Oirata–Makasai languages

"East Timor languages" redirects here. For other uses, see Languages of East Timor.
East Timor
East Timor, Kisar
Linguistic classification:

Trans–New Guinea ?

  • Oirata–Fataluku
  • Makasae
Glottolog: east2520[1]

The Oirata–Makasai, or East Timor, languages are a small family of Papuan languages spoken in eastern Timor and the neighboring island of Kisar.


Mandala et al. (2011)[2] found that Fataluku and Oirata are closer to each other than they are to Makasai:

Fataluku has high dialect diversity, and may be more than a single language, for example with Rusenu. An additional Makuv'a (Lovaea) branch was once assumed for East Timor, but that appears to be a heavily Papuan-influenced Austronesian language.

The fourth Papuan language spoken in East Timor, Bunak, is more distantly related. It is currently unknown if they are closer to each other or to the Alor–Pantar languages; all are clearly related. They may be closest to the West Bomberai languages of mainland New Guinea, but this is as yet speculative.[3]


Ross (2005) reconstructed first- and second-person pronouns for proto–East Timor:[4]

proto-ETOirata (object)FatalukuMakasai
1sg *anian-te (ani)aniani
2sg *aiaa-te/ee-te[5] (ee)eai
1ex *iniin-te (in)iniini
1in *apiap-te (ap)afifi
2pl *iii-te (ii)ii

Mandala et al. (2011) reconstruct five vowels, *a, *e, *i, *o, *u, and the following consonants, based on 200 cognate sets:

Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal *m *n
Occlusive *p *t *k
Fricative *s
Sonorant *w *l, *r

*h and *j appear at the level of proto-Oirata–Fataluku.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "East Timor". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Mandala, Halus; Aron Meko Mbete, Ni Made Dhanawaty and Inyo Yis Fernandez. 2011: “Phonological Evolution of Oirata and its Genetic Relationship with Non-Austronesian Languages in Timor-Leste”, Denpasar: Ejournal Universitas Udayana.
    • Ross, Malcolm (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages". In Andrew Pawley; Robert Attenborough; Robin Hide; Jack Golson. Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 1566. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782.
  3. ee-te is a polite form
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