Wamba Wuna
Native toSulawesi, Indonesia
RegionMuna Island, Buton Island
Native speakers
(300,000 cited 1989, 2007)
Language codes
ISO 639-3mnb
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Muna is an Austronesian language spoken principally on the island of Muna as well as North-west Buton Island, off the southeast coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia. the island of Tobea Besar.[1] The language is well-documented, especially by linguist René van den Berg. In 2007, the language had around 300,000 speakers.[2]


Muna belongs to the Muna–Buton subgroup, which is a branch of the larger Celebic subgroup.[3] Within the Muna–Buton languages, Muna is the largest member of the Munic subbranch, which also includes smaller languages such as Pancana, Kioko, Liabuku, Kaimbulawa, and Busoa.[4][5]

Muna forms a dialect web with the other languages of Sulawesi and Buton.


Muna has three dialects:

Differences between these dialects are mostly lexical, but also phonological.[1]


In the Ethnologue database, Muna is classified “threatened” in category 6b, meaning “The language is used for face-to-face communication within all generations, but it is losing users.”[2] The language of instruction in academia in Muna-speaking areas in Indonesian, except in lower forms but Muna is being taught in some primary schools and thus being acquired by the next generation.

Despite the fact that Indonesian is used in schools, Muna is the dominant language and is spoken in all other areas. The vast majority of the population of Muna is fluent in the languages, but not all are fluent in Indonesian[1] Despite its small population and the fact that it is not used as the main medium of instruction in schools, the Muna language does not seem to be in immediate danger. Its population of fluent speakers on the island has stayed fairly stable between 1989 and 2007[1]



Muna has the following consonant phonemes.

Labial Lamino-
Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Plosive voiceless plain p t (c) k
prenasalized ᵐp ⁿt ᵑk
voiced plain b ⟨dh⟩ d (ɟ) g
prenasalized ᵐb ⁿd ᵑg
implosive ɓ ⟨bh⟩
Fricative voiceless plain f s h
prenasalized ⁿs
voiced ʁ ⟨gh⟩
Nasal m n ŋ ⟨ng⟩
Trill r
Lateral l
Approximant ʋ ⟨w⟩ (j) ⟨y⟩



The vowel inventory comprises five vowels: /a/, /i/, /u/, /e/, /o/. They can freely combine into sequences of two or three vowels. Sequences of two like vowels are pronounced as a long vowel, e.g. tuu [tu:] 'knee'. In sequences of three vowels, there is an optional non-phonemic glottal stop after the first vowel, e.g. nokoue [noko(ʔ)ue] 'it has veins'.[1]

Syllable structure

Like many other languages on Sulawesi,[6] Muna only has open syllables of the types CV (consonant-vowel) and V (vowel), e.g. kaindea /ka.i.ⁿde.a/ 'plantation', padamalala / 'citronella', akumadiuandae /ⁿda.e/ 'I will wash them with it'.[1] Loanwords from Malay/Indonesian and other source languages are adapted to the syllable structure of Muna: karadhaa /karad̪aa/ < Malay kerja 'work', kantori /kaⁿtori/ < Malay kantor 'office' (from Dutch kantoor), wakutuu /wakutuu/ < Malay waktu 'time' (from Arabic waqt).[1]



Verbs are inflected for mood and person (of both subject and object). Person marking is strictly nominative–accusative: person marking prefixes indicate the subject of transitive and intransitive verbs, while person marking suffixes are used to mark the direct and indirect object.[1]

There are three verb classes, which have slightly different forms for the subject prefix. The classes are named after the first person singular prefix.[1]

a-class ae-class ao-class
realis irrealis realis irrealis realis irrealis a- a- ae- ae- ao- ao- o- o- ome- ome- omo- omo- to- ta- te- tae- to- tao- no- na- ne- nae- no- nao-
1.du.incl. do- da- de- dae- do- dao- do- -Vmu da- -Vmu de- -Vmu dae- -Vmu do- -Vmu dao- -Vmu ta- ta- tae- tae- tao- tao- o- -Vmu o- -Vmu ome- -Vmu ome- -Vmu omo- -Vmu omo- -Vmu to- -Vmu ta- -Vmu te- -Vmu tae- -Vmu to- -Vmu tao- -Vmu do- da- de- dae- do- dao-

For ae-class and ao-class verbs, mood is only distinguished by the use of the respective subject prefix:[1]

de-basa 'we read' (realis) ~ dae-basa 'we will read' (irrealis)
no-lodo 'he sleeps' (realis) ~ nao-lodo 'he will sleep' (irrealis)

With a-class verbs, irrealis mood is additionally marked by the infix <um>:

no-horo 'it flies' (realis) ~ na-h<um>oro 'it will fly' (irrealis)

Intransitive verbs mostly employ a-class or ao-class prefixes. As a general rule, a-class verbs are dynamic intransitive verbs, while ao-class verbs are stative intransitive verbs. With a few exceptions, transitive verbs use ae-class prefixes with an indefinite object, but a-class prefixes with a definite object.[1]

ne-ala-mo kapulu 'He took a machete' (indefinite, ae-class prefix)
no-ala-mo kapulu-no 'He took his machete' (definite, a-class prefix)

There are two sets of object suffixes, marking direct and indirect objects.

direct indirect -kanau -kanau -ko -angko -kaeta -kaeta -e -ane
1.du./pl.incl. --- --- -kasami -kasami -koomu -angkoomu -kaetaamu -kaetaamu -da -anda

Combinations of two suffixes are restricted to indirect object suffixes + the third person singular direct object suffix -e:

a-ghumoli-angko-e 'I will buy it for you.'


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Van de Berg, René (1989). A Grammar of the Muna Language. Holland: Foris Publications. ISBN 9789067654548.
  2. ^ a b "Muna". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2022-04-01.
  3. ^ David (Ed.), Mead (2015). "Evidence for a Celebic supergroup" (PDF). CRCL, CRCL, Pacific Linguistics And/Or The Author(S): 2.9M, 115–142 pages. doi:10.15144/PL-550.115. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ van den Berg, René (1996). Muna-English dictionary. Leiden: KITLV Press.
  5. ^ Donohue, Mark (2004). "The pretenders to the Muna-Buton group". Pacific Linguistics. pp. 2.8M, 21–36 pages. doi:10.15144/PL-563.21. hdl:1885/254221. ((cite book)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Sneddon, J. N. (1993). "The Drift Towards Final Open Syllables in Sulawesi Languages". Oceanic Linguistics. 32 (1): 1–44. doi:10.2307/3623095. JSTOR 3623095.

Further reading