Uma language

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Native to Indonesia
Region Sulawesi
Native speakers
unknown (20,000 cited 1990)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ppk
Glottolog umaa1242[2]

Uma is a language of Central and South Sulawesi, Indonesia.



Consonant inventory
  Bilabial Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p b t d             k g ʔ  
Prenasalized ᵐp   ⁿt   ⁿtʃ           ᵑk      
Fricative   β s                   h  
Nasal   m   n           ɲ   ŋ    
Trill           r                
Approximant           l   (ɭ)   j        


  • /h/ acts as a nasal in some respects and causes the nasalization of non-front vowels (e.g., [hampulu'] 'ten'→/haᵐpuluʔ/ with nasal vowels).
  • /l/ is retroflexed to /ɭ/ contiguous to non-front vowels.
  • /ʔ/ is neutralized word-initially, and is the only consonant that can occur in the coda or word-finally.[3]
  • In the Lincio variety of Central Uma, /ⁿtʃ/ is pronounced /ns/.
  • The semivowel [j] is rare, found mainly in loan words.
  • The affricate /tʃ/ is found only following /n/, i.e., in the prenasalized stop /ⁿtʃ/.

Orthographic notes:

  • /β/ is 'w'
  • /ɲ/ is 'ny'
  • /ŋ/ is 'ng'
  • /j/ is 'y'
  • // is 'j'
  • // is 'c'
  • /ʔ/ is an apostrophe


Vowel inventory
Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-Mid e o
Open a


  Free Abs Erga Gen
1P (s) akuʔ   -a   ku-   -ku  
1P (p-ex) kaiʔ   -kai   ki-   -kai  
1P (p-in) kitaʔ   -ta   ta-   -ta  
2P (s) iko   -ko   nu-   -nu  
2P (p) koiʔ   -ki   ni-   -ni  
3P (s) hiʔa   -i   na-   -na  
3P (p) hiraʔ   -ra   ra-   -ra  


  • 1P means 'first person,' 2P means 'second person,' and 3P means 'third person.'
  • (s) means 'singular' and (p) means 'plural.' (p-ex) means 'plural exclusive' and (p-in) means 'plural inclusive.'
  • [∅-] means that ∅ is a proclitic.
  • [-∅] means that ∅ is an enclitic.
  • In the Tobaku, Tolee', and Winatu dialects, the possessives [-nu] and [-ni] are [-mu] and [-mi] respectively.
  • In the Tolee' and Winatu dialects, the possessives [-kai] and [-koi] are [-kami] and [-komi] respectively. The free forms [kaiʔ] and [koiʔ] are [kamiʔ] and [komiʔ] respectively.


The cardinal numbers from 1 to 10 are:

  1. isaʔ
  2. dua
  3. tolu
  4. opoʔ
  5. lima
  6. ono
  7. pitu
  8. walu
  9. sio
  10. hampuluʔ

Classification of Uma varieties[edit]

Ethnologue 2013[edit]

Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013) recognizes seven dialects of Uma.

  • Bana
  • Benggaulu (= Bingkolu)
  • Kantewu (= Central Uma)
  • Aria (= Southern Uma)
  • Tobaku (= Ompa, Dompa, Western Uma)
  • Tolee' (= Eastern Uma)
  • Winatu (= Northern Uma)

Martens 2014[edit]

Martens (2014) recognized six major dialects of Uma,[5] noting that the Tori'untu dialect is nearly extinct due to the encroachment of the Kantewu dialect and non-Uma languages.

  • Kantewu (= Central)
  • Southern
  • Tolee'
  • Tobaku
  • Winatu
  • Tori'untu

Martens also identifies two dialects closely related to Uma spoken in the North Mamuju Regency.

  • Sarudu
  • Benggaulu (= Bingkolu)


Martens, Martha A.; Martens, Michael P. 1988. Some notes on the inelegant glottal: a problem in Uma phonology. In Papers in Western Austronesian linguistics 4. pages 279-81. (Pacific Linguistics A 79.) Canberra: Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.


  1. ^ Uma at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Uma". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Michael, Martens P. Notes on Uma verbs (Canberra: Australian National University, 1988), pp. 168.
  4. ^ Michael, Martens P. Notes on Uma verbs (Canberra: Australian National University, 1988), pp. 168.
  5. ^ Martens, Michael P. Uma dialect word lists (Sulawesi Language Alliance, 2014), pp. 1-2.