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Cordillera Languages

The different languages in the Cordillera Administrative Region and why the Cordillerans speak Ilocano.

 |  4 min read

Igorot Jesus and his twelve disciples | The Cordillera Life
Igorot Jesus and his twelve disciples The Cordillera Life

The Cordillera Administrative Region has the most diversified dialects among the regions in the Philippines. Each dialect even has respective variations per town or even per barangay. The diversity in Cordillera languages can be attributed to the divisions caused by mountain ranges across the region.

Because of the diversity of the languages, the Cordillera people informally set a meeting-point language, the Ilocano. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 39.83% of the households in the region speak Ilocano.

Apart from Ilocano, here are the different Cordillera languages spoken in every province according to Ethnologue.

Abra

  • Itneg

    The Itneg dialect has five dialects namely Binongan, Inlaod, Maeng, Masadiit, and Moyadan.

  • Adasen

    This is spoken in northeastern parts of Abra.

  • Mabaka Valley Kalinga

    A dialect of the Kalinga language spoken in western parts of the province.

  • Northern Kankanaey

    Northern Kankanaey is spoken in Tubo municipality.

Apayao

  • Isnag

    This language is divided into Bayag, Dibagat-Kabugao, Calanasan, Karagawan, and Talifugu-Ripang dialects.

  • Adasen

    Adasen is closely similar to Isnag and is spoken in the western parts of Apayao.

  • Limos Kalinga and Mabaka Valley Kalinga

    Dialects of the Kalinga language spoken in Conner municipality.

Benguet

  • Kankanaey

    The variations of the Kankanaey language include Mankayan-Buguias, Kapangan, Bakun-Kibungan, and Guinzadan dialects.

  • Kankanaey proper

    This is spoken in the northern parts of Benguet.

  • Ibaloi

    This language has close similarities with the Pangasinan language. Its dialects include Daklan, Kabayan, and Bokod.

  • Western Kalanguya

    A dialect under Kalanguya language spoken in the municipality of Bokod.

Ifugao

  • Ifugao

    Its main dialects are Amganad, Batad, Mayoyao, and Tuwali.

  • Northern Kalanguya

    A variation of Kalanguya spoken in Tinoc municipality.

Kalinga

  • Balangao

    This language is spoken in Tanudan municipality.

  • Kalinga

    Ethnologue divided Kalinga into 8 different languages namely Butbut, Limos, Lubuagan, Mabaka Valley, Majukayang, Southern, Tanudan, and Banao. These 8 languages are further diversified into their respective dialects.

  • Masadiit Itneg

    A dialect of the Itneg language spoken in the western border strip of Kalinga.

Mountain Province

  • Bontoc

    Otherwise known as Finallig, this language is spoken in Bontoc. It has five variations which are Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern, and Southwestern Bontoc.

  • Majukayang Kalinga

    A dialect of the Kalinga language spoken in Paracelis municipality.

  • Northern Kankanaey

    A language spoken in Western Mountain Province.

3 Common Phrases Translated in Cordilleran languages

1. Good morning!

  • Mapteng ja agsapa (Ibaloi)
  • Maphod di bigat mo (Amganad- Ifugao)
  • Maphod an biggat (Batad- Ifugao)
  • Maphod an nanong mu (Mayoyao- Ifugao)
  • Mayat an biggatna (Tuwali- Ifugao)
  • Naimbag nga agsapa( Ilocano)
  • Napiya nga algaw (Isnag)
  • Nabalu ay wakas ( Itneg- Binongan and Maeng)
  • Bag araoyo ( Moyadan- Itneg)
  • Napiye un al-algaw (Lubuagan-Kalinga)
  • Napiya un gidgidam (Southern Kalinga)
  • Gawis ay agsapa (Kankanaey)

2. What's your name?

  • Ngachan mo? (Bontoc)
  • Nganto y ngaran mo? (Ibaloi)
  • Hipay ngadan nu? (Ifugao)
  • Ania ti nagan mo? (Ilocano)
  • Sinon ngadan mo? (Kankanaey)

3. Yes

  • Wen (Ilocano, Northern Kankanaey)
  • Aw (Kankanaey Proper)
  • Owen (Ibaloi)
  • Kon (Kalinga- Tanudan Area)
  • Bo (Binongan- Itneg)

Now what?

Learning the different Cordilleran languages can be challenging but it will be worth it. Being articulate in any of the dialects will make your journey in the Cordillera more educational and enjoyable.

If you are a Cordilleran and you are not fluent in your native dialect yet, I challenge you to learn and speak your dialect. Being fluent in our mother tongue connects us deeper to our roots. Learn the vocabulary of the Igorot people!

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.

If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.- Nelson Mandela

If you are a tourist planning to visit a place in the Cordillera, I highly encourage you to learn some of the basic phrases in the dialect of the place you plan to visit.


About the author: This article (revised) was shared exclusively by our friend Donnabeth Tolano-Aniban with the Igorotage team. Donnabeth is a licensed Filipino nurse and a former teacher. She now works as an academic writer and also writes on Medium. Her work has been featured in Her View From Home and When In Manila. You can get her book "50 Ideas For A Great Life" on Shopee.

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