Wednesday, December 02, 2009

On Waima'a dialect

Waima'a is dialect of a dialect chain called Kawaimina, an acronym formed by the following dialects Kairui, Waima'a, Midiki, and Naueti (Hull 2001). It is spoken mainly in Baucau district and it is an Austronesian language.

Recently, some papers have been published dealing mostly with Waima'a phonology. Hajek & Bowden (2002) have show that Waima'a has a complex phonological inventory, where most Austronesian languages do not have. In another paper, Hajek & Steven (2005) analyzed Waima'a ejectives stops. This papaer is avaiable at:

This is a conspicuous trace of Waima'a phonology deal to the fact that others East Timor languages have a simple phonolgy, and East Timor as a linguistic area, as showed by Hull (2001), should share the same typological features.     

The Waimaha language of East Timor is a project with DoBeS support. The website of the project has good material, sucha as: texts, alphabet book, and others usefull things. The DoBeS website is

Himmelmann (in print) has a very important paper dealing with Waima'a intonation structure, available at The important thing in this paper is that the conclusions about Waima'a intonational system maybe can be applyed to others Timoric languages with presents the same prosodic features, that most of the times are mistaken by a kind of stress pattern.

Another good initiative is from those above mentioned linguists. They have an ongoing project on Waima'a, and others East Timor languages as well. We hope that could help to save those languages, and to bring to scholars some good information about those underdescribed languages.


Hajek, J. & J. Bowden (2002). A phonological oddity in the Austronesian area: Ejectives in Waimoa, Oceanic Linguistics 41: 222-224.

Hajek, John & Mary Stevens. 2005 ‘On the acoustic characterization of ejective stops in Waima’a’, INTERSPEECH-2005, 2889-2892.

Himmelmann, Nikolaus. In Print. "Notes on Waima'a intonation", in: Michael Ewing & Marian Klamer (eds), Typological and Areal Analyses: Contributions from East Nusantara, Leiden: KITLV Press

Hull, Geoffrey. 2001. “A Morphological Overview of the Timoric Sprachbund”, Studies in Languages and Cultures of East Timor 4: 98-205.

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