Dictionary Entries explained

People on one side of Basilan understand those on the other side of the island, despite the differences in pronunciation including intonation, regular sound changes, various degrees of contraction in words, and a few vocabulary items.  Some of these differences are reflected in the dictionary, and are explained in a few of the sections below.

Major and minor entries

Major entries are those with a full English gloss and usually one or more examples of how the lexical item is used. Minor entries contain only a cross-reference to the related major entry, a part of speech, and a minimal gloss.

Lexical item and variants

Each lexical item occurs in bold face at the extreme left margin of the column. Verbs are normally listed in their root forms, i.e. without affixation. A variant form, if it occurs, is listed in parenthesis in bold face following the lexical item, e.g.:

antil (var. atil) n. Ear wax; ear discharge.

When two or more main entries are homophones they are distinguished by subscripts, as in:

asang1 v. To cry constantly (about anything).

asang2 n. Gills (of fish).

On the eastern side of Basilan Island many speakers of Yakan pronounce /e/ where other speakers would use /a/. Often the /e/ form is recorded in the dictionary as a minor entry with a reference to the /a/ form where a full description is given, e.g.:

begumbun (see bagumbun) n. Dust on road.

Frequently, however, the /e/ form has not been recorded in the dictionary. So if a word cannot be found spelled with /e/ one should look for it spelled with /a/. The reverse may be true too. A word may have been recorded only in the /e/ form and never in the /a/ form. So, if it cannot be found spelled with /a/ it should be looked for spelled with /e/.

There are also a number of words in which speakers from the eastern side may drop an /l/ and instead pronounce a long vowel, e.g. pili or lalan then being pronounced as pī and lān. Other consonants are also dropped at times, e.g. /m/ in kami then being pronounced kayi or key. Not all of these differences may have come to the compiler's attention and, as the words were gathered on the eastern side of the island, most of them are written the way they are pronounced there.

An attempt has been made to identify the donor language of lexical items that have been fairly recently adopted into Yakan, but the identification is not exhaustive. Where the source is not definitive, no comment has been made.

Sense discrimination

Many lexical items have more than one sense. In this dictionary, sense distinctions are considered more basic than part of speech distinctions. Therefore the sense numbers are given before parts of speech, are in boldface, and second and subsequent senses are placed two spaces out into the left margin.

bennal  1 adj. True.

adv. Truly.

2  n. Ones’s right; to be in the right; to have the truth on one's side.

3  v. S N-, mag- O -an To admit (to have done) s.t.; confess s.t.

In a number of entries only major sense distinctions have been made, and senses that are closely related have been grouped together. Nearly synonymous senses are divided by commas. Somewhat different senses are divided by semicolons. The primary or literal sense is given first, followed by the secondary, extended, and figurative senses.

dubug (var. ubug) v. S pa-, mag- To gather around s.t., to flock together, to congregate, cluster, throng; to swarm (as insects).

Usage label

If applicable a usage label is listed immediately following the lexical item (and sense discrimination number if there is one). For example archaic, colloquial, derogatory, or euphemism.

Parts of speech

The part of speech immediately follows the sense number and usage label, if such occur. Multiple parts of speech are listed within the same entry. Each new part of speech starts on a new line. Care has been taken to find an English gloss that has the same grammatical category as the Yakan term but it was not always possible. So occasionally the English gloss will be expressed with a word of a different grammatical category. The parts of speech, with an example of each, are:

  1. noun                                          ulak    "earth, dirt"
  2. verb                                           belli    "to buy"
  3. v stat.   stative verb                    tahak  "done"
  4. adj.       adjective                        pote­   "white"
  5. adv.      adverb                           luwal   "always"
  6. pron.     personal pronoun            siye    "they"
  7. dem.     demonstrative pronoun    iyan    "that"
  8. loc.       locative pronoun              tu­u     "here"
  9. intg.      interrogative pronoun       sine   "who"
  10. conj.    conjunction                     atawa "or"
  11. prep.    preposition                     diyalem "in"
  12. ptl.       particle                          ne    "now, already"
  13. intj.      interjection                    all§     "alas"
  14. aff.        affix                             mag-  "verbal affix"


Grammatical information

The basic grammatical information for verbs has been included following the part of speech. (For a detailed description of verb affixation see Yakan Grammar 3.2 Verbs, 7 Verb classes, and 8 Verbal morphology.) Verbs function as predicates of verbal clauses and frequently (but not always) take affixes that cross-reference the absolutive NP of a clause. S stands for subject and O for object.

Whenever a particular verb takes the mag-, N-, or pa- affix to signal agreement with the subject (S) of a clause the occurring affixes are listed. If, for example, for a certain root the mag- affix requires a plural subject or object, (pl.) is written following the affix. If the action is repetitive, (repet.) is written, etc.

Affixes that signal aspect (such as ta-, maka-, -um-, etc.) and can occur on every root in the appropriate verb category have only been included when they are the most frequently occurring ones with a certain root.

Those verbs that normally occur unaffixed have no affixes listed. Also affixes that can occur with all verbs in the appropriate type of sentence as e.g. -in- (in transitive constructions) and -un (imperative) have not been listed.

If verbs require the suffix -an in transitive sentences, -an is listed following the capital O (for object).

Affixes Cew- and kum‘-/kumeN-

Two other affixes need a brief explanation. They are relatively infrequent and occur with restricted sets of verbs, especially - but not exclusively - with those describing various ways of falling and those expressing sounds.

Both affixes convey a sense of frequency of the action and/or many items being affected in the same way. They are listed with the roots with which they occur.

Cew- stands for <Consonant plus ew->, that is, the first consonant of the root equals the consonant of the affix.


hebba­- topple hewhebba­- often toppling

labo­- fall lewlabo- often falling

saget mix sewsaget many items mixed


Kum‘-/kum¦-/kumeN- are variations of each other. The kumeN- form occurs only with a few verbs.


kanat scatter kumengkanat many things scattered

powang have holes kumempowang  have many holes

Additional grammatical information

Additional grammatical information is sometimes supplied, enclosed in square brackets.

English gloss

The English gloss contains the nearest translation equivalent of the Yakan item. If there is a scientific name, it will precede the gloss. For some entries the gloss is an explanatory equivalent since there is no adequate English translation. In many glosses there is a gloss comment, enclosed in parenthesis, in addition to the gloss proper. Some examples of glosses containing a gloss comment are:

butas2 v. S pa-, mag--an (repet.) To cross (a stream or

road); to pass by (people or a place).

butasan n. Crossing (of roads or trails or of a road

crossing a river).

pogpog v. S N-, mag- O +/--an (repet.) To hit, beat s.t.

The last example above illustrates the use of the abbreviation "s.t.". In a gloss this abbreviation stands for "something or someone" except in cases where the semantic components of the lexical item exclude a human referent. Thus pogpog, above, means to hit or beat a person as well as an object.

Commas are used to separate overlapping synonyms in a gloss. Semicolons are used to separate slightly different senses that don't warrant a subentry with a different sense discrimination number.

Cultural information

Cultural information is included where it adds to the understanding of the gloss or is of general interest. It is enclosed in curly brackets {}.

Illustrative sentences

For a great majority of the entries, one or more sentences are given to illustrate the use of the lexical item and an English translation is supplied. Both the lexical item illustrated and its English translation are printed in boldface. If the lexical item is a verb the illustrative sentences contain the most common affixations.

The translations of the Yakan illustrative sentences are fairly literal.

Yakan pronouns do not distinguish gender, but English requires a distinction in the third person singular. The pronouns have therefore been translated either as masculine or feminine according to the context in which the sentence was given.


In the great majority of entries, cross-references follow the English translation of the last sample sentence. These are of four types:

(1) Cf.                      = overlapping synonyms or semantically

related words

(2) Ant.                      = antonyms; at least one component of

meaning is opposite to that/those of

the lexical item in question

(3) (See...for table)         = The lexical item appears in a table

under the entry...

(4) (See Appendix..)          = The lexical item is listed in



A number following a cross-reference (not a subscript) refers to the particular sense of the item being cross-referenced. Other senses of the cross-reference are not semantically related to the sense of the lexical item in question under which this cross-reference occurs. Subentries


Subentries are listed either at the end of an entry or at the end of an entry for a particular main sense number. They are of four types: compounds, derivatives, idioms and sayings.


Compounds are formed by juxtaposing two or more lexical items and thereby modifying the basic lexical item, e.g.

bagid n. A match (for lighting fires).

anak bagid n. A match (contents of a matchbox).

sa­i bagid n. Matchbox.

a­a   n. Person; people.

a­a ga­i takite n. Unseen beings (such as spirits, demons


Derivatives are formed from roots with derivational affixes. They may remain in the same grammatical category or change the grammatical category, e.g.

ayak v. S N-, mag- To sift; to sieve (such as flour or



ayakan (derv.) n. A sieve (for sifting flour, pounded

coffee, etc., even sand).


bohat adj. Heavy (in weight).


kabohatan (derv.) v. stat. To have difficulty (in doing

s.t.); to find s.t. difficult.


bohe­ n. Water.


sibohe­ v. S N--an, mag- To fetch water for s.o.


da­ak v. S N-, mag- [ngan-] To command, order, or tell s.o.

to do s.t.


da­akan (derv.) n. Law, command, commandment (esp. of



panganda­akan (derv.) n. Command.

damag n. Fear, cowardice.


dinamag, damagan (derv.) adj. Frightened, be afraid (of

s.t.); be cowardly.


Idioms are two or more words in a syntactic construction that have a unique meaning not deductible from the meanings of the parts. e.g.

dalum  n. Needle.

Ngandalum ne paleyin. (idiom) The rice is coming up

(starting to grow, lit. making a needle).


Sayings are usually whole clauses which give pieces of advice or common observations about life, often as metaphores. e.g.

Ga­i labo­ d¦g nangka­in p˜ diyawa­ marang. (saying) The dry       leaves of the jackfruit do not fall underneath the marang.

(Meaning: the customs of the children are like those of

their parents.)


5.1.2 Minor entries


A minor entry contains only a minimum of information. Its purpose is twofold: (1) to refer the user to a major entry where this form is treated in full, and (2) to give a short gloss.


Almost all minor entries are variant pronunciations from their respective major entry. e.g.

alamat (see ¦mat) n. Foreknowledge (acquired through omens).

engket (see angkat) v. To lift up (of airplane).


5.2 English-Yakan Index


The index is not a dictionary from English to Yakan. It is rather an alphabetical listing of the English words and phrases used as glosses for the Yakan lexical items. It has two main purposes. First, it aims to help an English speaking learner of Yakan find lexical items in the main body of the dictionary. The learner looks up the English word for a certain concept in the index to find a Yakan lexical item which expresses the same concept. When he looks up the Yakan lexical item in the dictionary he finds the English gloss which explains its meaning further and illustrative sentences which show how it is used. Second, it aids a speaker of Yakan who wants a Yakan gloss of an English word.


As in the main body of the dictionary, subscript numbers after Yakan words denote homophones. Boldfaced numbers, not subscripted, indicate sense numbers. If the word looked for occurs in a subentry, the Yakan form of the subentry is written in normal print following the major entry lexical item in boldface, e.g.

act unconcerned ga­ 1 mangg¦­-g¦­

That is, the Yakan word for 'act unconcerned' is mangg¦­-g¦­ and will be found in a subentry under ga­ sense number 1.