|Ethnicity||perhaps 16,000 (1981) Abui people|
Abui is a non-Austronesian language of the Alor Archipelago. It is spoken in the central part of Alor Island in Eastern Indonesia, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province by the Abui people. The native name is Abui tanga which literally translates as 'mountain language'.
- 1 Classification
- 2 History
- 3 Geographic distribution
- 4 Sounds/Phonology
- 5 Grammar
- 6 Writing system
- 7 Example
- 8 Linguistic situation
- 9 Notes
- 10 External links
Abui is a member of the Alor–Pantar languages, within the Timor–Alor–Pantar language family . Based on shared phonological consonant innovations, Abui is part of the Alor subgroup along with Blagar, Adang, Klon, Kui, Kamang, Sawila, and Wersing.
The Alor-Pantar languages are, at the most, ~3,000 years old.
It appears as though Proto-AP speakers borrowed certain Austronesian words prior to the breakup of Proto-AP; these loan words underwent regular sound change and can therefore be reconstructed for Proto-AP.
Abui is spoken by approximately 16,000 speakers in the central part of the Alor Island in Eastern Indonesia, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province.
Abui has a number of dialects: Northern, Southern and Western. Northern dialects spoken around villages of Mainang, Masape, Takalelang and Atimelang have been subject of linguistic study. Southern dialects are spoken around Kelaisi and Apui; western dialects are spoken around Mataru, Fanating and Moru. These dialects remain unstudied.
Abui has a relatively simple phonemic inventory with 16 native and 3 loan consonants. There are 5 short vowels each of them having a long counterpart. In a number of cases lexical tone is found. All information in this section is from Kratochvíl 2007.
The consonants /cç/, /ɟʝ/, and /g/ are non-native. As indicated by the chart above, Abui has /r/ and /l/ as separate phonemes.
|Ending with /ɪ/||Ending with /ɑ/||Ending with /ɛ/||Ending with /ɔ/|
|Starting with /u/||uɪ||uɑ||uɔ|
|Starting with /ɪ/||ɪɑ||ɪɛ||ɪɔ|
|Starting with /ɑ/||ɑɪ|
|Starting with /ɛ/||ɛɪ||ɛɑ|
|Starting with /ɔ/||ɔɪ|
Abui is a head-marking language; pronominal prefixes mark the possessors on nouns and undergoer arguments on verbs. Nominal morphology is restricted to possessor inflection; number, case and gender inflections do not appear. Verbal morphology is elaborate including person and aspect inflection. Verb compounding and serialization are common.
All information in this section is from Kratochvíl 2007.
Open classes in Abui are nouns and verbs. Closed classes are adjectives, deictics, quantifiers, aspectual markers, linkers, adverbs, and question words.
Of these word classes, only verbs and nouns can combine with pronominal prefixes. Only verbs take one of the set of pronominal prefixes (type II REC), and only verbs combine with aspectual suffixes. Some stems can serve as both nouns and verbs, like tur 'spoon/scoop' below.
tur as a noun:
- ah, na sei tur mi=se yo!:71
- oh 1SG come.down.CNT spoon take=INCP.I MD.AD
- ‘ah, I come down to pick up the spoon!’
tur as a verb:
- fat ma tur ba di takei=se!:71
- corn ripe spoon.up.CPL LNK 3A bite=INCP.I
- ‘dish up cooked corn so that he eats!’
Unlike other verbs, stative verbs don’t require the intersective linker ba when they modify a noun.
Abui has a small class of adjectives. Adjectives can modify NPs but they can't head a VP. Stative verbs, on the other hand, can both modify NPs and serve as predicates. In order for an adjectival stem to be used predicatively, the addition of the generic verb -i is required. Compare the adjective akan ‘black’, with the stative verb fing 'be eldest', below.
akan as NP modifier:
- kaai akan kaliet-a:110
- dog black old-be.at
- 'the black dog is old'
akan-i as predicate:
- kaai akan-i:110
- dog black-put
- 'the dog is black' (not good for 'black dog')
fing as NP modifier:
- moku fing do:98
- kid be.eldest PRX
- ‘this oldest child'
fing as predicate:
- ‘he is eldest’
Abui is agglutinating and polysynthetic. Nouns are usually morphologically simple, while verbs can have affixes indicating person and aspect. Verb roots also combine with each other. Some words are monomorphemic, consisting of one free root, such as nee 'eat.' Others are more morphologically complex:
- prefix-bound.root-bound.root-suffix ha-bek-d-i 'got it broken'
- prefix-free.root-bound.root-suffix ha-bui-d-a 'get it shortened':69
Abui has a semantic alignment driven by the semantic features of the participants. A language with such a 'fluid alignment' is often referred to as an active–stative language. In semantic alignment, instigating, controlling and volitional participants are realized as the A argument in both transitive and intransitive construction. In Abui, they are expressed with NPs and free pronouns. The affected participants are realized as the U argument. U arguments are expressed by NPs and pronominal prefixes on the verb. There are three types of pronominal prefixes distinguishing the following types of U arguments: patients (PAT), recipients or goals (REC), and benefactives or locations (LOC).
Noun phrase structure
Abui syntax is characterized by strict constituent order. In an NP, the modifiers follow the head noun with the exception of deictic demonstratives and possessors. The NP template is given in below:
NP template: DEMs/NMCs (POSS-) N N/ADJ/V/QUANT ba + NMC DEMa
The deictic demonstrative indicates the spatial location of the referent and together with the possessor marking precede the head (N). Adjectives (A), stative verbs (V) and quantifiers (QUANT) follow the head. The final constituent of an NP is usually an anaphoric demonstrative (DEMa) that indicates the ‘discourse location’ of the referent. Noun-modifying clauses (NMC) normally occur following the head linked with ba. However, a NMC elaborating on the location of the referent (NMCs) occurs in the same position as the deictic demonstrative, preceding the head noun.
In a clause, the arguments always precede the predicate. The constituent order is strict; the clause template is given below.
Clause template: ADV NP PROA ADV/DEMs NPU VP NEG DEMt
Note that the deictic demonstrative (DEMs) indicating the spatial location of the event always precedes the predicate. The demonstrative (DEMt) indicating the temporal location of an event is the final clause constituent. The constituent order in the clause is pragmatically motivated, and the prominent arguments that occur in the preceding discourse are omitted. The topical arguments can be left-dislocated. In a sentence, the main clause (MC) may contain marking of tense, aspect and mood. In subordinate clauses (SC), the marking of tense, aspect and mood is reduced and shared with the MC. The position of a SC with respect to the MC is determined by its semantic type. SCs specifying the temporal location or other settings of the event expressed in the MC must precede the MC. SCs expressing non-factive complements or purpose follow the MC. In discourse, there is a preference for clause chains, with the final fully inflected MC. In narratives, strategies such as tail-head linkage are relied on. More details can be found in Kratochvíl (2007).
Abui, like most Papuan languages, lacks an active-passive voice distinction.
Most verbs can occur in transitive or intransitive constructions. Abui has no ditransitive verbs.
Excerpt from moku mayol, a bride price negotiation text
- moku mayol, he-ni-l yal he-fu
- kid woman 3II.LOC-be.like.this.CPL-give now 3II.AL-betel.nut
- ‘the daughter, it became so, now her betel nut’
- he-meting siei he-ya he-maama
- 3II.AL-betel.vine come.down.ICP 3II.AL-mother 3II.AL-father
- ‘and her betel vine was brought down, her mother and father’
- moku mayol po-tafuda he-kang he-fanga
- kid woman 1PL.I.REC-be.all 3II.LOC-be.good 3II.LOC-say.CNT
- ‘the daughter, all of us agreed’
- ma hare, neng he-fing he-kalieta naha=te
- be.PRX so man 3II.LOC-oldest 3II.AL-old.person or
- ‘being so, the parents and elder of the man, or’
- he-ya he-maama+ ko pi yaa mit nate-a tanga
- 3II.AL-mother 3II.AL-father soon 1PL.I go sit stand.up-DUR speak
- ‘his mother and father, we shall negotiate’
- ananra he-lung ha-liel lung pe-i mit-i mangkaisara
- tell.CNT 3II.AL-door 3II.PAT-lift door near-PFV sit-PFV macassarese.drum
- ‘to open the door, for (those who) sit near the door, one makassarese (drum)’
- nuku mayol he-bel yawa lohu ayoku mangkaisara nuku
- one woman 3II.LOC-buy javanese.drum be.long two macassarese.drum one
- ‘the bride price two long Javanese drums, one Macassarese drum’
- ma hare neng he-ya naha=te he-maama
- be.PRX so man 3II.AL-mother or 3II.AL-father
- ‘being so, the mother of the man, or his father’
- he-fing he-kalieta pi sama tanga sama ananra
- 3II.LOC-oldest 3II.AL-old.person 1PL.I be.with speak.CNT be.with tell.CNT
- ‘(those) elder (to him), his grandparents, we negotiate together’
- he-war he-tadeng mi ba awering ha-tàng:441–445
- 3II.AL-sun 3II.AL-day be.in LNK ladder 3II.PAT-release
- ‘the day when the young woman will be delivered to her husband’, lit.: when the ladder will be released
The Abui ethnic group has attracted the attention of foreign researchers since 1930's. American cultural anthropologist Cora DuBois lived between 1937-1939 in the village of Atimelang. Her research is documented in her monograph 'The People of Alor'. Cora DuBois was accompanied by the Dutch sociologist Martha Margaretha Nicolspeyer who conducted a study of the social structure of Abui people.
After the World War II, W.A.L. Stokhof and H. Steinhauer conducted a linguistic survey of Alor and Pantar. Later, W.A.L. Stokhof published and analyzed one of the texts collected by Nicolspeyer. Linguistic documentation efforts have been undertaken recently by Leiden University. As one of the results of the Alor and Pantar Project, a description of Abui grammar appeared. More recently a tri-lingual Abui-Indonesian-English dictionary was published in Indonesia. The dictionary was accompanied by a tri-lingual collection of stories from Takalelang and Tifolafeng.
- Abui language at Ethnologue (14th ed., 2000).
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Abui". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Holton, Gary; Robinson, Laura C. (2014). "The internal history of the Alor-Pantar language family". In Klamer, Marian. Alor Pantar languages: History and Typology. Berlin: Language Sciences Press. pp. 155–98.
- Klamer, Marion (2014). "The Alor-Pantar languages: Linguistic context, history and typology.". In Klamer, Marian. Alor Pantar languages: History and Typology. Berlin: Language Sciences Press. pp. 5–53.
- Holton, Gary; Klamer, Marian; Kratochvíl, František; Schapper, Antionette (2012). "The historical relations of the Papuan languages of Alor and Pantar". Oceanic Linguistics. 51 (1): 86–122.
- Grimes, Charles E & Alfa Omega Foundation (1997). A Guide to the people and languages of Nusa Tenggara Artha Wacana Press, Kupang, Indonesia,ISBN 979-9096-00-6; page 59 specifies the dialects as Atimelang, Kobola and Alakaman - also citing Stokhof (1975:12) that his data was rather scanty and reveal strong dialectal variation
- Kratochvíl, František. 2007. A grammar of Abui. Utrecht: LOT. click here to download 'A grammar of Abui' Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine..
- Foley, William A. (1986). The Papuan Languages of New Guinea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28621-2. OCLC 13004531.
- Du Bois, Cora Alice. 1960. The people of Alor; a social-psychological study of an East Indian island. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- Nicolspeyer, Martha Margaretha. 1940. De sociale structuur van een Aloreesche bevolkingsgroep. Rijswijk: Kramers
- Stokhof, W. A. L. 1975. Preliminary notes on the Alor and Pantar languages (East Indonesia). Canberra: Pacific linguistics.
- Stokhof, W. A. L. 1984. Annotations to a text in the Abui language (Alor). Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde 140:106-162.
- Kratochvíl, František, and Benidiktus Delpada. 2008. Kamus Pengantar Bahasa Abui. Kupang, Indonesia: UBB-GMIT. click here to download ' Abui-Indonesian-English dictionary' from the Hong Kong Baptist University Library.
- Kratochvíl, František, and Benidiktus Delpada. 2008. Netanga neananra dei lohu naha: Abui tanga heateng ananra (Cerita-cerita dalam Bahasa Abui dari Takalelang, Abui stories from Takalelang). Kupang, Indonesia: UBB-GMIT. click here to download 'Abui stories from Takalelang' from the Hong Kong Baptist University Library.
- Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Abui language". World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Abui basic lexicon at the Global Lexicostatistical Database
- Alor–Pantar Languages: Origins and Theorectical impact (hosted by Leiden University)
- Alor–Pantar Languages: Origins and Theorectical impact (EUROBABEL project website)
- Listen to a sample of Abui from Global Recordings Network