Tetum (Lia-Tetun)

Tetum is a member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. Tetum is spoken in Belu Regency in West Timor in Indonesian, and also in East Timor, where it is an official language. In 2011 there were about 550,000 speakers of Tetum.

There are three dialects of Tetun: Tetun-Terik, Tetun-Belu and Nana'ek. A creolised variety of Tetum, known as Tetun-Dili or Tetun-Prasa, is spoken in Dili, the capital of East Timor, and elsewhere in East Timor as a lingua franca. It has simplified grammar and a lot of vocabulary from Portuguese, and is not mutually intelligible with Tetum.

Although Tetum has a standardised orthograph, which was established by the National Institute of Linguistics in 2004, there are many spelling variations.

Tetum alphabet

Tetum alphabet

Tetum pronunciation

Tetum pronunciation

Download an alphabet chart for Tetum (Excel)

Information about the Tetum alphabet and pronunciation compiled by Wolfram Siegel

Sample text in Tetum

Ema hotu hotu moris hanesan ho dignidade ho direitu. Sira hotu iha hanoin, konsiensia n'e duni tenki hare malu hanesan espiritu maun-alin.

Hear a recording of the text by Francisco Tilman de Jesus Andrade (recorded by Moshe Ash)


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample video in Tetum

Information about Tetum | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel


Information about the Tetum languages

Information about the Standard Orthography of the Tetum Language
http://www.asianlang.mq.edu.au/INL/orthhist.pdf (PDF, )

Tetum courses

Online Tetum phrases

Online Tetum dictionary

Malayo-Polynesian languages

Alorese, Amarasi, Ambai, Ambel, Anuki, Balinese, Bambam, Banjarese, Batuley, Bengkulu, Bima, Bugis, Bushi, Chamorro, Dawan, Duri, Fijian, Fordata, Galoli, Gayo, Iban, Indonesian, Javanese, Kei, Kerinci, Komering, Lamaholot, Lampung, Ledo Kaili, Madurese, Makasarese, Malagasy, Malay, Mamasa, Mandar, Mandar, Mbula, Mentawai, Minangkabau, Mualang, Musi, Ngaju, Nias, Ogan, Palauan, Sasak, Selaru, Sumbawa, Sundanese, Tetum, Tii, Toqabaqita, Toraja-Sa'dan, Ulumandaʼ, Urak Lawoi’, Wamesa, Western Rote, Yamdena

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 15.01.24


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