Native toIndonesia
RegionNorth Halmahera
Native speakers
(79,000 cited 1990)[1]
West Papuan
Language codes
ISO 639-3gbi

Galela is the second most populous Papuan language spoken west of New Guinea, with some 80,000 speakers. Its dialects are Kadai (41,000), Morotai (24,000), Kadina (10,000), and Sopi (4,000). Its closest relative is the Loloda language.

Galela is spoken on the eastern side of the northern tip of Halmahera island (in Galela district and in neighbouring villages in Tobelo and Loloda districts), on Morotai Island to the north, on the Bacan and Obi islands to the south of Halmahera, and in scattered settlements along the southwest coast. All are in North Maluku province of Indonesia.


The following sound inventory is based on Shelden (1998).[2]


Galela has a simple five vowel system: /a/, /i/, /u/, /e/, /o/.


Galela orthography largely follows Indonesian spelling conventions. If orthography differs from IPA, the orthography is in ⟨brackets⟩.

Labial Alveolar Palato-alveolar/
Velar Glottal
Laminal Apical
Nasal m n ɲ ⟨ny⟩ ŋ ⟨ng⟩
voiceless p t t͡ʃ ⟨c⟩ k
voiced b ⟨ḋ⟩ ⟨d⟩ d͡ʒ ⟨j⟩ g
Fricative ɸ ⟨f⟩ s h
Flap ɾ
Lateral l
Semivowel w j ⟨y⟩



Galela has two free pronoun sets, and two sets of bound pronominal prefixes.[2][3][4] The use of the pronominal prefixes is governed by semantic alignment: actor prefixes are used to index the S-argument of active intransitive verbs and the A-argument of transitive verbs, while undergoer prefixes index the S-argument of stative intransitive verbs and the P-argument of transitive verbs.

independent possessive actor undergoer ngohi ai to- i- ngona ani no- ni- una awi wo- wi- muna ami mo- mi- ngone nanga po- na- ngomi mia mi- mi- ngini nia ni- ni- human ona manga yo- ya-
3. non-human i ma i- ḋa-


  1. ^ Galela at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ a b Shelden, Howard (1998). "Transitivity and Galela pronominal reference". SIL Electronic Working Papers. 1998–005.
  3. ^ van Baarda, M. J. (1904). "Het Lòda'sch, in vergelijking met het Galela'sch dialect op Halmaheira" [Lòda'sch, compared to the Galela'sch dialect on Halmaheira]. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indië (in Dutch). 56 (3/4): 317–496. doi:10.1163/22134379-90002009.
  4. ^ Holton, Gary (2008). "The rise and fall of semantic alignment in North Halmahera, Indonesia". In Donohue, Mark; Wichmann, Søren (eds.). The Typology of Semantic Alignment. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 252–276.