Sunda–Sulawesi languages

Inner Hesperonesian
Inner Western Malayo-Polynesian
Southern Thailand, southern Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Micronesia
Linguistic classification:


  • 15 branches (provisional)
Glottolog: None


The Sunda–Sulawesi languages (red). Not shown: Chamorro. The languages in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Hainan are Chamic languages, and those of coastal Burma and Thailand are Moklen languages. The excluded areas of Malaya are Aslian languages, and those of Borneo and Sulawesi are Borneo–Philippine languages.

The Sunda–Sulawesi languages (also known as Inner Hesperonesian or Inner Western Malayo-Polynesian languages) are a putative branch of the Austronesian family posited in Wouk and Ross (2002). They include most of the languages of Sulawesi and the Greater Sunda Islands, as well as a few outliers such as Chamorro and Palauan.

In this proposal the previously posited clade of Western Malayo-Polynesian languages (WMP), aka Hesperonesian, has been broken up into "inner" (Sunda–Sulawesi) and "outer" (Borneo–Philippines) clades, and Western Malayo-Polynesian is considered merely a geographic term.

The greatest diversity of languages is on the island of Sulawesi, the likely homeland of the Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian languages. However, the group has not been taken up by other historical linguists, and it may be that Sunda–Sulawesi is itself not a genealogical clade, but paraphyletic, simply being the Nuclear MP languages outside Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (assuming the latter is a valid group, which is not clear).

Not all the languages of Sulawesi belong to the Sunda–Sulawesi (Inner Hesperonesian) clade. The twenty languages of the northern peninsula of Sulawesi and neighboring islands to the north are instead part of the Borneo–Philippines branch (Outer Hesperonesian).


There are a number of small clusters of languages whose interrelationship remains uncertain. Grouped by geography, they are:

Central and southern Sulawesi

Greater Sunda Islands

Western Pacific islands


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