Difference between revisions of "Kaili (en)"

From Glottopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
(Removing the word "languages" from cat names)
Line 610: Line 610:
[[Category:Austronesian languages]]
[[Category:Celebic languages]]

Latest revision as of 12:54, 2 March 2018

Ledo Kaili is the largest member of the Kaili languages, are a dialect chain within the Kaili-Pamona languages which are spoken in Central Sulawesi (Indonesia). Altogether, Kaili is one of the largest languages in Sulawesi. One third of the population of Sulawesi Tengah province were (1979) native speakers of a Kaili language. Object language of this article is the main dialect Ledo, which is spoken in the district (Kabupaten) Donggala in and around the provincial capital Palu.



  bilabial labio-
alveolar post-
palatal velar glottal
voiceless voiced voiceless voiced voiceless voiced voiceless voiced voiceless voiced voiceless voiced voiceless voiced
Plosives p b     t d         k g ʔ  
Nasals   m       n       ɲ   ŋ    
Vibrants           r                
Fricatives       v s               h  
Approximants   w               j        
lateral Approximant           l                


  front central back
rounded unrounded r. unr. r. unr.
closed i         u
half-closed e         o
mid     ə    
open a          


Kaili has word-level stress on the penultimate syllable, secondary stress alternates from there on. I have no information on sentence- and phrase-level intonation.


Unaffixed words have to four (in most cases two) syllables with CV structure

each C = simple C or Nasal + C 
each V = simple V from series 1 resp. 2 or V from 1a/b + V from 1.

Writing and orthography

Kaili has a Latin alphabet without and <x> (which only occur in loan words) and without diacritics. The orthography follows the reformed (1975) rules for Bahasa Indonesia:

/tʃ/ : <c>, /dʒ/ : <j>, /ɲ/ : <ny>, /ŋ/ : <ng>, /j/ : <y>
/ʔ/ can be written <’> if necessary (e.g. between identical vowels)

In some grammars and papers long vowels are represented by doubling them (e.g. /a:/ : <aa>), this seems not to be a standard, however. Kaili did not have a writing system and a written tradition before the introduction of the Latin script.


Kaili is a typical Malayo-Polynesian language with a morphology that has isolating as well as a few agglutinative features. There are lots of affixes for derivation and verbal inflection. Nouns and adjectives do not have any inflection. There is no overt marking (and no category) of gender, number, and case. (Natural) gender and number (plurality) can be expressed by lexical means if necessary, semanto-syntactic roles are indicated by syntax and verbal inflection, but not morphologically on nouns/NPs.

Comparation and gradation of adjectives are partly morphologic, partly lexical. See section 4 for verbal morphology. Some vowels or nasals might undergo or set off (progressive and regressive) morphophonological processes (nasalization, labialization, and palatalization) at morpheme boundaries. Unaffixed words out of context tend to be neutral with respect to word class and grammatical categories.


Prefixes (selected)


Realis, durative
dau – nodau ‘sew’ – ‘sewing’
kande – nangande ‘eat’ – ‘eating ’
sakaya – nosakaya ‘(a) boat’ – ‘having a boat’
sikola – nosikola ‘(a) school’ – ‘go(ing) to school’
gasa – nagasa ‘clean’ - ‘be clean’

{ma-}/{me-}/{mo-} : Irrealis, habituative, etc.

tua – matua ‘old’ – ‘become old’
ruma – meruma ‘(a) house’ – ‘to live in (a house)’
kande – mangande ‘eat’ – ‘eating’
sangu – mosangu ‘one’ – ‘unite’
jarita – mojarita ‘talk’ – ‘talk about’
tora – motora ‘(a) wish’ – ‘wish(ing)’

{ni-} Passive / object focus (see below)

keni – nikeni ‘carry’ – ‘carried’

{nu-} : Demonstrative

banua – nubanua/nubunua ‘(a) house’ – ‘this house’

{ka-} : ‘for’, ordinal

ngana – kangana ‘child’ – ‘for the child’
sangu – kasangu ‘one’ – ‘first’


sangu – pasangu ‘one’ – ‘unite’
N. Agentis, N. Instrumenti, N. Loci
jarita – pajarita ‘talk’ – ‘narrator, speaker’
turu – paturu ‘sleep’ –‘place to sleep, bed’

{popo-} : Transitivization + Causative

berei – popoberei ‘spouse’ – ‘marry’
tumangi – popotumangi ‘cry’ – ‘make cry, sadden’
(ng)ana – popoana ‘child’ – ‘impregnate’

{si-} : ‘together’, ‘(as) one’ tuvu – sintuvu ‘live’ - ‘live together, cohabitate’

{ti-}/{te-} ‘inadvertedly, accidental’

navu – tinavu ‘fall’ – ‘collapse’
turu – teturu ‘sleep’ – ‘fall asleep’

Suffixes (selection)

{-a} : ‘many’, ‘abstract’

talu – talua ‘gardening’ – ‘garden, park’
kande – kandea ‘eat’ – ‘meal’, also: ‘rice’
savi – savia ‘drive’ – ‘vehicle’
bulu – bulua ‘body hair’ – ‘(scalp) hair’

{-si} : ‘reason, source’, factitive

toro – torosi ‘recover’ – ‘medicine’
mate – matesi ‘dead’ – ‘kill’
lai – laisi ‘walk’ – ‘come from’
dua – duasi ‘sick’ – ‘sickening’

{-pa} : ‘attempt’ kande – kandepa ‘eat’ – ‘test, taste, try (food)’ epe – epepa ‘listen’ – ‘try to listen’

Circumfixes (selection)

{pa- -a} : ‘place’

turu – paturua ‘sleep’ – ‘place to sleep, bed’

{ka- -a} ‘state’, ‘abstract’

pande – kapandea ‘dilligent’ – ‘dilligence’

{na- -i}/{ma- -i} : ‘apply, use’

talinga – nantalingai ‘ear’ – ‘listen’

{nomba- -i} : ‘apply, decorate with’, ornative

vatu – nombavatui ‘stone’ – ‘pave’

{nosi- -si} : ‘each other’, reciprocal

dua – nosiduasi ‘sick’ – ‘infect each other’

Infixes (selection)

All infixes are left-peripheral: They can only be inserted after the onset of a word-initial syllable.

{-in-} : ‘result, product’

sole – sinole ‘fry’ – ‘fried food’
talu – tinalu ‘gardening’ – ‘garden, plantation’

{-um-} : ‘apply, use’

somba – sumomba ‘(a) sail’ – ‘to sail’
tangi – tumangi ‘tear’ – ‘(to) cry’

{-imb-} : ‘result, consequence’

tala – timbala ‘divorce’ – ‘divorcé(e)’

{-il-} : ‘intention’

hau – hilau ‘go’ – ‘want to go’


‘[it] is liked by him/her to be done’ = ‘(s)he really likes to...’
‘we [ourselves] would seem to be the only remaining means for giving each other strength’


Full reduplication

bongi – bongi-bongi ‘night’ – ‘at night / each night’
eo – eo-eo ‘day’, ‘sun’ – ‘daily’
(ng)ana – ngana-ngana ‘child’ – ‘many children’
sakide – sakide-sakide ‘few’ - ‘very few’

Partial reduplication

randua – randua-ndua ‘two’ – ‘two by two, two each’

Affixed reduplication

ngaya – pengaya-ngaya ‘kind, type’ – ‘various’
kande – pangande-ngandemo ‘eat’ – ‘taste a bit of everything’
tora – metora – metora-tora ‘(a)wish‘ –‘wish for’ – ‘long for’
sangu – sumangu-mangu ‘one’ – ‘the whole, all (of)’


Compounds are (apart from few exceptions) written separately – even though they are inseparable units which tend to have idiosyncratic (non-compositional) meanings:

banua vatu ‘brick house’ banua ‘house’ + vatu ‘stone’
dua rara ‘heartache, lovesickness’ dua ‘sickness’ + rara ‘heart’
lili ntiku ‘surround, engulf’ lili ‘around’ + ntiku ‘around’
tadulako ‘leader’ tadu ‘heel’ + lako ‘follow’
royomata ‘sleepy’ royo ‘keep/hold open’ + mata ‘eye(s)’

Some compounds show reduction or assimilation:

(ng)ana guru ‘pupil, schoolchild’ ngana ‘child’ + guru ‘teacher’
otua ‘parent(s)’ tona ‘human’+ tua ‘old’
alampale ‘cooperate’ ala ‘take’ + pale ‘hand’

Verbal categories

The inflection of Kaili verbs (some authors prefer: predicatives) is dominated by the two categories of mood and voice, which are conjoined by fused affixes. Apart from voice in the stricter sense there are many other valency-related functions, e.g. causative and factitive. Only direct objects and undergoers of passive sentences are marked by cliticized personal markers.


ESSER (1934) described this category as two distinct tenses comparable to nonfuture/future, even though temporal relations are mostly expressed by lexical rather than morphological means. It should therefore rather be regarded as a distinction between realis for (factual) actions in the present or past from irrealis which is used for future actions/events on the one hand and putative, imaginary, fictional (VAN DEN BERG: “contrafactual”) actions on the other hand.

The allomorphs {na-}~{ne-}~{no-} stand for realis, the allomorphs {ma-}~{me-}~{mo-} for irrealis; the form of the allomorphs is constituing a kind of inflectional classes and is (synchronically at least) not conditioned by phonology. There are few exceptions where a stem can take two or all three of the allomorphs, yielding verbs with different meanings: e.g. kande ‘eat’

na-ngande / ma-ngande ‘eat’ (transitive)
ne-kande / me-kande ‘cut or bite into’ (intransitive)
no-kande-si / mo-kande-si ‘eat up sth. from so.’


Kaili has two different verbal diatheses which can be described either as focus (agent focus vs. object focus) or voice (active vs. passive), the latter being more suitable if one follows HIMMELMANN’s (2002) definitions of focus and voice.

active realis
Yaku	na-ngande	loka	riava. 	
1SG	REA-eat	banana	yesterday	
‘I ate [the] banana(s) yesterday.’		
active irrealis
Ia	ma-ngande	loka	haitu.
3 SG	IRR-eat	banana	DEM
‘He will/would [probably] eat the banana(s).’
passive realis
Ni-kande=ku	loka	riava. 	(1d)	
PASS.REA-eat=1SG	banana	yesterday 	
‘[The] Banana(s) was/were eaten by me yesterday.’	
passive irrealis
Ra-kande=na	loka	haitu.
PASS.IRR-eat=3SG	banana	DEM
‘[The] Banana[s] were/was [probably] eaten by him.’

Other valency-related mechanisms

Valency can be increased or realigned/shifted by transitivizations, factitives or causatives. Here, let's demonstrate a few of these mechanisms which might be interesting from a typological perspective.


Intransitive verbs can be transitivized by {po-}, making the S of the intransitive verbs not the A but the O of the transitive verbs (hidden causative):

Mano	na-tuwu.	
chicken	REA-live		
‘[The] chicken live.’		

I	Esa	nom-pa-tuwu	mano.
PM	Esa	REA-TR-live	chicken
‘Esa breeds chicken.’


If {po-} is added once more, the transitivized verb can be augmented by a causative. Historically, {popo-} is thus bimorphemic, there are, however, verbs that synchronically do not have a form with only one {po-} attached to them.

No-berei-mo 	i	Dula.
REA-spouse-COMPL	PM	Dula
‘Dula is married’

I	Dula	no-berei	nte	i	Ani.
PN	Dula	REA-spouse	with	PM	ANI
‘Dula is married to Ani.’

Ia	nom-po-berei	i	Ani.
3SG	REA-TR-spouse	PM	Ani
‘He marries Ani.’

Totua-na	ni-po-po-berei	ia.
parent-3SG	PASS.REA-CAUS-TR-spouse	3SG
‘His parents married him off.’
I	Ni	no-tulisi	sura.
PN	Ni	REA-write	letter
‘Ni writes [a] letter[s].’

Yaku	nom-popo-tulisi	i	Ni	sura.
1SG	REA-CAUS-write	PN	Ni	letter
‘I have Ni write [a] letter[s].’

I	Ni	ni-popo-tulisi=ku	sura.
PN	Ni	PASS.REA-CAUS-write=1SG	letter
‘Ni is being caused to write [a] letter[s] by me.’

Sura	ni-popo-tulisi=ku	i	Ni.
letter	PASS.REA-write=1SG	PN	Ni
‘This letter I had written by Ni.’

There is another causative construction (EVANS: requestive) using {peki-}/{meki-}/{neki-}, which adds a semantic role (causer), while syntactically reducing valency, since the causee can only be expressed in a PP (and is mostly omitted).

I	Tira	no-dau	baju.
PM	Tira	REA-sew	dress				
‘Tira sews [a] dress[es].’					

Yaku	meki-dau	baju.			
1SG	REQ.IRR-sew	dress				
‘I want to have a dress sewn.’					

Yaku	mom-peki-dau	baju	nte	Tira.
1SG	IRR-REQ-sew	dress	with	Tira
‘I want to have a dress sewn by Tira.’
Ia	nom-paka-belo	dua=ra
3SG	REA-CAUS-well	sickness=3PL
‘He cures their disease(s).’

Ira	nom-peki-paka-belo	dua=ra
3PL	REA-REQ-CAUS-well	sickness=3PL
‘They asked him to cure their disease(s).’


Kaili is a strict head-initial type language. Heads precede dependents in compounds, phrases, and sentences. Basic sentence order is SVO or VOS (that is: VO generally) with NGen, NAdj, NRel, PrepN, NegV, etc. There is no obligatory copula, the use of the facultative copula is marked for emphasis. In passives, the agent pronoun can be cliticized to the verb, the subject of the passive can stand on either side of the verb.

sakaya	mbaso
boat 	big									
N		Adj										
‘a/the big boat’, also: ‘the boat is big’							
banua	geira
house 	3PL
N	Gen
‘their house’
Yaku	noriapu	uta.						
1SG	REA:cook	vegetables								
S	V		O									
‘I’m cooking vegetables.’								
Kaluku	hai	nalanga
coconut_tree	DEM	REA:be_high
N	Dem
‘This coconut tree is high.’

Tuamaku	hau	ri	talua.					
father:1SG	[REA]go	in	garden							
S		V		Prep	N					
‘My father goes into the garden.’								

Hau	ri	talua	tuamaku
[REA]go	in	garden	father:1SG		
V	Prep	N	S
‘My father goes into the garden.’
I	mange	nangali	bengga. 				
PM	uncle	buy	cattle							
S	V	O					
‘(The) uncle buys cattle.’ 								

Ningali	bengga.    
PASS.REA:buy 	cattle
V		S	
‘Cattle are sold / for sale.’

Bengga	ningali							
cattle			PASS.REA:buy							
S		V 								
‘Cattle for sale / are sold.’ 						
Tona	hai	ledo	nangande	kandea.
human	DEM	NEG	REA:eat	rice 	
N	Dem	Neg	V
‘This person doesn’t eat rice.’
Langgai	haitu	no-boba	i	 Tira.				
man	DEM	REA-beat	PM	 Tira					
N	Dem										
‘This man beat[s] Tira.’						

Yaku	nang-gita	langgai	no-boba	i	Tira.
1SG	REA-see	man		REA-beat	PM	Tira
N		Rel	
‘I see the man who beat[s] Tira.’

Sample text

“Panguli nu tesa ntotua nggaulu, naria vei saito madika nipokononampu noasu. Ane madotamo rarana haumo ia noasu ante tadulakona. 
Bara santipa sanggani, bara eo-eo. Ane nambela tonji belo norasi, ane nambela tonji da vai, mau valeana ledo naria nikava.” (SARO, p. 39)
Pa-nguli	nu	tesa	n-totua	nggaulu,	
PASS;NMLZ-say	SRC	(hi)story	SRC-parent	former_times	

na-ria	vei	saito	madika	ni-pokono=na=mpu	no-asu.
REA-be	AFF	one	king	PASS.REA-like=3SG=AFF	REA-hunt

Ane 	ma-dota-mo 	rara-na	hau-mo	ia	no-asu	ante	tadulako=na.
When	IRR-will-COMPL	heart-POSS.3SG	go-COMPL	3SG	REA-hunt	with	Leader=POSS;3SG

Bara 	sa-ntipa 	sa-nggani, 	bara 	eo-eo.
sometimes	one-week	once (one-time)	sometimes	day<Redup>

Ane	nambela	tonji	belo	norasi,	
When	get	luck	good	success/harvest/result

ane	nambela	tonji	da	vai,	mau	valeana	ledo	naria	ni-kava.
when	get	luck	bad	again	even	track	NEG	be	PASS.REA-find

“According to a story from my parents, there was once a king who really liked to go hunting. Whenever he wanted to [lit.: it was the will of his heart], 
he went hunting with his leaders — Sometimes once a week, sometimes every day. When he was lucky, he was successful; when he was unlucky, not a single 
track was to be found.” 	(Glossing and translation: User:janwo)


Dialects and numbers of speakers

There are 13 doculects in the Kaili languages' dialect continuum: Rao, Tajio (or Ajio), Kori, Doi, Unde (or Ndepu, Undepu), Ledo (or Palu), Da’a, Inde, Ija, Edo, Ado, Ava, Tara. Not all dialects are mutually intellegible. Generally they share between 60% and 90% of their vocabulary. (Other sources state 7 dialects which are then sharing 80-95%). Most dialect names simply are the negation words of the respective dialects (cf. ledo above).

Ledo is the main variety, having the highes prestige. It is spoken in and around the provincial capital Palu; futhermore, Ledo serves as a lingua franca in broader parts of central Sulawesi and in few scattered places around Tomini Bay.

Speakers (total): 334.000 (1978) / 290.000 (1983) / 228.500 (1996)

Media and culture

National newspapers and broadcasting stations almost exclusively use Bahasa Indonesia (BI), the national language. Some private local radio stations in Palu have a program in Ledo. Regional publishers incidentally have books in Kaili available, mostly folk tales and traditional style literature but no translations from other languages into Kaili. Local newspapers and non-oral literature are mostly in Ledo, the oral tradition is still strong and common to the generation older than 20. Some modern bands use Kaili for their lyrics. Bands participating in the annual Palu Rock festival are obliged to perform at least one song in Kaili.

Linguistic imbalance

cities vs. rural areas

In the larger cities, the transmigrasi-policy of SOEHARTO had its effects, and there are many native speakers of regional languages from outside Sulawesi that have been moved there during the 1960es, 70es, and 80es. Communication with there migrants is almost always in BI. Thus, many bi- or trilingual families came into being since then. In these families, usually BI is the main vehicle of communication. In the more remote parts of the region, Kaili is still the main or only language for the generations born before the 1930es.

Generation gap

Older people (childhood before 1940es) in most cases grew up monolingual in Kaili. Those born and raised after Indonesia gained independence (1945), generally grew up bilingual (Kaili and BI), using Kaili at home and BI at school/work. The youngest generations (language acquisition since the 1970es) mostly had BI as their first language at home as well and learned Kaili – if at all – only sporadically and tend to be semi-speakers or to have only passive knowledge.


School, work life and contact with authorities requires the use of BI. Pupils use BI among each others even if all of them know Kaili. In semi-formal and familiar contexts (e.g. grocery shopping, family visits) Kaili is used if all people present know the language.


In highly formal traditional contexts, a fair command of Kaili (especially a “good Ledo”) is regarded important. Usually good knowledge of BI is considered much more advantageous, since it is more relevant for school and career. Yet, Kaili is still an important cultural asset, but one that is worthless outside the region.


Having a six-figure number of speakers, Kaili does at first glance not appear to be heavily endangered. Yet, the trend of the last 60, especially the last 20 years shows that Kaili will not be able to withstand the pressure of BI in the long run. Kaili itself, on the other hand, has been an important lingua franca in the area for centuries and thus exerted pressure on smaller local idioms itself. Its importance as lingua franca is diminishing; BI takes over its place. I am not aware of recent publications about the situation of Kaili, but cf. HIMMELMANN (forthc.) for the adjacent Tolitoli-Tomini-family.


  • ALWI, HASAN et al. (eds.): Tata Bahasa Baku Bahasa Indonesia. (3rd ed.). Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa (Departemen Pendidikian dan Kebudayaan) / Balai Pustaka: 2000.
  • ESSER, S.J.: Handleiding voor de beoefening der Ledo-taal. Inleiding, Teksten met vertaling en aanteekeningen en woordenlijst. Bandung: A.C. Nix, 1934. (= Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen; Deel LXXII; eerste stuk).
  • EVANS, DONNA: Causation in Kaili. In: STEINHAUER (ed.), p. 173-189.
  • FRIBERG, BARBARA (ed.): Sulawesi Language Texts. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1990. (= Language Data; Asia-Pacific Series; 15).
  • HIMMELMANN, NIKOLAUS P. (1996): Person marking and grammatical relations in Sulawesi. In: STEINHAUER (ed.), p. 115-136.
  • HIMMELMANN, NIKOLAUS P. (2002): Voice in Western Austronesian: An Update. In: WOUK, FAY / ROSS, MALCOLM (eds.): The history and typology of western Austronesian voice systems. Canberra: Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University, 2002. (= Pacific Linguistics; 518). p. 7-15.
  • HIMMELMANN, NIKOLAUS P. (forthc.): Language endangerment scenarios in northern Central Sulawesi. In: COLLINS, JAMES T. / STEINHAUER, HEIN (eds.): Endangered Languages and Literatures in South-East Asia. Leiden: KITLV Press. [Prereleased PDF: http://www.linguistics.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/~himmelmann/LG_ENDANGERment_centralsulawesi.pdf ].
  • KASENG, SYAHRUDDIN et al.: Bahasa-Bahasa di Sulawesi Tenggah. Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa / Departemen Pendidikian dan Kebudayaan, 1979. (= Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa; Seri Bb 13).
  • MCGLYNN, JOHN H. et al. (eds.): Indonesian Heritage: Language and Literature. Reprint. Singapore: Archipelago Press, 1999. (= Indonesian Heritage Series; 10).
  • SARO, AHMAD et al.: Struktur Sastra Lisan Kaili. Jakarta: Departemen Pendidikian dan Kebudayaan, 1991.
  • SNEDDON, J[AMES] N[EIL]: Northern Sulawesi. In: Wurm (ed.), Map 43.
  • SOFYAN, ANGHUONG ALIAS et al.: Morfologi dan Sintaksis Bahasa Kaili. Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa / Departemen Pendidikian dan Kebudayaan, 1979. (= Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa; Seri Bb 21).
  • STEINHAUER, HEIN (ed.): Papers in Austronesian Linguistics No. 3. Canberra: Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, 1996. (= Pacific Linguistics; A; 84).
  • VAN DEN BERG, RENÉ: The demise of focus and the spread of conjugated verbs in Sulawesi. In: STEINHAUER (ed.), p. 89-114.
  • WURM, STEPHEN A. (ed.): Language atlas of the Pacific area. Part 2. Japan area, Taiwan (Formosa), Philippines, Mainland and insular South-East Asia. Canberra: Australian Academy of the Humanities, 1983. Maps 25-47 (= Pacific linguistics; C; 67)

Additional source: Interviews with three (bilingual) speakers of Ledo; in Jakarta (March/April 2001) and via icq chat (April through August 2001).


In general, I used the abbreviations and conventions suggested by the Leipzig Rules for Interlinear Morpheme-by-Morpheme Glosses. ( http://www.eva.mpg.de/lingua/files/morpheme.html ). In addition to that, the following abbreviations were used:

AFF	affirmative
PM	person marker; special DEM before person names
REA	realis
REQ	requestive
SRC	source
VBLZR	verbalizer