Tobati language

Last updated
Native to Indonesia
Region Papua
Ethnicity Tobati
Native speakers
100 (2007) [1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 tti
Glottolog toba1266
ELP Tobati
Lang Status 40-SE.svg
Tobati is classified as Severely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Tobati, or Yotafa, is an Austronesian language spoken in Jayapura Bay in Papua province, Indonesia. It was once thought to be a Papuan language. [1] Notably, Tobati displays a very rare object–subject–verb word order. [2]



Labial Labio-
Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ N [lower-alpha 1]
Stop voiceless t c k
voiced b d d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless ɸ f s ʃ h [lower-alpha 2]
voiced ɣ ~ ɰ
Approximant w j
Rhotic r
  1. Before a vowel realized as [ŋg], otherwise nasalizes the preceding vowel. [2]
  2. Displays free variation as [h~ɦ~x~ɣ].

/f/ also shows allophony as [p]. However, it does not behave as a stop (see below).

Tobati has a five-vowel system of / a e i o u /, realized as / a ɛ i ɔ ʊ / in closed syllables.


Tobati permits three consonants in the onset, and at most a single consonant or a nasal-stop cluster in the coda.

Nasal-stop clusters only permit a nasal and a stop of the same Place of articulation. For the /nd/ sequence, /n/ becomes dental [ ]. Neither the bilabial, consisting of /b/ and the /f/ allophone [p], nor palatal nasal-stop clusters distinguish voice (i.e. they are [pm~bm] and [cɲ~d͡ʒɲ] respectively). The /Nk/ sequence voices to [ŋg]. [2]

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  1. 1 2 Tobati at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. 1 2 3 Crowley, Terry; Lynch, John; Ross, Malcolm (2002). The Oceanic Languages. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 186-88