Tetun Dili


A language of East Timor

Alternate Names
Dili Tetum, Tetum, Tetum Dili, Tetum Praça, Tetum Prasa, Tetun

385,000 (2009).


East Timor north coast, L1 in Dili area; L2 scattered in western part of East Timor.

Language Maps
Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (2002, Constitution, Article 13).


None known. Heavy Portuguese [por] and Mambae [mgm] influence; some Indonesian [ind] or Malay influence.


Compared to Tetun [tet]: many more Portuguese [por] loanwords; does not inflect V-initial verb roots for person or number; uses more periphrastic constructions than morphological constructions (e.g., causatives); differences in possessive constructions and negatives.

Language Use

Increasing in use in urban areas. All domains. All ages. North and South Tetun speakers have significant difficulty understanding it in many speech domains, and vice versa. Some L1 speakers of Tetun Dili consider themselves bilingual in Tetun [tet] due to contact, but when pressed, admit there are domains in which communication is completely blocked.

Language Development
Dictionary. Grammar. NT.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Cultural rituals and themes in Tetun [tet] are not as deeply rooted in Tetun Dili. Christian.