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 is a West Papuan language of Indonesia. The language is centered on the island of Ternate but also spoken in neighboring areas such as Kayoa, the Bacan islands, Halmahera, and other areas in North Maluku. It was used by Sultanate of Ternate, famous for its role in spice trade.

A Papuan language, Ternate is unlike the languages spoken the most in Indonesia, which belong to the Austronesian language family, it appears to be related to languages spoken in Bird's Head Peninsula in Papua.[4]

It is closely related to the Tidore language, which spoken in Tidore, its southern neighboring island.

This language is distinct from Ternate Malay, which is a variation of Malay language. Most inhabitants of Ternate use Ternate language as first language but will use Ternate Malay for inter-ethnic 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.