Enumeration and Classifiers in Pulau Simeulue/Pulau Banyak Languages, Aceh Language documentation

Author: Rob Amery (University of Adelaide)
Zulfadli Aziz (Syiah Kuala University)
Speaker: Rob Amery, Zulfadli Aziz
Topic: Language ideologies
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak are islands off the south west coast of Aceh Province, Indonesia. The Indigenous languages spoken on these islands, Devayan, Sigulai and Leukon on Pulau Simeulue and Haloban in Haloban/Asontola on Pulau Tuangku in Pulau Banyak are markedly different to the languages indigenous to the mainland of Aceh, such as Acehnese, Gayo and Alas, such that the languages of Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak are not able to be understood by Acehnese mainlanders unless they make the effort to learn them. The languages of Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak are in fact more closely related to Nias spoken on the island of Nias to the south in the province of North Sumatra (Aziz & Amery, 2016). One subsystem of the languages of Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak that is especially interesting is the counting system(s) and the use of classifiers. Indeed, there is more than one means of enumeration depending on the nature of the entity being counted.

This study investigates the relationships between the indigenous languages spoken in these islands with respect to forms of enumeration and the use of classifiers. The data in this research is obtained from interviews of native speakers of each of these languages conducted in 2016 and 2017. The results of this study show that there are strong similarities between the counting systems and classifiers used across this set of languages. It provides additional evidence of the connection between the languages spoken in Simeulue and those spoken in Pulau Banyak. Furthermore, there are striking similarities with Nias, indicating that these languages share common ancestral roots with Nias and most likely have their origins to the south. This contrasts with Acehnese which has its origins in the Cham empire in mainland South East Asia.


AZIZ, Zulfadli A.; AMERY, Robert. A survey on the status of the local languages of Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak and their use within the community. Proceedings of English Education International Conference, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 2, p. 487-490, Nov. 2016. ISSN 2527-8037. Available at: http://capeu.unsyiah.ac.id/proceedings/index.php/eeic/article/view/95

Austronesian languages, enumeration, classifiers, Simeulue, Pulau Banyak, Devayan, Sigulai, Leukon, Haloban, Nias.