Waima'a
    WAIMOA,WAIMAHA, UAIMO'A    
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Why Document Waima'a?
My name is Nelson De Sousa Carvalho Belo, and I am a native speaker of Waima'a and Makasa'e, and also speak Indonesian and Tetum fluently. I was born in an eastern part of Lospalos (East Timor), and raised in the district of Baucau, where Waima'a is widely spoken. Waima'a has little documentation and few written texts, and I am involved in developing a standard orthography for Waima'a through the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH) Documentation Project while I am a student here.  Feel free to browse the teamwork page to learn more about my interests.

Where is Waima'a spoken?

Waima’a name describes the area in which it is spoken.  Literally, 'wai' means 'water'and 'ma'a' means 'empty' or 'finished.'  Some areas where Waima'a is spoken, such as Kaicidu illage, Triloka village, are quite dry.  As an Austronesian language, Waima'a is predominantly spoken in the Baukau (Baucau) district of East Timor, amidst a Makasai (Makasae) speech community (Figure 1). Approximately 5,000 speakers in Baukau, concentrated in the Baukau, Venilale and Vemasie subdistricts, use Waima'a (Ethnologue, 2004)*.  Waima’a is spoken in my village Bahu, and other village  Kaicidu, Kaibada Waima’a, Ostiku, Loilubu, and Bucoli  village. Following is some basic information about how Waima'a compares to neighboring languages.


Figure 1. The Baucau region of East Timor

Linguistic classification. Waima'a is classified as a Malayo-Polynesian, central-Eastern, central Malayo-Polynesian language of East Timor (Ethnologue, 2004). The Habu and Kairui languages are related to Waima'a, but the three display huge dialectal variation (mainly in pronunciation) and some lexical difference. Although there is little documentation of Waima'a, it is clearly  related to other Austronesian languages.  By comparing the numerals 19 in Waima'a and Samoan (Table 1), we find similarities that support this elementary analysis. Browse the numbers and pronouns and the contrast words to learn more about the unique characteristics of Waima'a.


Table 1. Comparison of Numerals 1-9 for Waima'a and Samoan.

Waima’a

se

kairuo

kaitelu

kaihaa

kailime

kainena

kaihitu

kaikaha

kaisiwe

Samoan

tasi

lua

tolu

faa

lima

ono

fitu

valu

iva


Compared to other languages spoken in East Timor, Waima’a has a significantly large number of consonants.  Clearly, the number of sounds in Waima’a is far more than the the borrowed alphabet accommodates. The alphabet used in Waima'a speaking communities is for Tetum, one of occipital languages of East Timor and the majority language in these places.   Thus, it is nearly impossible for Waima’a speakers to write their language in the Tetum alphabet.  In order to develop literacy materials or begin linguistic research, we are evaluating the sound system of Waima'a so that we may suggest and establish a more appropriate alphabet for Waima'a.  One sketch phonetic inventory already exists, and we are working to confirm and refine this inventory.  Take a look at our current work on the Waima'a phonetic inventory in
Table 2, which contains a word list and sound recordings, and Table 3, which is the list of minimal pairs that support our analysis.
 



*Ethnologue catalogue online, 2004.  Summer Institute of Linguistics.  Accessed October 2004 at http://ethnologue.org.


University of Hawai'i Language Documentation Project
for the Waima'a language of Timor Lorosa'e/Timor Leste

"EAST WHERE THE SUN RISES"
(TIMOR=EAST  LORON=SUN  SAE=TO CLIMB)