A language of Malaysia

Alternate Names
Ilanun, Illanoan, Illanoon, Illanos, Illanun, Iranon Maranao, Iranum, Lanoon, Lanun, Ylanos

22,000 (2015 I. Sidik). Ethnic population: 30,000 (Pugh-Kitingan and Mulia 1996).


Sabah: Kota Belud district, 24 villages; Kudat district, Indarasan Laut village; Lahad Datu district, Tungku.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened).


None known. Iranun in Sabah is different from any of its related languages in the Philippines, including Iranun [ilp] and Maranao [mrw]. The most similar language to Iranun in Sabah [ilm] is Maranao [mrw]. But even between Iranun [ilm] and Maranao [mrw], there are substantial differences.

Language Use

Home, Friends, Religion. Mixed use: Work, Education. Some young people, all adults, few children. All also use Sabah Malay [msi]. Many also use West Coast Bajau [bdr]. Many also use Kadazan Dusun [dtp], especially speakers of the Tempasuk dialect. Some also use Standard Malay [zsm]. A few also use Rungus [drg]. Used as L2 by Bugis [bug], Rungus [drg].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 15%. Literacy rate in L2: 60%–95% in Standard Malay [zsm]. Taught in 3 preschools. Literature. Periodicals. Dictionary. Texts. Agency: Persatuan Bahasa dan Kebudayaan Iranun Sabah (BKI).


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Non-indigenous. There is established evidence of at least 400 years’ residence of Iranun in Sabah (including evidence from genealogical records that go back some 13 generations). Muslim.

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