Introduction

 

Yakan is an Austronesian language spoken by about 106,000 people. The Yakan people live the southern Philippines in the Sulu Archipelago, in the northernmost island of Basilan, and surrounding islands; Sakul Island; west Mindanao, and the east coast of Zamboanga.

It is the de facto language of provincial identity in Basilan province. The terrain of the island, once a volcano, is mountainous, up to 1000 meters in the center leading to gradual slopes near the coast. Many Yakan live in the lower urban areas at 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) above sea level while some live in the upper regions at 300 metres (980 ft). The land is fertile and ideal for coconut palms, fruit trees, and rubber trees.

Visitors to the region enjoy seeing the colorful cloth made from weaving pineapple and abaca fibers dyed with the leaves, roots and bark.

Another name for the language is Yacan. Yakan is classified as Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Greater Barito, Sama-Bajaw.

The Yakan people highly value their language, utilizing it for commerce and administrative purposes, in education and religion, and in oral traditional literature. The mother tongue is taught in primary schools in Basilan. A grammar of Yakan has been completed. The New Testament was completed in 1984.

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