Evan Francis Keith


Many conflicting theories exist concerning the ethnolinguistic identity of the Austronesian ‘trepanger’ traders who visited the north coast of Australia from the 17th century onwards. These competing hypotheses, invariably based largely on anthropological guesswork, are supported to varying degrees by lexical evidence in many of the languages of the Arnhem Land coast, especially Yolngu Matha. The central conceit of this paper is thus: by examining the relationships between words in Yolngu Matha and cognates that appear in Austronesian languages, it should be possible to make inferences about what languages were being spoken by traders on the Arnhem Land coast. Using this method, this paper contends that Makassarese and Bugis were most likely the predominant languages spoken by the trepangers, and that there is little evidence to support the various theories to the contrary.


Austronesian; Yolngu; Makassarese; Phonology; Sound change

Full Text:



Adhuri, Dedi Supriadi. 2013. In Clark, MA. & Sally, M. Macassan History and Heritage: Journeys, Encounters, and Influences. 55-68. Canberra: Australian National University.

Arief, Aburaerah. 1995. Kamus Makassar-Indonesia. Ujung Pandang: Yayasan Perguruan Islam Kapita DDI.

Berndt, Ronald & Catherine Berndt. 1954. Arnhem Land: Its History and Its People. Melbourne: Cheshire.

Brigg, Morgan. 2011. Old cultures and new possibilities: Marege’-Makassar diplomacy in Southeast Asia. The Pacific Review. 24.5: 601-623.

Bollas, Abigail. 2013. Comparative Analysis on the Phonology of Tagalog, Cebuano and Itawis. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Diliman.

Cense, A. A. 1979. Makassaars-Nederlands woordenboek. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

Devlin, Brian. 1985. Language Maintenance in a North East Arnhem Land settlement. New York: Columbia University.

Ganter, Regina. 2013. Histories with traction: Macassan contact in the framework of Muslim Australian history. In Clark, MA. & Sally, M. Macassan History and Heritage: Journeys, Encounters, and Influences. 55-68. Canberra: Australian National University.

Lapoliwa, Hans. 1981. A Generative Approach to the Phonology of Bahasa Indonesia. Canberra: Australian National University.

Llamzon, Teodoro. 1966. Tagalog Phonology. Anthropological Linguistics. 8: 33-39.

Macknight, Charles Campbell. 1971. Macassans and Aborigines. Oceania. 42.4: 283-321.

Macknight, Charles Campbell. 1986. Macassans and the Aboriginal Past. Archaeology in Oceania. 21.1: 69-75.

Montford, Charles. 1956. Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, Vol. 1: Art, Myth and Symbolism. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Nigg, Charles. 1904. A Tagalog-English and English-Tagalog Dictionary. Manila: Fajardo & Co.

Ngewa, Djirong. 1972. Fonemik Bahasa Makassar. Ujung Pandang: Lembaga Bahasa Nasional Cabang III.

Robson, Stuart and Singgih Wibisono. 2002. Javanese-English Dictionary. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions.

Russell, Denise. 2004. Aboriginal-Makassan interactions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in northern Australlia and contemporary sea rights claims. Australian Aboriginal Studies.

Said, Ide. 1978. Kamus Bahasa Bugis-Indonesia. Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa.

Setyastuti, Ana. 2015. Sinopsis Teripang Indonesia: Dulu, sekarang dan yang akan datang. Oseana. 40.3: 1-10.

Sidauruk, Juniato. 2017. Sistem fonologi Bahasa Bugis Bone (Telaah fonologi: Field research). Simposium Nasional Ilmu Pengetahun dan Teknologi (SIMNASIPTEK). C5-10.

Spillett, Peter. 1987. Gotong-Royong Hubungan Makassar Marege. Paper presented to the Second International Convention of the Indonesian Education and Culture Institute.

Sultani, Zofrano Ibrahimsyah Magribi, Meliya & R. Rahmawati. 2019. Kontak budaya antara orang makassar dan Aborigin Yolngu sebagai diplomasi dan perdagangan transnasional abad XVII-XIX. Sejarah dan Budaya. 13.1: 107-126.

Stephanson, Peta. 2011. Indigenous Australia’s Pilgrimage to Islam. Journal of Intercultural Studies. 32.3: 261-277.

Thurgood, Ela. 2004. Phonation Types in Javanese. Oceanic Linguistics. 43.2: 277-295.

Walker, Alan and R. David Zorc. 1981. Austronesian Loanwords of Yolngu-Matha of Northeast Arnhem Land. Aboriginal History. 5: 109-134.

Wolff, John. 1972. A Dictionary of Cebuano Visayan. Ithaca: Cornell University.

Wood, Raymond. 1978. Some Yuulngu Phonological Patterns. Pacific Linguistics. 51: 53-117.

Yatim, Nurdin. 1991. Pengaruh Bahasa Makassar pada bahasa-bahasa Aborigin di Australia utara: Sebuah pandangan dengan kacamata sosiolinguistik. Linguistik Indonesia. 9: 23-32.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.26499/li.v39i2.193
View Counter: Abstract Viewed = 378 times PDF | 131 | times


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Linguistik Indonesia Indexed By

CrossrefCrossrefInastiBASENLA CatalogueRoad 



     Creative Commons License   

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Linguistik Indonesia
d.a. Pusat Kajian Bahasa dan Budaya
Unika Atma Jaya 
Jl. Jenderal Sudirman No. 51
Jakarta 12930 - Indonesia

View My Stats