A language of East Timor

Alternate Names
Ambeno, Ambenu, Baikenu, Biqueno, “Dawan” (pej.), Lais Meto, Molok Meto, Oe Cusi, Oecusse, Oecussi, Oekusi, Uab Meto, Uab Pah Meto, Vaikenu, Vaikino

72,000 (2011 Baikeno Language Council). Several thousand speakers in Dili and Indonesian west Timor. 15 clans of Nu’af (mountains); 3 clans of Amnesat (plains). 15 clans of Nu’af (mountains); 3 clans of Amnesat (plains). Many monolinguals.


Oecussi-Ambeno District, Oekusi enclave.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


Amnesat, Nu’af. Part of Uab Meto dialect chain, which includes several languages. Partial intelligibility of the Uab Meto of Amfo’an, northern Mollo, and Insana. Significant differences with Amarasi [aaz] block intelligibility.

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Many have difficulty with Indonesian [ind]. Less than 1% can perform job-related functions in Portuguese [por]. Only those who have studied or worked in Dili can function in Tetun Dili [tdt].

Language Development
Bible portions: 2004.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Speakers see themselves as part of the wider Atoni cultural, linguistic, and historical network, in contrast to Tetun, Helong, or Rote. Ethnic autonym: atoni, person, speaking uab meto, the language of the dry. Uab Meto refers to the language chain of which Baikeno is a part. Ambeno refers to traditional kingship. Oekusi is the main town in Ambeno, but people in other parts of East Timor use it to refer to the whole enclave. Locals object to this usage. Dawan is considered derogatory by many (the language does not have a, d, and dawan is said to mean enemy). Traditional religion, Christian.