Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dawan (Uab Meto): The tongue of the Atoni Pah Metô

By Yohanes Manhitu
Dawan (Uab Meto) is an Austronesian language spoken by about 600,000 people mainly in the western part of Timor Island, including the enclave of Oecusse (Oekusi) that belongs to East Timor. The language is sometimes called Meto, Uab Atoni Pah Meto, Uab Pah Meto, Timor, Timorese, Timol, Timoreesch, Timoreezen, Dawan, Timor Dawan, or Rawan. And the dialect spoken in the enclave of Oecusse is called Baikenu although the local people simply call it Uab Meto. Dawan has the following dialects: Amfoan-Fatule'u-Amabi (Amfoan, Amfuang, Fatule'u, Amabi), Amanuban-Amanatun (Amanuban, Amanubang, Amanatun), Mollo-Miomafo (Mollo, Miomafo), Biboki-Insana (Biboki, Insana), Ambenu (Ambeno, Vaikenu, Vaikino, Baikenu, Bikenu, Biqueno), Kusa-Manlea (Kusa, Manlea). And it has been classified as Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern, Central Malayo-Polynesian, Timor, Nuclear Timor, West.
So far there has not been any accurate and reliable information regarding the origin of this indigenous language. However, it said that Dawan (Uab Meto) is closely related to Tetum, and to some extent, to Rotenese. The language did not take its written form until some zealous Catholic and Protestant missionaries began to make use of it for teaching the Christian belief to the locals. Some of the written materials produced, original or in translation, such as missals, catechisms, prayer books and hymns, are still found today, especially in the villages, but very rare. The rarity is presumably due to damage and discontinued publication. Nowadays, materials of this kind are more available in the official languages, Bahasa Indonesia, in the Indonesian part, and probably Portuguese and Tetum in Oecusse. Serious efforts are really necessary to maintain the language.

Uab Meto has plenty of stresses in many of its words. And to indicate them, people simply use apostrophes, either in front, in the beginning, or at the end of a word. This is acceptable. However, it makes the word longer because of the many apostrophes used. So, to make a word shorter and more efficient to use, using certain accents (those available in the international computer keyboards) put on the top of the accented vowels is simpler, and hopefully clearer. Many of them are applied in French and Portuguese. However, those used in Uab Meto have different functions. I hope that the following modifications would be acceptable. Example:
  1. Fun-ahunut i au uhakeb ume mese’. = Fun-ahunut i au uhakeb ume mesê.
    Last month I built a house.
  2. In a-nmui’ oto nua. In lof na’sosa’ es. = In a-nmuî oto nua. In lof nâsosâ es.
    (S)he has two cars. (S)he will sell one (of them).
  3. Au fe’ oum u’ko kota. = Au fê oum ûko kota. I have just been to the city/town.
  4. Ho tataf a’naet nato’. = Ho tataf ânaet natô. Your elder brother/sister is angry.
  5. In olif akliko’ nahín. = In olif aklikô nahín. Your youngest brother/sister knows.
  6. Kaisa’ maiti kle’o-kle’o! = Kaisâ maiti kleö-kleö! Don’t take it little by little.
  7. Li’ana’ i nah neik palu’. = Liänâ i nah neik palû. This child eats greedily.

Stresses also appear before a word that begins with a consonant. They are indicated with an opening apostrophe (‘). E.g. Au pao ko talantea nokâ. I will wait for you until tomorrow.

Dawan (Uab Meto) alphabet

Notable features:

  • The letter g is used in loanwords, such as guru (teacher), often pronounced kulu.
  • The letter l is replaced with r in some dialects, e.g. lene (garden) with rene.
  • The letters q, v, x, and z are used in loanwords from Europe.

Ethnologue data from Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 14th Edition
Understanding Uab Meto (Dawan Language): A General Description,
by Yohanes Manhitu, Unpublished
Sample Text


Anonymous said...

Hi John how are ya =)

really you have a very fantastic blog which help me to know some new information , so i'm thankful for you.

I'm studying English Litreture now , and this corse I take "poetry" and also "translation
from English to Arabic" ,so our miss joined these two corses by strting to translating some poems.

I choose some poems for Rabindranath Tagore which i found it have a deep meaning , but I faced some problems in some words , so would you like helpe me to inderstand them?

this worde are "meto and suntie" in the poem "The End" .

"It is time for meto go, mother; I am going."
"Dear suntie will come with your PUJA presents"
these two lines which containe the words , I found some information her about "Uab Meto" but I cann't joined it with Tagore's poem.

so would you please help me with this? and I'll be really thankfull for you =)

your sis,


Anonymous said...

Nice brief and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you seeking your information.

Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site
Is this possible?

Anonymous said...

hi Unu John....
it is a great explorations of timorese language,,so we can understand it well ,its fantastis,i proud of you,,

Bu Dosen said...

Maaf pak, alamat emailnya tidak bisa dikirimi pesan, jadi sy komen saja disini ya ini isi email saya.
Yth Bapak Yohanes,
Salam kenal, saya Andam, Dosen Biologi Univ Nusa Cendana. Sementara ini sedang penelitian untuk disertasi saya tentang kearifan lokal suku Timor. Bila bapak tidak berkeberatan, mohon info, buku-buku apa terkait topik sy diatas? dan bagaimana cara sy mendapatkan atau mengaksesnya. saya juga tertarik tentang bahasa Dawan untuk tumbuhan dan hewan, dimana sy bisa mendapatkan bukunya?. oh ya, saat ini sy sedang mengembangkan buku pelajaran Biologi SMA berbasis kearifan lokal Timor, mudah-mudahan bapak bisa memberikan bantuan dan arahan yang diperlukan, mengingat saya sendiri bukanlah orang Timor, yang tentu kurang paham tentang banyak sisik melik budaya Timor.
Mudah-mudahan berkenan membalas e-mail ini dan memberikan informasi yang sy perlukan, terima kasih sebelumnya.

salam hormat,