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What writing system(s) does this language use?

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Ilocano and almost all of the languages in the Philippines are written using the Latin alphabet.

Upper case A B C D E F G H I J K L M N Ñ NG O P Q R S T U V W Z X Y Z
Lower case a b c d e f g h i j k l m n ñ ng o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Ilocano alphabet includes all of the same letters we use in English, along with 'Ñ' (enye), which the Filipinos borrowed from the Spanish, and 'Ng', a digraph already available as a single character in Baybayin.


Engraved — to carve into a material.


Colonize — to migrate and settle a place and occupy as a colony.


digraph — when two letters are used to show one sound.

How many people speak this language?

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There are 6,370,000 as of 2005. There are 2 million L2 speakers as of 2000. It is the third most spoken native language in the Philippines.

Where is this language spoken?

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Distribution of the Ilocano language

Ilocano is an Austronesian language spoken in the Philippines, primarily by Ilocano people and as a lingua franca by the Igorot people and also by the native settlers of Cagayan Valley. It is the third most-spoken native language in the country.

What is the history of this language?

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Ilocano is an Austronesian Language. It was thought that the Austronesian language came from Taiwan and migrated southwards through sailing. They first reached Batanes islands, by around 2200 BCE.

Soon after the Age of Contact came and the Philippines started trading with other people like Persians, Arabs, Malays, Indians, Japanese, and Chinese. The people who traded with the Filipinos also introduced their language and culture, and soon after the Filipinos started using words from their languages and dressed, ate, and lived like them.

The Spaniards came and introduced Spanish, taught the Filipinos Spanish, and soon after many Spanish words entered the Language. The Americans came and introduced English and encouraged the use of English, so English words also entered Ilocano. Ilocano therefore is one of the most diverse languages of the world, with Sanskrit, Malay, Javanese, Mandarin Chinese, Nahuatl, Persian, Arabic, Japanese, Spanish, and English loanwords.


loanwords — words in a language that have been borrowed from other languages.

Who are some famous authors or poets in this language?

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  • Roy V. Aragon also known as Roy Vadil Aragon is a Filipino writer writing in the Ilokano and Filipino languages. He is a fictionist and poet, and also works as a translator, an editor, a book designer. Among his awards and prizes are three third-place prizes and one second-place prize in the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature's short story contest in the Ilokano and Filipino divisions, received in 1999, 2001, 2014, and 2016, respectively.

What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?

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Sungbat Responses
wen yes
haan no
siguro probably, perhaps
Kablaaw Greetings
Kumusta? Hi, how are you?
Naimbag nak met, agyamanak. I'm fine, thank you.
Naimbag nga aldaw. Good day.
Naimbag a bigat. Good morning.
Naimbag nga udto. Good midday.
Naimbag a malem. Good afternoon.
Naimbag a rabii. Good evening.
Asa ka gikan? Where have you been?
Agyamanak Thank you
Awan anyaman. You're welcome.
Kasta pay. Good-bye.
Basic phrases
Agsasao ka iti Ingles? Do you speak English?
Ayan na banio? Where is the bathroom?
Kayatko nga . . . I like . . .
Diak magustuan ti . . . I don't like . . .
Siak ni . . . My name is . . .
Anya't nagan mo? What's your name?
Numero Numbers
maysa one
dua two
tallo three
uppat four
lima five
innem six
pito seven
walo eight
siam nine
sangapulo ten
Counting Units
gatos hundred
ribo thousand
milyon million

What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?

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Adda ti Lobok is a children song in Ilocano language. This song is simple and has many rhymes.

Adda ti lobok
Timmayab diay langit
Jakun a nakita
Bimtak met gayamen

Sayang iti kwartak
Nga pinaggatang ti lobo
Nu makan ti ginatang ko
Nabsugak pay kuma

The translation of that song is

I had a balloon
It flew to the sky
I never saw it again
Turns out it popped

My money went to waste
Buying that balloon
If I had bought food
I would be full instead


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