Han language
Pronunciation /haɴ.ɡan/
Spoken in Han archipelago; Guam; North Mariana islands; Palau; Micronesia; Han ethnic enclaves in Sierra
Native speakers approx. 147,500,000+ (globally)  (2017)
L2 – ~14,500,000
Language family
Writing system Hanzi (mainly); Zhuyin (ruby script); Latin alphabet (rarely/historically); Baybayin (historically)
Official status
Official language in Flag of Luzon Great Han Empire (official)
Flag of Sierra Sierra (co-official)
Regulated by International Order on the Han language
Language codes
ISO 639-1 hn
ISO 639-3

Han (Han Hanzi: Downpitchtone的言Highpitchtone, tr. Hànhgān) is the national language of Hani, being the most spoken member of the Hannic languages, and the eighth most-spoken language globally (by number of native speakers). As the designated national language, it has a high number of second-language speakers, including ethnic minorities, foreign ethnic enclaves, and HanSierrans.

Han has been analyzed as an split ergative–absolutive language displaying an agglutinative morphology utilizing affixation (a variety of prefixes, suffixes, and circumflexes) to inflect. While the word order is relatively free, there is a set rule that each sentence must be verb-medial, while sentence structure is typically topicalized. It is also largely a syllabic (or a moraic) language with simple phonotactics, with each syllable typically comprised of only two phonemes; a consonant and a vowel. Han is a tonal language, with about four pitch registers (falling, rising, bouncing, and high) being identified and used to differentiate homonyms from each other. There are forty dialects of Han, excluding derivative varieties including Sierran Han and Han pidgin.

Ultimately derived from Old Tagalog, it has experienced areal contact with various Sinitic languages and Middle Japanese (with Hokkien being the lingua franca for centuries until the late 19th-century) and undergone the Great Han Consonant shift (becoming moraicized and developing tone distinctions) before it has progressed into its modern identifiable form by late 18th-century. While Standard Han is based largely off the Hanyang dialect, the language as a whole is highly decentralized, exhibiting an easily noticeable dialect continuum with varieties only exhibiting a moderate degree of mutual intelligibility. There are three main dialectal groups; Northern, Central, and Southern.

The official global regulatory body of the Han language is the International Order on the Han language, which regulates its the proper usage. The Han language is written primarily in Han Hanzi, a conservative logographic script based upon Chinese characters. However, its usage is tweaked to fit the grammatical complexity of Han.




The earliest form of Han was called Old Tagalog; which had developed from a branch of Central Hannic. Early Tagalog was part of a dialect continuum that stretched from Northeast Nando to the southern half of Beido. The earliest attested document featuring the language was the Chuunju Copperplate Inscript, which written using the Baybayin script; which in-turn ultimately derives from the Brahmic scripts introduced from India. By the thirteenth century, through a series of conquests and settlement, Old Tagalog became the dominant language of southern Beido. Starting in the early sixteenth and ending in the mid-seventeenth centuries, basic syntax was reorganized to a topicalized verb-medial order (from a standard subject-prominent verb-initial order), and many infixes became prefixation; results of areal contact with the various Sinitic languages and Early Modern Japanese.

Great Han Phonetic Shift

In the eighteenth century, Sinitic languages gained official recognition, with Mandarin (based on the Nanjing dialect) becoming the official language of administration, whilst Hokkien emerged as the lingua franca of the islands, both exerting significant influence on the phonology of Old Tagalog. The usage of Baybayin was banned in-favour of Classical Chinese, though a vernacular script utilizing Hanzi characters was developed and standardized in 1740 under the reign of the Zhenmu Empress.

However, the imperial decree had only standardized changes that had started earlier, in the mid-seveteenth century. During this period, many consonant endings were either dropped or converted into separate syllables via paragoge. Other notable changes were the palatization of plosives and the unpacking of archaic diphthongs. It also marked the shift of a language that utilized stress to distinguish homonyms, to one that utilized tone, as when the ending consonants were altered, the preceding vowels developing tone distinctions. Final plosives, fricatives, and approximants having bouncing, falling, and rising pitch registers respectively.


  • initial /p/ fuses with /h/
    • unless it precedes rounded vowels (/o/, /u/, /ə)
  • final /p/ turns into fricative, turns into /ɸ/ followed by /u/
  • if intervocalic, turns into /d͡ʒ/
  • medial /l/ fuses with /r/
  • final /l/ is dropped
  • initial /s/ is palatized into /ʃ/
    • if precedes /i/ and /ɪ/
  • final /s/ is voiced, turns into /z/ followed by /u/
  • final /m/ fuses with /n/
  • palatized into /ʃ/
  • palatized into ɸ
  • initial and medial /t/
    • if precedes /u/ turns into voiceless affricate /ts/
    • if precedes /i/ and /ɪ/ palatized into /t͡ʃ/
  • final /t/ is dropped
  • if placed intervocalically, /t/ becomes a double consonant
  • palatizes into /t͡ʃ/ unless it precedes /u/
  • initial /d/
    • if precedes /u/, /i/, and /ɪ/, palatizes into /d͡ʒ/
  • final /d/ is dropped
  • initial /ŋ/ is glottalized and spirantized into /h/
  • medial /ŋ/ fuses with /ɴ/
    • if succeeded by vowel, turns into consonant cluster /ɴʔ/
  • final /ŋ/ is dropped if word is monosyllabic
  • if placed intervocalically, /h/ affricatizes into /d͡ʒ/
  • turns into /g/ followed by /u/
  • turns into /k/ followed by /u/
  • if placed intervocalically, turns into /g/


  • unpacked into /a.ɪ/
  • unpacked into /o.ɪ/
  • fuses with /o.ɪ/
  • fuses with /i/

Modern Han


Han has thirty-eight phonemes; fourteen vowels (five monophthongs and nine diphthongs) and twenty-four consonants.


Monophthongs /a/,  /ɛ/,  /i/,  /ɪ/,  /o/,  /u/,
Diphthongs /ja/,  /jɛ/,  /jo/,  /ju/,  /wa/,  /wɛ/,  /wo/,  /wu/


Bilabial Dental
Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal /m/ /n/ /ŋ/ /ɴ/
Plosive voiceless /p/ /t/ /k/ /ʔ/
voiced /b/ /d/ /ɡ/
Affricate Sibilant voiceless /t͡s/ /t͡ʃ/
voiced /d͡z/ /d͡ʒ/
Non-sibilant voiceless
Fricative Sibilant voiceless /s/ /ʃ/ /h/
voiced /z/
Non-sibilant voiceless /ɸ/
Approximant /l/ /r/


Word order

Word order is free, as long as the sentence is verb-medial (although the infinitive verb is always placed last, rendering such sentences verb-final). It is also a topic-prominent language, with the topic being typically placed at the beginning of a sentence. It is also a head-initial language, meaning the head of a phrase precedes its complement.



Verbs are morphologically complex, and are inflected with affixes (a variety of circumfixes, prefixes, and suffixes) based on focus and tense. The thematic role (agent, patient, or oblique) of the noun is directly-influenced by verb inflection, determining the verb argument's ergativity. However, the verb inflection can also be used on adjectives and nouns themselves.

There are three main patient-focus affixes, which are typically used in transitive sentences and indicate an ergative voice;

  • -in is used for objects that are moved towards the agent, objects that are permanently changed, and objects that are thought of
  • i- is used for objects which undergo a change of state
  • -an is used for items undergoing a surface change

There are three agent-focus affixes, which are typically used in intransitive sentences and indicate an accusative voice;

  • un- is externally-directed actions
  • mag- is used for internally-directed actions
  • ma is used for a few verb roots that are semantically intransitive

There are four other focus affixes

  • the locative focus refers to the location or direction of an action or the area affected by the action
  • the benefactive focus refers to the beneficiary of an action
  • the instrumental focus refers to the means by which an action is performed
  • the reasonal focus refers to the cause or reason why an action is performed

Below is a chart of the main verbal affixes, which consist of prefixes, circumfixes suffixes (with infixes in Old Tagalog becoming prefixes). In the chart, CV stands for the reduplicated first syllable of a root verb, which is usually the first consonant and the first vowel of the word. ~ stands for the root verb and indicates a circumfix.

  Past Present Future (contemplative) Infinitive
Agent focus I un- un-CV CV un-
Agent focus II naga- nag-V mag-V maga-
Agent focus III na- na-CV ma-CV ma-
Patient focus I in- in-V CV-in -in
Patient focus II ini- in-V i-CV i-
Patient focus III in~an inV~an CV~an -an
Locative focus in~an inV~an CV~an -an
Benefactive focus ini- in-V i-CV i-
Instrumental focus ijina- ijina-CV ija-CV ija-
Reasonal trigger igina- igina-CV iga-CV iga-



Nouns are inflected by the enclitic particles that mark for case, which are mostly prepositional.

common ya-
personal shi-
common nan-
personal ni-
Genitive common nanh (-nh)
personal -ni
Instrumental -han (-an)



Personal pronouns are categorised into three cases; the ergative case, the absolutive case, and the oblique case (it can either be used as a dative or locative). Personal pronouns can also be classified based on viewpoint. Possessiveness is not regarded as its own distinct case. However, the dative form of a pronoun coupled with the personal genitive marker ni (contrasting with its common form no) indicates it. As pronouns are not inflected based on gender, pronouns are gender-neutral and may be used to refer to both a male or a female.

  Absolutive Ergative
First person
First person
First person
(plural inclusive)
First person
(plural exclusive)
Second person
Second person
Third person
Third person


Demonstrative pronouns are categorized into four cases, with the genitive case functioning similarly to the possessive case of personal pronouns.

  Ergative Genitive Dative Locative
Nearest to speaker
(this, here)
itto nitto tchitto nanchitto
Near speaker and addressee
(this, here)
itto nitto tchitto nanchitto
Nearest addressee
(that, there)
yan yan jan nanjan
(that, there)
iyan iyan nantsun nantsun




Han uses particles to convey different nuances in meaning, most of which are unbound;

  • na - conjoins adjective and noun
  • na - now, already
  • ha - still, else, in addition, yet
  • kajì - even, even if, even though
  • ni and nani - marks personal names that are not the focus of the sentence; indicates possession.
  • shi and shina - marks and introduces personal names
  • rin - too, also
  • ra - limiting particle; only or just
  • dao - a reporting particle that expresses that the information in the sentence is second-hand; they say, he said, reportedly, supposedly, etc.
  • ho - shows politeness
  • ba - used in yes-and-no questions and optionally in other types of questions,
  • muna - for now, for a minute and yet (in negative sentences).
  • naman - used in making contrasts; softens requests; emphasis
  • kase - expresses cause; because
  • kaya - expresses wonder; I wonder; perhaps (we should do something) (also optionally used in yes-and-no questions and other forms of questions)
  • teka - expresses that the speaker has realised or suddenly remembered something; realization particle
  • yatta - expresses uncertainty; probably, perhaps, seems
  • kaya - used in cause and effect; as a result
  • sana - expresses hope, unrealised condition (with verb in completed aspect), used in conditional sentences.
  • baka - expresses the potential of an action to occur
  • go - used to indicate duty, correctness, or obligation


There are three negation words, which are all postpositional;

  • hide (tchi) - used to negate verbs
  • wa - used to express negative commands
  • wara used to indicate the absence of an object


Han has forty main dialects, excluding pidginized forms and the Sierran dialect.

Sierran Han

Han pidgin


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