|Region||Nias and Batu Islands, North Sumatra|
|Native speakers||770,000 (2000 census)|
The Nias language is an Austronesian language spoken on Nias Island and the Batu Islands off the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. It belongs to the Northwest Sumatran subgroup which also includes Mentawai and the Batak languages. It had about 770,000 speakers in 2000. There are three main dialects: northern, central and southern.
The following dialects are distinguished in Ethnologue.
- North dialect (particularly Gunung Sitoli) is the prestige dialect and lingua franca
- South dialect (particularly Teluk Dalam variety) has lower prestige
- Northwest dialect: Alasa area, west in Sirombu and Mandrehe areas
- Central dialect: Gomo area, south in Teluk Dalam and Batu Islands.
|Approximant||〈ß〉 [ʋ]||l||〈y〉 [j]||w|
The status of initial [ʔ] is not determined; there are no phonetic vowel-initial words in Nias. Northern Nias has /ŋ/ but not /c/; in addition, /z/ is pronounced [z].
Nias shows consonant mutation at the beginning of nouns and some other classes of words to show grammatical case. Several consonants are subject to mutation as shown in the table below. Where a word begins in a vowel, either n or g is added before the vowel; the choice of n or g is lexically conditioned. (For example, öri ~ nöri is 'village federation', öri ~ göri is 'bracelet'.)
|Base form||Mutated form|
|vowel||n + vowel
g + vowel
Other consonants do not change.
The unmutated form is used in citation. The mutated form only occurs on the first noun in a noun phrase (that is, not after a conjunction like 'and'). It is used for:
- absolutive case (with a transitive verb, only in a main clause; with an intransitive verb, also in dependent clauses)
- possessor (nouns only; pronouns take a genitive case)
- object of most prepositions (pronouns take the genitive)
- both arguments of some experiencer verbs, such as:
a-ta'u mba'e nono stative-fear monkey.ABS child.ABS
- 'The monkey is afraid of the child'
Besides being the citation form, the unmutated form is used for:
- ergative case
- both arguments (A and P) in a dependent transitive clause
- predicate nominal (with a copula)
- with löna 'to not exist'
- after some prepositions (such as faoma 'with (instrumental)')
- Nias reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/.
- Brown, Lea (1997) Nominal Mutation in Nias. In: Odé, Cecilia & Wim Stokhof (1997) Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics, Rodopi, Amsterdam. ISBN 90-420-0253-0.
- Brown, Lea (2005) Nias. In: Adelaar, Alexander & Nikolaus P. Himmelmann (eds.) (2005) The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar, Routledge, Abingdon. ISBN 0-7007-1286-0.
|Nias language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
- Time for Nias Language to Enrich National Language An update for Nias Dictionary
- Nias wordlist, Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database
- Brown, Lea (2001): Grammar of Nias Selatan. PhD Thesis, University of Sidney. (PDF download available.)
- Online dictionary of Nias
- Kamus Nias-Indonesia (Nias-Indonesian Dictionary)
- Articles on Nias Language (in Indonesian)