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Lampung or Lampungic (cawa Lampung) is an Austronesian language or dialect cluster with around 1.5 million native speakers, who primarily belong to the Lampung ethnic group of southern Sumatra, Indonesia. It is divided into two or three varieties: Lampung Api (also called Pesisir or A-dialect), Lampung Nyo (also called Abung or O-dialect), and Komering. The latter is sometimes included in Lampung Api, sometimes treated as an entirely separate language. Komering people see themselves as ethnically separate from, but related to, Lampung people.

cawa Lampung[1]
Native toIndonesia
South Sumatra
EthnicityLampung people
Komering people
Native speakers
1.5 million (2000 census)[a]
Early form
Lampung (present)
Latin (present)
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
ljp – Lampung Api
abl – Lampung Nyo
kge – Komering

Although Lampung has a relatively large number of speakers, it is a minority language in the province of Lampung, where most of the speakers live. Concerns over the endangerment of the language has led the provincial government to implement the teaching of Lampung language and script for primary and secondary education in the province.[4]



External classificationEdit

Lampung is part of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of Austronesian family, although its position within Malayo-Polynesian is hard to determine. Language contact over millennia has blurred the line between Lampung and Malay,[5][6] to the extent that they were grouped into the same subfamily in older works, such as that of Isidore Dyen in 1965, in which Lampung is placed inside the "Malayic Hesion" alongside Malayan (Malay, Minangkabau, Kerinci), Acehnese and Madurese.[7]

Nothofer (1985) separates Lampung from Dyen's Malayic, but still include it in the wider "Javo-Sumatra Hesion" alongside Malayic, Sundanese, Madurese, and more distantly, Javanese.[8] Ross (1995) assigns Lampung its own group, unclassified within Malayo-Polynesian.[9] This position is followed by Adelaar (2005), who excludes Lampung from his Malayo-Sumbawan grouping—which includes Sundanese, Madurese, and Malayo-Chamic-BSS (comprising Malayic[b], Chamic, and Bali-Sasak-Sumbawa languages).[5][10]

A bilingual Lampung-Malay collection of poems, written in Jawi and Lampung scripts

Among the Javo-Sumatran languages, Nothofer mentions that Sundanese is perhaps the closest to Lampung, as both languages share the development of Proto-Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) *R > y and the metathesis of the initial and medial consonants of Proto-Austronesian *lapaR > Sundanese palay 'desire, tired' and Lampung palay 'hurt of tired feet'.[8] While the Javo-Sumatran/Malayo-Javanic grouping as a whole has been criticized or outright rejected by various linguists,[11][12] a closer connection between Lampung and Sundanese has been supported by Anderbeck (2007), on the basis that both languages share more phonological development with each other than with Adelaar's Malayo-Chamic-BSS.[13]

Smith (2017) notes that Lampung merges PMP *j with *d, which is a characteristic of his tentative Western Indonesian (WIn) subgroup.[14] However, lexical evidence for its inclusion in WIn is scant. Smith identifies some WIn lexical innovations in Lampung, but it is hard to tell whether these words are inherited from Proto-WIn or borrowed later from Malay.[6] While Smith supports its inclusion in the WIn subgroup, he states that the matter is still subject to debate.[6]


Lampung cluster is most commonly divided according to the realization of Proto-Lampungic final *a, which is retained in some varieties, but realized as [o] in others.[15][16][17] This led to the labeling of the A- and O-dialects.[18] Walker uses the names Pesisir/Paminggir for A-dialect and Abung for O-dialect, but Matanggui argues that these are misnomers, as each of them is more commonly associated with a specific tribe instead of the whole dialect group.[18] Other studies, as well as textbooks for Lampung language teaching in Lampung, use the term "Api" for A-dialect and "Nyo" for O-dialect, after their respective words for "what".

Walker (1976) further subdivides Abung into two subdialects: Abung and Menggala, while splitting the Pesisir group into four subdialects: Komering, Krui, Pubian, and Southern.[15] Aliana (1986) gives a different classification, listing as many as 13 different subdialects within both groups.[19] Through lexicostatistical analysis, Aliana finds that the Pesisir dialect of Talang Padang shares the most similarities with all dialects surveyed; in other words, it is the least divergent among Lampung varieties, while Abung dialect of Jabung is the most divergent.[20] However, Aliana does not include Komering varieties in his survey of Lampung dialects.[21]

Hanawalt (2007) largely agrees with Walker,[22] only that he classifies Nyo, Api, and Komering as separate languages rather than dialects of the same language.[23] He notes that the biggest division is between the eastern (Nyo) and western (Api and Komering) varieties, with the latter forming an enormous dialect chain stretching from the southern tip of Sumatra up north to Komering River downstream. Although most researchers consider Komering as part of Lampung Api,[22] Hanawalt argues that there is enough diversity to break down the western chain into two or more subdivisions; he thus proposes a Komering dialect chain, separate from Lampung Api.[23]


Like other regional languages of Indonesia, Lampung is not recognized as an official language anywhere in the country, and as such it is mainly used in informal situations.[24] Lampung is in vigorous use in rural areas where the Lampung ethnic group is the majority. A large percentage of speakers in these areas almost exclusively use Lampung at home, and use Indonesian at more formal occasions.[25][26] In the market where people of different backgrounds meet, a mix of languages is used, including local lingua franca like Palembang Malay.[27] There seems to be a decline in Lampung usage among speakers who live in mixed rural or urban areas.[25]

A woman in Lampung traditional attire

Since early 20th century, the province of Lampung has been a major destination for the transmigration program, which moves people from the more densely populated islands of Indonesia (then Dutch East Indies) to the less densely populated ones.[28][29] The program came to a halt during an interlude following the outbreak of World War II, but the government resumed it several years after Indonesian independence.[28] By mid-1980s, Lampung people had become a minority in the province, accounting for no more than 15% of the population, down from 70% in 1920.[30] This demographic shift is also reflected in language usage; the 1980 census reported that 78% of the province's population were native speakers of either Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, or Balinese.[31]

As an effort to maintain the indigenous language and "to help define Lampung’s identity and cultural symbol", post-New Order era Lampung regional government[c] has made Lampung language a compulsory subject for all students attending primary and secondary educational institutions across the province.[31][32] The state university of Lampung runs a master's degree program in Lampung language.[33] The university once also held an associate degree in Lampung language, but the program was temporarily halted in 2007 due to a change in regulation.[32] Nevertheless, the university has announced a plan to launch a bachelor's degree in Lampung language by 2019.[33]



Basic vowels and diphthongs[34]
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid (e) ə (o)
Open a
Diphthongs aj   aw   uj  

Anderbeck distinguishes 4 basic vowel phonemes and 3 diphthongs in the Lampungic cluster. He prefers to analyze the /e/ phoneme described by Walker[35] an allophone of /i/.[34] Similarly, he notes that the /o/ phoneme previously posited for Komering by Abdurrahman and Yallop[36] is better reanalyzed as an allophone of /ə/.[34] The reflection of /ə/ varies widely across dialects, but the pattern is predictable, which led Anderbeck to conclude that the variations must be phonetic instead of phonemic. For example, varieties along the Komering River consistently realize /ə/ as [o] in all position. In some other Api dialects, /ə/ is only reflected as an [o] if it is located in the ultimate syllable. A few Api dialects retain the conservative realization of /ə/ as [ə] regardless of its position.


Nyo dialects differ from the rest of Lampung varieties by reflecting Proto-Lampungic final *a in open syllable as /o/. Later, Nyo varieties also develop the tendency to realize final vowels as diphthongs. The Nyo dialect of Menggala often realized final /o/ as [ow]. The dialect name itself, Nyo, which comes from their word for "what", is sometimes pronounced, and spelled, nyow ([ˈɲow]). Most Nyo speakers also pronounce final /i/ and /u/ as [əj] and [əw], respectively. This diphthongization of final vowels in open syllables occurs in all Nyo varieties, except the Jabung dialect in the southernmost part.


Basic consonants[37]
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stops p   b t   d k   ɡ ʔ
Fricatives s   (z) r[d] h
Affricates t͡ʃ   d͡ʒ
Liquids l
Semivowels w j

The occurrence of /z/ is limited to some loanwords.[36] There are various phonetic realizations of /r/ within the Lampungic cluster, but it is usually a velar or uvular fricative ([x], [ɣ], [χ], or [ʁ]) in most dialects.[37] Udin (1992) includes this phoneme as /ɣ/ and states that it is also variously pronounced as [x] or trilled [r].[38] Walker lists /x/ (with a voiced allophone /ɣ/ between vocals) and /r/ as separate phonemes for Way Lima subdialect, although he comments that the latter mostly appears in unassimilated loanwords, and is often interchangeable with [x].[35] Abdurrahman and Yallop describe Komering /r/ as an apical trill instead of a velar fricative.[36]


Some varieties are known to feature geminate consonants, especially in Nyo, and to a lesser extent, in Api. Words with geminate consonants contrast with those with no gemination in Nyo and some Api varieties, while this distinction is unknown in Komering.


The most common syllable patterns are CV and CVC. Consonant clusters are found in a few borrowed words, and only word-initially.[35] Disyllabic roots take the form (C)V.CV(C).[39]


Lampung is primarily SVO, but word order can be changed to emphasis.










tian nigheu punyeu

3PL search fish


"they are looking for fish" {emphasis on the subject)










nigheu punyeu tian

search fish 3PL


"they are looking for fish" (emphasis on the action)










punyeu tian tigheu

fish 3PL search


"they are looking for fish" (emphasis on the object)

Writing systemEdit

Writing in Lampung script

The Lampung language is written in an abugida, or alphasyllabary, called Aksara Lampung (in Indonesian) or Had Lampung (in Lampung). It has 20 induk surat (19 consonants and one vowel), and 13 anak surat (diacritics). Lampung script has been influenced by the Pallava script and the Arabic script.[40] Belonging to the Southeast Asian Brahmic family of scripts, it is related to the Sundanese, Javanese, and Buginese scripts. Typographically, the script is most similar to the Rejang and Rencong (of Kerinci) scripts.

Lampung script has not yet been included in the Unicode standard as of 2019.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Combined figure of all dialects from Ethnologue.[2]
  2. ^ The term "Malayic" has been defined differently by various linguists over time. Adelaar's Malayic roughly corresponds to Dyen's Malayan.
  3. ^ The regional government of Lampung is still largely dominated by indigenous Lampung people, down to village level.[31]
  4. ^ Represents the diverse reflections of Proto-Lampungic *r across dialects.[37]



  1. ^ Aliana 1986, p. 39.
  2. ^ Lampung Api at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015); Lampung Nyo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015); Komering at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Lampungic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Katubi 2007, p. 9.
  5. ^ a b Anderbeck 2007, pp. 7–8.
  6. ^ a b c Smith 2017, p. 459.
  7. ^ Dyen 1965, p. 26.
  8. ^ a b Nothofer 1985, p. 298.
  9. ^ Ross 1995, pp. 75, 78.
  10. ^ Adelaar 2005, p. 358.
  11. ^ Blust 1981.
  12. ^ Adelaar 2005, pp. 357, 385.
  13. ^ Anderbeck 2007, pp. 108–110.
  14. ^ Smith 2017, p. 456.
  15. ^ a b Walker 1976, p. 1.
  16. ^ Hanawalt 2007, p. 31.
  17. ^ Anderbeck 2007, p. 22.
  18. ^ a b Matanggui 1984, p. 63.
  19. ^ Aliana 1986, p. 47.
  20. ^ Aliana 1986, p. 66.
  21. ^ Aliana 1986, pp. 4, 45.
  22. ^ a b Hanawalt 2007, pp. 32, 34.
  23. ^ a b Hanawalt 2007, p. 35.
  24. ^ Amisani 1985, p. 1.
  25. ^ a b Katubi 2007, p. 4–5, 8.
  26. ^ Amisani 1985, p. 7.
  27. ^ Katubi 2007, p. 6.
  28. ^ a b Kusworo 2014, pp. 23–24.
  29. ^ Aliana 1986, p. 18.
  30. ^ Kusworo 2014, p. 25.
  31. ^ a b c Katubi 2007, pp. 2–3.
  32. ^ a b Inawati 2017, pp. 168–169.
  33. ^ a b 17 October 2018.
  34. ^ a b c Anderbeck 2007, p. 16.
  35. ^ a b c Walker 1976, pp. 3–4.
  36. ^ a b c Abdurrahman & Yallop 1979, pp. 11–12.
  37. ^ a b c Anderbeck 2007, pp. 14–15.
  38. ^ Udin 1992, pp. 4–5.
  39. ^ Walker 1976, pp. 5.
  40. ^ Junaidi et. al. 2013, p. 664.


External linksEdit