West Damar
North Damar
Damar Batumerah
Native toIndonesia
RegionMaluku Islands
Native speakers
(800 cited 1987)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3drn

West Damar, or North Damar, is an Austronesian language of Damar Island, one of the Maluku Islands of Indonesia. In spite of rather low cognacy rates with its neighboring languages,[2] it can be classified as part of the Babar languages based on qualitative evidence.[3]

It is spoken in two villages (Batumerah, Kuai) located in the north-western part of Damar.[4]


The consonant inventory of West Damar is as follows:[5]

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive/Affricate voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
voiced (b) d (ɡ)
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Fricative s x h
Trill r
Lateral l
Approximant w j

The vowel inventory of West Damar is simply /a e i o u/.


A few aspects of West Damar morphology are noted as follows.[5]

Verb conjugation

Verbs in West Damar are conjugated according to person and number.

West Damar verbal prefixes
Person/number Prefix Verb -oni "to eat" Other attested verbs
1st sg. w- woni
2nd sg. m- moni
3rd sg. n- [* 1] yoni n-poko "explodes", n-woludlo "hunts", n-hakro "boils", n-dekro "is dry", ng-kerso "is thin",
1st pl. inclusive k-, t- toni k-la "we go", k-wadano "we hear", k-hoto "we talk", k-mattuni "we sleep", k-nehi "we run"
1st pl. exclusive m- moni
2nd pl. m- -y-,[* 2] ms- msoni mlyo "you go", mnyedi "you fall"
3rd pl. r- roni
  1. ^ Becomes ng- before velar consonants.
  2. ^ The -y- is attached after the initial consonant of a verb stem, so from -lo "go" is born mlyo.


West Damar has a series of possessive suffixes that are attached to nouns. There is no possessive verb. The possessive suffixes are as follows:

West Damar possessive suffixes
Person/number Suffix
1st sg. -cheni
2nd sg. -mcheni
3rd sg. -eni
1st pl. inclusive -toni
1st pl. exclusive -moni
2nd pl. -mseni
3rd pl. -roni

The possessive suffixes are built from a base suffix -ni that also appears as a lexical derivational suffix:


The word for "no" in West Damar is kewe. When split into a circumfix, ke- -we serves as a simple negator for content words like nouns, verbs, and adjectives. The -we part of the negator comes immediately after the stem it attaches to, but before other clitics. A few examples of negation provided by Chlenova are as follows:





"not a buffalo"







Piter ke-tucha-we-mo odo-i

Peter NEG-old-NEG-? 1SG-DET

"Peter (is) not as old as I (am)"

Another negative predicative word krawui "unavailable" is also recorded.


Vocabulary list:[4]

West Damar Indonesian English
odo saya I
ede engkau you (sing.)
idi dia he, she
itito kita we (incl.)
odomo kami we (exc.)
edmi kamu you (pl.)
idiro mereka they
mehno satu one
wyeru dua two
wyetteli tiga three
wyoto empat four
wilimo lima five
wyenamo enam six
witi tujuh seven
way delapan eight
wisi sembilan nine
uswuti sepuluh ten
ulkona kepala head
lima tangan hand
eya kaki foot

Sample sentences

Ede mpondai? - Are you ill?

E’e, odo ulkonacheni nchepondo. - Yes, I have a headache.

Wohleyo Binayani idihe hulchupondeheti wohleyo Ahehendini - The mountain Binaya is the highest at the Seram island.

See also


  1. ^ West Damar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Mark Taber. 1993. Toward a better understanding of the Indigenous Languages of Southwestern Maluku. Oceanic Linguistics 32. 389-441.
  3. ^ Aone van Engelenhoven. 2010. Tentatively locating West-Damar among the languages of Southwest Maluku. In Chlenova, Svetlana and Fedorchuk, Artem (eds.), Studia Anthropologica: a Festschrift in Honor of Michael Chlenov, 297-326. Moscow-Jerusalem: Gesharim.
  4. ^ a b "West Damar Language or Damar-Batumerah, an Isolate in South-Eastern Indonesia" (PDF). 2015-05-12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  5. ^ a b Chlenova, Svetlana (2008). "Preliminary Grammatical Notes on Damar Batumerah or West Damar, a Language of Southwest Maluku". In Yury Lander; Alexander Ogloblin (eds.). Language and Text in the Austronesian World: Studies in honor of Ülo Sirk. München: Lincom. pp. 163–177.

Further reading