Alor–Pantar languages

Alor Island, Pantar Island, Indonesia
Linguistic classification Trans–New Guinea?
Glottolog alor1249[2]
The languages of Pantar (left) and Alor (right). The white enclaves near Blagar and Retta and Tereweng. "Western Pantar" is Lamma. Kafoa (Jafoo) is the black area between Kelon (Klon) and Abui. Kabola is merged with Adang. Alorese is an Austronesian language.

The Alor–Pantar languages are a family of clearly related Papuan languages spoken on islands of the Alor archipelago near Timor in southern Indonesia. They may be most closely related to the Papuan languages of western Timor, but this is not yet clear. A more distant relationship with the Trans–New Guinea languages of the Bomberai peninsula has been proposed based on pronominal evidence, but though often cited has never been firmly established.


The family is conventionally divided into two branches, centered on the islands of Alor and Pantar.

Tereweng is sometimes considered a separate language from Blagar, and Hamap sometimes separate from Adang. Abui, Kamang, and Kabola may also not be unitary languages. 71940 total speakers.

Distribution of speakers of Alor-Pantar languages by language

  Abui (20.69%)
  Adang (14.85%)
  Blagar (12.17%)
  Western Pantar (12.17%)
  Woisika (6.30%)
  Klon (6.09%)
  Kula (6.09%)
  Kui (5.16%)
  Teiwa (4.87%)
  Others (11.61%)


Holton, et al. (2012) propose the following classificatory subgrouping for the Alor–Pantar languages, with individual languages marked by italics.[3]

"Proto-Alor–Pantar" may be synonymous with Proto-Timor–Alor–Pantar, as the languages outside the Alor branch do not seem to form a valid node with it against the Oirata–Makasai languages of East Timor and Bunak language on the Timorese border. However, the relationship is distant. Ross (2005) postulates a "West Timor" group uniting Alor–Pantar with Bunak. He reconstructs the pronouns as:

West Timor pronouns
1ex *na*ni
1in *pi
2 *[y]a*i
3 *ga*gi

3pl *gi is not attested from Bunak, and the inclusive is just i.

Language documentation

Language documentation efforts in the early 21st century have produced a range of published documentary materials.

  • Grammatical descriptions
    • A Grammar of Adang (Haan 2001)[4]
    • A Grammar of Abui (Kratochvíl 2007)[5]
    • A Grammar of Klon (Baird 2008)[6]
    • A Grammar of Teiwa (Klamer 2010)[7]
  • Dictionaries
    • Kamus Pengantar Bahasa Abui (Kratochvíl & Delpada 2008)[8]
    • Kamus Pengantar Bahasa Pantar Barat (Holton & Lamma Koly 2008)[9]


It has long been recognized that the Papuan languages of the Alor archipelago (including Alor and Pantar, as well as the four small islands of Buaya, Pura, Ternate, and Tereweng in the Pantar Strait) form a well-defined group. Apparent cognates among basic vocabulary are abundant, as demonstrated for example in Stokhof’s (1975) survey of basic vocabulary, and the shape of pronominal systems is almost identical across the group.[10] The genetic relatedness of the Alor–Pantar languages has been confirmed through the reconstruction of the proto-Alor–Pantar language.[11] Relationships between the Alor–Pantar languages and at least some (though perhaps not all) of the non-Austronesian languages of Timor Island may justify the positing of a Timor–Alor–Pantar language family, however the relationship between the AP group and the Timor languages is of a second order.

Based on an examination of possessive prefixes, Capell (1944) originally postulated that the AP languages were related to the West Papuan Phylum languages of North Maluku and the Bird’s Head of New Guinea.[12] This hypothesis was later countered by Wurm et al. (1975), who classified these languages as members of the putative Trans–New Guinea Phylum.[13] However, the authors offered little evidence for this classification and remained somewhat doubtful, noting, “whichever way they [the Timor–Alor–Pantar languages] are classified, they contain strong substratum elements of the other … phyla involved” (Wurm et al. 1975:318). Most recently, based on an analysis of pronominal shapes Ross (2005) assigns AP to his West Trans–New Guinea linkage, a subgroup of Trans–New Guinea.[14] Yet Ross’ proposal requires that AP pronouns be derived from pTNG via a flip-flop in which second person pronouns trade places with third person. Compare pTNG *ŋga ‘2pro’ and *(y)a ‘3pro’ with Nedebang aŋ and gaŋ, respectively. Bottom-up reconstruction based on regular sound correspondences may shed further light on these issues.


  1. New Guinea World, West Bomberai
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Alor–Pantar". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Holton, Gary, Marian Klamer, František Kratochvíl, Laura C. Robinson, Antoinette Schapper. 2012. "The Historical Relations of the Papuan Languages of Alor and Pantar". Oceanic Linguistics, Vol. 51, No. 1, June 2012
  4. Haan, Johnson Welem. 2001. A grammar of Adang: a Papuan language spoken on the Island of Alor, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia: University of Sydney Ph.D. dissertation.
  5. Kratochvíl, František. 2007. A Grammar of Abui. Leiden: Leiden University Ph.D. dissertation.
  6. Baird, Louise. 2008. A Grammar of Klon: A Non–Austronesian Language of Alor, Indonesia. (Pacific Linguistics 596). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  7. Klamer, Marian. 2010. A Grammar of Teiwa. Berlin: Mouton.
  8. Kratochvil, Frantisek & Benny Delpada. 2008. Kamus Pengantar Bahasa Abui. Kupang, Indonesia: UBB-GMIT.
  9. Holton, Gary & Mahalalel Lamma Koly. 2008. Kamus Pengantar Bahasa Pantar Barat. Kupang, Indonesia: UBB-GMIT. Online:
  10. Stokhof, W. A. L. 1975. Preliminary notes on the Alor and Pantar languages (East Indonesia). (Pacific Linguistics B-43). Canberra: Australian National University.
  11. Holton, Gary, Marian Klamer, František Kratochvíl, Laura Robinson & Antoinette Schapper. 2012. The historical relation of the Papuan languages of Alor and Pantar. Oceanic Linguistics 51(1).87-122.
  12. Capell, A. 1944. Peoples and languages of Timor. Oceania 14.191-219.
  13. Wurm, S.A., C.L. Voorhoeve & K.A. McElhanon. 1975. The Trans–New Guinea Phylum in general. New Guinea Area Languages and Language Study, vol. I, Papuan Languages and the New Guinea Linguistic Scene, ed. by S.A. Wurm, 299-322. (Pacific Linguistics C-38). Canberra: Australian National University.
  14. Ross, Malcolm. 2005. Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages. Papuan Pasts: Cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples ed. by A. Pawley, R. Attenborough, J. Golson & R. Hide, 15-66. (Pacific Linguistics PL 572). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.