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We Can Now Provide Translation Services for the Sumba Languages

Most people don’t realize this, but Indonesia is the second-most linguistically diverse country in the world. It’s second only to neighboring Papua New Guinea, where much of the population still lives in remote tribal communities. However, most of Indonesia’s 700+ indigenous languages hail from a single language family: Austronesian. That doesn’t mean they’re mutually intelligible, though, so the country needs a lingua franca—Indonesian—to unite their hundreds of ethnolinguistic groups. Some of Indonesia’s many languages come from the Sumba language subfamily, which is the group we’re focusing on today.

Altogether, the Sumba languages boast an approximate 370,000 speakers. As is obvious from the name, the languages are native to the island of Sumba, a relatively small island in the Lesser Sunda Islands archipelago, south to the larger islands of Sumbawa and Flores. The Sumba people inhabiting the island have been quite successful in retaining their native culture despite heavy foreign influence, but the ubiquity of Indonesian is an inescapable reality in all of Indonesia. While having a lingua franca is necessary, the prominent and widely spoken Indonesian language threatens smaller languages like those in the Sumba subfamily, which have few available resources. At, we’re passionate about all languages, which is why we’re so pleased to introduce our very own Sumba translation services, ready to make a difference where we can.

Need a quote for our translation services for Sumba languages? Send us a message to request one.

Taking a closer look at the Sumba languages

The Sumba languages are part of the Austronesian family, specifically the Malayic branch of the family. In fact, most languages spoken across Indonesia, perhaps with the exception of West Papua, belong to the Malayic subfamily. By far the biggest Sumba language is Kambera, with about 240,000 speakers, which is used as a lingua franca in eastern Sumba. The other Sumba languages are considerably smaller but still may have vigorous speaker communities. Here’s a more detailed list of the Sumba languages:

  • Kambera (East Sumbanese)

  • Mamboru (Memboro)

  • Anakalangu

  • Wanukaka

  • Pondok

  • Baliledo

  • Wejewa

  • Lamboya (Laboya)

  • Kodi (Kudi)

  • Gaura

The most widely spoken Sumba language after Kambera is Wejewa, which represents around 65,000 speakers. Lamboya and Kodi both have more than 20,000 speakers and Anakalangu has 16,000 speakers, while Mamboru and Wanukaka have just 10,000 speakers. With low speaker numbers, most Sumba languages are endangered.

Sumba languages are similar to other Austronesian languages in that they start sentences with the verb in a verb-subject-object word order. However, since person is marked on the verb, subject pronouns are generally omitted. Sumba languages make a distinction between the first-person plural inclusive and exclusive pronouns, meaning they have separate words depending on whether the listener is included when the speaker says “we,” but on the other hand, Sumba third-person pronouns are genderless. In Kambera, the language’s four cases contain suffixes for each pronoun, which is certainly confusing for learners of the language.

Sumba languages translation services for anything you need

There aren’t many agencies offering Sumba translation services—we’re one of the few. We worked hard to put together a team of skilled translators from across Sumba, native speakers of Kambera, Wejewa, and other Sumba languages. Now, they use their skills and experience to translate to and from their languages for clients both local and abroad, for various types of translation projects. Here are some examples:

  • Literary translation services. The Sumba people have a lot of valuable stories to tell—but the lack of translation services means many of these stories haven’t ventured far off the island. Our Sumba language translators are here to help you spread Sumba stories far and wide with clean, crisp translation. We can also translate foreign books, poems, and other literature into Sumba languages to share with the locals!

  • Pedagogical translation services. With the Sumba languages facing endangerment, immersing children in a native-language education is becoming increasingly important. If you want to help safeguard the Sumba languages by translating educational materials into them, let our translation team be your guide in this important language revitalization work.

  • Digital translation services. Nowadays, a lot of our communication takes place over the internet—but many minority languages don’t have an online presence. Our translation team can help you translate digital media into Kambera and other Sumba languages to ease them into the 21st century with websites, apps, games, and more.

What’s your translation project to or from a Sumba language look like? Message us now to share the details!

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