Barito languages

The Barito languages are around twenty Austronesian languages of Indonesia (Borneo), Southern Philippines, plus Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar. They are named after the Barito River located in South Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Greater Barito
Indonesia (Borneo), Madagascar, Southern Philippines
Linguistic classificationAustronesian

The Barito subgroup was first proposed by Hudson (1967),[1] comprising the three branches East Barito, West Barito, and Mahakam (Barito–Mahakam). It is thought by some to be a Sprachbund rather than a genuine clade. For example, Adelaar (2005) rejects Barito as a valid group despite accepting less traditional groups such as North Bornean and Malayo-Sumbawan.

The Malagasy language originates from the Southeast Barito languages, and Ma'anyan is its closest relative, with numerous Malay (close to Indonesian) and Javanese loanwords.[2][3] It known that Ma'anyan people were brought as labourers and slaves by Malay and Javanese people in their trading fleets, which reached Madagascar by ca. 50–500 AD.[4][5][6]

Greater Barito

Blust (2006) proposes that the Sama-Bajaw languages also derive from the Barito lexical region, though not from any established group,[7] and Ethnologue has followed, calling the resulting group 'Greater Barito'.

Smith (2017, 2018)[8][9] proposes a Greater Barito linkage with the following branches, and considers Basap to be a sister of the Greater Barito linkage, forming a Basap–Greater Barito group.

The earlier groupings East Barito (comprising Smith's Southeast Barito, Central-East Barito and Northeast Barito) and West Barito (comprising Southwest Barito and Northwest Barito) are rejected by Smith.

West Kalimantan groups

Some Barito-speaking Dayak ethnic subgroups and their respective languages in West Kalimantan province, Indonesia:[10][11]

Oruung Da'anOruung Da'anKapuas Hulu
Uud DanumCihieCihieSintang
Uud DanumDohoiDohoiSintang


  1. Hudson, Alfred B. 1967. The Barito isolects of Borneo: A classification based on comparative reconstruction and lexicostatistics. Data Paper no. 68, Southeast Asia Program, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University,
  2. Otto Chr. Dahl, Malgache et Maanjan: une comparaison linguistique, Egede-Instituttet Avhandlinger, no. 3 (Oslo: Egede-Instituttet, 1951), p. 13.
  3. There are also some Sulawesi loanwords, which Adelaar attributes to contact prior to the migration to Madagascar: See K. Alexander Adelaar, “The Indonesian Migrations to Madagascar: Making Sense of the Multidisciplinary Evidence”, in Truman Simanjuntak, Ingrid Harriet Eileen Pojoh and Muhammad Hisyam (eds.), Austronesian Diaspora and the Ethnogeneses of People in Indonesian Archipelago, (Jakarta: Indonesian Institute of Sciences, 2006), pp. 8–9.
  4. Dewar, Robert E.; Wright, Henry T. (1993). "The culture history of Madagascar". Journal of World Prehistory. 7 (4): 417–466. doi:10.1007/bf00997802. hdl:2027.42/45256.
  5. Burney DA, Burney LP, Godfrey LR, Jungers WL, Goodman SM, Wright HT, Jull AJ (August 2004). "A chronology for late prehistoric Madagascar". Journal of Human Evolution. 47 (1–2): 25–63. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2004.05.005. PMID 15288523.
  6. Kumar, Ann (2012). 'Dominion Over Palm and Pine: Early Indonesia’s Maritime Reach', in Geoff Wade (ed.), Anthony Reid and the Study of the Southeast Asian Past (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies), 101–122.
  7. Blust, Robert. 2006. 'The linguistic macrohistory of the Philippines'. In Liao & Rubino, eds, Current Issues in Philippine Linguistics and Anthropology. pp 31–68.
  8. Smith, Alexander. 2017. The Languages of Borneo: A Comprehensive Classification. PhD Dissertation: University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
  9. Smith, Alexander D. 2018. The Barito Linkage Hypothesis, with a Note on the Position of Basap. JSEALS Volume 11.1 (2018).
  10. Bamba, John (ed.) (2008). Mozaik Dayak keberagaman subsuku dan bahasa Dayak di Kalimantan Barat. Pontianak: Institut Dayakologi. ISBN 978-979-97788-5-7.
  11. Istiyani, Chatarina Pancer (2008). Memahami peta keberagaman subsuku dan bahasa Dayak di Kalimantan Barat. Institut Dayakologi.
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