Apr 24, 2017 Last Updated 5:02 AM, Apr 22, 2017

Standard Tetum-English dictionary

Published: Jul 30, 2007

Review: How standard?

Catharina van Klinken

Geoffrey Hull's dictionary of the East Timorese lingua franca Tetun (pronounced 'Tetun', but Hull follows the Portuguese spelling with final 'm') has a clear and simple layout, with most entries having a single part of speech and a short English meaning.

The word 'standard' in the title is unfortunate, since there is as yet no agreement on what constitutes standard Tetun. The compiler seems to acknowledge this himself when he includes words from rural dialects as well as from the urban and lingua franca variety called Tetun-Prasa, without always specifying which variety they are from. In a conscious attempt to enlarge and modernise the vocabulary, Hull has included many Portuguese words which are not, so far at least, actually used in Tetun. Unfortunately these additions are not marked as innovations. Meanwhile the compiler consciously rejects those words which have been borrowed from Indonesian over the last quarter century. He does make a concession to the fact that such borrowing is widespread by including an appendix of 'Indonesianisms in current colloquial use'.

This dictionary uses what Hull calls 'the standard orthography of Eastern Tetun'. This description, too, is misleading, as there are several spelling systems currently in use for Tetun in East Timor, and the one used in this book is Hull's own innovation. Hull spells Portuguese loans as if they were Tetun (eg Portuguese ciclone 'cyclone' is written siklone), making this system easier for non-Portuguese-speaking people to use.

The main unnecessary complication in Hull's spelling system is that he sometimes writes long vowels using a double vowel, and sometimes with a single vowel (with or without an acute accent). So if you can't find moos, try looking up mos and m?s as well. For Tetun-Prasa, ignore any glottal stops (marked by apostrophes) as they are only pronounced in some rural dialects.

In short, use this dictionary cautiously to give you an approximate idea of the meaning of a word, but do not use it to try to write in Tetun, as a lot of it won't be understood.

Geoffrey Hull, Standard Tetum-English dictionary, Sydney: Allen & Unwin in assoc with Univ of Western Sydney Macarthur, 1999, 340+xxvi pp, ISBN 1-86508-206-6, Rrp AU$24.95

Dr Catharina van Klinken (cvk@webfront.net.au) is the author of A grammar of the Fehan dialect of Tetun, an Austronesian language of West Timor, which is soon to appear with Pacific Linguistics (Australian National University).

Inside Indonesia 61: Jan - Mar 2000

Latest Articles

Online dating apps blocked

Apr 18, 2017 - DINA LISTIORINI AND SHARYN GRAHAM DAVIES

Screenshot: A young man looks over the Grindr app interface. (Brondongmanis Channel via Youtube)

A government crackdown on dating apps is depriving LGBT Indonesians of a crucial resource

Iswadi Pratama, an auteur of Indonesian theatre

Apr 11, 2017 - CARANISSA DJATMIKO

Pratama's production of The Age of Bones. '...theatre is the perfect medium for representing real and powerful stories.' (Teater Satu)

Indonesia’s foremost theatre director, the internationally acclaimed Iswadi Pratama, staged an extraordinary eight productions in 2016

Book extract: Sarongge

Apr 04, 2017 - TOSCA SANTOSO

(Agus Andrianto for CIFOR, via Flickr)

Lontar Modern Indonesia: ‘But that is, after all, the relationship between land and power... Whoever holds power will impose their view.’

Petikan buku: Sarongge

Apr 04, 2017 - TOSCA SANTOSO

(Agus Andrianto for CIFOR, via Flickr)

Lontar Modern Indonesia: ‘Siapa yang pegang kuasa, akan paksakan pandangannya tentang bagaimana cara mengatur aset alam itu.’

Review: Martial arts meet musical performance

Mar 20, 2017 - ALFIRA O'SULLIVAN

The Fighting Art of Pencak Silat and Its Music reveals the multitude of martial arts practices and celebrations

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar

Readers said:

  • Disability data and the development agenda in Indonesia
    vicki - 09 Apr
    apakah yg dimaksud dlam tulisan mba in intellectual disability ato sdh smua disability??...
     
  • Essay: Redefining Indonesia
    Jan van Olden - 03 Mar
    What a wonderful and inspiring essay! Your reflections give hope for a better, more tolerant, and truly pluralistic Indonesia. Thank you, Leila.
     
  • Essay: Redefining Indonesia
    Jan van Olden - 03 Mar
    What a wonderful and inspiring essay! Your reflections give hope for a better, more tolerant, and truly pluralistic Indonesia. Thank you, Leila.
     
  • Jakarta’s Asian Games, yesterday and today
    Susan Engel - 01 Mar
    A nice article highlighting Sukarno's rehabilitation, which is also very visible in Indonesia's South-South Cooperation strategy. Of course there is a ...

30th Anniversary Book

Inside Indonesia - 30th Anniversary Photo Book

 

Have you bought your copy of Inside Indonesia's 30th Anniversary book yet?

The book features 30 of the judges' favourite images from the 2013 Inside Indonesia Photography Competition.

Preview the book  and order your copy online (Soft cover approx AUD$23.00 / Hard cover approx AUD$35.00).