Ternatan/Tidorese - Orientation

Identification. Ternatan and Tidorese are the inhabitants of the islands Ternate and Tidore in the northern Moluccas of eastern Indonesia; they have partly settled also along the coast of adjacent islands, Halmahera among others. They distinguish themselves from other Moluccans by the use of the language of Ternate or Tidore. The people of Ternate and Tidore call themselves in the Malay or Indonesian language "Orang Ternate" or "Orang Tidore" ( orang, "people"). Ternatan and Tidorese are closely related to each other linguistically, historically, sociologically, and culturally, but in relation to each other they tend to set a high value on maintaining their own identity. No Ternatan likes to be classified as a Tidorese, nor does a Tidorese like to be seen as a Ternatan. For ages Ternatan have been more closely in touch with people from the more western parts of the Indonesian archipelago than with the Tidorese; as a result Tidorese are generally less educated and less cultivated than Ternatan. The Tidorese are viewed as the more industrious but also the more boorish people in relation to the Ternatan.

Location. The small islands of Ternate and Tidore are two volcanoes, very close to each other and very close to the equator, off the west coast of the large island Halmahera in the northern part of the Moluccas (Maluku) Province, Indonesia, 1° N and 127° E. The peaks of these islands are over 1,700 meters high. Both Ternate and Tidore are more than 40 kilometers in circumference. The volcano of Ternate is active; that of Tidore has not shown any signs of activity for ages. The islands have a healthy climate.

Linguistic Affiliation. Ternate and Tidore can be classified as two dialects of one language, Ternate-Tidore, which is one of the four related languages spoken on the northern half of the island of Halmahera and on the offshore islands to the north and the west. These form a non-Austronesian enclave in Austronesian language territory. These non-Austronesian languages have linguistic ties with the languages of the Bird's Head Peninsula, Irian Jaya. The superordinate group to which all these languages belong is the West Papua Phylum. The teaching medium in schools is the Indonesian national language, Bahasa Indonesia; the languages of Ternate and Tidore are reduced to a position of minor social importance, used in daily conversation but no longer in writing. Until World War II the local language was the officiai language of the courts of Ternate and Tidore and also was used in writing (in Arabic script).

Demography. The number of Ternatan is about 35,000 and approximately half of them live on Ternate Island; the number of Tidorese is about 70,000 and approximately half of them live on Tidore Island.

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