A language of Indonesia

Alternate Names
Kai, Keiese, Saumlaki, Veveu Evav

85,000 (2000 E. Travis). 4,500 monolinguals. L2 users: Also used by outsiders such as ethnic Chinese and Butonese who live in Kei.


Maluku Province, southeast portion, about 207 villages on 10 islands; Kei island group west of Aru islands; Kecil, Besar, and surrounding islands; also, Kur islands, lying west and northwest of Kei group.

Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


Kei Besar, Kei Kecil, Ta’am, Tanimbar Kei (Atnebar), Tayando. Kei Kecil is the prestigious urban dialect. Kei Besar speakers usually also know Kei Kecil, but not vice versa. Kei Besar is reportedly more similar to Fordata [frd] than other Kei dialects. Tanimbar Kei is spoken in only one village. Lexical similarity: 60% with Fordata [frd].

Language Use

Fairly vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use Banda [bnd], Indonesian [ind]. Used as L2 by Banda [bnd], Kur [kuv].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 100 can read, 10 can write. Literacy rate in L2: 50%–75%. 100 can read, 10 can write. Used informally in school for explanations. Dictionary. Grammar.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Muslim, Christian, traditional religion.