ciciring no Tao
Native toTaiwan
Native speakers
about 4000 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3tao
Lang Status 80-VU.svg
Yami language is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
Approximate location where Yami is spoken
Approximate location where Yami is spoken
Orchid Island in Taiwan
Approximate location where Yami is spoken
Approximate location where Yami is spoken
Yami (Southeast Asia)
Coordinates: 22°03′N 121°32′E / 22.050°N 121.533°E / 22.050; 121.533Coordinates: 22°03′N 121°32′E / 22.050°N 121.533°E / 22.050; 121.533

Yami language (Chinese: 雅美語), also known as Tao language (Chinese: 達悟語), is a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken by the Tao people of Orchid Island, 46 kilometers southeast of Taiwan. It is a member of the Ivatan dialect continuum.

Yami is known as ciriciring no Tao 'human speech' by its native speakers. Native speakers prefer the 'Tao' name.[1]


Yami and the other Batanic languages
Yami and the other Batanic languages

Yami is the only native language of Taiwanese aborigines that is not a member of the Formosan grouping of Austronesian; it is one of the Batanic languages also found in the northern Philippines, and as such is part of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of Austronesian.


Yami has 20 consonants and 4 vowels:[2]


Front Central Back
Close i
Mid ə o
Open a

Iraralay Yami, spoken on the north coast, distinguishes between geminative consonants (e.g., opa 'thigh' vs. oppa 'hen' form one such minimal pair).[3]


Yami consonants
Labial Alveolar Palatal Retroflex Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k (q) ʔ
voiced b d͡ʒ ɖ ɡ
Fricative v ʂ ʁ (ɦ)
Approximant l j ɻ w
Trill r



The following set of pronouns is found in the Yami language.[4]

Yami pronouns
Nominative Genitive Locative
free bound free bound
1st person singular yaken ko niaken ko jiaken
2nd person singular imo ka nimo mo jimo
3rd person singular iya ya nia na jia
1st person plural inclusive yaten ta, tamo, takamo niaten ta jiaten
1st person plural exclusive yamen namen niamen namen jiamen
2nd person plural inio kamo, kanio ninio nio jinio
3rd person plural sira sia nira da jira


The following list are verbal inflections found in Yami.[5]

Dynamic intransitive
Stative functioning as transitive


The following is a list of affixes found in Yami.[6]


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Cognates with Philippine languages

English Yami Tagalog/Ilokano/Visayan, etc.
Person tao tao (Tagalog), tawo (Cebuano Vis., Bicol)
Mother ina ina (Tagalog)[7]
Father ama ama (Tagalog), ama (Ilokano)[8]
Head oo ulo (Tagalog), ulu (Cebuano), olo (Ilokano)[9]
Yes nohon oho (Pandan Bikol, Bikol Sentral)
Friend kagagan kaibigan[what language is this?]
who sino sino, sin-o (Hiligaynon Vis.), hin-o (Waray Vis.)
they sira sila (Tagalog), sira/hira (Waray Vis.)
their nira nila[what language is this?]
offspring anak anak (Cebuano Vis.), anak (Hiligaynon Vis.), anak (Ilokano), anak (Tagalog)
I (pronoun) ko ko, -ko (Ilokano)
you ka ka, -ka (Ilokano)
day araw araw, aldaw (Ilokano), adlaw (Cebuano Vis.)
eat kanen kain, kanen (Ilokano), kaon (all Visayan)
drink inomen inumin, inomen (Ilokano)
speech ciriciring chirichirin[what language is this?] (Itbayaten Ivatan), siling (Hiligaynon Vis., 'say'), siring (Waray Vis., 'say')
and aka saka (Bikol Sentral, Calabanga variant) (historically "saka asin")
ouch Ananay Aray, Agay (Cebuano Vis.), Annay (Ilokano)
home vahay bahay, balay (Ilokano, Cebuano Vis.)
piglet viik biik (Tagalog)
goat kadling kambing, kanding (Cebuano Vis.), kalding (Ilokano)
stone vato bato (Tagalog, all Visayan, etc.)
town ili ili (Ilokano)
one ása isa (Tagalog, Hiligaynon Vis.), maysa (Ilokano), usa (Cebuano Vis.)
two dóa (raroa) dalawa (Tagalog), duha (Cebuano), dua (Ilokano)
three tílo tatlo, tulo/tuto (Cebuano Vis.), tallo (Ilokano)
four ápat apat (Tagalog, Hiligaynon Vis.), upat (Cebuano Vis.), uppat (Ilokano)
five líma lima (Cebuano Vis.), lima (Hiligaynon Vis.), lima (Ilokano), lima (Tagalog)[10]
six ánem anim (Tagalog), innem (Ilokano), unom (Cebuano Vis.), anum (Hiligaynon Vis.)
seven píto pito[what language is this?]
eight wáo walo[what language is this?]
nine síam siyam, siam (Ilokano)
ten póo sampu (Tagalog), sangapulo (Ilokano), napulo[what language is this?] (all Visayan)

Japanese loanwords

English Yami Japanese
Airplane sikoki hikouki (飛行機)
Alcohol saki sake ()
Battleship gengkang gunkan (軍艦)
Bible seysio seisho (聖書)
Christ Kizisto kirisuto (キリスト)
Doctor koysang o-isha-san? (お医者さん)
Flashlight dingki denki (電気)
Holy Spirit seyzi seirei (聖霊)
Key kagi kagi ()
Medicine kosozi kusuri ()
Monkey sazo saru ()
Motorcycle otobay ōtobai (オートバイ; 'auto bike')
Police kisat keisatsu (警察)
School gako gakkō (学校)
School bag kabang kaban ()
Teacher sinsi sensei (先生)
Ticket kipo kippu (切符)
Truck tozako torakku (トラック; 'truck')

Chinese loanwords

English Yami Mandarin Chinese
Wine potaw cio pútáojiǔ (葡萄酒)

See also


  1. ^ a b Rau & Dong 2006, p. 79
  2. ^ Rau & Dong 2006, pp. 79–80
  3. ^ Rau & Dong 2006, p. 81
  4. ^ Rau & Dong 2006, p. 123
  5. ^ Rau & Dong 2006, p. 135
  6. ^ Rau & Dong 2006, p. 135–136
  7. ^ "ACD - Austronesian Comparative Dictionary - Cognate Sets - I".
  8. ^ "amax father". ACD. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  9. ^ "quluh head". ACD. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  10. ^ "lima five". ACD. Retrieved 30 December 2022.


Further reading