Wolio language

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Native speakers
65,000 (2004)[1]
Buri Wolio (Arabic script)
Language codes
ISO 639-3wlo
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Wolio is an Austronesian language spoken in and around Baubau on Buton Island, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. It belongs to the Wotu–Wolio branch of the Celebic subgroup.[2][3] Also known as Buton, it is a trade language and the former court language of the Sultan at Baubau. Today it is an official regional language; street signs are written in the Buri Wolio alphabet, based on the Arabic script.


The five vowels are /i e a o u/. The consonant system is characterized by the presence of prenasalized stops, which are treated as a single sound in Wolio.[4]

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless plain p t c k ʔ
prenasalized ᵐp ⁿt ᶮc ᵑk
voiced plain b d ɟ g
prenasalized ᵐb ⁿd ᶮɟ ᵑg
implosive ɓ ɗ
Fricative voiceless f s h
voiced v
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Trill r
Lateral l

/b, d, f/ are found in loans, mostly from Arabic.[5]

Stress is on the penultimate syllable, and only open syllables are allowed.[6]


Wolio personal pronouns have one independent form, and three bound forms.[7]

Personal pronouns
independent actor object possessive
1.sg. iaku ku- -aku -ngku
2.sg. ingkoo u- -ko -mu
3. incia a- -a/-ia -na
1.pl. incl. ingkita ta- -kita -ta
1.pl. excl. ingkami ta- -kami -mami
2.pl. ingkomiu u- -komiu -miu

Number is not distinguished in third person. Optionally, plural number can be expressed by means of the plural-marker manga: manga incia "they".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wolio at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Donohue (2004), p. 33.
  3. ^ Mead (2003), p. 135.
  4. ^ Anceaux (1988), pp. 4–5.
  5. ^ Anceaux (1988), p. 6.
  6. ^ Anceaux (1988), p. 9.
  7. ^ Anceaux (1988), pp. 25;27;34;36;42.
  8. ^ Anceaux (1988), p. 36.


  • Anceaux, Johannes Cornelis (1988). The Wolio Language. Leiden: Brill. doi:10.1163/9789004286320.
  • Donohue, Mark (2004). "The pretenders to the Muna-Buton group". In Bowden, J.; Himmelmann, N. (eds.). Papers in Austronesian subgrouping and dialectology. Pacific Linguistics 563. Canberra: Australian National University. pp. 21–36. doi:10.15144/PL-563.21. hdl:1885/146183.
  • Mead, David (2003). "Evidence for a Celebic supergroup". In Lynch, John (ed.). Issues in Austronesian historical phonology. Pacific Linguistics 550. Canberra: Australian National University. pp. 115–141. doi:10.15144/PL-550.115. hdl:1885/146173.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mead, David; Smith, Joanna. "The voice systems of Wotu, Barang-barang and Wolio: Synchronic and diachronic perspectives". In Malcolm D. Ross; I Wayan Arka (eds.). Language Change in Austronesian languages: papers from 12-ICAL, Volume 3. Asia-Pacific linguistics 018 / Studies on Austronesian languages 004. pp. 51–78. hdl:1885/13386.
  • van den Berg, René (2008). "Notes on the historical phonology and classification of Wolio". In Yury A. Lander; Alexander K. Ogloblin (eds.). Language and Text in the Austronesian World: Studies in honor of Ülo Sirk. München: Lincom. pp. 89–113.