Northern Alta
Native toPhilippines
Native speakers
200 (2000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3aqn
ELPNorthern Alta
Northern Alta language map.png
Area where Northern Alta is spoken, according to Ethnologue

Northern Alta (also called Edimala) is a distinctive Aeta language of the mountains of the Sierra Madre in Aurora province, Northern Philippines. Linguist Lawrence Reid reports two different Alta languages,[2] Northern and Southern Alta, which form one of the high nodes of the Northern Luzon languages, together with the South-Central Cordilleran subgroup. Although the Alta languages are genetically related, they have a low level of mutual intelligibility.

Jason Lobel and Laura Robinson did fieldwork on Northern Alta in 2006 (Lobel 2013:87).

Alexandro García-Laguía did fieldwork for extended periods between 2013 and 2021 and created a language documentation corpus and a grammatical description of the language.

Geographical distribution

There are Northern Alta speakers known as Edimala who live in the Sierra Madre along the river valleys that flow out to the Baler plain in Aurora Province. The Northern Alta also reportedly live in Dibut, on the coast south of Baler municipality, and north of Dicapanisan. Reid (1991) collected Northern Alta data from a speaker of Malabida, who was visiting in Bayanihan, an Ilongot-speaking barangay north of Maria Aurora, Aurora at the edge of the Sierra Madre. Ethnologue also reports that Northern Alta is spoken in San Luis, Aurora.

Reid (1994)[3] lists the following locations for Northern Alta.

García-Laguía (2018) collected Northern Alta data in the barangays of Diteki, Dianed, and Decoliat.[4] García Laguía (2018) also reported that there were Alta people living in the communities of Malabida, Dimani (Barangay Villa), Dupinga, and Labi.


Northern Alta is a Philippine-type language.[5] It exhibits a voice system in which one actor voice and three different undergoer voices are distinguished. Subjects and other clause constituents are case-marked: person pronouns and demonstratives inflect for case. Determiner phrases carry a case-marking determiner at the leftmost edge of the phrase. Predicates appear in initial position except when a constituent is topicalized; in this case, a predicate marker (PM) precedes the predicate. The language distinguishes three basic clause types: equational, existential/locative, and voice-marked.

AV clause







mənhuli=sija ti ʔiʔan=i]

AV2-hunt=3s.ABS OBL fish=SP

‘he catches some fish’ (85.68) Unknown glossing abbreviation(s) (help);


  1. ^ Northern Alta at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Reid, Lawrence A. (1991). "The Alta Languages of the Philippines". hdl:10125/33016. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Reid, Lawrence A. (1994). "Possible Non-Austronesian Lexical Elements in Philippine Negrito Languages". 33 (1): 37–72. hdl:10125/32986. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ García Laguía, Alexandro-Xavier (2018). Documentation of Northern Alta: Grammar, Texts and Glossary (Ph.D. thesis). Universitat de Barcelona. hdl:10803/664081.
  5. ^ Adelaar, K Alexander; Himmelmann, Nikolaus, eds. (2004-11-25). The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar. doi:10.4324/9780203821121. ISBN 9780429236426.

Further reading

  • Reid, Lawrence A. (1991). "The Alta Languages of the Philippines" (PDF). In Harlow, Ray (ed.). VICAL 2, Western Austronesian and Contact Languages. Papers from the Fifth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. Linguistic Society of New Zealand. pp. 265–297.