East Timor is one of the world’s smallest countries. With an area of just 15,000 square kilometers and roughly 1.3 million people, it occupies the eastern half of the island of Timor, with the western portion controlled by Indonesia. But East Timor is a proud country, having fought hard for its independence. Despite its relatively small size and population, it’s located in one of the most linguistically diverse parts of the world, with the population divided between as many as 19 different indigenous native languages. Tetum is the national language that ties all these different ethnolinguistic groups together.
Under Indonesian occupation, the East Timorese learned Indonesian as their interethnic lingua franca, but upon gaining independence, the East Timorese government moved away from Indonesian and embraced Tetum as the national language, making it co-official alongside Portuguese. As of 2010, 77% of East Timorese residents speak Tetum, 55% speak Indonesian, 39% speak Portuguese, and 22% speak English, with around 21% speaking none of these lingua francas. Despite its status as the national language of East Timor, little is available in the way of professional Tetum translation services, which is where TranslationServices.com is stepping in. We’re proud to present our Tetum translation team.
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What kind of language is Tetum?
Like the majority of languages spoken in East Timor, Tetum is from the Austronesian language family and more specifically the Malayo–Polynesian branch. It boasts roughly 390,000 native speakers in the country, with another 570,000 speaking it as a second language. Tetum comes in two distinct varieties—Tetum Terik and Tetum Dili—with the former retaining more indigenous vocabulary and the latter sustaining heavy influence from Portuguese. They are not immediately mutually intelligible, with Tetum Dili used as the dominant variant.
In its pronominal system, Tetum features both a clusivity distinction and honorific forms, both common characteristics of Malayo–Polynesian languages. Languages with a clusivity distinction have two words for “we,” with one explicitly including the listener and the other excluding them, and honorific forms are a way of expressing politeness. Tetum also distinguishes between alienable and inalienable possession with separate markers—alienable possessions are belongings, while inalienable possessions are things one has no choice in possessing, such as body parts. The past tense is not explicitly marked but rather inferred through context, although aspect markers may indirectly indicate the past tense.
Your Tetum translation wishes are our command.
Tetum is a unique language that promotes a sense of national pride among the East Timorese, and we believe it’s important to provide high-quality translation services for such languages. That’s why we carefully constructed a translation team that can easily handle both Tetum-to-English translation as well as English-to-Tetum translation. A few examples of our Tetum-to-English translation services include translation of business content to take your company to the international level, academic papers to share your findings with the international community, and literary works to share East Timorese literature and insights with the wider world. As for our English-to-Tetum translation services, we work with businesses looking to cater to local customers, researchers who want to distribute surveys to a Tetum-speaking populace, and creatives who want to share their books, poems, games, websites, and more with the people of East Timor.
For all your Tetum translation needs, we stand ready. Message us today so we can get started.