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Fataluku language

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RegionEastern East Timor
Native speakers
48,000 (2020)[1]
regional usage
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3ddg
Distribution of Fataluku in East Timor

Fataluku (also known as Dagaga, Dagoda', Dagada) is a Papuan language spoken by approximately 37,000 people of Fataluku ethnicity in the eastern areas of East Timor, especially around Lospalos. It is a member of the Timor-Alor-Pantar language family, which includes languages spoken both in East Timor and nearby regions of Indonesia.[2] Fataluku's closest relative is Oirata,[3] spoken on Kisar island, in the Moluccas of Indonesia.[4] Fataluku is given the status of a national language under the constitution. Speakers of Fataluku normally have a command of Tetum and/or Indonesian,[5] those speakers who are educated under Portuguese rule or from younger generation educated under Portuguese-language educational system during independence speak Portuguese.

It has a considerable amount of Austronesian loanwords, and it has borrowed elements of Sanskrit and Arabic vocabulary via Malay and elements of Portuguese.[3]

The five main Fataluku dialects are identified as follows: East Fataluku, South Fataluku, Central Fataluku, North Fataluku and Northwest Fataluku. [6] The differences that exist between these dialects, especially beyond phonology, are unclear and require more research. Dialects differ with respect to the phonetic realization of palatal obstruents, the presence of a glottal stop phoneme and a voicing distinction in stops, as well as aspects of the stress system. [7]



Fataluku vowels
Front Central Back
Close i /i/ u /u/
Mid e /e/ o /o/
Open a /a/


Fataluku consonants
Bilabial Labiodental Coronal Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasals m /m/ n /n/
Plosive p /p/ t /t/ k /k/ ' /ʔ/
Affricates voiceless c /t͡s/² c /t͡ʃ/¹ ²
voiced j /d͡ʒ/
Fricatives voiceless f /f/ s /s/ h /h/
voiced v /β/² v /v/² z /z/
Flap v //² r /ɾ/
Lateral l /l/
Semivowel v /w/² y /j/
  • ¹ Spelled <tj> in Nácher orthography.
  • ² Pronunciation of ⟨v⟩ and ⟨c⟩ varies in dialects.

Words and phrases[edit]

In the examples below, the letter 'c' and the letter combination 'tx' are pronounced as the 'ch' in the English word 'church'.

Rau ana kapare? / e nicha rau rau / maice ana umpe? "how are you?"
Rau "good"
Kapare "not good"
Hó "yes"
Xaparau "thank you"
Tali even xaparau "thank you very much"
nitawane "you're welcome"
Favoruni "please"
itu nae tini "excuse me"
Ó lai'i "hello"
mua toto, ia toto,purupale " take care"
Kois ta niat ali fanuhene "see you later"

Pronoun						                Possessive pronoun 						
I   :		Aniri/Ana					My: Ahani			
You :		Eri (singular), Iri (plural)			Your:  Eheni(sing), Eheniere (plur) 
We  :		Iniri (excl), Afiri (inclusive) 		Our: Inihini (exc), Afihini: (incl) 
They : 		Tawari, Márafuri				Their: Their Tavarhini, Marafurhini
He/She :	Tavai, marí, mármocoi				His/Her: Tavahini, Marmokoihini
It :		Iví						Its: Ivihini, Tavahini

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fataluku at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Heston (2015), p. 3
  3. ^ a b Usher, Timothy. "Fataluku". newguineaworld. Archived from the original on 2020-03-05.
  4. ^ Heston (2015), p. 6
  5. ^ Heston (2015), p. 5
  6. ^ Van Engelenhoven, Aone. 2009. On derivational processes in Fataluku, a non-Austronesian language in East Timor. In W.L. Wetzels (ed.), The linguistics of endangered languages: Contributions to morphology and morphosyntax, 331–362. Utrecht: LOT.
  7. ^ Engelenhoven, Aone van & Juliette Huber. 2020. East Fataluku. In The Papuan Languages of Timor, Alor and Pantar: Volume 3, vol. 3, 347–425. De Gruyter Mouton. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781501511158.

Further reading[edit]

  • Heston, Tyler M. and Locke, Stephanie (2019). "Fataluku". Illustrations of the IPA. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 49 (3): 419–425. doi:10.1017/S0025100316000190{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link), with supplementary sound recordings.


External links[edit]