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Mori Bawah language

Mori Bawah
Native toIndonesia
Native speakers
(28,000 with Mori Atas cited 1988)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3xmz

Mori Bawah, also known as Lower Mori or East Mori, is an Austronesian language of the Celebic branch. It is one of the principal languages of the Morowali Regency in Central Sulawesi.


Mori Bawah is classified as a member of the Bungku-Tolaki group of languages, and shares its closest affinities with Bungku and other languages of the eastern seaboard of Sulawesi, such as Wawonii and Kulisusu.[3] Together, Mori Bawah and the Mori Atas language are sometimes referred to collectively by the cover term ‘Mori’.


Mori Bawah comprises several dialects. Following Esser, five dialects can be regarded as principal.[4]

  • Tinompo
  • Tiu
  • Moiki
  • Watu
  • Karunsi’e

The Tinompo dialect is highest in prestige. Tinompo was the dialect spoken by the indigenous royal class, and in the first half of the twentieth century it was further promoted by colonial authorities as a standard throughout the Mori area, including for Mori Atas and Padoe.


Mori Bawah has the following sound inventory:[5]:684

Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d g
Prenasalized plosive voiceless ᵐp ⁿt ᵑk
voiced ᵐb ⁿd ᵑg
Fricative β s h
Prenasalized fricative ⁿs
Nasal m n ŋ
Trill r
Lateral l
Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-Mid e o
Open a

Only open syllables of the shape V, CV are allowed. Consequently, Mori Bawah is a strictly vowel final-language.



Mori Bawah has seven sets of bound and free pronouns:[5]:686;704

nominative absolutive possessive independent additive
non-future future direct applicative ku aku aku akune ku ongkue ngkuda('a) u (i)ko ko akomu mu omue muda('a) i ta o akono no onoe nada('a) to kita kita akita to otae ntada('a) ki kami kami akami mami omami mamida('a) i (i)komiu komiu akomiu miu omiu mida('a) do ira ira ako'ira do ondae ndada('a)


Core arguments (A: subject of transitive verbs; O: object of transitive verbs, S: subject of intransitive verbs) are not marked for case, but are obligatorily indexed by a pronominal agreement marker on the verb.[5]:689–691

With transitive verbs, A is always indexed by a nominative pronoun, and O by an absolutive pronoun.













IA-pe'ata-'iraO-mo [i Ana Wulaa]A [mia atuu-do]O

3.SG.NOM-enslave-3.PL.ABS-PRV PN Child Gold person DIST-3.PL.POSS

'Gold child took those people as slaves.'

The indexing of the single argument of intransitive verbs shows split-ergative alignment: S is always indexed by a nominative pronoun in future clauses, and also in imperative, negative and certain other dependent types of non-future clauses. In all other cases, S is indexed by an absolutive pronoun.


Mori Bawah has two valency-reducing voice types, passive voice and antipassive voice.[5]:698

If a transitive verb is marked for passive voice with the infix <in>, it becomes formally intransitive, and O (the "object") becomes the S-argument. The original A-argument cannot be mentioned at all.





Ta p<in>epate

3.SG.FUT PASS:kill

'He will be killed.'

In antipassive voice, the verb takes the prefix poN-. The object can be omitted, or overtly expressed if indefinite; it is however not indexed by a person-indexing pronoun. The orignal subject of the transitive verb becomes the S-argument in a formally intransitive antipassive clause.







ka-i pom-pepate singa

ka-3.SG.NOM AP-kill lion

'...and he killed a lion.'


  1. ^ Mori Bawah at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mori Bawah". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Mead, David. 1998. Proto-Bungku-Tolaki: Reconstruction of its phonology and aspects of its morphosyntax. (PhD dissertation, Rice University, 1998), p. 117.
  4. ^ Esser, S. J. Phonology and Morphology of Mori, translated from the Dutch version of 1927-1933 (Dallas: SIL, 2011), pp. 2 ff.
  5. ^ a b c d Mead, David (2005). "Mori Bawah". In Adelaar, K. Alexander; Himmelmann, Nikolaus (eds.). The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar. London: Routledge. pp. 683–708.
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