Kaupelanese (kpp), or basa kaupèlan, is the mother tongue for the majority of Kaupelanese people and, beside English, the official language of the Kingdom of Kaupelan. It is an Austonesian language descendant of makuwa (or old Kaupelanese), the lingua franca of the archipelago in the fifteenth century. Kaupelanese has five dialects, Kauta (the standard form), Haimarata (spoken in northern Kiwangar), Wisanyo (spoken in western Wisanu), Palayanga (spoken in Nilau) and Terong (spoken in Terong islands).

Kaupelanese is written in Kiwangar, a writing system derived from an ancient Indian script introduced in Kaupelan in the tenth century. By influence of European colonizers, the Roman alphabet is also largely employed. Since 1960, an official transliteration of Kiwangar was adopted, replacing the existing variants.

History and Classification

Kaupelanese belongs to the Austronesian language family and is classified in the following subgroups: Malayo-Polynesian; Central Eastern Malayo-Polynesian and Bandanic. Inside the Bandanic group, Kaupelanese is included in the Eastern Bandanic subgroup.

According to lexicostatistical studies, the first Austronesian populations arrived to the archipelago three thousand years ago. Scholars reconstructed the first Austronesian language spoken in the archipelago, the Proto-Bandanic (PBN), based on the Bandanic languages and dialects. Though PBN did not have script, its words could be inferred by comparing its descendant languages and Old Kaupelanese, the only ancient languages of the group with written records. Thus, for example, the Kaupelanese words tau (‘person’), watu (‘stone’) and roa (‘two’) are derived from the Old Kaupelanese words tawot, watu and roa, and are akin respectively to the words tamot, hato and from Waimahui, another language of the group. The corresponding PBN words can be inferred as *tamwot, *batu, and *rua.

With the dispersion of Austronesian population throughout the archipelago, many dialects derived from this protolanguage. These dialects, which already had influences of non-Austronesian languages, were adopted by local communities and absorbed lexical and grammatical characteristics of different aboriginal speeches. The Bandanic dialect spoken in the south of Kiwangar – which would originate Kaupelanese – showed a significant linguistic substratum attributed to a non-Austronesian language, the so-called Old Hubian (OH). From words like kyawa (‘magic power’), sawa (‘potion’), silempi ('bee') and kuwimpi (‘ant’), for example, it is extracted the OH roots *auha (‘magic’) and *impe (‘insect, bug’). So, kyawa is supposed to be derived from OH *k-ihi-auha (‘his magic power’), as well as sawa from *sǝ-auha (‘magic liquid’), silempi from *sila-impe (‘honey bug’) and kuwimpi from *k-uuru-impe ('earth bug').

Old Kaupelanese (until 1400) – The language in its earliest phase is called Old Kaupelanese (OK), or basa makuwa. The language of this period had a special feature: two distinct forms used according to the social class of the persons involved in the conversation. So, there was the Noble Speech, or basa raja, a refined language used exclusively by the royal family and the nobles; and the Common Speech, or basa daɁhē, used by the people in general. The Noble Speech was considered the classical and literary form and it has, from the introduction of writing in the tenth century to the beginning of the fifteenth century, a remarkable literary production. The texts, mostly about the local nobility and religious matters, used euphemistic phrases and a large amount of Sanskrit and Old Javanese loanwords. But it was the basa daɁhē that spread outside the kingdom of Kaotamakuwa, specially due to traders and soldiers, to become the vehicular language of the sultanate of Rajakaopalan and that decisively contributed to the Modern Kaupelanese.

Middle Kaupelanese (from 1401 to 1800) – The dialect of basa daɁhē spoken in Kiwangar from the fifteenth century on is considered the Middle Kaupelanese, or basa kiwangar. The language received more influences of aboriginal speech and the lexicon was enriched with words from Malay and Arabic. Basa raja was no longer used as written standard, except by some priests or sages, as a kind of ritual or formal language. Both Kiwangar and an Arabic-based alphabet are employed in this period. The language began to diverge of the variants spoken in the islands of Wisanu, Nilau and Terong.

New Kaupelanese (since 1801) – The latest version of Kaupelanese – that is considered the standard form of the language spoken today – is the dialect of southern Kiwangar. In fact, basa kiwangar originated two different dialects, one Islamic in the north, called Haimarata, with greater Arabic and Malay influence, and the other Christian in the south, Kauta, with more accentuated Portuguese and English influence. The Kauta dialect was adopted as the national language since 1960.

Writing System

Kiwangar is a script in which every symbol represents a syllable more than simply a letter like the Latin alphabet. The basic symbols represent consonants followed by the vowel a. To form syllables with other vowels and/or with a consonantal sound at the end, diacritics are added to these basic symbols. The Latin alphabet can also be used, following the official transliteration.




Stops: p, b, t, d, k, g, Ɂ

Affricates: dʒ

Fricatives: f, s, h, β

Nasals: m, n, ŋ

Lateral and trill: l, r

Semi-vowels: j, w



i, e, a, ǝ, o, u

Morphology and Syntax


Nouns do not change with respect to gender and, normally to number. The so-called class words are frequently employed before the word to restrict its meaning. Examples:


ua nu "coconut" is formed with the class word ua ("fruit")

manu kibuma "cockatoo" uses the class word manu ("bird")

majang wana "tiger female" uses majang ("tiger") as class word


Some words of Sanskrit origin has the feminine formed with the suffix –i, like puri "princess" (from Sanskrit putri, feminine of putra, "prince").

The plural of nouns can be obtained by the use of class words with collective meaning (haima "people" or ngadya "group", for instance), by the use of suffix ra (tau "person", taura "persons") or by duplicating the noun (iha "fish", iha-iha "school of fishes"). The suffix ra becomes –èra before r and makes final l disappear (syor "gentleman", syorèra "gentlemen", lakal "potato", lakara "potatoes"). In most cases, the word loses the final vowel (tokingawa "passenger", tokingaura "passengers", kota "city", kotra "cities") or moves the vowel to the last syllable (wisi "star",  wisrya "stars"). Some are irregular (wana "woman", watra "women").

Prefixes a-, for objects, and tw- or taw- (or to- before consonant), for persons, are used to make nouns with the meaning of "agent". Class words, like suik "tool", can be used with the same purpose (ayak "to open"  ahayak or suik ayak "opener", kisa "spear, weapon" tokisa "soldier", wasi "iron" tawasi or twasi "smith, blacksmith").

Suffix -e is used to transform verbs in nouns (airi "to isolate" arye "isolation", dak "to rule, to command" dahe "kingdom", waikalu "to simulate"  waikalwe "simulation").

Some nouns can be derived from verbs or adjectives by reduplication (dumu "to grow" dumdumu "growth", weru "weru" werweru "renovation").


Adjectives always follow the qualified noun. The comparative is made with mais yen or (n)yu following the adjective. The superlative is created with sahera. Analytical constructions are used to express the mood of the adjective. When adjectives follow nouns in noun phrases, plural suffixes are added to adjectives and not to nouns. Examples:


kar lama                                                 "old car"

kar lamra                                               "old cars"

uma watu                                               "stone house"

basa franse                                             "French language"

ho matamra sedim rayu matangra         "your eyes are more beautiful than mine"

dami ye muri mais yen era                     "this girl is younger than them"

tikityang mura sahera hi nurwese           "cheapest air ticket in the world"

waili ina nidan ninmu                             "drinkable water"


Prefixes ya- and ki- are used to form adjectives from verbs and nouns (sihai "end" yasihai "last", anti "to wait" yahanti "pregnant", ingya "to inhale" kingya "inhaled", wayari "to drain" kiwayari "drained", sulatu "to prepare" kisulatu "prepared, ready, prompt"). Prefix ya- is also used to transform cardinal into ordinal numerals (telu "three" yatelu "third"). Prefix yen- is employed to transform nouns into adjectives with the meaning of "looks like, similar to" (maya "lie" yenmaya "incredible ("it looks like a lie"), mas "gold" yenmas "golden", ira "red"  yenira "reddish").



The most part of the adverbs is adjectives that become adverbs due to its location in the phrase. Adverbs are usually placed after the verb. For example:


hami ti amhain kelaim wia "we do not eat good food" (wia is adjective)

hami ti amhain wia "we do not eat well" (wia is adverb)

There are several adverbs used for negation. For example:


wasak i ti nwalani                                        "tomorrow he will not go home"

tofutbol nga nidan nèdauk                           "the player can not play anymore"

au mene ni ngahe hutisai rain walu             "I am not yet eighteen years old"

sèngurita makilu hi ne                                 "the girl have never been there"

ho bani mwita ang?                                        "did not you see anything?"

mayo wami hi uma                                       "nobody was home"

humai mopuhu                                             "do not smoke"


Cardinal and ordinal numerals are placed after nouns. Some numerals are given below:

1. sai
21. hutroa rain sai
2. roa
30. hutelu
3. telu
40. huhai
4. hai
50. hutima
5. ima
60. hunem
6. nem
70. huhitu
7. hitu
80. hutwalu
8. walu
90. husia
9. sia
100. atu sai
10. hutisai
200. atu roa
11. hutisai rain sai
300. atu telu
12. hutisai rain roa
400. atu hai
13. hutisai rain telu
500. atu ima
14. hutisai rain hai
1,000. riun sai
15. hutisai rain ima
2,000. riun roa
16. hutisai rain nem
1,000,000. yuta sai
17. hutisai rain hitu
1994. riun sai, atu sia, husia rain hai
18. hutisai rain walu
first. yanarik
19. hutisai rain sia
second. yaroa
20. hutroa
third. yatelu

Some examples of usage:

hudak yatelu "third track"

hudak telu "three tracks"

hudak telu or hudak (wam)telu "track 3 or track (number) 3"

sai hi hutwalu"1/80"

hunem pèrsen "sixty percent"


Personal pronouns can be used as actor and undergoer pronouns. The first person plural has two forms, hami, exclusive (he, she, it or they and me), and wiri, inclusive (you and me). The personal pronouns are:

1 sg
2 sg
3 sg
1 pl incl
1 pl excl
2 pl
3 pl


Interrogative pronouns are saha "what", isaha "who", ngiwa "when", hira "how much", sui "where", nguya "how" and du saha "why".  The particle ang can be used to emphasize questions when the interrogative pronouns are not present in the phrase.

ho hi ne waba ang?                               "have you been there yesterday?"

hira ho ni indi?                                      "how many dogs do you have?


Possessive Constructions


In Kaupelanese, like other Austronesian languages spoken in Eastern Indonesia and by influence of Papuan languages, the possessive construction follows the rule "possessor-possession", in the so-called inverted order. The possessor can be a noun or a personal pronoun.


Inalienable possessions (body parts, inherent, inseparable or kinship relationships) are formed with the suffixes -ng (1sg), -m (2sg, 1pl excl, 2pl) or -n (3sg, 1pl incl, 3pl) added to the possession. Words ending in consonant remain unchanged (without the siffix). Some words like ngara- "name" and ima- "hand" are never used without the possessive suffix, normally the 3rd singular -n. On the other hand, some nouns have the suffix of the 3rd person -n fossilised with the root, like yan (soul, spirit) and kan (body). They remain unchanged for every person, like hami yan or au kan. The personal pronouns are used before the possessions to avoid  ambiguity, except 1st person singular which can be omitted. Some examples: matang "my eye", hami ninam "our mother", au uraman "my brain", karau huluk "buffalo skull". When the plural suffix -ra is used in the inalienable possession, it follows the possessive suffix: imangra "my hands", hora waruhimra "your parents", era ngaranra "their names", wiri anginra "our children".


Alienable possessions (temporary, separable, alienable, non-consanguineal kinship relationships) are formed with the possessor, or personal pronoun followed by the particle ni. Plural of possessions can be constructed with the particle nira. The personal pronoun hami becomes nami on inalienable constructions and the particle ni is omitted. Thus,  wiri ni telwijun "our television set",  i aman ni kewalura "his/her father's horses", Ismail ni kar "Ismail’s car", manik ni uma yunti  "prince’s big house", haima ye ni basa "the language of this people", Gilan nira Nai "The Lord of the Rings", ni naihin "his/her queen", nami tana "our country".


Some words, like uma (house), dahe (kingdom) or nai (lord), can be used either as alienable or inalienable, depending  on the context.So, we can say au ni dahe or daheng to emphasise something beloved, permanent.

The direct order "possession-possessor" can be obtained using the word umana ("belonging to") between them. So, instead of wiri mangin wana ni buk  "our sister’s book", buk umana wiri mangin wana "the book of (belonging to) our sister".



Similar to other Eastern Indonesian languages, Kaupelanese verbs are conjugated using pronominal prefixes. Basically, they are divided in two classes, the U-class, for verbs starting with consonants, including most verbs starting with h (called strong h verbs), and W-class for those starting with vowel and some verbs starting with h (weak h verbs).

Some examples of U-class verbs:

nawek "to plant"

kilak "to fly" hain "to eat" waimai "to bring" yang "to breathe" ngawa "to carry"
1 sg
au unawek au ukilak au uhain au uwaimai au uyang au ungawa
2 sg
ho monawek ho mokilak ho mohain ho mwaimai ho moyang ho mongawa
3 sg
i nawek i ngilak i ngain i nwaimai i nyang i ngawa
1 pl incl
wiri tanawek
wiri takilak wiri tahain wiri twaimai wiri tyang wiri tangawa
1 pl excl
hami amnawek hami amkilak hami amhain hami amwaimai hami amyang
hami angawa
2 pl
hora monawek
hora mokilak hora mohain hora mwaimai hora moyang hora mongawa
3 pl
era ranawek 
era rakilak era rahain
era rwaimai era ryang era rangawa

Some examples of W-class verbs:


huwai "to make"

alu "to get" inmu "to drink"
ukrama "to dive"
1 sg
au uwai
au walu au winmu au ukrama
2 sg
ho muwai
ho mwalu ho mwinmu ho mukrama
3 sg
i nuwai
i nalu i ninmu i nukrama
1 pl incl
wiri tuwai 
wiri talu  wiri tinmu
wiri tukrama
1 pl excl
hami muwai
hami malu hami minmu hami mukrama
2 pl
hora muwai 
hora mwalu  hora mwinmu
hora mukrama
3 pl
era ruwai   era ralu
era rinmu
era rukrama

Imperative is made with the prefix of the 2nd person,  mo-/m-. To the negative imperative, the word humai "don't" preceeds the verb.

The verb ma "to come" is iregular and conjugated as "au ma, ho moma, i ma, wiri ma, hami ma, hora moma and era ma", instead of the expected pattern: "au uma, wiri tama, hami ama and era rama" of U-class verbs.

The verb to be does not exist in Kaupelanese. So, for instance, ye kani means "this (is) personal" and nidan nguwa rang ho "may the force be with you". Stative verbs are formed with the patient marker (personal pronoun) postponed: huna au, "I'm hungry", yunti i, "he is big". Some phrases are also made with the personal pronoun prefixes: ungulak au, "I bathe".

Tense is not normally marked, but some auxiliary words can be used for this purpose and also to mark mood and aspect. The order mood – (conjugated) verb – aspect must be observed. Tense particles can be placed either before the verb or in the end of the phrase. The following particles are used for tense: kena for the future, dahuk ("already") for the past perfect and wami ("then") for the imperfect. These particles are used for mood: kidai for "conditional", kumu for "imperative", nidan for "potential". For aspect, the particles are: dumu for continuous action, sahi for increasing action, ayau for ceasing or evanescent action, leyai for repetitive action ("again") and wal for concurrent action ("also, too, again").

Below, some examples:


mokina mosong                                             "please come in (humble request)"

mokina tukain hi ne                                       "let’s (you and I) go there"

mokina hami amsong ang?                            "may we come in?"

au wamu winmu                                             "I want to drink"

hami kumu amsong                                        "we must come in"

i nidan tetem ye                                          "he can work on this"

Akeri bumuk nukain Santui dahuk              "Akeri has needed to go to Santoi"

era kidai rita dumu ye                                     "they would keep looking at this"

dam lau telu a ne ramu duwit                         "those three little boy want money"

wahulangi kira mitu ngi kuhul aur hitu    "the plane should arrive at seven o’clock"


Prefix wai- is used to transform intransitive verbs, adjectives, nouns and adverbs into "causative verbs". This prefix can also be added to some transitive verbs (song "to enter"   waisong "to make enter, to place", yunti "big" wayunti "to make bigger, to enlarge", waha "to suffer" (transitive) waiwaha "to make suffer, to punish, to submit").

Word Order




Kaupelanese has five major dialects and many subdialects. Below, a brief description of them:

Kauta - is the dialect of most prestige and considered the standard form of the language, or Standard Kaupelanese. It is the mother tongue of more than 70% of the Kaupelanese people and learned as the second language by virtually the rest of the population in the Kingdom of Kaupelan. It is native in the south of Kiwangar, southeast of Wisanu and northwest of Nilau.

Haimarata - is spoken in the north of Kiwangar by around 430,000 people. It is closely related to Kauta and both dialects are considered as belonging to the Kiwangar branch of the language. For a long time it was considered, in a derogatory sense, as a corrupted form of Kaupelanese, spoken by uncultured people of the inland. Haimarata was strongly influenced by Taumelan (Taumlang), the Malay dialect spoken in northeast Kiwangar and received some influence from Arabic, mostly religious terms, considering that most Haimarata speakers are Muslim. The language also kept some archaisms from Old Kaupelanese.

Wisanyo - In the island of Wisanu only Bandanic languages are spoken (Kaupelanese and Waimahui). There is a controversy about a language, Libaru, allegedly spoken long ago by a pygmy tribe in the mountainous forests of the inland, but this was not proved so far. Nevertheless, Wisanyo which is spoken by 150,000 people in that island is the less homogeneous of the Kaupelanese dialects. varying from village to village in a linguistic continuum, in some parts closer to Kauta dialect, in others similar to Waimahui. Although phonetically and lexically different of the standard form, Wisanyo is closer to the Kiwangar branch than the other dialects, Palayanga and Terong.

Palayanga - Palayanga, spoken by 210,000 people in the south of Nilau, was heavily influenced by aboriginal languages Moinate and Suduk. Intelligibility between Kauta and Palayanga speakers is difficult, considering that, beside phonetic and lexical differences, there are some grammatical changes too.

Terong - The dialect spoken in the eastern islands of Terong by around 60,000 people is the most divergent of the Kaupelanese dialects and possibly the earlier to differentiate from Old Kaupelanese. Terong was influenced by another Bandanic language, Old Narikese, by Papuan languages spoken in the islands and by Portuguese.