Tukang Besi
Native toIndonesia
RegionSulawesi, Tukang Besi Archipelago
Native speakers
(250,000 cited 1995)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
khc – Tukang Besi North
bhq – Tukang Besi South
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Tukang Besi is an Austronesian language spoken in the Tukangbesi Islands in southeast Sulawesi in Indonesia by a quarter million speakers. A Tukang Besi pidgin is used in the area.[2]

Tukang Besi Pidgin
Native speakers
Tukang Besi–based pidgin
Language codes
ISO 639-3


The northern dialect of Tukang Besi has 25 consonant phonemes and a basic 5-vowel system.[3] It features stress which is usually on the second-to-last syllable. The language has two implosive consonants, which are uncommon in the world's languages. The coronal plosives and /s/ have prenasalized counterparts which act as separate phonemes.

Tukang Besi (northern dialect) consonants[3]
Bilabial Dental/
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive plain p b () k ɡ ʔ
prenasalized mp mb n̪t̪ n̪d̪ ŋk ŋɡ
Implosive ɓ ɗ̪
Fricative plain β s (z) h
prenasalized n̪s̪
Trill r
The vowel phonemes of Tukang Besi
The vowel phonemes of Tukang Besi








Tukang Besi does not have grammatical gender or number. It is an ergative–absolutive language.


Tukang Besi has an inflectional future tense, which is indicated with a prefix, but no past tense.

Word Order

Tukang Besi uses verb-object-subject word order, which is also used by Fijian. Like many Austronesian languages, it has prepositions, but places adjectives, genitives, and determiners after nouns. Yes-no questions are indicated by a particle at the end of the sentence.[5]


  1. ^ Tukang Besi North at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Tukang Besi South at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Donohue, Mark (1996). "Some trade languages of insular South-East Asia and Irian Jaya". In Wurm, Stephen A.; Mühlhäusler, Peter; Tryon, Darrell T. (eds.). Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 713–716.
  3. ^ a b Donohue, Mark (1999). "Tukang Besi". Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. Cambridge University Press. pp. 151–53. ISBN 0-521-65236-7.
  4. ^ "Tukang Besi language". Omniglot. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  5. ^ Dryer, Matthew S.; Haspelmath, Martin (2013). "Language Tukang Besi". The World Atlas of Linguistic Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Retrieved 27 February 2021.

Further reading