Ambelau language

Bahasa Ambelau
Native to Indonesia, Maluku
Region Ambelau
Native speakers
(5,700 cited 1989)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 amv
Glottolog ambe1248[2]

Ambelau (Indonesian: Bahasa Ambelau) is an Austronesian language; in 1989, it was spoken by about 5,700 Ambelau people, of whom more than 5,000 lived on the Indonesian island Ambelau (Indonesian: Pulau Ambelau) and most others in the village Wae Tawa of the nearby island Buru (Indonesian: Pulau Buru).[3]

The language belongs to the Central Maluku branch of Malayo-Polynesian languages; there is no consensus in literature on its attribution to a distinct sub-branch, e.g. Sula–Buru languages. Although Ambelau island is only 20 km away from the much larger Buru island (population 135,000), the Ambelau language is rather different from all languages and dialects of Buru. The preservation of the language was also unaffected by the fact that Ambelau people compose only half of the Ambelau island population, and the communication with the Bugis and Javanese people composing the other half usually occurs in the official language of the country, Indonesian. Ambelau language has no dialects; so the Ambelau community on Buru island speaks identical language to that used on Ambelau. The language has no writing system.[3][4]

The most detailed study of Ambelau language was conducted in the 1980s by Charles E. Grimes and Barbara Dix Grimes – Australian missionaries and ethnographers, active members of SIL International (they should not be confused with Joseph E. Grimes and Barbara F. Grimes, Charles' parents, also known Australian ethnographers).[5][6][7]


  1. Ambelau at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Ambelau". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2 Ethnologue: Languages of the World. "Ambelau: A language of Indonesia (Maluku)".
  4. "Local knowledge and fisheries management" (PDF). Center for Coastal and Marine Resources Studies, Bogor Agricultural University.
  5. "Publications by Barbara Dix Grimes". SIL International.
  6. "Publications by Charles E. Grimes". SIL International.
  7. "Chuck & Barbara Grimes, Wycliffe Bible Translators". Bethel Grove Bible Church.
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