A Short Grammar of Tetun Dili
Catharina Williams-van Klinken, John Hajek & Rachel Nordlinger
University of Melbourne
Tetun has been selected as the national language for the emerging nation of East Timor. It has two main varieties, known within East Timor as Tetun Dili and Tetun Terik. While the latter is a relatively conservative Austronesian language, Tetun Dili shows strong Portuguese influence after centuries of contact.
On the one hand, Tetun Dili has in many respects been simplified relative to Tetun Terik, for instance in having less productive derivational morphology, no subject marking on verbs, and a loss of Tetun consonant clusters such as /kt/. On the other hand the large influx of vocabulary from Portuguese has resulted in new phonological patterns and new models of word formation, while Portuguese influence has also resulted in new possibilities for a number of grammatical constructions, including complementation.
There is large variation within Tetun Dili, in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. The present sketch notes such variation, commenting where possible on the conditions under which each option is preferred, and illustrating this variability in brief texts. The sketch overviews Tetun phonology and morphology before presenting the major grammatical constructions used. Emphasis is on the language as it is spoken in East Timor's capital Dili; nevertheless where constructions used in speech are avoided in writing, this is noted.
ISBN 9783895864292. Languages of the World/Materials 388. 62pp. 2002.