Authored by: Anthony Jukes

The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar

Print publication date:  November  2004
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780700712861
eBook ISBN: 9780203821121
Adobe ISBN: 9781136755101


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Makassar (also referred to as Makassarese or Macassarese – the endonym being basa Mangkásara’) is one of the larger regional languages of Indonesia, spoken by the Makassarese people of the province of South Sulawesi. The number of speakers is estimated at 1,600,000, making the Makassarese the second largest ethnic group in Sulawesi. The largest are the Bugis with an estimated 3,600,000. Makassar is a member of the South Sulawesi language subgroup which belongs to the (West) Malayo Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. Its closest relatives are the nearby languages Konjo and Selayarese, sometimes thought of as dialects of Makassar. More distantly related are the other languages of South Sulawesi such as Bugis, Mandar, and Sa’dan (Toraja); Adelaar (1994; a historical perspective) has also proposed a relation between South Sulawesi languages and the Tamanic languages in Borneo. The Makassar languages are the most lexically divergent within the South Sulawesi group, with only 45% lexical similarity to the South Sulawesi group as a whole (Grimes and Grimes 1987:25). This indicates that they split off from proto–South Sulawesi quite early – for discussion of this see Mills (1975a:491ff). The Goa dialect of the Makassar language (see below) is the most divergent (that is to say it has been the most affected by borrowing and innovations), while Konjo and Selayarese relate 5 to 10 percentage points higher to other South Sulawesi languages.

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