Celebic languages

Linguistic classification:


Glottolog: cele1242[1]

The Celebic languages are a proposed but poorly supported group of Malayo-Polynesian languages spoken on the island of Sulawesi, formerly spelled Celebes. It would be the largest family of languages on that island.


David Mead (2003a:125) classifies the Celebic languages as follows.

External relationships

Sulawesi has a diverse set of languages. The families of the north—Gorontalo, Sangiric, and Minahasan languages—have the Austronesian alignment system of syntax common to the languages of the Philippines and Borneo, and reconstructed for proto-Malayo-Polynesian.

The languages of the center and south of the island have lost this system. Wouk and Ross (2002) argued from this that Sulawesi was the center of dispersal for a group of languages which share this loss, which they call Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian. They leave Gorontalo, Sangiric, and Minahasan outside their Nuclear MP, and the various other Sulawesi families as primary branches of Nuclear MP. Adelaar and Himmelmann (2005) go further and classify Gorontalo, Sangiric, and Minahasan as Philippine languages, with Gorontalo in a "Greater Central Philippine" branch along with Tagalog.

Sound changes

David Mead (2003a:125) lists the following sound changes for Celebic and its subgroups.

1. Proto-Malayo-Polynesian to Proto-Celebic

2. Proto-Celebic to Proto-Eastern Celebic

3. Proto-Eastern Celebic to Proto-Saluan–Banggai

4. Proto-Eastern Celebic to Proto-Southeastern Celebic

5. Proto-Southeastern Celebic to Proto-Bungku–Tolaki

6. Proto-Southeastern Celebic to Proto-Muna–Buton


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Celebic". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.


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