Tobelo is a member of the North Halmahera group of West Papuan languages. It is spoken by about 30,000 people mainly in the north of the island of Halmahera in North Maluku Province in eastern Indonesia. In particular, Tobelo is spoken in the Tobelo and South Tobelo districts on the west shore of Kao Bay in the Halmahera Utara Regency, in Wasile district in the Halmahera Timur Regency on the south and east shores of Kao Bay, and in the north of Morotai Island.
Tobelo is spoken by people of all ages in rural areas. However, there is a shift to Indonesian among Tobelo people in urban areas.
Dialects of Tobelo include Heleworuru, Boeng, Dodinga, Lake Paca, Kukumutuk and Popon. The last three are collectively known as Tugutil or Forest Tobelo. The Heleworuru dialect is most comonly used in literature. Tobelo is closely related to Galela, Loloda, Modole, Pagu, and Tabaru.
Tobelo was first written by missionaries in the early 20th century, who devised ways to write it with the Latin alphabet. Written material in Tobelo is mainly religious, including a translation of the Bible.
It is not clear how the vowels with umlauts (ä) are pronounced.
Page created: 10.10.23. Last modified: 10.10.23
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