Grammatical information

With the exception of a few items whose grammatical status is difficult to determine, all headwords are classified according to one or more of the following categories, listed below with their abbreviations:

With the exception of a few items whose grammatical status is difficult to determine, all headwords are classified according to one or more of the following categories, listed below with their abbreviations:

adj adjective n noun
adv adverb neg negative
art article num numeral
conj conjunction ptl particle
dem demonstrative pron pronoun
excl exclamation ques question
kin kinship term stat stative verb
loc locative ti time
meas measure v active verb
voc vocative

Sub-categories of some of the above word classes are marked by a numeral following the abbreviation. An explanation of the function of some of these categories will now be given.

Adjective.Adjectives are descriptive words used to modify nominals. They cannot be inflected for tense. The following sub-categories are distinguished on the basis of affixation:

adj  unaffixed, e.g., daké, kittóy, andó.

adj 2 prefixed with ma-, e.g., dam-ét,lángta.

adj 3 prefixed with na-, e.g., penék, ánsay.

adj 4 prefixed with ka- + CV-. This sub-category is derived from active verb roots and indicates that the nominal it modifies has the ability to produce the state or activity designated by the root, e.g., kaeetngá ‘surprising’, kaeegyát ‘frightening’, kasisíyek ‘laughable’.

adj 5 prefixed with maka-. This sub-category indicates that the nominal modified is habitually characterized by the state or activity designated by the root, e.g., makabéteng ‘drunkard’, makaeétek ‘liar’, makaling-án ‘forgetful’.

adj 6 affixed with na…an + CV- . This sub-category indicates the same thing as adj 5, e.g., naaangátan ‘easily provoked’.

There are also a number of adjectives which occur with the historical prefix a-, which is no longer productive in the language. Such forms are now lexicalized as roots, but the presence of the historical prefix can still be identified by means of contrasting reduplication patterns in the language, one of which reduplicates the first CVC of the root, the other the first CVC of the affix + root, e.g., addawí ‘far’ may be reduplicated as adawdawí ‘farther’ or ad-addawí ‘slightly far’.

Most adjectives are not inflected for number. The singular and plural forms of those that are will be indicated by the abbreviations sg. and pl. immediately following the word class.

Pronoun.Three classes of personal pronouns are distinguished. Members of classes one and two are clitics, but in the interests of having the orthography conform as closely as possible to that of the national language, pronouns are attached to the preceding element only where morphophonemic changes occur. In the following examples, underlining identifies the item being exemplified.

pron1 Pronouns of this class function as the single direct argument of the predicate.

Mankaskaskásaksikáiw. ‘I am stripping bark off wood.’

       Nasnítak sinkali na. I was offended by his words.’

pron2 Members of this class function as the possessor in a noun phrase, or as the Actor with a transitive verb.

       Doóy di beéy ko. ‘There’s my house.’

Indawát ko din itlóg en sis-iyá. ‘I gave her the egg.’

pron3 These pronouns function as non-Actor arguments, whether direct or indirect (following en), or as the first noun phrase in a NP-NP sentence.

Ay dinespég mos sis-iyá? ‘Did you hit him?’

       Idawát mo kod en sak-én. ‘Please give it to me.’

       Sak-én di makaammó sin inóm. ‘I will be the one responsible for drinks.’

Demonstrative.Four classes of demonstratives are distinguished.

dem1 Members of this class must stand alone in the noun phrase. They may function as a direct non-Actor argument of a transitive verb or as the single argument of an intransitive predicate.

Ipáyag mo na sin lamisáan. ‘Put this on the table.’

Maawátan sa. ‘That can be understood.’

dem2 Demonstratives of this class function as the Actor with a transitive verb, or as a possessive, following a noun.

Ginópak niná din itlóg. ‘This one broke the eggs.’

Mattadém din bangíg niná. ‘This one’s machete is sharp.’

dem3 These demonstratives function as deictics (pointing out something, as this one, that one);  they may be in the predicate position, or in a noun phrase, connected to the noun by the linker ay.

       Doóy di beéy ko. ‘There’s my house.’

Indawát na sin anák na ay sána. ‘He gave it to that child of his.’

dem4 Demonstratives of this class mark location.

Máek das na. ‘They will sleep here.’

Ay way ipogáw issá? ‘Is anybody there?’

Noun.Nouns include various nominal classes, of which three have been separately categorized as kinship terms, measures, and numerals (described below). Basic nouns occur as unaffixed roots. (Nouns may also be derived from verbs, adjectives, or other nouns by wide variety of derivational affixes.) Nouns generally occur unmarked for number, except to eliminate amiguity. Regular plural is formed by CV- reduplication of the root and collective plural by CVCCV – reduplication of roots, e.g., aanák ‘children’, papádi ‘priests’, kabisabisáang ‘herd of pigs’, kaipoipogáw ‘crowd of people’, kasoldasoldádo ‘group of soldiers’. A number of specialized uses of plural also occur with kinship terms. These are specified in the body of the entry to which they pertain.

Kinship term.Kinship terms may be divided into three categories.

kin1 Terms in this class indicate a reciprocal relationship in which the individuals so related use the same term to refer to each other. These terms may be prefixed with sin-, which means ‘one unit of’, e.g., sin-apó ‘grandparent and grandchild’, sin-agí ‘siblings, cousins’.

kin2 Terms in this class are used of non-reciprocal relationships, but may be prefixed with sin-, e.g., sin-iná ‘mother and daughter’, sin-iyógtan ‘older and younger brother’.

kin.3 This class of terms can neither be prefixed with sin- nor indicate a reciprocal relationship. Most derived kinship terms belong to this class, e.g., panginnaén ‘aunt’, innapó ‘child-in-law’.

Measure.meas Nouns in this class are obligatorily preceded by a numeral. They may indicate units of counting or of measure, e.g., opát ay líbo ‘four thousand’, dowáy dángan ‘two spans’.

Particle.ptl This term designates a class of nearly fifty nuanced semantic particles or adjuncts, cross-referenced according to ten semantic groupings – repetition, surprise, emphasis, certainty, uncertainty, specification, objection, concession, explanation, and request. There is considerable variationin pragmatic function, especially when they co-occur. Some particles can attract pronouns and other adjuncts to a pre-predicate position.[3]

Time.Time words fall into three categories.

ti1 Words in this class refer to past time only. They are generally preceded by the article ed, e.g., ed on-oná ‘day before yesterday’.

ti2 Members of this class refer to future time only. They are usually preceded by the article si, e.g., si awní ‘later’, si bigát ‘tomorrow’.

ti3 Members of this category may refer to either past or future time, depending on the article with which they are used, e.g., ed tawén ‘last year’, si dowáy tawén ‘two years from now’.

Verb.Verb entries are given as root forms, although verbs virtually always have agreement affixes.[4] Causative stems may be created with the prefix pa-. In a clause, agreement affixes cross-reference one of the NPs in the clause, the particular affix indicating the general semantic role of that NP, which is always a direct argument of the verb and marked by the article di(n). The cross-referencing affixes are marked for incomplete or complete aspect (or non-past and past tense). The agreement affixes are shown in the table below, divided into the kinds of verbs they create, whether active or stative.[5]

Active Verbs Stative Verbs
Semantic Role Incomplete Complete Incomplete Complete
Actor, agent mang- nang-
Actor, agent man- nan-
Mover, Patient of changed state -om- -inom-/-inm-
Patient (most affected) -en -in- ma- na-
Goal or location (less affected) -an -in…an ma…an na…an
Theme (moved) i- ini-/in- mai- nai-
Beneficiary i…an ini…an/ in…an mai…an nai…an

The primary functions of the agreement affixes are summarized below along with an explanation of how they are used in the dictionary.

With Actor/agent cross-reference on the verb, the interest is in the nature of the activity being performed, rather than its effect.  Thus, the affected entity, if there is one, is either non-specific or only partially affected, and is not a direct argument of the verb (it is marked with the oblique article).

The prefix man- is much more common than mang-, which  occurs as the Actor cross-reference with only a handful of verbs, such as ákew, kan, káiw, and sádong, most of which cannot be affixed with man-.

Depending on the root, man- may also indicate reciprocal or reflexive action.

Nan-asáwa dad tawén. ‘They got married last year.’

Enák man-emés ed gináwang. ‘I’m going to bathe at the river.’

In such cases, where the function of man- is not readily predictable, or with roots affixable only with man-, it is included in the body of the entry following the category symbol. Otherwise, the man- prefix is omitted as redundant.

The infix -om- is used to indicate partial action or action that is potential or incipient. Four sub-categories are distinguished.

-om-1 process – indicates development of a quality or condition or commencement of an action; used most frequently with descriptives and verbs of motion or body position.

Emeyák ed gináwang. ‘I am going to the river.’

Masepsép ay bomaknáng mo mansángbo. ‘He will become even richer if           he offers the prescribed sacrifice.’

-om-2 causative – indicates that the subject is causing or has the potential to cause the state described by the root.

Beméteng nan tápey. ‘This rice beer is intoxicating.’

Somkáw mo mandagém. ‘It’s chilly when the wind is blowing.’

-om- 3 reversal (may include –om-2) – indicates that the action is directed toward someone higher than the actor on the animacy scale (1st person>2nd person>3rd person>animate>inanimate).

       Adi ka somiyesíyek. ‘Stop laughing at me.’

Komát din áso! ‘The dog bites! (Watch out!)’

-om- 4 partitive – indicates that the action is performed on part of the object only; may also be used on roots affixed with i-.

Komawét ka sin itlóg sin kobóngan. ‘Reach in and get some of the eggs in         the chicken nest.’

Omidawát ka kod si esá. ‘Please give me one of them.’

With non-Actor agreement affixes, the interest is in the effect of the action. With stative verbs, this is the sole interest, while with active verbs, the Actor NP is also a direct argument of the verb and is also of interest. (The Actor NP in these clauses is marked by the bound article ndi(n) or as pronoun 2 and always precedes any other NPs.)

The suffix -en cross-references the specific thing that undergoes or is most directly affected by an action. It is most frequently associated with the semantic role of patient.

The suffix -an cross-references the specific thing indirectly affected by the action, generally the range, site, or location where the action is performed. Where no contrast with a more directly affected element exists, the cross-referenced item may be viewed as undergoing the action, e.g., labá (below).

The prefix i- cross-references a specific thing which is viewed as undergoing a change of position. In some cases this element can be identified semantically as instrument or concomitant, but in essentially all cases, the shared semantic component is that of positioning or movement. This can even be seen in an abstract sense in verbs of mental activity, e.g., nemnemén ‘to think about’, inemném ‘to call to mind’.

The affix i…an cross-references the entity for the benefit of which, toward which, or away from which an action is performed. Examples of each of these uses are given below.

En ka ibayóan din mansakít. ‘Go pound rice for the sick one.’

Indawtán Mónte si dakamí si loktó. ‘Monte gave us some sweet potatoes.’

Inlayawán da din kaíbaw da. ‘They escaped from their enemies.’

With verbs where two or more affixes cross-reference the same element, the above criteria will generally serve to disambiguate the situation. For example, the root labá ‘to wash clothes’ uses either –an or i- to cross-reference the specific clothes being washed. –an is used when no movement of clothes is in view, i- when clothes are taken to be washed or an item of clothing is added to clothes already being washed.

Unusual affixation with a root is specified in the body of the entry (see takéd).

Stative verbs.There are many roots in Kankanaey which occur only with the ma-/na- stative affixation; these verbs cross-reference the NP that is described as being in that state. Many other roots that take active cross-reference also have stative counterparts as shown in the chart. For these verbs, the stative affixes have not been listed unless their meaning or occurrence is in some sense unpredictable. In Kankanaey stative constructions, specific non-human agents are sometimes expressed, but human agents are expressed only when the agent is interpreted as non-agentive (unintentional).

      Ed England, naílak di snow.‘In England, I had the chance to see snow.’

If an affixed verb is preceded by an article, it functions as a NP, referring to the argument cross-referenced by the affix. When nominalizing Actors of transitive verbs, the prefix mang- is used. There is also a complete set of affixes forming nominals of time or place (pang…an, pan…an, -om…an, ma…an, mai…an).  Nominalized verbs are used in relative clauses or in contrastive constructions, as below.

din dámo ay pastór ay inbáan di distríto mi... ‘The first pastor that our district sent...’

           Sin ágew ay nangawátak sin pilák...  ‘On the day that I received the money...’

            Sak-én di mangidawát sin manók. ‘I (not someone else) will give it to the chickens.’

Other aspect information is indicated by reduplicating the first part of the stem. Kankanaey uses three reduplication patterns as summarized below. (C and V indicate consonant and vowel)

CV-  reduplication indicates a) continuity over a period of time of a state or activity already begun, b) repetition, or c) plurality. For example,

Manbibbilág din áso. ‘The dog is lying in the sun.’

Síno din omaalágey sidí? ‘Who is that standing there?’

Man-aábat da sin kantína. ‘They are all meeting at the store.’

CVC- reduplication with incomplete aspect indicates that an action or state is a) being initiated, b) in process, c) repeated or customary; with complete aspect, it indicates a repeated or customary action or state in the past or one that takes place over a period of time. For example,

Omal-alágey din mistalá. ‘The teacher is standing up.’

Manbilbilág si lángpin. ‘She is putting out diapers in the sun.’

Nan-ab-ábat kamíd tawén. ‘We met often last year.’

CVC(C )V-reduplication indicates intensive or often repeated action or state. For example,

Dedá ay omogaógas Lángdew. ‘Langdew is still crying and crying.’

Nemnenemneména mo intóy iyát na ay lomayáw. ‘He kept thinking about how he could escape.’

Certain verbs infixed with -om- are optionally marked for number by inserting -an- before the first vowel of the root, e.g.,

Lomanoblób din besáang sin matíkid. ‘The pigs are rooting on the slope.’

Omanáyam da sin balliwáng. ‘They’re playing in the front yard.’

Irregular grammatical information.Where a form exhibits exceptional or unpredictable behavior in regard to a phonological or grammatical rule, the nature of this irregularity is indicated following the grammatical class label and affix designation. Irregularities most frequently encountered are: 1) exceptions to phonological rules, especially vowel deletion (see laém); 2) obligatory reduplication (see óta); 3) forms suffixed with –an  which are now frozen as verb roots and which mark the referent cross-reference by the root alone (see bay-án);  and 4) verb forms which occur only in incomplete or complete aspect, but not both (see a (1)).

Gloss.The following conventions have been used in formulating and arranging the glosses: If an entry word has one basic sense whose semantic range includes several English words, these words are separated by commas. Distinct semantic senses which have a major semantic component in common are separated by semi-colons. Senses which share no major semantic component but are nonetheless related are divided into separate sections marked by small letters with single parentheses. These sections are separated by periods.

Variant forms, grammatical information, examples, and cross-references are found in the section to which they pertain, given the following qualifications: If a synonym or variant form applies to only one section of an entry, it will be listed in the normal position following the gloss and example sentences for that section. If it applies to more than one section, it will be given preceding the body of the first section (see bówan (2)).

Grammatical information common to more than one section is sometimes given preceding the first section heading, e.g., v. –en, i- a), in order to eliminate redundancy. Generally, however, such information follows the section headings.

A large number of headwords have more than one grammatical function. Where this is the case, grammatical labels are given in the following order, preceding the particular sense in the gloss to which they apply: noun, adjective, verb, stative, to list only the most frequently occurring categories.

An important part of the gloss is an indication of the range of collocability for any given form. Where a form applies only to a limited, specific class of items, this class is indicated following ‘of’, at the end of the gloss.

ing-ing ‘to hurt from pressure under water, of the ears’

lopék ‘to be decayed, rotten, of wood and runo’

Where it is not possible to identify a specific class, examples of typical collocations are given following ‘as’.

talegtég ‘to cut up into small pieces, as wood, vegetables, dried manure’

galasógas ‘to be rough to the touch, as bark, sandpaper’

Frequently, a combination of the above is given to indicate typical examples of a specific class of items.

páo (1) ‘old, decayed, of natural tying materials, as rattan, vine, not rope’

sángag ‘to have a dull ache, of the stomach, as from eating too much hot pepper’

Where a word collocates almost exclusively with a particular item, but where it is not desirable to explicitly exclude other collocations, this item is given following ‘esp.’ (especially).

gasgás ‘to brush s.t., esp. teeth’

ísik ‘to mistreat, be mean to, esp. children to one another’

Example.Examples are given for a number of entry words to illustrate their usage in typical grammatical or cultural contexts. Where information from a situational context is needed to clarify the meaning of the sentence, such information is provided in parentheses in the English free translation. A number of examples come from recorded texts, but most were elicited directly from language assistants.

Semantic field.Words which share one or more semantic features are regarded as forming a semantic field. Such words are extensively cross-referenced to enable the language learner to identify words he does not know by looking them up under semantically related words which he does know.

Specific terms included within the meaning of a more general term are cross-referenced to the general word by use of ‘gen.’ (general). Under the general term, the specific terms will be cross-referenced by ‘sp.’ (specific).

Words belonging to some discrete semantic set which does not have a general headword are cross-referenced to each other by ‘see’ and ‘cf.’ The full set is listed at only one place in the dictionary, usually under the entry word closest to the beginning of the alphabet, following the notation ‘cf.’ Other members of the set are cross-referenced to the entry where the full set occurs by the notation ‘see’. Members of a set are listed in alphabetical order except where chronological order is in view, e.g., stages in the growth of rice, months of the year.

Where a word is not considered to belong to a discrete semantic set, but is related to one or two other words in various ways, these words are cross-referenced to each other by ‘cf.’

An entry word is often associated with more than one semantic field. Where this is the case, discrete divisions are separated by semi-colons and identification of the nature of the semantic field is frequently given. An entry word may refer the reader to the headwords of other sets and at the same time function as headword of its own set, in which case a combination of notational devices will be found in the same entry.

manók            n. chicken; gen. títit; sp. kawwítan, kiyáp, obóan, oppá, pandáka, pomallasángan, togalód; for chicken calls, see pekák; for coloration patterns, cf. gáyang, gotík, pésak, pókaw.

Variants, synonyms and antonyms are distinguished by the notations ‘var.’, ‘syn.’, and ‘ant.’, respectively. They occur in the following order with respect to other semantic field notation: general, specific, synonym, variant, antonym, see, cf.

Abbreviations Not Given Above

comp. asp. complete aspect
conn. connotes
euph. euphemism
fig. figurative
id. idiom
inc. asp. incomplete aspect
s.o. someone
s.o.t. someone or something
s.t. something
s.w. somewhere
w with
w/o without

[1]A technical discussion of the Kankanaey sound system may be found in Allen, Lawrence. 1975. Distinctive features in Kankanaey.  Philippine Journal of Linguistics, 6(2):23-30.

[2]For a more detailed analysis, see Allen, Lawrence. 1977. Reduplication and cyclical rule ordering in Kankanaey morphophonemics. Studies in Philippine Linguistics 1(2):280-295. Online:

Also see Allen, Lawrence. 1980. The interaction of reduplication and phonology in Kankanaey. Philippine Journal of Linguistics 11(2):27-43.

[3]For a full analysis, see Allen, Janet L. 1978. “Kankanaey Adjuncts.” Studies in Philippine Linguistics 2(1): 82-102. Online: http//

[4]Verb roots occur as free forms in a few specialized contexts. For example,

Iyát mos wíkil. ‘use a shoving action’.

Iyát mos takóyo sin kaném. ‘Use a hand-cupping action (as a plate) for your food.’

[5]Stative verbs may be interpreted as passive when there is an active counterpart possible; the agent is not expressed. Stative verbs have only one direct NP argument.

[ja1]does it delete following i? example?