Wetarese language

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Native toEast Timor, Indonesia
RegionWetar Island, Atauro Island, Laclo
Native speakers
(11,000 cited 1990–2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
apx – Aputai
ilu – Ili'uun
wet – Parai
tzn – Tugun
adb – Atauran

Wetarese is an Austronesian language of Wetar, an island in the south Maluku, Indonesia, and of the nearby islands Liran and Atauro, the latter in East Timor north of Dili.[2]


The four identified principal varieties of Wetarese on Wetar are distinct enough that some may consider them to be different languages. Half of Wetarese speakers live on the island of Atauro in East Timor, where three similar dialects (presumably of Ili'uun) are spoken: Rahesuk in the center, Resuk in the southeast, and Raklungu (or 'Adabe') in the southwest.[2] Dadu'a in the extreme north is a subdialect of Rahesuk, and has been reported to be intelligible with the Ili'uun of Liran Island. About half the Dadu'a population has moved to Timor, on the coast of Manatuto district, where it has undergone influence from Galoli.[3]

Wetarese is closely related to Galoli, spoken on the north coast of East Timor and by an immigrant community on the south coast of Wetar.

Adabe "language"[edit]

The Raklungu dialect of Atauro, or Klu'un Hahan Adabe, was mistaken for a Papuan language by Antonio de Almeida (1966) and reported as "Adabe" in Wurm & Hattori (1981). Many subsequent sources propagated this error, showing a Papuan language on Atauro Island.[4] Geoffrey Hull, director of research for the Instituto Nacional de Linguística in East Timor, describes only Wetarese being spoken on Ataúro Island, and was unable to find any evidence of a non-Austronesian language there.[2]


The following represents the Tugun dialect:[5]


Consonant phonemes[5]
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s h
voiced v
Nasal m n ŋ
Tap/Trill ɾ ~ r
Lateral l
  • /v/ may also be heard as [w] in free variation.[5]
  • /r/ is mainly heard as [r] in word-final position or in slower speech, it is heard as [ɾ] elsewhere.[5]
  • /ʔ/ only occurs in word-medial positions.[5]


Vowel phonemes[5]
Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open a
  • Sounds /e u/ are also heard as [ɛ ʊ].[5]


  1. ^ Aputai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Ili'uun at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Parai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Tugun at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Atauran at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b c Hull, Geoffrey (2002), The Languages of East Timor: Some Basic Facts (PDF), Instituto Nacional de Linguística, Universidade Nacional de Timor Lorosa'e
  3. ^ "Numeral Systems of the World's Languages > Dadu'a". mpi-lingweb.shh.mpg.de. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  4. ^ Ethnologue (2013), for example, shows "Adabe" being spoken on central Atauro, in the area of Raklungu, and lists the population and all three dialects of Atauro Wetarese as being Papuan Adabe.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Hinton (2000), p. 115


  • Hinton, Bryan D. (2000). "The languages of Wetar: recent survey results and word lists with notes on Tugun grammar". In Grimes, Charles E. (ed.). Spices from the East: Papers in Languages of Eastern Indonesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 105–129. doi:10.15144/PL-503.105. hdl:1885/146101.

External links[edit]