Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some good papers available on web

The number of linguistics papers dealing with East Timor languages is low and is very hard to find available on web as well. Today, I will post talking about good papers that can be found on web.

I start with Hull’s paper The Languages of East Timor. Some Basic Facts. that is available on:
I already cited this paper on a previous post (Preliminaries Notes 2: Number of Languages). On this publication, Hull (2002) presents a review of the results of his research with a lot of information about linguistic contact, historical linguistics, and notorious facts about each language.

Two others are available on:
and Both are Esperança authorship, a Portuguese linguist (for a complete list of Esperanças’s works visit: Actually, they are chapters of his book called Estudos de Lingüística Timorense (Esperança 2001). This book contains in each chapter Esperança’s paper about East Timor linguistic situation during the 90s.

The first one is an important paper in which the author has a hypothesis that the Bidau Creole Portuguese (BCP) influenced Tetum language. This is exactly the contrary that Baxter (1990), as others previous authors that written about BCP, attested, because there are indeed a lot of linguistic data that show the influence that BCP suffer from Tetum. Esperança does not deny this Tetum influence on BCP, but show that BCP influenced Tetum as well. In others words, the influence it was on both ways BCP>Tetum, and Tetum> BCP. I recently have finished a paper (Albuquerque 2009) analyzing these influences and the importance of BCP to Portuguese language spoken in East Timor at the present time.

The second one is a miscellaneous with several chapters of the book. There is a long chapter with an introductory phonological description of Tetum called Inventário de fonemas do tétum, um olhar sobre a sílaba e algumas questões sobre a reduplicação. In this chapter there is a segmental inventory of Tetum, an analysis of syllable structure and reduplication. The others chapters are brief observations about linguistic policy for native languages and Portuguese language.

So, if you are looking for introductory papers on Tetum, and others East Timor native languages, those are good links for you check it out!!!


Albuquerque, D. B. 2009. Revisitando o português crioulo de Bidau: contato e influências lingüísticas. Unpublished Manuscript.

Baxter, A. 1990. “Notes on the Creole Portuguese of Bidau, East Timor”. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 5: 1-38.

Esperança, J. P. T. 2001. Estudos de Lingüística Timorense. SUL, Aveiro.

Hull, G. 2002. The Languages of East Timor. Some basic facts. Available on:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Preliminary note 3: Number of Languages

The exactly number of native languages spoken in East Timor until nowadays remain uncertain. Besides Government, UN, and others agencies census and/or reports (which do not have the linguistic accuracy necessary), the only significant works dealing with the number of languages that exists in East Timor territory are the Ethnologue (Lewis 2009) and Hull’s papers (1998, 2001, 2002).

The newest Ethnologue edition, the sixteenth, released this year, has brought conspicuous information. Firstly, it mentions a Papuasic language called Adabe which is supposedly spoken in Atauro Island, but the time I lived in East Timor I do not find anybody who knew or spoken this language. I do not find any linguistic material and/or paper on this language as well. Secondly, the acronym Kawaimina (Kairui, Waimaha, Midiki, and Naueti) and Idalaka (Idate, Lakalei, and Isni) were forged by Hull, that classified the above mentioned in brackets as different dialects of the same language, appears separately as distinct languages as follow: Kairui-Midiki, Nauete, and Waima’a, for Kawaimina, and Idaté, and Lakalei for Idalaka (the names are just as appears in Ethnologue). Thirdly, the genetic affiliation, as others linguistics information, miss scientific accuracy: only thing that mentions are some terminology and some bibliographical references (As you can see on:

Hull made a research on East Timor native languages during the 90s and the beginning of the 21 century. He published a lot of papers dealing on descriptive and historical linguistics of those languages. His first attempt of classification was based in a vast lexical comparison amongst the Austronesian languages (Hull 1998), further studies were published, but a brief review of the results of these studies can be found in Hull (2001). An introductory text to the East Timor native languages is available on:
Hull’s research reveal that some languages has great dialectal variety (as Kawaimina, and Idalaka already mentioned, but others as Mambae, Makasae, and Fataluku), but the exactly number of native languages are sixteen.

Thus, with the lack of information and studies that could solve this problem a linguist has to adopt a theoretical position. So, mine is to consider the number of languages spoken in East Timor as sixteen, as Hull’s papers, due to the fact of these studies of his have a scientific foundation.


Hull, G., 1998. “The Basic Lexical Affinities of Timor’s Austronesian Languages: A Preliminary Investigaion”. Studies in Languages and Cultures of East Timor 1: 97-202.
2001. “O Mapa Lingüístico de Timor Leste: Uma Orientação Dialectológica”. Studies in Languages and Cultures of East Timor 4: 1-19.
2002. The Languages of East Timor. Some basic facts. Available on:

Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Preliminary note 2: Choice of Language

I will talk about only the choice of the major language to be used on this blog.

I have chosen English language due to the main objective of mine which is to enable a large number of researches and people interested on East Timor Languages to present, to discuss, and to enable on web any kind of material.Thus, English language (as a world language) in my point of view is the best choice for this purpose.

Although English is the major language of this blog to make easier the communication process between people of different countries, sometimes I will post on Portuguese and Tetum as well, whenever I think it is necessary. Comments could be in any of those three languages (English, Portuguese, and Tetum) of course!

The following posts will discuss some problematic issues, such as: orthography, East Timor linguistic policy, bibliography available on web, and ongoing researches. But these issues will be only briefly presented as a set of parameter for the blog and to present some theoretical observations of mine.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Preliminary note 1: Basic information

As the first post, I will start only writing about the structure of future posts.

Future posts are going: to present some results of my ongoing research, to discuss about important linguistics issues on East Timor languages, to give good links which contain papers, projects, and other useful information, current projects, and any kind of news related to East Timor languages.

The following posts will continue with the blog strucuture talking about my theoretical point of view, basic information on East Timor, and current problems to be analyzed.

So, I give everybody welcome, and see you next post!