North Halmaheran Languages

North Halmaheran Languages


a group of appproximately ten closely related languages, including Ternate, Tidore, Tobelo, Isam, and Galela. The North Halma-heran languages are spoken in the Moluccas—in the northern half of Halmahera Island and on the nearby islands of Morotai, Temate, and Tidore—by approximately 220,000 persons (1974, estimate).

The phonological system of the North Halmaheran languages is relatively simple, and syllables are open. Characteristic features of the languages include an agglutinative grammatical structure, fusion, and grammatical gender. Most of the languages have a prefixal subjective-objective type of conjugation. Unlike the other languages of the Moluccas, the North Halmaheran languages do not belong to the Austronesian family. External genetic relations between the languages have not been determined, but the languages are probably distantly related to the western groups of the Papuan languages. The North Halmaheran languages are unwritten, but a literary tradition in the Ternate language (Arabic script) existed from the 17th to 19th centuries.


Veen, H. vander. De Noord-Halmahera’se taalgroep tegenover de Austronesiese talen. Leiden, 1915.
Greenberg, J. H. “The Indo-Pacific Hypothesis.” Current Trends in Linguistics, 1971, vol. 8.


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