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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 location of the Ivatan language within the Batanic languages

The Ivatan language, also known as Chirin nu Ivatan ("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 (Ibatan) is sometimes classified as a dialect of the Ivatan language. Most of the Babuyan population moved to Batan Island and to 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 speakers are found outside their homeland, many of them settled in mainland Luzon particularly in nearby Cagayan Valley, Ilocandia, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Mindoro and Palawan and also settled as far as Mindanao. In Mindanao, a significant Ivatan-speaking minority exist mainly in Bukidnon, Lanao and Cotabato where they settled since the 1950's in search of economic opportunities settled down in government homesteads in these areas. Nowadays, however, their language has becoming endangered among Ivatan settlers' descendants especially newer generations born in Mindanao, due to being accustomed into a society of Cebuano-speaking majority. Like elsewhere, intermarriage between Ivatans and Mindanaoans of various ethnicities are not uncommon. Most of these Ivatans in Mindanao today speak the majority language of Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Tagalog and other Mindanao indigenous languages more than their ancestors' native language in varying fluency or none at all.[3][4][5][6]


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 dialect, 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:

Ivatan and Filipino words are sometimes combined, as in the Ivatan word mapatak. It is derived from marunong (Filipino) and chapatak (Ivatan), literally 'someone who knows', which were then compounded to form the word mapatak. This is the result of the influence of non-Ivatans who tend to speak the language and were then eventually adopted.[citation needed]

Examples of metathesis in Ivatan include iskarayla for iskalayra ('stairs') and tumaraya for tumayara ('going up').

Ivatan slang includes examples such as tanchew, coined from mirwa ta anchiyaw – literally 'we’ll meet again later', and nganmu, coined from jinu ngayan mu, literally 'where are you going'. These are results of shortening Ivatan phrases or sentences into one or two words, depending on usage.

Common Ivatan expressions have various origins such as:[clarification needed]


Vowels of Ivatan[7]
Front Central Back
Close i ɯ u
Open a

/u/ can also be lowered to [ʊ]. Vowels [e] and [o] only occur in loanwords from Spanish, Ilocano, and Tagalog.

Consonants of Ivatan[7]
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]. Ivatan is one of the Philippine languages that do not exhibit [ɾ]-[d] allophony.



The following set of pronouns is found in the Ivatan language.[8]

Nominative Genitive Locative
free bound free bound
1st person singular yaken 'ako niaken ko diaken
plural exclusive yamen kami niamen namen diamen
inclusive yaten ta niaten ta diaten
2nd person singular 'imo 'ka nimo mo dimo
plural 'inio kamo ninio nio dinio
3rd person singular sia sia nia na dia
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 Tawu Vahay Chitu Niyuy Araw Va-yu
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


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

Approval and disapproval

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


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

Days of the week

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


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

Cardinal numbers

Zero One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten
Ivayasen Siro, abu Asa Dadua Tatdu Apat Dadima Anem Papito Wawajo Sasyam Sapujo
Itbayaten Siro, a'bu A'sa Daduha Atlu A'pat Lalima A'nem Pito Waxo Sasyam Sapuxu

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.[9]

The schwa sound, 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. ^
  4. ^ "Ivatan People of the Philippines: History, Customs, Culture and Traditions [Batanes Islands]". Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Ivatan Language of the Batanes Islands". Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  7. ^ a b Cottle, Morris (1958). The significant sounds of Ivatan. University of Sydney.
  8. ^ Reid, Lawrence Andrew (1966). An Ivatan Syntax. Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications. University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 1–160. JSTOR 20019114.
  9. ^ Gabilo-Cariaso, Georgann (2015). Ortograpiya Ivatan. SCHOOLS DIVISION OF BATANES. Retrieved 7 June 2020.