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The Timoric languages are a group of Austronesian languages (belonging to the Central–Eastern subgroup) spoken on the islands of Timor, neighboring Wetar, and (depending on the classification) Southwest Maluku to the east.
Within the group, the languages with the most speakers are Uab Meto of West Timor, Indonesia and Tetum of East Timor, each with about half a million speakers, though in addition Tetum is an official language and a lingua franca among non-Tetum East Timorese.
Geoffrey Hull (1998) proposes a Timoric group as follows:
Van Engelenhoven (2009) accepts Hull's classification, but further includes Makuva and the Luangic–Kisaric languages (Kisar, Romang, Luang, Wetan, Leti) in the Eastern branch of Timoric A.
In a lexicostatistical classification of the languages of Southwest Maluku, Taber (1993:396) posits a "Southwest Maluku" branch of the Timoric languages, that comprises all languages of the area, except for West Damar and the Babar languages.
Edwards (2018, 2019) divides the languages of Timor and Southwest Maluku into three branches:
The latter subgroup includes all other languages grouped by Hull as Timoric, as well all languages of Southwest Maluku (including the Babar languages). Within "Timor-Wetar-Babar", Edwards proposes a Rote-Meto branch, with languages spoken on Rote Island and in West Timor.
Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia, in the north of the Timor Sea. The island is divided between the sovereign states of East Timor on the eastern part and Indonesia on the western part. The Indonesian part, known as West Timor, constitutes part of the province of East Nusa Tenggara. Within West Timor lies an exclave of East Timor called Oecusse District. The island covers an area of 30,777 square kilometres. The name is a variant of timur, Malay for "east"; it is so called because it lies at the eastern end of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Mainland Australia is less than 500 km away, separated by the Timor Sea.
West Timor is an area covering the western part of the island of Timor, except for the district of Oecussi-Ambeno. Administratively, West Timor is part of East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia. The capital as well as its main port is Kupang. During the colonial period, the area was named Dutch Timor and was a centre of Dutch loyalists during the Indonesian National Revolution (1945–1949). From 1949 to 1975 it was named Indonesian Timor.
The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. The Malayo-Polynesian languages are spoken by the Austronesian peoples outside of Taiwan, in the island nations of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, with a smaller number in continental Asia in the areas near the Malay Peninsula, with Cambodia, Vietnam and the Chinese island Hainan as the northwest geographic outlier. Malagasy, spoken in the island of Madagascar off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, is the furthest western outlier.
The Barat Daya Islands are a group of islands in the Maluku province of Indonesia. The Indonesian phrase barat daya means 'south-west'.
The languages of East Timor include both Austronesian and Papuan languages. The lingua franca and national language of East Timor is Tetum, an Austronesian language influenced by Portuguese, with which it has equal status as an official language. The language of the Oecusse exclave is Uab Meto (Dawan). Fataluku is a Papuan language widely used in the eastern part of the country. Both Portuguese and Tetum have official recognition under the Constitution of East Timor, as do other indigenous languages, including: Bekais, Bunak, Galoli, Habun, Idalaka, Kawaimina, Kemak, Lovaia, Makalero, Makasae, Mambai, Tokodede and Wetarese.
Rote Island is an island of Indonesia, part of the East Nusa Tenggara province of the Lesser Sunda Islands. According to legend, this island got its name accidentally when a lost Portuguese sailor arrived and asked a farmer where he was. The surprised farmer, who could not speak Portuguese, introduced himself, "Rote".
The Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (CEMP) languages form a proposed branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages consisting of over 700 languages.
Wetar is a tropical island which belongs to the Indonesian province of Maluku and is the largest island of the Maluku Barat Daya Islands of the Maluku Islands. It lies east of the Lesser Sunda Islands, which include nearby Alor and Timor, but it is politically part of the Maluku Islands. To the south, across the Wetar Strait, lies the island of Timor; at its closest it is 50 km away. To the west, across the Ombai Strait, lies the island of Alor. To the southwest is the very small island of Liran, which is also part of Wetar district (kecamatan) and, further southwest, the small East Timorese island of Atauro. To the north is the Banda Sea and to the east lie Romang and Damar Islands, while to the southeast lie the other principal islands of the Barat Daya Islands. Including Liran, Wetar has an area of 2,651.9 km2, and had a population of 7,916 at the 2010 Census.
Kisar, also known as Yotowawa, is a small island in the Southwestern Moluccas in Indonesia, located to the northeast of Timor Island. Most of the island is included within the Southernmost Islands District within the Southwest Islands Regency of Maluku Province. The District previously also includes the larger Romang Island further north, but this with its own outliers was subsequently split off to form its own district. The rest of the island forms the North Kisar District within the regency. It is one of the 92 officially listed outlying islands of Indonesia. The principal town is Wonreli, with 6,652 inhabitants at the 2010 Census.
Wetarese is an Austronesian language of Wetar, an island in the south Maluku, Indonesia, and of the nearby islands Liran and Atauro, the latter island separate from the mainland of East Timor, north of Dili.
The Central Malayo-Polynesian languages (CMP) are a proposed branch in the Malayo-Polynesian subgroup of the Austronesian language family. The languages are spoken in the Lesser Sunda and Maluku Islands of the Banda Sea, in an area corresponding closely to the Indonesian provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and Maluku and the nation of East Timor, but with the Bima language extending to the eastern half of Sumbawa Island in the province of West Nusa Tenggara and the Sula languages of the Sula archipelago in the southwest corner of the province of North Maluku. The principal islands in this region are Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Timor, Buru, and Seram. The numerically most important languages are Bima, Manggarai of western Flores, Uab Meto of West Timor, and Tetum, the national language of East Timor.
The Timor–Alor–Pantar (TAP) languages are a family of languages spoken in Timor, Kisar, and the Alor archipelago in Southern Indonesia. It is the westernmost Papuan language family, and one of two such outlier families in east Nusantara.
Leti is an Austronesian language spoken on the island of Leti in Maluku. Although it shares much vocabulary with the neighboring Luang language, it is marginally mutually intelligible.
The Babar languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian language family spoken on the Babar Islands.
Troides staudingeri is a birdwing butterfly in the genus Troides in the family Papilionidae. It is known from Leti Island, Moa Island, Kisar Island, Babar Island and Wetar Island.
West Damar, or North Damar, is an Austronesian language of Damar Island, one of the Maluku Islands of Indonesia. In spite of rather low cognacy rates with its neighboring languages, it can be classified as part of the Babar languages based on qualitative evidence.
Amarasi is a Central Malayo-Polynesian language of West Timor, and is spoken by the Amarasi. The Amarasi language has about 80,000 native speakers, with four main dialects called Ro'is, Kotos, Tais Nonof, and Ketun, though many differences exist between individual villages. It uses Subject-Object-Verb grammar structure. Speakers are interspersed with those of Helong.
Helong is a Central Malayo-Polynesian language of West Timor. Speakers are interspersed with those of Amarasi. This language has become endangered as a result of its native speakers marrying those who do not speak Helong, and as a result of coming in contact with the outside community. Helong speakers are found in four villages on the South-Western coast of West Timor, as well as on Semau Island, a small island just off the coast of West Timor. The mostly Christian, slightly patriarchal society of Semau do their best to send their children away to Bali to earn money to send home.
Aone van Engelenhoven is a Dutch linguist and anthropologist who teaches at Leiden University. He conducts research in the field of linguistics and anthropology, with a focus on smaller languages from Indonesia. He has carried out extensive research about languages and traditions of Maluku and East Timor.