Ma'ya language

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Native to Indonesia
Native speakers
5,000 (2000–2001)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
slz – Salawati
kgb – Kawe
lcc – Legenyem
wuy – Wauyai
Glottolog raja1258[2]

Ma'ya is an Austronesian language spoken in West Papua by 6,000 people. It is spoken in coastal villages on the islands Misool, Salawati, and Waigeo in the Raja Ampat islands.[3] It is spoken on the boundary between Austronesian and Papuan languages.[4] Both its tone and stress are lexically distinctive.[3][5] That means both the stress and the pitch of a word may affect meaning. The stress and tone are quite independent from one another, in contrast to their occurrence in Swedish and Serbo-Croatian. It has three tonemes (high, rising and falling). Out of over a thousand Austronesian languages, there are only a dozen with lexical tone; in this case it appears to be a remnant of shift from Papuan languages. Ma'ya has five dialects, three on the island Waigeo (Laganyan, Wauyai, and Kawe), one on Salawati, and extinct or nearly extinct Batanta. The prestige dialect is the one on Salawati. The Waigeo dialects have /s/ and /ʃ/, where the varieties spoken on Salawati and Misool have /t/ and /c/ respectively. Batanta, now extinct, was evidently unintelligible with its neighbours.[3]

See also[edit]

  • Matbat language, a neighboring language with more extreme Papuan influence and five tones.


  1. ^ Salawati at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Kawe at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Legenyem at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Wauyai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Raja Ampat Maya". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b c Remijsen, Bert (2001). "Dialectal Variation in the Lexical Tone System of Ma'ya". Language and Speech. 44 (4): 473–499. doi:10.1177/00238309010440040301. 
  4. ^ New Perspectives in Word-Prosodic Typology by Bert Remijsen
  5. ^ Rivera-Castillo, Yolanda; Pickering, Lucy. "PHONETIC CORRELATES OF STRESS AND TONE IN A MIXED SYSTEM". Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages. 19 (2): 261–284. doi:10.1075/jpcl.19.2.02riv. 

Further reading[edit]

  • van der Leeden, Alex (1993). Ma'ya: Phonology. Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia. p. 97. ISBN 9789798258015.