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Kaili language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Native toIndonesia
Native speakers
430,000 (2000 census – 2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
lew – Ledo Kaili
kzf – Da'a Kaili
unz – Unde Kaili
brs – Baras

Kaili is an Austronesian dialect cluster of the Celebic branch, and is one of the principal languages of Central Sulawesi. The heartland of the Kaili area is the broad Palu River valley which stretches southward from Central Sulawesi's capital city, Palu. Kaili is also spoken in the mountains which rise on both sides of this valley, and along the coasts of the Makassar Strait and the Gulf of Tomini.


Taking a fine-grade view, it is possible to distinguish sixteen regional varieties of Kaili. Following the practice of Kaili people themselves, each variety is named after its negator. For example, in the Tawaili region northeast of Palu, Kaili speakers use rai as their word for 'no,' while speakers in the Parigi region on the Gulf of Tomini use tara. These two varieties can be referred to as 'Kaili Rai' and 'Kaili Tara,' irrespective of whether one intends for these varieties to be regarded as languages, dialects, or subdialects. These varieties can also be referred to as 'Tawaili' and 'Parigi.'

The following table is a list of lowest-level Kaili varieties, presented by negator and alternate name(s) by which each has been known.

Negator Other name(s)
ende ToriBara, Baras
tado To ri Io, Torio, Toriu
inde To Kanggone, Banja
da'a Dombu, To Dombu
unde Loli, Lole
ndepuu Ganti
ledo Palu
doi Mamboro, Kayu Malue
ija Sigi
ado Sibalaya
edo Sidondo
taa Palolo
rai Tawaili, Tawaili-Sindue
raio Kori
tara Parigi, Pahigi
ta'a Sausu, Dolago-Sausu

Classification of Kaili varieties[edit]

Adriani 1914[edit]

The linguist Nicolaus Adriani recognized eight languages.[2] In this early work, several Kaili varieties were as yet unknown to the author.

  • Tawaili (= Rai)
  • Palu (= Ledo)
  • Lole (= Unde)
  • Ganti (= Ndepuu)
  • Sigi (= Ija)
  • Pakuli (= Ado, Edo)
  • Parigi (= Tara)
  • Sausu (= Ta’a)

Esser 1938[edit]

The linguist S. J. Esser divided Kaili into western, central and eastern groups.[3] Esser was unclear whether his divisions represented dialects or languages, but Noorduyn concluded he intended one language with three principal dialects.[4]

  • West Kaili (= Ende, Tado, Inde, Da’a, Unde, Ndepuu)
  • Central Kaili (= Ledo, Ado, Edo, Ija, Taa)
  • East Kaili (= Rai, Tara, Ta’a)

Kruyt 1938[edit]

Using anthropological rather than linguistic criteria, Alb. C. Kruyt divided peoples of this area into three 'rings' or 'circles.'[5]

  • Pakawa ring (= Ende, Tado, Inde, Da’a)
  • Kaili ring (= Unde, Ndepuu, Rai, Tara, Ta’a, Doi, Ledo)
  • Sigi ring (= Ado, Edo, Ija, Taa)

Barr and Barr 1979[edit]

Barr and Barr recognized one language with six dialects (they also included Kulawi as a seventh dialect, but left Ende and Tado out of consideration since those varieties are not spoken in Central Sulawesi).[6]

  • Pekava (= Inde, Da’a)
  • Banava (= Unde, Ndepuu)
  • Tawaili-Sindue (= Rai)
  • Parigi (= Tara, Ta’a)
  • Palu (= Doi, Ledo)
  • Sigi ( = Ado, Edo, Ija, Taa)

Ethnologue 2009[edit]

The Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009) recognizes four languages. In this subclassification, Kaili Ledo is best regarded as an 'everything else' category 'awaiting further research.'

  • Baras (= Ende)
  • Kaili Da’a (= Tado, Inde, Da’a)
  • Kaili Ledo (= Raio, Rai, Tara, Ta’a, Doi, Ledo, Ado, Edo, Ija, Taa)
  • Kaili Unde (= Unde, Ndepuu)


  1. ^ Ledo Kaili at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Da'a Kaili at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Unde Kaili at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Baras at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Adriani, N., and Alb. C. Kruyt. De Bare’e-sprekende Toradja’s van Midden Celebes, vol. 3 (Batavia: Landsdrukkerij, 1914), pp. 350-351.
  3. ^ Kruyt, Alb. C. De West-Toradjas op Midden-Celebes, vol. 1 (Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandsche, 1938), p. 46.
  4. ^ Noorduyn, J. A Critical Survey of Studies on the Languages of Sulawesi (Leiden: KITLV Press, 1991), p. 76.
  5. ^ Kruyt, Alb. C. De West-Toradjas op Midden-Celebes, vol. 1 (Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandsche, 1938), pp. 12-13.
  6. ^ Barr, Donald, and Sharon Barr. Languages of Central Sulawesi (Ujung Pandang: Hasanuddin University, 1979), pp. 46-51.