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Basa a Mëranaw
باسا أ مراناو
Native toPhilippines
RegionLanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Northwest Bukidnon, Northwest Maguindanao del Norte, Northwest Cotabato, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga, Davao, Cebu, Ilocos, Quiapo, Manila and Sabah, Malaysia
Native speakers
1,800,130 (2020)[1]
  • Iranaon (surrounding Lake Lanao)
  • Iranun (Southern Lanao)
  • Mëragatën (Taw sa Iragatën)
  • Bolokaon
Historically written in Jawi
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated byKomisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3mrw
Area where Maranao is spoken

Maranao (Filipino: Mëranaw[3]; Kirim: باسا أ مراناو) is an Austronesian language spoken by the Maranao people in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte and the cities of Marawi and Iligan City in the Philippines, as well as in Sabah, Malaysia. It is a subgroup of the Danao languages of the Moros in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Iranun was once considered a dialect of Maranao.

Unique among other Danao languages, Maranao is spoken with a distinct downstep accent, as opposed to stress accent.[citation needed] Additionally, Maranao features aspirated "hard consonants", which also raise the quality of following vowels.[4][5]


Maranao is spoken in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte and in northwestern Maguindanao, northwestern Cotabato, and northwestern Bukidnon,[6] all of which are located in the island of Mindanao in southern Philippines.

Writing system

Maranao was historically written in Arabic letters, which were known as Batang Arab. It is now written with Latin letters.[7] Though there is no officially proclaimed standard orthography, Maranao is more or less written as influenced by contemporary Filipino conventions. The following are the letters used in writing out native words:

A, B, D, E, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, NG, O, P, R, S, T, U, W, Y [8]

In general, double vowels are pronounced separately, for example, kapaar is pronounced as /kapaʔaɾ/.

The final /w/ sound in diphthongs and "w" were marked with "-o" in older orthographies, as in other Philippine languages, but both are nowadays spelled as "w". Also, "i" was used in older orthographies to transcribe /j/, which is currently spelled as "Y".

"H" is only used for Malay loanwords,[7] and "sh" (pronounced as /ʃ/) is normally used for Arabic loanwords and names such as Ishak (Isaac).[9]

"Di" or "j" are used to transcribe the /d͡ʒ/ sound, such as radia/raja (from the Sanskrit word for 'king', "Rāja") or the English name John.[9]

In representing the mid central vowel (or schwa) /ə/, different authors have employed various means to represent this sound (e.g. "E" or "U").[4] In social media, speakers use either of the two letters or just leave it blank (e.g. saken can also be spelled sakn and sakun on the internet). Meanwhile, the Commission on the Filipino Language recommends spelling this sound using "Ë" for different Philippine languages in its 2013 Ortograpiyang Pambansa.

In a revised Maranao Dictionary by McKaughan and Macaraya in 1996,[9] the digraph "'ae" was introduced and used to represent the supposed presence of the vowel /ɨ/. However, analysis by Lobel (2009,[5] 2013[4]) showed that this may actually be an allophone of /ə/ after hard consonants. McKaughan and Macaraya also used "q" for the glottal stop regardless of position. Diphthongs such as [aw, aj, oi] were spelled as "ao, ai, oi".

The orthography used in the study by Lobel (2009) was the one developed by Aleem Abdulmajeed Ansano of Taraka (1943–2008), Senator Ahmad Domocao "Domie" Alonto of Ramain (1914– 2002), and Shaiekh Abdul Azis Guroalim Saromantang of Tugaya (1923–2003). In this orthography, the "hard consonants" /pʰ, tʰ, kʰ, sʰ/ are written as "ph, th, kh, z".


Below is the sound system of Maranao including underlying phonetic features.[4]


Maranao has four vowel phonemes that can become more close or higher when in certain environments (see hard consonants below).[5] The vowel raising effects of hard consonants may have led earlier studies to Although previous studies have analyzed the [ɨ] sound as a separate phoneme (written with ae) instead of a raised allophone of /ə/.

Front Central Back
Close /i/

[ɪ ~ i]

Mid /ə/

[ə ~ ɨ]


[o ~ u]

Open /a/

[a ~ ɤ]

Vowel [e] only occurs in loanwords from Spanish through Tagalog or Cebuano and from Malay.


According to Lobel (2013), Maranao has the following consonants:[4]

Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop Voiceless p t k ʔ
Voiced b d ɡ
Fricative Voiceless s
Heavy (h)
Flap ɾ
Lateral l
Approximant w j

In Maranao, /ʔ/ is not phonemic word-initially[4] (similar to non-Philippine English). Hence, layok aken ('friend of mine') is smoothly pronounced [ən].

Since the heavy consonants developed from consonant clusters, they are only found word-medially.

Orthography-wise, "r" is used for /ɾ/, "y" is used for /j/, and "ng" is used for /ŋ/

Fricative [h]

According to Lobel (2013), [h] only occurs in a few recent Malay loanwords:[4]

Earlier Arabic loanwords with "h" that entered Proto-Danao or earlier Maranao were realized as k.

Consonant elongation

Consonants are also pronounced longer if preceded with a schwa /ə/. However, this process is not a form of gemination since consonant elongation in Maranao is not distinctive as seen in other Philippine languages such as Ilokano and Ibanag. Some of these are:

Hard consonants and vowel raising

Since 2009, it has been proposed that previous studies on the phonology of Maranao had overlooked the presence of "heavy" consonants,[5][10][4] these four "heavy" consonants being /p’ t’ k’ s’/. Vowels that follow these consonants are raised in position.

The four Maranao vowels (a, ə, i, o) are raised when they follow hard consonants[5]

There are four possible environments for that determine whether the vowel will be raised or not:

  1. Non-raising – /p t k s m n ŋ r w y/
  2. Obligatory raising – /p’ t’ k’ s’ (h)/
    • Tohan is pronounced as [t̪o.hɤn] instead of [to.han]
  3. Optional raising – /b d g/
    • Evidenced by some younger speakers writing gagaan as gegaan.
  4. Transparent – /l ʔ/ – the raising from the consonant before it will "pass through" and affect the following vowel.
Historical development

Consonant cluster homogenization occurred in earlier Danao and Subanon, where the articulations of the first consonant followed that of the second (Ex: *-gp- > *-bp-).

A study by Allison[11] noted that Proto-Danao *b, *d, g* were lost in modern Maranao when found before other consonants with the same place of articulation (Ex: *bp > *p), but preserved elsewehere.

Lobel[5] noted that this sound change actually resulted in two features of Maranao phonology: heavy consonants and raised vowels (*[-bpa-] > [-pʰɤ-]). Aspirated consonants also developed in a similar way in Southern (Lapuyan) Subanon, but without the vowel-raising.

Sound changes
Proto-Greater Central Philippine Proto-Danao Maguindanaon Maranao
*-gp-, *-dp-, *-bp- *-bp- -bp- -ph-
*-gt-, *-dt-, *-bt- *-dt- -dt- -th-
*-gs-, *-ds-, *-bs- *-ds- -ds- -z- [sʰ]
*-gk-, *-dk-, *-bk- *-gk- -gk- -kh-


Case markers

In contrast to Tagalog which has three case markers (ang/ng/sa), and Iloko which has two (ti/iti), Maranao has four: (so/ko/o/sa).

Maranao Case Markers[12][9]
Common Personal
Case Indefinite Definite Singular Plural


so i si siki

(Direct Object)

sa o i i kisi




ko ki sa kisi

Curiously, the sa is indefinite in Maranao, whereas it is definite/specific in Cebuano and Tagalog.


Maranao pronouns can be free or bound to the word/morpheme before it.[9][13]

Meaning Nominative








I saken (a)ko aken raken
you (singular) seka ka (ng)ka[a] reka
he/she/it sekaniyan sekaniyan (n)iyan rekaniyan
we (dual) sekta ta ta rekta
we (including you) sektano tano tano rektano
we (excluding you) sekami kami (a)mi rekami
you (plural) sekano kano (n)iyo rekano
they siran siran (i)ran kiran
  1. ^ May actually be eka,[5] and assimilates with the vowel before it, as in batî ika 'your brother-in-law', and babô oka 'your aunt'.

Common words

Below are common words found in Maranao sentences, their translations in English, Cebuano, and Tagalog, and similar words in distant Philippine languages.

Maranao Cebuano Tagalog Other PH English
na kay ay is
na dayon tápos then
a nga na that is
timan buok piraso piece
den na na ren (Kinaray-a) already
pen pa pa will, soon
di dili hindi won't, isn't
da wala hindi didn't
da wala wala haven't
aden adunay mayroon there is...
ino mao iyo (Bikol-Naga) it is such
ago ug at and
atawa kon, o o or
ogaid apan, pero ngunit, subalit, pero however
o di nor (?)
langun tanan lahat all

Sample texts

Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Langon a taw na inimbawata a ndudon so kapaar ago ndatadatar sa bantogan ago kabnar. Bigan siran sa kabnar ago gagaw na aya patot a di kapakasusurota o omani isa ko kapakiphapagariya.


Ang tanang tawo kay gipakatawo nga may kagawasan ug managsama sa kaligdong. Sila gigasahan og pangisip ug tanlag ug mag-ilhanay sa usa'g usa sa diwa managsoon.


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Noun phrases

These phrases were taken from Alonto's[12] Maranao Drills.
Legend: topic, direct object, indirect object, possessive, verb

Maranao Cebuano English
Pephamasa so babay sa seda. Gapalit ang babaye og isda. The woman is buying fish.
Pephamasa si Rocaya sa seda. Gapalit si Rocaya og isda. Rocaya is buying fish.
Pephamasa siki Tearde sa seda. Gapalit silang Tearde og isda. Tearde and friends are buying fish.
Pephamasa ako sa seda. Gapalit ko og isda. I am buying fish.
Pephamasa ka sa seda. Gapalit ka og isda. You are buying fish.
Pephamasa sekaniyan sa seda. Gapalit sila og isda. He/she is buying fish.
Pephamasa ta sa seda. Gapalit tang duha og isda. You and I are buying fish.
Pephamasa tano sa seda. Gapalit ta og isda. We (all of us) are buying fish.
Pephamasa kami sa seda. Gapalit kami og isda. We (excl. you) are buying fish.
Pephamasa kano sa seda. Gapalit kita og isda. We (incl. you) are buying fish.
Pephamasa siran sa seda. Gapalit sila og isda. They are buying fish.
Pephamasa aya sa seda. Gapalit ni siya og isda. This guy are buying fish.
Pephamasa nan sa seda. Gapalit nâ siya og isda. That guy near you is buying fish.
Pephamasa oto sa seda. Gapalit kato siya og isda. That guy over there is buying fish.
Maranao Cebuano English
Mala i arga so bangkala o maistra. Mahal ang sanina sa maestra. The teacher's clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala i Akmad. Mahal ang sanina ni Akmad. Akmad's clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala i kisi Akmad. Mahal ang sanina nilang Akmad. Akmad and co.'s clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala aken. Mahal ang sanina nako. My clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala aka. Mahal ang sanina nimo. Your clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala iyan. Mahal ang sanina niya. His/her clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala ta. Mahal ang sanina natong duha. Our (you and me) clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala tano. Mahal ang sanina nato. Our (all of us) clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala ami. Mahal ang sanina namo. Our (excl. you) clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala iyo. Mahal ang sanina ninyo Our (incl. you) clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga so bangkala iran. Mahal ang sanina nila. Their clothes are expensive.
Mala i arga a bangkala ini. Mahal ni nga sanina. This clothing is expensive.
Mala i arga a bangkala a nan. Mahal nga sanina. That (with you) clothing is expensive.
Mala i arga a bangkala oto. Mahal to nga sanina. That (over there) clothing is expensive.
Maranao Cebuano English
Somiyong so panginginseda sa maistra. Miadto ang mangingisda sa maistra. The fisherman went to the teacher.
Somiyong so panginginseda ki Akmad. Miadto ang mangingisda kang Akmad. The fisherman went to Akmad.
Somiyong so panginginseda sa kisi Akmad. Miadto ang mangingisda ilang Akmad. The fisherman went to Akmad and family/friends.
Somiyong so panginginseda sii raken. Miadto ang mangingisda sa akoa. The fisherman went to me.
Somiyong so panginginseda sa reka. Miadto ang mangingisda sa imoha. The fisherman went to you.
Somiyong so panginginseda sa rekaniyan. Miadto ang mangingisda sa iyaha. The fisherman went to him/her.
Somiyong so panginginseda sii rektano. Miadto ang mangingisda sa atoa. The fisherman went to us.
Somiyong so panginginseda sii rekami. Miadto ang mangingisda sa amoa. The fisherman went to ours.
Somiyong so panginginseda sa rekiyo. Miadto ang mangingisda sa inyoha. The fisherman went to yours.
Somiyong so panginginseda sa rekiran. Miadto ang mangingisda sa ilaha. The fisherman went to their house.
Somiyong so panginginseda saya. Miadto ang mangingisda diri/dinhi. The fisherman went here.
Somiyong so panginginseda san. Miadto ang mangingisda dirâ/dinhâ. The fisherman went there (near you).
Somiyong so panginginseda roo. Miadto ang mangingisda didto/diadto. The fisherman went there (far away).

Time and Space

Maranao Cebuano English
Anda i kiyapakaoma ngka sa Marawi? Anus-a'y balik nimo sa Marawi? (Literal) When was your arrival in Marawi? (Literal)
Kanus-a ra ka mibalik og Marawi? (Actual) When did you arrive here in Marawi? (Actual)
Isako Isnin. Atong miaging Lunes. Last Monday.
Isako Salasa. Atong miaging Martes. Last Tuesday.
Isako Arbaa. Atong miaging Mirkules. Last Wednesday.
Isako Kamis. Atong miaging Hoybis. Last Thursday.
Isako Diyamaat. Atong miaging Birnis. Last Friday.
Isako Sapto. Atong miaging Sabado. Last Saturday.
Isako Akad. Atong miaging Dominggo. Last Sunday.
Antonaa oras i kiyasong ka sa sine? Unsa nga oras ang pag-adto nimo sa sinehan? (Literal) What time was your travel to the movies?(Literal)
Unsang orasa ka miadto sa sinehan? (Actual) What time did you go to the movies? (Actual)
Manga ala una i midiya . Mga ala una i midiya . Around one thirty.
Anda i kambaling ka sa Amerika? Kanus-a ang pagbalik nimo sa Amerika? (Literal) When will your return to America be?(Literal)
Kanus-a ka mobalik og Amerika? (Actual) When will you return to Amerika? (Actual)
Anda i kiyabaling ka sa Amerika poon sa Saudi? Anus-a ang balik nimo sa Amerika gikan sa Saudi?(Literal) When was your return from Saudi to America?(Literal)
Anus-a ra ka mibalik sa Amerika gikan og Saudi? (Actual) When did you return to America from Saudi? (Actual)
Maranao Cebuano English
sa liwawaw a lamisan sa ibabaw/taas sa lamisa on top of the table
sa dilalem a lamisan sa ilalom sa lamisa beneath of the table
sa kilid a lamisan sa kilid sa lamisa to the side of the table
sa poro a lamisan sa suok sa lamisa on the corner of the table
sa diwang a lamisan sa wala sa lamisa to the left of the table
sa kawanan a lamisan sa tuo sa lamisa to the right of the table
sa soled a Masgit sa sulod sa Mosque inside of the Mosque
sa liyo a Masgit sa gawas sa Mosque outside of the Mosque
sa una-an a Masgit sa unahan sa Mosque just past the Mosque
sa talikudan a Masgit sa likod/luyo sa Mosque behind of the Mosque
sa pantag a Masgit sa atubangan sa Mosque in front of the Mosque

Verbs and Time

Maranao Cebuano English
Mbaling siran imanto. They are going home now.
Phaginom siran oman gawii. They drink every day.
Mitharo siran kagai. They spoke yesterday.
Pelalakaw siran roo mapita. They will walk tomorrow.
Miyakasong siran roo den. They have gone there already.
Miyakailay ako den. sa totul. I was able to see the report.
Miyakailay ako sa pirak sa lalan. I happened to see some money on the road.
Makapengadi pen siran. They can still study.
Petero kano pasin. Please speak, (you guys).


Type Maranao Cebuano English
Present / Progressive Penggalebek ka oman gawii? Gatrabaho ka kada adlaw? Do you work every day?
Di! Dili! No, I don't!
Past Mitharo ka kagiya? Misturya ka kaganina? Did you speak a while ago?
Da! Wala! No, I didn't!
Future Phatawag ka roo imanto? Motawag ka unya? Will you call later on?
Di! Dili! No, I won't!
Possessions Aden a karoma ngka? Aduna ba ka'y asawa? Do you have a wife?
Da! Wala! No, I don't have!
Qualities Abogado kabesen? Abogado ba ka? Are you a lawyer?
Di! Dili! No, I'm not!

Manga, A, Aden, Da

Maranao Cebuano English
Piyamasa aken so manga seda. Paliton nako ang mga isda. I am buying fish.
Mapiya a mayor si Akmad. Maayo nga mayor si Akmad. Akmad is a good mayor.
Aden a maistro aken. Anaa ang maistro nako. (Literal) My teacher exists (Literal)
Aduna ko'y maistro. (Actual) I have a teacher. (Actual)
Da a kwarta aken. Wala ang kwarta nako. (Literal) My money does not exist. (Literal)
Wala ko'y kwarta. (Actual) I don't have money. (Actual)

Object-focus Sentences

Tense Maranao Cebuano English
Present Pemasaan ko so libro. Paliton nako ang libro. I am buying book.
Past Pipesa ko so walay. Gibaligya nako ang balay. I sold the house.
Present Pemasaan aken so libro. Paliton nako ang libro. I am buying book.
Past Piyamasa aken so kamays. Paliton nako ang mais. I bought the corn.
Future (-en) Barbikiun giya i. Barbikyuhon nako ni. I will barbecue this.
Future (-en) Kupiyaan[ObjVerb 1] giya i. Kopyahon nako ni. I will copy this.
Future (i-) Ipelebeng aken anan. Ilubong nakô nâ. I will say that.
Future (i-) Imbegay aken anan. Ihatag nako nâ. I will barbecue that.
Future (-an) Pembisitaan aken anan. Bisitahan nako nâ. I will visit that.
Future (-an) Bayadan aken anan. Bayran nako nâ. I will pay that.
Command (-a) Pageda ngka ini. Sakyi ni. Ride this.
Command (-an) Sigopan angka nan. Suyopi nâ. Smoke that.
Command (-i) Galidi ngka nan. Aniha nâ. Harvest that.


  1. ^ The /e/ was assimilated as [a] due to -a from "kupiya."

See also


  1. ^ "2020 Census of Population and Housing, Report No. 2A - Demographic and Housing Characteristics (Non-Sample Variables)" (PDF). Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  2. ^ Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (2013). Ortograpiyang Pambansa [National Orthography] (PDF) (in Filipino). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 12, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  3. ^ Mëranaw is the spelling recommended by the Commission on the Filipino Language[2]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Lobel, Jason William (2013). Philippine and North Bornean Languages: Issues in Description, Subgrouping, and Reconstruction (PDF) (Ph.D. dissertation). University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Lobel, Jason William; Riwarung, Labi Hadji Sarip (2009). "Maranao Revisited: An Overlooked Consonant Contrast and its Implications for Lexicography and Grammar". Oceanic Linguistics. 48 (2): 403–438. doi:10.1353/ol.0.0040. JSTOR 40783537. S2CID 145549504.
  6. ^ Ethnologue
  7. ^ a b "Maranao Language and Alphabet". Omniglot. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  8. ^ Rubino, Carl. "Maranao".
  9. ^ a b c d e McKaughan, Howard P.; Macaraya, Batua A. (1967). A Maranao Dictionary (PDF). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  10. ^ Lobel, Jason William; Riwarung, Labi Hadji Sarip (2011). "Maranao: A Preliminary Phonological Sketch With Supporting Audio". Language Documentation & Conservation. 5: 31–59. hdl:10125/4487.
  11. ^ Allison, E. Joe (1979). "Proto-Danaw: A Comparative Study of Maranaw, Magindanaw, and Iranun". In Gallman, A.; Allison, E.; Harmon, C.; Witucki, J. (eds.). Papers in Philippine Linguistics No. 10. Pacific Linguistics Series A – No. 55. Canberra: The Australian National University. pp. 53–112. doi:10.15144/PL-A55.53.
  12. ^ a b Alonto, Almahdi G.; Adam, Abdullah B.; Zorc, R. David (2009). Lobel, Jason (ed.). Maranao Dialogs and Drills. Hyattsville, Md.: Dunwoody Press. ISBN 978-1-931546-65-2.
  13. ^ Kaufman, Daniel (2010). "The Grammar of Clitics in Maranao". In Billings, Loren; Goudswaard, Nelleke (eds.). Piakandatu Ami: Dr. Howard P. McKaughan (PDF). Manila: Linguistic Society of the Philippines and SIL Philippines. pp. 132–157. ISBN 978-971-780-026-4 – via SIL.