Kelabit language

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Region Borneo
Native speakers
5,000  (2000–2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 kzi
Glottolog kela1258[2]

Kelabit is one of the remotest languages of Borneo, on the SarawakKalimantan border, and spoken by one of the smallest ethnicities in Borneo, the Kelabit people.

Kelabit is notable for having "a typologically rare series of true voiced aspirates" along with modally voiced and tenuis consonants but without an accompanying series of voiceless aspirates.[3] [4] It is the only language known to have this phonation contrast, which has been reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European. (See glottalic theory.)


  1. ^ Kelabit at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kelabit". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Robert Blust, 1974. A double counter-universal in Kelabit. Papers in Linguistics :309-24.
  4. ^ Robert Blust, 2006, "The Origin of the Kelabit Voiced Aspirates: A Historical Hypothesis Revisited", Oceanic Linguistics 45:311

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