Kinaray-a, Hiniraya, Binisaya nga Karay-a
Native toPhilippines
RegionAntique, southern and central Iloilo, southern part of Guimaras, southern Aklan, Occidental Mindoro particularly in Ilin Island, western Capiz, some parts of Palawan, and a few parts of Soccsksargen
Native speakers
600,000 (2010)[2][needs update]
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated byKomisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3krj
Area where Karay-a is spoken

The Karay-a language (Kinaray-a, Binisayâ nga Kinaray-a or Hinaraya; English: Harayan)[1] is an Austronesian regional language in the Philippines spoken by the Karay-a people, mainly in Antique.

It is one of the Bisayan languages, mainly along with Aklanon/Malaynon, Capiznon, Cebuano, and Hiligaynon.


Kinaray-a, Kinaray-a Bukidnon, or Hiniraya, possibly deriving from “Iraya.” It was the primary language spoken by the majority of the Panay people whom the first Spanish colonizers encountered upon their arrival and subsequent settlement in Ogtong (now Oton, Iloilo) between the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This was before the linguistic evolution that eventually led to the Hiligaynon language of Iloilo gaining dominance as the common language over Kinaray-a on the island. However, in modern times, Kinaray-a remains in use as a primary language in the province of Antique and the western part of Iloilo province.[3]

Geographical distribution

Kinaray-a is spoken mainly in Antique. It is also spoken in Iloilo province as a primary or secondary language in the city of Passi, in the municipalities of Alimodian, San Joaquin, Lambunao, Calinog, Leon, Miag-ao, Pavia, Badiangan, San Miguel, Guimbal, San Enrique, Tigbauan, Igbaras, Leganes, Pototan, Bingawan, San Rafael, Mina, Zarraga, Oton, Santa Barbara, Cabatuan, Janiuay, Maasin, New Lucena, Dueñas, Dingle, and Tubungan, and certain villages in Palawan and Mindanao – especially in the Soccsksargen region (particularly the province of Sultan Kudarat) by citizens who trace their roots to Antique or to Karay-a-speaking areas of Panay island. Inhabitants of most towns across the latter areas speak Kinaray-a while Hiligaynon is predominant around coastal areas particularly in Iloilo. It is also spoken in Iloilo City by a minority, particularly in the Arevalo district and parts of Capiz and Aklan provinces, as well as Guimaras and some parts of Negros Occidental.[4]


There has not been much linguistic study on the dialects of Kinaray-a. Speakers both of Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon would however admit to hearing the differences in the ways by which Kinaray-a speakers from different towns speak.[5] Differences in vocabulary can also observed between and among the dialects.

The differences and the degrees by which the dialects differ from each other depend largely on the area's proximity to another different language-speaking area. Thus, in Antique, there are, on the northern parts, varieties that are similar to Aklanon, the language of Aklan, its neighbor on the north. On the south, in Iloilo towns on the other hand, the dialects closely resemble that of the standard Kinaray-a spoken in San Jose de Buenavista, lowland Sibalom and Hamtic. A distinct dialect of Karay-a is spoken in central Iloilo where a lot of Hiligaynon loanwords are used and some Kinaray-a words are pronounced harder as in rigya or ja ('here') of southern Iloilo and San José de Buenavista area as compared to giya of Janiuay, Santa Barbara, and nearby towns. Two highly accented dialects of Kinaray-a can be heard in Anini-y and Tobias Fornier in Antique and San Joaquin, Leon, and Tubungan in Iloilo.

Some dialects differ only on consonant preference like y vs h. e.g. bayi/bahi ('girl') or l vs r e.g. wala/wara. Some have distinct differences like sayëd/kadë ('ugly') and rangga/gëba ('defective').

Intelligibility with Hiligaynon

Due to geographic proximity and mass media Kinaray-a-speakers can understand Hiligaynon (also known as Ilonggo) speakers. However, only Hiligaynon speakers who reside in Kinaray-a-speaking areas can understand the language. Those who come from other areas, like Iloilo City and Negros Island, have difficulty in understanding the language, if they can at all.

It is a misconception among some Hiligaynon speakers that Kinaray-a is a dialect of Hiligaynon; the reality is that the two belong to two different, but related, branches of the Bisayan languages.

However, most Karay-a also know Hiligaynon as their second language. To some extent, there is an intermediate dialect of Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a being spoken in Mindanao, mainly in Sultan Kudarat province.



Front Central Back
Close i ə~ɨ u
Mid e~ɛ o
Open a

The phonemes /e/ and /o/ are used mostly in non-Karay·a words and were formerly allophonic with /i/ and /u/, respectively. The phonemes /i/ and /u/ may also be pronounced as [ɪ] and [ʊ].[6] Among some speakers, /u/ may be pronounced as [ə], such as when subâ is uttered as [səˈbaʔ] instead of as /suˈbaʔ/.

Vowel comparison of Karay·a, Hiligaynon and Tagalog cognates
English Karay·a Hiligaynon Tagalog
mine akën akon akin
dark madëlëm madulom madilim
food pagkaën pagkaon pagkain
head ulo ulo ulo
ball bola bola bola
animal sapat, hayëp sapat hayop
plant tanëm tanom pananim, halaman
six anëm anom anim


Kinaray-a Consonants
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative s h
Tap/Flap ɾ
Approximant l j w


There are two official orthographic conventions currently in use: a four-vowel-grapheme system released by the Komisyon sa Polong Kinaray·a [ceb] in 2016 in coordination with the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF),[7] and a six-vowel-grapheme system recommended by the KWF in 2018.[8] The latter builds on Brigadier General Vicente Pangantihon [es]'s introduction of a separate letter ⟨ə⟩ for /ɨ/ through the publication of Karay-a Rice Tradition Revisited,[9] but using ⟨ë⟩ in ⟨ə⟩'s place. Karay·a writings predating Pangantihon's innovation had not graphemically distinguished between /ɨ/ and /u/.[10] In 2018, the KWF elaborated,[8]

Harmonization is not compulsory for older users of the language or individual organizations; it is specifically aimed at helping the Department of Education and teachers to teach any of the native languages. Other organizations are free to adopt their own stylebook in their own publications.


The 2018 Pangantihon–KWF orthography provides for six vowel letters: ⟨a⟩, ⟨e⟩, ⟨ë⟩ (previously ⟨ə⟩), ⟨i⟩, ⟨o⟩ and ⟨u⟩.[a] They do not form diphthongs with each other and always indicate a separate syllable: there are as many vowels as there are syllables. Informal writing, however, contravenes this orthographic rule such as, for example, when words such as balunggay, kambiyo, lanaw, puwede, ruweda and tuáw are written as *balunggai, *kambio, *lanao, *puede, *rueda and *tuao.

⟨Ë⟩, referred to as malëm·ëk nga ⟨i⟩ and which Pangantihon had originally written as ⟨ə⟩, represents /ɨ/, a phoneme that occurs natively in Karay·a and in some other languages spoken in the Philippines such as Ivadoy, Maranao and Pangasinan. ⟨Ë⟩ is also used for integrated words of relatively recent foreign origin.

Separate glyphs for /e/ and /u/ were introduced with the arrival of the Castilians; namely ⟨e⟩ and ⟨u⟩.


In line with the KWF's 2018 recommendation,[7] the alphabet has 23 consonant letters: ⟨b⟩, ⟨c⟩, ⟨d⟩, ⟨f⟩, ⟨g⟩, ⟨h⟩, ⟨j⟩, ⟨k⟩, ⟨l⟩, ⟨m⟩, ⟨n⟩, ⟨ñ⟩, ⟨ng⟩, ⟨p⟩, ⟨q⟩, ⟨r⟩, ⟨s⟩, ⟨t⟩, ⟨v⟩, ⟨w⟩, ⟨x⟩, ⟨y⟩ and ⟨z⟩. Of the above, ⟨c⟩, ⟨ñ⟩, ⟨q⟩ and ⟨x⟩ are used only in names and unintegrated loan words.[7]

The digraph ⟨ng⟩ constitutes a single letter and represents the phoneme /ŋ/. In the old orthography, which followed the Castilian norms set forth by the Real Academia Española, this phoneme was represented by ⟨n͠g⟩, the tilde stretching over both letters in order to distinguish it from ⟨ng⟩ and ⟨ñ⟩, which represented the Castilian /ŋɡ/ and /ɲ/, respectively.

In contrast to ⟨ng⟩, the digraph ⟨ts⟩, which represents /t͡ʃ/, is not counted as a distinct letter.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2018)


Noun cognacy between Kinaray-a, Malay and Tagalog
Karay-a English meaning Malay English meaning Tagalog English meaning
ayam dog ayam/anjing chicken/dog manok/aso chicken/dog
bayi, bahi female, woman wanita/bayi female, woman/baby babae female, woman
bosong abdomen pusar/pusat navel/central puson/pusod stomach/navel, core
kutî cat kucing cat kuting kitten
damog fodder umpan/(pa)dang fodder/pasture kumpay/damo fodder/pasture, grass
yawâ demon setan/awa demon/accusation demonyo/awa demon/pity
makəl/uhong mushroom jamur mushroom kabuti mushroom
kahig foot kaki foot paa to scrape (ground)


1st person singular ako takən nakən, ko akən kanakən
2nd person singular ikaw, kaw timo nimo, mo imo kanimo
3rd person singular - tana nana, na ana kanana, kana
1st person plural inclusive kita tatən natən, ta atən kanatən
1st person plural exclusive kami tamən namən amən kanamən
2nd person plural kamo tinyo ninyo, nyo inyo kaninyo
3rd person plural sanda tanda nanda anda kananda


Number Kinaray-a Malay Tagalog
1 isara/sara satu isa
2 darwa dua dalawa
3 tatlo tiga tatlo
4 apat empat apat
5 lima lima lima
6 anəm enam anim
7 pito tujuh pito
8 walo lapan walo
9 siyam sembilan siyam
10 pulû (se)puluh sampu
11 napulû kag sara / unsi (from Spanish) (se)belas labing-isa/onse (from Spanish)
50 kalim-an/singkwenta (from Spanish) lima puluh limampu/singkwenta (from Spanish)
100 sangkagatos/sanggatos se ratus isang daan
1,000 sangkalibo/sanglibo se ribu isang libo
100,000 sangka gatos ka libo se ratus ribu isang daang libo
500,000 lima ka gatos ka libo lima ratus ribu lima daang libo
1,000,000 sangka milyon satu juta isang milyon

Common expressions

Saying Diin kaw maagto? (literally 'Where are you going?') is a common way to greet people. The question does not need to be answered directly. The usual answer is an action like Maninda (literally 'to buy something on the market') instead of Sa tinda (literally, 'to the market'.)

See also


  1. ^ The vowel "u" is called matig-a nga "o" (the hard "o"). Hence, when a syllable with a vowel is pronounced lightly, the vowel "i" is substituted with the vowel "e". The opposite rule applies to the vowel "u". The practice however, is not the norm. What is more controlling for using either the vowels "i" and "o" or the introduced vowels "e" and "u" is what appears to the Karay-as pleasing to their eyes and ears. When in doubt on what vowel to use, it is always safe to use the indigenous vowels. The introduced "ë" vowel has no substitute. It will always be used since many Kinaray-a words have a schwa vowel sound.


  1. ^ a b Reid, Lawrence A. (2017). "Revisiting the Position of Philippine Languages in the Austronesian Family" (PDF). De La Salle University, Manila.
  2. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing, Report No. 2A - Demographic and Housing Characteristics (Non-Sample Variables)" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  3. ^ Cruz-Lucero, Rosario; Acuña, Arbeen; Barrios, John E.; Javier, Dante; Manuel, Dante (2018). "Karay-a". In Our Islands, Our People: The Histories and Cultures of the Filipino Nation.
  4. ^ Yumpu.com. "Kinaray-a". yumpu.com. Retrieved 2022-08-11.
  5. ^ Sosa Peña, Andrew Rey (2019). "Aspect in Pototan Kinaray-a". doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.31348.91520.
  6. ^ Limpiada, Aimee (2015). The Phonology of Kinaray-a as Spoken in Antique. Philippine Normal University.
  7. ^ a b c R. Pefianco, Anna Cecilia; S. Tabuyan, Danny; M. Flores, Felicia; V. Ysúlat, Cornelio; D. Pagunsan, Ritchie (2016). Ortograpiya Kinaray-a. New York: Innobril. ISBN 978-1540619891.
  8. ^ a b Paa, Saúl (2018-10-30). "Filipino-Language Commission Clarifies Harmonization of Orthographies". Philippine News Agency.
  9. ^ P. Rendón, Jennifer (2012-08-14). "Retired Army General Authors Kinaray·a Dictionary". Philippine Star.
  10. ^ Caláwag Pangantihon, Vicente (2011). Kinaray·a–English Dictionary.