Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Timor–Alor–Pantar languages

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Glottolog  timo1261
Geographic distribution  Timor and neighboring islands
Linguistic classification  Trans–New Guinea? West Bomberai – Timor–Alor–Pantar? Timor–Alor–Pantar
Subdivisions  Alor–Pantar East Timor Bunak

The Timor–Alor–Pantar languages are the Papuan (non-Austronesian) languages of Timor, especially the country of East Timor, and neighboring islands.



The languages are demonstrably related, but many are not close. The following conservative classification is from Ross (2005), Schapper et al. (2012), and Holton et al. (2012).

  • East Timor (Oirata–Makasai) family
  • Bunak
  • Alor-Pantar family
  • Teiwa
  • Nedebang
  • Kaera
  • Western Pantar (Lamma)
  • Bunak and the Alor–Pantar languages are sometimes grouped together as "West Timor", while Bunak and East Timor have been grouped as "Timor–Kisar". Although the Alor–Pantar languages are clearly related, as are the Timor–Kisar languages and the two groups to each other, until comparative work is done on all languages simultaneously it will not be clear whether Bunak is closer to East Timor or to Alor–Pantar, or whether Alor–Pantar is a valid node. The list given above is conservative, without any undemonstrated groups.

    Pronouns are:

    Ross (2005) believes these reflecting proto-Trans–New Guinea 1st and 2nd-person pronouns *na, *ni, *ga, *gi, and possibly the pTNG dual/inclusive *-pi-, but this has not been demonstrated to the satisfaction of other linguists, many of whom see Trans–New Guinea as a more limited family.

    History and classification

    Despite their geographic proximity, the Papuan languages of Timor are not closely related, and demonstration of a relationship between any of them is difficult, apart from the clearly related Alor–Pantar languages on the islands neighboring Timor.

    Arthur Capell first proposed that the Timor languages were a family in 1941, and Watuseke & Anceaux did the same for Timor–Alor–Pantar in 1973. Both units have been broken up in more recent classifications, though their ultimate relationship is generally accepted.

    In 1957 HKL Cowan linked the Timor languages to the West Papuan family. However, when Stephen Wurm expanded Trans–New Guinea in 1975, he decided Timor–Alor–Pantar belonged there, and he linked it to the South Bird's Head languages in a South Bird's Head – Timor–Alor–Pantar branch of that phylum. Wurm noted similarities with West Papuan, a different family, but suggested this was due to substratum influence.

    Ross (2005) classifies Timor–Alor–Pantar with the West Bomberai languages, the two groups forming a branch within West Trans–New Guinea.


    Timor–Alor–Pantar languages Wikipedia

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