Native toEast Timor
RegionTimor Island, eastern end around Baucau and inland, west of Fataluku, from northern to southern coast in a dialect chain.
Native speakers
102,000 (2010 census)[1]
  • Sa'ane
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3mkz
Distribution of Makasae mother-tongue speakers in East Timor
Distribution of Makalero
Sa ane.png

Distribution of Sa'ane
Coordinates: 8°39′S 126°30′E / 8.650°S 126.500°E / -8.650; 126.500

Makasae (also known as Makassai, Macassai, Ma'asae, Makasai) is a Papuan language spoken by about 100,000 people in the eastern part of East Timor, in the districts of Baucau and Viqueque, just to the west of Fataluku. It is the most widely spoken Papuan language west of New Guinea.


The data in this section are from Huber (2017).[2]


Native consonant phonemes are shown in the chart below for the Ossu dialect. Borrowed consonants are enclosed in parenthesis.

Consonant phonemes
  Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Plosive   b t d k g ʔ  
Fricative f   s       h  
Nasal   m   n        
Lateral       l        
Trill       r        



Makasae has five vowel phonemes.

Monophthong phonemes
  Front Central Back
Close i (i:)   u (u:)
Mid e (e:)   o (o:)
Open   a (a:)  


  1. ^ Makasae at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Huber, Juliette (2017). "Makalero and Makasae". In Schapper, Antoinette (ed.). The Papuan Languages of Timor, Alor and Pantar: Volume 2. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 267–351.

Further reading