Oirata–Makasai languages

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Eastern Timor
East Timor, Kisar
Linguistic classificationTrans–New Guinea
  • Oirata–Fataluku
  • Makasae

The Oirata–Makasai, or Eastern Timor, languages are a small family of Papuan languages spoken in eastern Timor and the neighboring island of Kisar.


Mandala et al. (2011)[3] found that Fataluku and Oirata are closer to each other than they are to Makasai:

Fataluku has high dialect diversity, and may be more than a single language, for example with Rusenu. An additional Makuv'a (Lovaea) branch was once assumed for East Timor, but that appears to be a heavily Papuan-influenced Austronesian language.

The fourth Papuan language spoken in East Timor, Bunak, is more distantly related. It is currently unknown if they are closer to each other or to the Alor–Pantar languages; all are clearly related. They may be closest to the West Bomberai languages of mainland New Guinea, but this is as yet speculative.[4]


Ross (2005) reconstructed first- and second-person pronouns for proto–East Timor:[5]

proto-ET Oirata (object) Fataluku Makasai
1sg *ani an-te (ani) ani ani
2sg *ai aa-te/ee-te[6] (ee) e ai
1ex *ini in-te (in) ini ini
1in *api ap-te (ap) afi fi
2pl *i ii-te (ii) i i

Mandala et al. (2011) reconstruct five vowels, *a, *e, *i, *o, *u, and the following consonants, based on 200 cognate sets:

Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal *m *n
Occlusive *p *t *k
Fricative *s
Sonorant *w *l, *r

*h and *j appear at the level of proto-Oirata–Fataluku.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ New Guinea World, West Bomberai
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "East Timor". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Mandala, Halus; Aron Meko Mbete, Ni Made Dhanawaty and Inyo Yis Fernandez. 2011: “Phonological Evolution of Oirata and its Genetic Relationship with Non-Austronesian Languages in Timor-Leste”, Denpasar: Ejournal Universitas Udayana.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^
    • Ross, Malcolm (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages". In Andrew Pawley; Robert Attenborough; Robin Hide; Jack Golson (eds.). Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 15–66. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782.
  6. ^ ee-te is a polite form