RegionNortheast East Timor
Native speakers
18,467[1] (2010 censuses)[2]
  • Waimoa
  • Kairui
  • Midiki
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
wmh – Waimoa
krd – Kairui-Midiki
Glottologwaim1252  Waima'a
kair1265  Kairui-Midiki
Distribution of Waimaha mother-tongue speakers in East Timor
Distribution of Mideki

Distribution of Kairui
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Waimoa or Waimaʼa is a spoken by about 18,467 (2010 census)[1] people in northeast East Timor. Waimoa proper is reported to be mutually intelligible with neighboring Kairui and Midiki, with 5,000 speakers total.

The classification of Waimoa is unclear. Structurally, it is Malayo-Polynesian. However, its vocabulary is largely Papuan, similar to that of Makasae. Although generally classified as Austronesian languages or dialects that have been largely relexified under the influence of a language related to Makasae, it is possible that Waimoa, Kairui, and Midiki are instead Papuan languages related to Makasae which have been influenced by Austronesian.


Similarly to other Austronesian languages of the region,[4] Waimoa has aspirated/voiceless and glottalized/ejective consonants, which are distributed like /hC/ and /ʔC/ consonant clusters (or perhaps /Ch/ and /Cʔ/) but are often pronounced as single segments.[5]

Waimoa plosives
Bilabial Coronal Velar Glottal
Voiceless unaspirated t k ʔ
Voiceless aspirated
Voiceless ejective pʼ ~ pˀ tʼ ~ tˀ kʼ ~ kˀ
Voiced plain b d ɡ

Similarly there are voiceless and glottalized /m n l r s w/.

There is also vowel harmony.

See also


  1. ^ a b Direcção Nacional de Estatística: Population Distribution by Administrative Areas Volume 2 English (Census 2010; PDF-Datei; 21,53 MB)
  2. ^ Waimoa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Kairui-Midiki at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  3. ^ Endangered Languages Project data for Kairui-Midiki.
  4. ^ Naueti, Midiki, Meto, Helong, etc.
  5. ^ Kirsten Culhane (2021) Waimaʼa consonants: phonology and typological position in Greater Timor. 15th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics.