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Toward a Better Understanding of the Indigenous Languages of Southwestern Maluku

Mark Taber
Oceanic Linguistics
Vol. 32, No. 2 (Winter, 1993), pp. 389-441
DOI: 10.2307/3623199
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3623199
Page Count: 53
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Toward a Better Understanding of the Indigenous Languages of Southwestern Maluku
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Abstract

Relatively little is known about the indigenous languages in southwestern Maluku, Indonesia. The reasons are many, not the least of which is the logistical remoteness of these nineteen islands. This paper seeks to update our understanding of the situation by presenting the results of a recent linguistic survey conducted by Pattimura University and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Data were collected from 41 villages using a 210-item wordlist as the primary instrument. The data were subsequently analyzed with the aid of the computer program WORDSURV. The results have helped to answer our questions regarding (1) the number of languages currently spoken in southwestern Maluku, (2) their boundaries, (3) their relationship to each other, and (4) their relationship to languages in the Kei, Aru, and Tanimbar archipelagos of southeastern Maluku. Previous linguistic studies and classifications, together with sociolinguistic and demographic information collected during the study, were examined in order to add to our understanding of the area.

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