When you talk about the tourism destination in West Papua, you can’t forget about Raja Ampat. This archipelago has a charm, ranging from beautiful landscapes to fascinating beaches with blue and sparkling water. However, what is interesting about Raja Ampat is not only its nature. The West Papua language in Raja Ampat is also a thing that might attract you.
Although the official language in Raja Ampat is Indonesian, there are many traditional languages spoken there.
The West Papua Language Spoken in Raja Ampat
Below is the list of the languages in Raja Ampat based on the region. Every region has its own traditional language, which might sound the same. Still, if you learn and know them more, you will understand that every traditional language of West Papua is unique.
Amber languages are a kind of West Papua language used in the Central and North Waigeo area and some people in the eastern part of Mayalibit Bay. There are two dialects known from the Ambel language.
The language is commonly used by people whose ancestors migrated from Biak and Numfor in Papua Province.
Biga is the language of the people originating from the Biga River tupi on Misool Island.
The Matbat language is spoken by the Matbat Tribe on Misool Island spread in villages, such as Foley, Tomolol, Kapatcol, Aduwei, Salafen, Limalas, Atkari, and Magey. At least five tones are known from the Matbat language.
Much more different from Matbat, Misool is used by people from the villages of Fafanlap, Gamta, Lilinta, Yelu, Usaha Jaya, Waigama, and Harapan Jaya.
Maden is a traditional language still spoken by some community members in the western part of Salawati Island.
Gebe is the language of the inhabitants of the Gebe and Yoi Islands in North Maluku. In Raja Ampat, the Gebe language is still used by some people on Gag Island, the southern part of Waigeo Island, and Manyaifun Village.
Kate is actually considered as the dialect of the Ma’ya, but it is deemed to have sufficient differences to be regarded as a language.
Legenyem language has adequate differences from the Ma’ya language, so that Legenyem is considered a different language.
Blatant is used by people on Batanta Island, including residents from Wailebet and Yenanas villages.
The Moi language is spoken in parts of Salawati Island, especially in Kalobo Village, Sakabu, and some communities in Samate Village.
The Tepin language is spoken in the northeastern part of Salawati Island by Kampung Kalyam, Sool. Kapatlap, and Samate. There are at least three known dialects of the Tepin language.
Like Kawe and Lagenyem, Wauyai is also considered a dialect of the Ma’ya language but has enough differences to be considered a language in itself.
Why are the West Papua Languages in Raja Ampat Vary?
At first, Raja Ampat was first inhabited by Melanesian people between 60,000 and 30,000 years ago. However, a local migration in Raja Ampat occurred, followed by constructing permanent settlements on certain islands, which led to the different ethnic groups.
The waves of migration that have occurred for thousands of years in Raja Ampat imply a blend of culture and society, the process of migration and settlement, isolation, and accessibility, all of which can be found through the regional language and its various dialects and phonemes.
The traditional language spread in Raja Ampat is a unique thing. This thing is magnificent proof of how acculturation and assimilation can create interesting new cultural outcomes. Time flies, and some traditional languages may become extinct, but we all can keep the West Papua language if we take the best step in cultural preservation.