Ivatan language

The Ivatan (Ibatan) language, also known as Chirin nu Ibatan ("language of the Ivatan people"), is a Philippine language of Austronesian origins spoken in the Batanes Islands of the Philippines.

Although the islands are closer to Taiwan than to Luzon, it is not one of the Formosan languages. Ivatan is one of the Batanic languages, which are perhaps a primary branch of the Malayo-Polynesian family of Austronesian languages.

The language of Babuyan Island is sometimes classified as a dialect. Most of the Babuyan population moved to Batan Island and the Luzon mainland during the Spanish colonial period. The island became repopulated at the end of the 19th century with families from Batan, most of them speakers of one of the Ivatan dialects.[2]


Ivatan is especially characterized by its words, which mostly have the letter v, as in vakul, Ivatan, and valuga. While related to the Northern Philippine group of languages, Ivatan, having been isolated, is most close to the two other members of the Bashiic sub-group of languages, Yami (Tao) and Itbayat, neither of which is indigenous to Luzon. Ibatan, spoken on the nearby Babuyan group of islands, is so similar to Ivatan that it is not entirely clear whether it should be classified as a dialect of Ivatan or a separate language, though each does receive its own code in ISO taxonomy.

Ivatan has two dialects; Basco Ivatan, more commonly known as Ivasay, spoken on the main island of Batan, and Southern Ivatan or Isamurung, spoken on the southern half of Batan and on the most southern island, Sabtang.[2]

Variations in language

In the capital of Basco and the surrounding northern half of Batan, the area encompassed by Ivasayen, t is prominent, whereas in the Isamurongen zone to the south (Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan and Sabtang) that phoneme becomes a ch.

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

Itbayaten is sometimes also considered a dialect. 2% of the total vocabulary does not occur in Ivatan dialects. Examples of different Ivasayen, Isamurongen and Itbayaten words that have the same English translation:

Some[who?] tend to mix the Ivatan words to Filipino or vice versa in sentences, much worset 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 and 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:


Vowels of Ivatan[3]
Front Central Back
Close i ɯ u
Open a

/u/ can also be lowered to [ʊ].

Consonants of Ivatan[3]
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative v s ɣ h
Approximant l j w
Tap ɾ

/h/ can also be heard as a velar fricative [x].



The following set of pronouns are the pronouns found in the Ivatan language.[4]

  Nominative free Nominative bound Genitive free Genitive bound Locative
1st person singular yaken 'ako niaken ko diaken
2nd person singular 'imo 'ka nimo mo dimo
3rd person singular sia sia nia na dia
1st person plural inclusive yaten ta niaten ta diaten
1st person plural exclusive yamen kami niamen namen diamen
2nd person plural 'inio kamo ninio nio dinio
3rd person plural sira/sa sira/sa nira da dira

Cultural terms of the Ivatan people


Ivatan words


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

Sentence Coined word Meaning Usage
Mirwa ta anchiyaw Tanchew We'll meet again later. Street language
Jinu ngayan mu Nganmu Where are you going? Street language

Similarities with other Philippine languages

  Person House Dog Coconut Day New
Ivatan Tawo Vahay Chito Niyoy Araw Va-yo
Tagalog Tao Bahay Aso Niyog Araw Bago
Bikol Tawo Harong Ayam Niyog Aldaw Ba-go
Cebuano Tawo Balay Iro Lubi Adlaw Bag-o
Tausug Tau Bay Iru' Niyug Adlaw Ba-gu
Kinaray-a Taho Balay Ayam Niyog Adlaw Bag-o
Kapampangan Tau Bale Asu Ngungut Aldo Bayu
Pangasinan Too Abong Aso Niyog Agew Balo
Ilocano Tao Balay Aso Niog Aldaw Baro
Gaddang Tolay Balay Atu Ayog Aw Bawu
Tboli Tau Gunu Ohu Lefo Kdaw Lomi

Similarities with the Tao language

  Day Home Friend Eat Drink
Ivatan Araw Vahay Cayvan Kuman Minom
Yami 雅美/達悟 Araw Vahay Kagagan Kuman Minum


  Ivasayen Isamurongen Itbayaten
Room Cuarto Cuarto
Mail Tulas Turas
Water Danum Ranum
Time Oras Oras

Approval and disapproval

  Ivasayen Isamurongen Itbayaten
Good Mapia Map'pia
Of course Siyempre Siyempre
Ok Okay Okay
Pretty Mavid Mavij
Yes Oon Uwen
No Omba Engga
Nothing Arava Aralih
Perhaps Siguro Siguro


  Itbayaten Isamurongen Ivasayen
Black Mavaweng Mavajeng
Blue A'sul Maanil
Brown Chocolati Chocolati
Dark Masarih Masari
Gray Mavu-avo Mavuavo
Green Birdi Berde
Light Marengang Marial
Red Mavayah Mavaya
White Mahilak Maydac
Yellow Mayuxama Mañujama

Days of the week

  Ivasayen Isamurongen Itbayaten
Sunday Domingo Lumingu
Monday Lunis Lunis
Tuesday Martis Martis
Wednesday Miyirkolis Mirkulis
Thursday Juibis Juybis
Friday Biyernis Birnis
Saturday Sabado Sabalu


  Itbayaten Isamurongen Ivasayen
Left Guri Huli
Right Wanan Wanan
Straight ahead Diricho Diricho

Cardinal numbers

    Itbayaten Isamurongen Ivasayen
0 Zero Siro; a'bu Siro; abu
1 One A'sa Asa
2 Two Daduha Dadua
3 Three Atlu Tatdu
4 Four A'pat Apat
5 Five Lalima Dadima
6 Six A'nem Anem
7 Seven Pito Papito
8 Eight Waxo Wawajo
9 Nine Sasyam Sasyam
10 Ten Sapuxu Sapujo

Writing system

Ivatan is written using the Latin alphabet. As Ivatan is primarily a spoken language and seldom used in written form, there is currently no consistent way of writing the language and different conventions may be used by different writers. An orthography devised for use in public schools by the Department of Education uses the full 26 letter Latin alphabet, with three extra letters, ch, ñ, and ng.[5]

The shwa oun, or uh, is normally represented by the letter e as in Dios Mamajes, 'di-yos-ma-ma-huhs', and palek 'pa-luhk'.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Ivatan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Ibatan (Babuyan) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Ross, Malcolm (2005). "The Batanic Languages in Relation to the Early History of the Malayo-Polynesian Subgroup of Austronesian" (PDF). Journal of Austronesian Studies. 1 (2). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  3. ^ a b Cottle, Morris (1958). The significant sounds of Ivatan. University of Sydney.
  4. ^ Reid, Lawrence Andrew (1966). "An Ivatan Syntax". Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications. University of Hawai'i Press (2): 1–160. JSTOR 20019114.
  5. ^ Gabilo-Cariaso, Georgann (2015). Ortograpiya Ivatan. SCHOOLS DIVISION OF BATANES. Retrieved 7 June 2020.