Native toIndonesia
Regionnorthern Sulawesi
Native speakers
(60,000 cited 1981)[1]
Malesung (historical)
Language codes
ISO 639-3tom

Tombulu, also known as Minahasan language, is an Austronesian language of northern Sulawesi in Indonesia. It is a Minahasan language, a sub-group of the Philippine languages.

It is a local language of the Minahasa people spoken in the city of Tomohon and in the villages under the Kota Tomohon administration such as Rurukan, Pinaras, Kumelembuai, Woloan, and Tara-Tara. It is also spoken in the villages under the administration of the Minahasa Regency in the Tombulu district, Tombariri district, Mandolang district, Pineleng district, and two villages in the Sonder district, namely Rambunan and Sawangan.

Below are the list of villages that historically speaks bahasa Tombulu:

Kota Tomohon

Minahasa Regency

(Pineleng District)

(Tombulu District)

(Mandolang District)

(Tombariri District)

(Sonder District)



Labial Alveolar Post-alv./
Velar Glottal
voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Nasal m n ŋ
Fricative voiceless s h
voiced z
Lateral l ʎ
Trill r
Approximant w j


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə o
Open a



The Tombulu language is unique among the Minahasan languages in its pronunciation of the letter ⟨l⟩. In the other four Minahasan languages the letter ⟨l⟩ is pronounced as is, but in Tombulu it is pronounced like the ⟨th⟩ of the English language.[clarification needed]

For example: kulo, meaning 'white', would be pronounced as kutho.

English Tombulu
Yes Ene
No Zei'kan
North Amian
South Timu
West Talikuran
East Sendangan
Hand Lengan
Head Ulu
Ear Lunteng
Eye Weweren
Stomach Po'ot
Feet A'e
Grandma Nene
Grandfather Tete
Mom Ina
Dad Ama
Me Niaku
You Niko
We Kai
They Sera
Him, her Sia
Friend Karia
Beautiful Fasung
Female Wewene
Male Tuama
Kids K'oki
Female teacher Enci
Male teacher Engku
Bad Lewo
Good Le'os
Water Zano
Shower Lemele
Drink Melep
School Sekolah
Going to school Sumikolah
Give Wehape
Hungry Maharem
Full (Stomach Full) Wesu
Eat Kuman
Breakfast Sumokol
Fish Seza
Good morning Syambae
Good day Tabea
When Sawisa
Where Wisa
Who Sei
Go Mange
Stop Mento
Sit down Rumemez
Stand Rumendai
Walk Lampang
Walking Lumampang
Let's go Meimo
Until then Teintu mo
Because Pah'paan
But Ta'an
Or Ka'pa
Although Ma'an
Very totoz
Yesterday Kawi'i
Today N'endo
Tonight Wengindo mokan
Tomorrow Sando
Face (Menghadap) Sumaru
Sleep Tekel
Sleeping Tumekel
Falling Asleep Matatandu
Have slept Matetekelo
Rise Sumaup
Ascend Sumosor
Descend Meros
Left Kawi-i
Right Kakan
God Opo
Holy Spirit Aseng Lengas


1 Esa 11 Mapulu wo Esa 20 Zua nga pulu 100 Maatus 1000 Mariwu
2 Zua 12 Mapulu wo Zua 21 Zua nga pulu wo Esa 200 Zua nga'atus 2000 Zua nga'riwu
3 Tellu
4 Epat
5 Lima
6 Enem
7 Pitu
8 Wallu
9 Siou
10 Mapulu

Phrases & examples

English Tombulu
3479 Telu nga'riwu wo epat nga'atus wo pitu ngapulu wo siou
How are you? Kura-mo?
What's your name? Sei sia ngaranu?
Where are you going? Mange wisako?
What are you doing? Ma'kura'ko?
Where are you from? Wisako ameye?
Who is he/she? Sei sia?
See you tomorrow Sando mokan
How much? Pira?
Can I have some? Wehane toyo?
The drinks are not here Se elepan kampe wia
Thank you Makase mo
I love you Ko'rara ateku
God of The Highest Opo Wananatas
God Almighty Opo Wailan Wangko


The Tombulu language is in critical need of revitalization. It is not being spoken as a first language in highly populated areas such as Tomohon, Pineleng, and Tanawangko. Traditionally Tombulu-speaking villages such as Woloan, Tara-Tara, Lolah, and Lemoh are not so today. The Board of Education of the Indonesian government has not offered any help either to the Tombulu language or any other local languages that are in decline. It is responsible for the removal of the Muatan Lokal from the daily curriculum of all grade schools across the nation in the past few years. Muatan Lokal, if available, is a daily class which most provinces in Indonesia use to teach the new generations the local languages.

Tombulu is still spoken in villages such as Kayawu, Rurukan, Kumelembuai, Pinaras, Suluan, Kembes, Tombuluan, Rumengkor, Kali, Tondangow, Sawangan, and Rambunan all the way to the children. One Sunday on every month, Tombulu language is used in sermon in its local churches.

At the beginning of 2013, an Indonesian-Tombulu dictionary was first released. A New Testament version of the Bible in Tombulu language was released in November 2018.[4]


  1. ^ Tombulu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Sahulata, D. (1993). Struktur bahasa Tombulu. Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.
  3. ^ Makalew-Palar, J.A.; Kembuan, L.D.; Terak, R. (1994). Fonologi Bahasa Tombulu. Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.
  4. ^ "Penyusunan Alkitab Bahasa Tombulu Butuh 17 Tahun". (in Indonesian). 30 November 2018.