Palawano language

The Palawano languages are spoken in the province of Palawan in the Philippines, by the Palawano people.

Native toPhilippines
Native speakers
97,620 (2010 census)[1]
Ibalnan, Latin alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
plw – Brooke's Point Palawano
plc – Central Palawano
plv – Southwest Palawano


There are three Palawano languages: the Quezon Palawano which is also known as the Central Palawano; Brooke's Point Palawano and it's dialect the Bugsuk Palawano or South Palawano and Southwest Palawano. The three Palawano languages share the island with several other Palawanic languages which are not part of the Palawano cluster, though they share a fair amount of vocabulary.[3]


The following overview is based on Revel-MacDonald (1979).[4]


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative s h
Nasal m n ŋ
Lateral l
Rhotic ɾ
Approximant w j


Front Back
Close i u
Open a ɔ
Phoneme Allophones
/i/ [i], [ɪ], [e], [ɛ]
/u/ [u], [ʊ], [o]
/ɔ/ [ɔ], [ə], [ä]


Verb conjugations are similar to other Filipino dialects with prefixes and suffixes indicating tense, object or actor focus, as well as intention (i.e. commands). These prefixes and suffixes can be used to create various parts of speech from the same root word. For example, biyag, meaning life, can be manipulated to mean "to live" (megbiyag), full of food (mebiyag), to raise to life (ipebiyag), living as an adjective (biyagen), or living as a present tense verb form (pebibiyag).

Palawano creates a diminutive prefix by copying the first CV of the base together with the final base consonant: kusiŋ (cat): kuŋ-kusiŋ (kitten), bajuʔ (clothing): bäʔ-bajuʔ (child’s clothing), libun (woman): lin-libun (girl), kunit (yellow): kut-kunit (yellow flycatcher (bird)), siak (tears): sik-siak (crocodile tears/false tears).[5]


The following set of pronouns are the pronouns found in the Southwest Palawano language.[6] Note: the direct/nominative case is divided between full and short forms.

  Direct/Nominative Indirect/Genitive Oblique
1st person singular ako (ko) ko daken/dag
2nd person singular ikew (ke) mo dimo
3rd person singular ya (ye) ye kenye
1st person dual kite (te) te kite
1st person plural inclusive kiteyo (teyo) teyo kiteyo
1st person plural exclusive kami (kay) kay damen
2nd person plural kemuyo (kaw) muyo dimuyo
3rd person plural diye diye kedye


There are many linguistic variations among Palawan family groups with words changing from one valley to the next (i.e. tabon for mountain verses bukid). Tagalog is frequently used to supply words lacking in the local dialect for modern objects and actions which can cause confusion, especially among the younger generation, between Tagalog and Palawan. The more familiar a family or village is with the Tagalog lowland culture, the more common the language overlap.

Some Brooke's Point Palawan words are[7]:

  • bibila` or ibeyba - friend
  • maman - uncle (also a term of respect for an older man)
  • minan - aunt (also a term of respect for an older woman)
  • indu` - mother
  • ama` - father
  • isi` - get
  • karut - sack
  • tengeldew - midday
  • mangelen - purchase/buy
  • surung - go
  • bukid or tabon - mountain
  • manga`an - eat
  • menunga - Good
  • kusing, demang, esing - cat
  • pegingin - love (noun)


  • Embe surungan mu la`? - is your friendly way of asking "Where are you going friend?", as a form of greeting.
  • Dun bukid ti`, mengisi` ku et karut - means "There, to the mountain, I will get a sack."
  • Endey mengagat - this is usually referring to the dog, as a way to say don't bite
  • Embe tena'an mu? - Where are you going?
  • Dut daya. - Up the hill
  • Menungang Meriklem. - Good morning

Comparative wordlistEdit

The following compares the Palawano languages with other Greater Central Philippine languages.

English one two three four person house dog coconut day new we (inclusive) what fire
Central Palawano 1[8] sengbat dowa telo epat taw benwa ido niyog eldew bago kiteyo ono apoy
Central Palawano 2[9] sambat duwa talu apat ta'u bənwa' idəng nyog əldaw ba'agu kiteyo ənu apoy
Southwest Palawano 1[10] isa' dua telo epat taaw benwa ideng nyug eldew bago kiteyo eno apoy
Southwest Palawano 2[11] sɔmbat dua tɔlu ɔpat ta'o bənua idɔng nyug aldɔw ba'go kiteyo ɔno apuy
Tagalog isa dalawa tatlo apat tao bahay aso niyog araw bago tayo ano apoy
Aklanon isaea, sambilog daywa tatlo ap-at tawo baeay ayam niyog adlaw bag-o kita ano kaeayo
Hiligaynon isa duha/dua tatlo apat tawo balay ido lubi adlaw bag-o kita ano kalayo

Writing systemEdit

The Ibalnan aphabet
Another sample of the Ibalnan script

Latin alphabetEdit

The spelling is controversial with multiple translators using separate spelling methods, some using Tagalog based spelling while others use other systems.[citation needed]

Brooke's Point Palawano uses 23 letters: a, b, [k], d, e, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, ng, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y, and ' (glottal stop). Borrowed: c, f, q, x, z.[12] The 'e' stands for schwa and "dy" makes a 'j' sound.

Ibalnan scriptEdit

In the 20th century, the Tagbanwa script was adopted from the Tagbanwa people by the Palawan people further south in the island[13]. They call this alphabet 'Ibalnan' and the vowel mark an ulit.[14]


  1. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing, Report No. 2A: Demographic and Housing Characteristics (Non-Sample Variables) - Philippines" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nuclear Palawan". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "Family: Palawanic". Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  4. ^ Revel-MacDonald, Nicole. 1979. Le Palawan (Philippines): phonologie, catégories, morphologie. (Langues et civilisations de l'Asie du sud-est et du monde insulindien, 4.) Paris: SELAF.
  5. ^ Blust, Robert (2013). "The Austronesian languages" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Quakenbush, J. Stephen; Ruch, Edward (2008). "Pronoun Ordering and Marking in Kalamianic" (PDF). Retrieved 23 May 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Palawano B Dictionary". Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  8. ^ Thiessen, H. Arnold (November 1974). "Palawano - Quezon Wordlist" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Sutherland, C. (October 1974). "Expanded Philippine wordlist". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Davis, Bill. "Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database: Language: S.W. Palawano". Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  11. ^ Sutherland, Craig; Thiessen, H. Arnold (October 1974). "Palawano - Mararango, Canduaga Wordlist" (PDF). Retrieved 23 May 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Palawano B Dictionary: Abakada". Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  13. ^ Miller, Christopher (2014). "A survey of indigenous scripts of Indonesia and the Philippines". Retrieved 21 May 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ "Palawano B Dictionary". Retrieved 26 May 2020.

External linksEdit