Ma'ya language

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Native to Indonesia
Native speakers
6,000  (2001)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
slz – Salawati
kgb – Kawe
lcc – Legenyem
bhc – Biga
wuy – Wauyai
xmx – Maden
Glottolog None
raja1257  (Raja Ampat)[2]

Ma'ya is an Austronesian language spoken in West Papua by 6,000 people. It is spoken in coastal villages on the islands Misool, Salawati, and Waigeo in the Raja Ampat islands.[3] It is spoken on the boundary between Austronesian and Papuan languages.[4] Both its tone and stress are lexically distinctive.[3][5] That means both the stress and the pitch of a word may affect meaning. The stress and tone are quite independent from one another, in contrast to their occurrence in Swedish and Serbo-Croatian. It has three tonemes (high, rising and falling). Out of over a thousand Austronesian languages, there are only a dozen with lexical tone; in this case it appears to be a remnant of shift from Papuan languages. Ma'ya has five dialects, three on the island Waigeo (Laganyan, Wauyai, and Kawe) and one each on Misool (Biga) and Salawati. The prestige dialect is the one on Salawati. The Waigeo dialects have /s/ and /ʃ/, where the varieties spoken on Salawati and Misool have /t/ and /c/ respectively. Batanta, now extinct, was evidently unintelligible with its neighbours.[3]

See also[edit]

  • Matbat language, a neighboring language with more extreme Papuan influence and five tones.


  1. ^ Salawati at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Kawe at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Legenyem at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Biga at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Wauyai at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Maden at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Raja Ampat". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ a b c Remijsen, Bert (2001). "Dialectal Variation in the Lexical Tone System of Ma’ya". Language and Speech 44 (4): 473–499. doi:10.1177/00238309010440040301. 
  4. ^ New Perspectives in Word-Prosodic Typology by Bert Remijsen
  5. ^ Rivera-Castillo, Yolanda; Pickering, Lucy. "PHONETIC CORRELATES OF STRESS AND TONE IN A MIXED SYSTEM". Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 19 (2): 261–284. doi:10.1075/jpcl.19.2.02riv. 

Further reading[edit]

  • van der Leeden, Alex (1993). Ma'ya: Phonology. Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia. p. 97. ISBN 9789798258015.