Tetun and Leti

Authored by: Aone van Engelenhoven , Catharina Williams-van Klinken

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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Tetun and Leti are native to the neighboring islands of Timor and Leti respectively (Wurm and Hattori 1981:map 40). Although traditionally classified as a single language, Tetun (alternatively spelled ‘Tetum’) has two main varieties, Dili Tetun and Tetun Terik, which are virtually mutually unintelligible. In addition to large differences in vocabulary, there are grammatical differences in such basic areas as subject marking, possessives, aspect, negation, and prefixes. Between them, the two Tetuns have about 300,000 to 400,000 native speakers, with as many again being conversant with Tetun at some level.

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