Makasar Academic Article uri icon


  • Makasar is an Austronesian language belonging to the South Sulawesi subgroup within the large Western-Malayo Polynesian family. It is spoken by about two million people in the province of South Sulawesi in Indonesia, and is the second largest language on the island of Sulawesi (behind Bugis, with about three million speakers). The phonology is notable for the large number of geminate and pre-glottalised consonant sequences, while the morphology is characterised by highly productive affixation and pervasive encliticisation of pronominal and aspectual elements. The language has a literary tradition including detailed local histories (Cummings 2002), and over the centuries has been represented orthographically in many ways: with two indigenous Indic or aksara-based scripts, a system based on Arabic script, and a variety of Romanised conventions. From at least the early 18th century Macassan sailors travelled regularly to northern Australia to collect and process trepang or sea cucumber (Macknight 1976), and many loanwords passed into Aboriginal languages of the northern part of Australia (Evans 1992, 1997).

publication date

  • April 2016