Ternate language

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Native to Indonesia
Region North Maluku, the island of Ternate and some areas of Halmahera.
Coordinates 0°1′N 127°44′E / 0.017°N 127.733°E / 0.017; 127.733
Native speakers
(42,000[1] cited 1981)[2]
20,000 L2 speakers (1981)[1]
West Papuan
Language codes
ISO 639-3 tft
Glottolog tern1247[3]

Ternate or Ternatese is a North Halmahera language spoken on the island of Ternate, and some neighboring areas in North Maluku, including Kayoa, the Bacan islands and Halmahera. Historically, it served as the primary language of the Sultanate of Ternate, famous for its role in spice trade.

Unlike most languages of Indonesia, Ternate is not a member of the Austronesian language family, it is linked with the non-Austronesian vernaculars of the Bird's Head Peninsula in West Papua.[4] It is most closely related to the Tidore language spoken in Tidore, the southern neighboring island.

This language is distinct from Ternate Malay, a local Malay-based creole which it has heavily influenced. Many inhabitants of Ternate use Ternatean as their first language and employ Ternate Malay as a means of interethnic or trade communication.[5]


  1. ^ a b Ternate at Ethnologue (14th ed., 2000).
  2. ^ Ternate at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ternate". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  4. ^ Lewis, M. Paul (2009). "Ternate - A language of Indonesia (Maluku)". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (16th ed.). SIL International. 
  5. ^ Litamahuputty, Betty (March 10, 2007). "Description of Ternate Malay". Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Jakarta station. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007.