The Batui language enclave lies on the southern coast of Sulawesi’s eastern peninsula, facing the Gulf of Tolo. It is spoken in the four neighboring villages of Balantang, Sisipan, Tolando, and Batui (the latter two especially, composing the district capital, are cosmopolitan).
The unique nature of the Batui language was first recognized by the Dutch civil administrator O. E. Goedhart, who referred to it as Baha after the local word for ‘no’ (Goedhart 1908:477)—a mistranscription, since the Batui word for ‘no’ is actually articulated /mbahaʔ/. Compounding this error, Nicolaus Adriani surmized on scant evidence that Baha was a dialect of Pamona (Adriani and Kruyt 1914:14). Not until a survey team visited the area in 2006 were these mistakes uncovered, and it could be demonstrated that Batui is not a dialect of Pamona but rather a distinct language closely related to Saluan (Mead and Pasanda To appear).
According to 2003 demographic data, the four villages where Batui is spoken had a total population of 4,300. We estimated in round figures that 2,500 may be ethnic Batui, the remainder being immigrants from places such as Pamona, Gorontalo, Bugis and Java. Owing to the weak position of the Batui language, the number of fluent speakers may be significantly less.
Adriani, N.; and Alb. C. Kruyt. 1914. De Bare’e-sprekende Toradja’s van Midden Celebes, vol. 3: Taal- en letterkundige schets der Bare’e-taal en overzicht van het taalgebied Celebes–Zuid-Halmahera. Batavia: Landsdrukkerij.
Goedhart, O. H. 1908. Drie landschappen in Celebes. Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 50:442–549.
Mead, David; and Edy Pasanda. To appear. An initial appreciation of the dialect situation in Saluan and Batui (eastern Sulawesi, Indonesia). SIL Electronic Survey Reports.