Han language
Pronunciation /sə-sɑ-ri-tɑ-hɑn/
Spoken in Han archipelago
Native speakers 190,000,000+  (2016)
L2 – 1,000,000+
Language family
Writing system Hangul (main)
Chinese script
Official status
Official language in Haniflag Great Han Empire
Regulated by Commission on the Han language
Language codes
ISO 639-1 hn
ISO 639-3

The Han language (Han: 서사리타한; 的字韩, tr. Sousaritahan), is the official language of Hani, with nearly all of its population having the ability to speak it fluently. The official global regulatory body of the Han language is the Commission on the Han language, which governs the proper usage of the Han language.

Han is a member of the Han languages, as well as the Malayo–Polynesian languages and the Macro–Han languages. In the 17th century, Middle Tagalog, which itself is descended from Old Tagalog, branched into two languages; Modern Tagalog, and the Classical Han, which is distinguished by the adoption of Chinese loanwords (for complex concepts) and shedding of archaic diphthongs (e.g., aw, ay, uj, iw). Shortly after, Classical Han further branched into three groups; proto–Solwoun–Gayan, proto–Shinan, and proto–Hanyang. The first group would be known for the further mass-adoption of Chinese lexicon, the second would preserve the use of repetition and older affixes, whilst the last group would have simplified affixes, and would lack glottalisation, lexical stress, and accentation present in Classical Han. The last group is known as the direct ancestor of the Han language.

Characteristics of Han include agglutinative morphology with affixation to change or create new vocabulary, a flexible syntax utilising both object-subject-verb and verb-subject-object word order, a relatively small phonemic inventory, and a noticeable lack of consonant clusters (e.g., [str] in English). Another special feature is the trigger system, a system that is used only by it and other Macro–Han languages. As with other countries part of the Sinosphere, a sizeable amount of its vocabulary is adopted from the standard Chinese and its dialects such as Cantonese and Hokkien.

The Han language is written in Hangul, a featural alphabet, and Hanzi, a logographic script. However, unlike being written sequentially like the letters of the Latin alphabet, Hangul letters are grouped into blocks that are transcribed as syllables. These blocks are then arranged horizontally from left to right or vertically from top to bottom. Hangul was first used during the early 18th century from trade with the Koreans, with Hans finding its simplicity appealing. Hanzi continued to be used in common writing until the eighties.



Monophthongs (pure vowels) /i/ ,  /ɛ/ ,  /ɑ/ ,  /o/ ,  /u/ ,  
/ə/ ,  /e/ ,  /ɯ/
Vowels preceded by intermediaries,
or diphthongs (compound vowels)
/jɛ/ ,  /ja/ ,  /wi/ ,  /wa/ ,  
/jo/ ,  /ɰi/


Bilabial Alveolar Post-alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal /m/ /n/ /ŋ/
plain /b/ /d/ /t͡ɕ/ /g/
aspirated /pʰ/ /tʰ/ /t͡ɕʰ/ /kʰ/
Fricative plain /s/ /ʃ/ /h/
Approximant /w/ /l/ or /r/ /j/


There are eight basic parts of speech: verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions and particles; same as in the English language.

Han is a partly inflected language, with pronouns being inflected for number, verbs being inflected for focus, aspect, and voice, and both being inflected to denote familiarity between audience and speaker, and to distinguish informal and formal situations. Sentences typically follow a verb–initial order, though the order is quite flexible as object–subject–verb and subject–verb–object orders are also used, albeit only in informal situations.


Han verbs are morphologically complex; being conjugated by taking on a variety of affixes that reflect focus, aspect, voice, and other qualities. Prior to being conjugated, verbs denoting an action, for example, shipposeyo ("to want"), the –seyo suffix is removed.

Below is a chart of the main verbal affixes, which are mostly suffixes, with a few being prefixes.

Triggers Complete Progressive Contemplative Infinitive
First Actor [verb] + uul [verb] + duul [verb] + t [verb] + uul
Second Actor [verb] + ni-ka [verb] + ni-da [verb] + ma-ru [verb] + mal
Third Actor [verb] + nyoung [verb] + nuul [verb] + muul [verb] + man
Fourth Actor [verb] + nuun [verb] + muun [verb] + mwa-ru [verb] + mwal
First Object [verb] + il [verb] + inu [verb] + inuu [verb] + in
Second Object hago + [verb] [verb] + ui-hak [verb] + ou-ui [verb] + ou
Third Object [verb] + rin [verb] + i-rin [verb] + u-ri [verb] + ul
Locative [verb] + rin [verb] + i-rin [verb] + u-ri [verb] + ul
Benefactive [verb] + rin-ou [verb] + i-rin-ou [verb] + uri-ou [verb] + ul
Instrument ib + [verb] ib-ni + [verb] i-ta + [verb] [verb] + i-ta
Reason [verb] + hé-you [verb] + hui [verb] + hwak [verb] + hé


The aspect of a verb shows its progressiveness; specifying whether the action had happened, is happening, or is due to happen. In Han, verbs are conjugated for time using aspect rather than tense.

There are four aspects. The complete aspect shows that the action had been completed. The progressive aspect shows that the action has been initiated but not been completed or the action is habitual or a universal fact. The contemplative aspect shows the action has not happened, but is anticipated. The least common aspect is known as the complete aspect, showing that the action has been only just completed prior to the time of speaking or a specified time.

  Complete Progressive Contemplative Complete
[verb] + nida [verb] + suumnida [verb] + maru ka + [verb] + t-rang
Alisa has ate Alisa is eating Alisa is going to eat Alisa has just ate


An important feature of verbs in Han and other Philippine languages (which is alleged to be its parent language family, as it is the sole other languages who have the system) is the trigger system, often referred to as the voice or the focus. In the system, the thematic role (agent, patient, or oblique) of the noun (marked by the direct-case particle) is encoded in the verb. In its default unrevised (no modifications to the verb) form, it triggers a reading of the direct noun as the patient of the clause. In its second most common form, it triggers the noun as the agent of the clause instead. Other triggers are location, beneficiary, instrument, reason, direction, and lastly, the reciprocal.

There are three main patient-trigger affixes. The suffixin is used for three things; objects that are moved towards the actor (e.g., gain-in, to eat something), objects whose changes are irreversible (e.g., wang-in, to kill something), and lastly, things that are thought of (e.g., iship-in, to think of something). The suffixō is used for objects which is undergoing a change of state. While the prefix an– is used for items undergoing a surface change. Nouns and adjectives could use these affixes in the same as verbs could. Also, verbs with affixes may also be used as nouns. Historically, they were differentiated by stress position, but today, there is no such way to differentiate between them.

The main agent-trigger affixes are -um-, -ma, -nam, and -man.

The suffix -ma is used with only a few roots which are semantically intransitive. -ma is not to be confused with -man, the potentiative prefix for patient-triggered verb forms. The difference between ma- and -um- is a source of confusion among learners of the language, though there are two main distinct differences among many; the former refers to externally directed actions (e.g., to buy) while the latter refers to internally directed actions (e.g., to sell). There are exceptions however, but in general most verbs are conjugated this way.


Han nouns are not inflected, but are however, preceded by case-making particles. These follow the Austronesian alignment – the presence of this has made many linguists place it within the Philippine languages as it is only found within it. There are three basic cases; direct (or absolutive, often inaccurately labeled nominative); indirect (which may function as an ergative, accusative, or genitive); and oblique.

The direct case is used for intransitive clauses. In transitive clauses utilising the default grammatical voice of the Han language, the direct marks the patient (direct object) and the indirect marks the agent, corresponding to the role of the subject in the English language. However, when utilising a more marked voice, the situation becomes the opposite as the direct marks the agent and the indirect marks the patient.

Han has been analysed as an ergative language. However, in ergative languages where one of the voices forms an intransitive clause, in Han both voices are transitive, and so align well with neither nominative–accusative languages such as English nor with other ergative languages. The main ergative marker is the prefix sō– (pronounced as [sə] not [so]). Meanwhile, the word mana (pronounced [ma-na]) is placed before a noun to indicate plurality.


  Direct (sōya) Indirect (yang) Oblique (san) Notes
Common singular sōya, sōyu, (yōng-ō) yang, sōyu-ni (yō-ni) san The direct common singular and common plural cases (roughly meaning "the" and "some") are becoming increasingly obsolete, as many view them to excessively lengthen the sentence
Common plural sōya mana, sōyu mana (yōng-ō mana) yang mana, sōyu-ni mana (yō-ni mana) san mana
Personal singular shi ni shi
Personal plural shina nani gina

Common noun affixes

Noun Purpose
[noun]–ga indicating a companion or colleague
ka-[noun]-an collective or abstract noun
[noun]–(consonant)an denoting instrumental use
of the noun, the consonant
used is usually a h.


Like nouns, personal pronouns are categorised by case. Indirect forms of pronouns may also function as the genitive. As nouns are gender-neutral, pronouns can be used to refer to both a male or a female.

The second person singular has two forms; hyo is the non-enclitic form while ga is the enclitic which never starts a sentence. While gayo is plural, it may be used in place of the singular form to show respect.

First person
ko nagi
First person
kita/kata nita/nata kanita/kanata
First person
(plural inclusive)
gayo gaji
First person
(plural exclusive)
noni hajima min
Second person
hyo (ga) no ijwō
Second person
dashin minyō minjwō
Third person
cha gara ganja
Third person
shinji rō-ni ganōji

  Direct second person (ang) with Indirect (ng) first person
(to) you by/from me kita

Demonstrative pronouns

  Direct (sōya) Indirect (yang) Oblique (san) Locative (sana) Existential
Nearest to speaker
(this, here)
ito ito-ni dito ito-nan héto
Near speaker and addressee
(this, here)
ito ito-ni ito-ōsu ito-nan héto
Nearest addressee
(that, there)
yan-ō yan-ni yan-ōsu ito-sōnan yana
(that, there)
yon-ō yon-ni on-ōsu on-sōnan oyana

Polite or formal usage

As in many other languages, Han marks the T–V distinction. When addressing a single person in polite, formal, or respectful settings, pronouns from the second or third person plural group are used in place of the singular form. They are often used with the po and ho iterations, but not doing so will not lose any degree of politeness, formality or respect.

Enclitic particles

The Han language utilises enclitic particles having important information that convey different nuances in meaning. Below is a list of Han enclitic particles;

  1. na and pa
    1. na: now, already
    2. pa: still, else, in addition, yet
  2. kaji: even, even if, even though
  3. joha: although
  4. ni and nani: marks personal names that are not the focus of the sentence; indicates possession.
  5. shi and shina: marks and introduces personal names
  6. kan: indeed; used in affirmations or emphasis. Also softens imperatives
  7. rin: too, also
  8. bwa: limiting particle; only or just
  9. dawō: a reporting particle that expresses that the information in the sentence is second-hand; they say, he said, reportedly, supposedly, etc.
  10. ho and po; shows politeness
  11. bwa: used in yes-and-no questions and optionally in other types of questions,
  12. mina: for now, for a minute and yet (in negative sentences).
  13. niman: used in making contrasts; softens requests; emphasis
  14. gase: expresses cause; because
  15. gaya: expresses wonder; I wonder; perhaps (we should do something) (also optionally used in yes-and-no questions and other forms of questions)
  16. lana: expresses that the speaker has realised or suddenly remembered something; realization particle
  17. yata: expresses uncertainty; probably, perhaps, seems
  18. dōriyō: used in cause and effect; as a result
  19. san-a: expresses hope, unrealised condition (with verb in completed aspect), used in conditional sentences.
  20. baka: expresses the potential of an action to occur
  21. dwé: used to indicate duty, correctness, or obligation

Word order

Han has a basic verb-initial word order with the direct noun triggering the verb appearing last (verb-indirect-direct). A change in word order and trigger generally corresponds to a change in definiteness.

The word order may be inverted to a object-subject-verb order with the use of the inversion marker nal, though a slight, but optional, pause in speech or a comma in writing may replace the inversion marker. This is often viewed as formal or literary, and is seldom used in actual speech.


There are three (main) negation words in Han; ōpsō, wara, and hwa.

The first mentioned word is a Korean loanword (though its usage in Han is slightly different), and is used for negating verbs and equations. It can be shortened into ōsu, but this seldom occurs and is considered informal. The second word is the direct opposite of the suffix –mayō, and indicates the lack of an something (usually objects). The last word is used in expressing negative commands, and may be used for the infinitive and future aspect.

There are two more special negative forms for common verbs, the positive shippō (which is also a Korean loanword) and the negative ayawa.




English Han
is/are nal
to have néseyo
to get (obtain) kuuseyo
to see kitaseyo
to need kalseyo
to know ruumseyo
to find hapseyo
to want shippo-seyo
to learn touseyo
to become magiseyo
to come puunseyo
to give biseyo
to make/creat gawaseyo
to add ttakseyo
to understand diseyo
to pick/choose pilseyo
to remember araseyo
to grow makiseyo
to begin shimuseyo
to perform winseyo
to decide shaseyo
to protect rakseyo
to occur/happen yalseyo
to write shulseyo
to concur/agree sabseyo
to construct téseyo
to achieve kamitseyo
to believe nwaseyo
to receive gapseyo
to give gabseyo
to talk saritaseyo
to follow suunseyo
to lose [something] walanseyo
to hear riseyo
to forget kariseyo
to expand/grow kiseyo


English Han
one isou
two do
three san
four suwou
five woun
six riyon
seven chin
eight bon
nine chiyon
ten ship
hundred shipba
thousand shipja
million shipwoun
billion shipyou
trillion jashib


The Han language emphasises the importance of the speaker or writer's relationships with both the subject of the sentence and the audience. Han grammar uses an extensive system of honorifics, one similar to those found in other East Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, to reflect these. With Han honorifics holding their origins during the Tondo period, when there was a rigid caste system in place, the system was originally used to express differences between social statuses. Nowadays, honorifics are used to differentiate between formal and informal speech based on the level of familiarity between the speaker and the listener.

Honorific verbs

All verbs and adjectives can be changed into honorific form by adding two suffixes; –shita (시따) used in formal situations or when the speaker is unfamiliar with the person, and –goya (고야) used in informal situations or for when the speaker is familiar with the audience.

Base verb Honorific version English translation
Kuuseyo Kuushita
To get (obtain)
Gapseyo Gapshita
To get (receive)
Saritaseyo Saritashita
To talk
Suunseyo Suunshita
To follow