Out of eight villages where Dampelas is spoken, in the 1990s there remained only one village, Talaga, where the language was relatively unmixed, but even here Indonesian predominated among village children (including grown-up children) who had obtained education outside of the village. We follow UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (Moseley 2010) and rate Dampelas as 3/Definitely Endangered. The Dampal dialect is extinct.
What Others Have Written
Dampelas speakers are found in eight villages in Kecamatan Dampelas. In seven of these villages, there are strong migrant communities and the everyday language in the public domain is exclusively Indonesian. The population of the remaining village, Talaga, is 99 per cent Dampelas. Talaga is considered to be the original settlement place of the Dampelas and the place where the 'best' Dampelas is spoken. It is located on the shores of a beautiful small lake. Lake and village are encircled by a small hill chain which sets them off both from the sea (to the west) and a very large plain which extends south, east, and north of Talaga. This natural geographic boundary is probably the reason why Talaga has not become a place to settle for the many migrants who have been attracted to the large plain.
The children of the politically leading families have only a very poor command of Dampelas, bearing witness to the fact that they grew up in an environment where Indonesian was the most commonly used language. In those families who aspire to higher education for their children it is common to use Indonesian when conversing with them.
Reportedly, the original Dampal area stretched from Ogoamas to Ogowele (Kecamatan Dondo). There are only a few, no more than 300, native Dampal left. Most of them are intermarried with Bugis and do not speak their own language anymore. About ten Dampal (7 KK) live in Ogoamas, while the rest live in Bangkir (Dampal Selatan). Reportedly, a disastrous smallpox epidemic occurred among the Dampal in 1919, when 800 KK died within three months.
No literacy in it. The ethnic group [= Dampal] numbered about 300 in 1995. Most of them had intermarried with immigrant Bugis from South Sulawesi and do not speak Dampal any more. There were two good speakers and a few semi-speakers left in 1995, with one of the former dying in 1996. The language is moribund and almost extinct, or just about extinct now.
No literacy in it [= Dampelas]. Spoken in eight villages, but in seven of these, there are strong migrant communities, and the everyday language used publicly is only Indonesia. The population of the eighth village is 99 per cent Dampelas, who are well off. Many of their children go to Palu town further south to school and university, and when they come home, they prefer Indonesian to Dampelas. Indonesian is used increasingly in families who want their children to have higher education. The ethnic group is around 10,000 or more, but only about 2,000 have still a good command of the language, which is rapidly receding before Indonesian and is endangered.
Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. (compiler.) 2001. Sourcebook on Tomini-Tolitoli languages: General information and word lists. (Pacific Linguistics, 511.) Canberra: Australian National University.
Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2010. Language endangerment scenarios: A case study from northern Central Sulawesi. Endangered Languages of Austronesia, edited by Margaret Florey, 45–72. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wurm, Stephen A. 2007. Australasia and the Pacific. Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages, edited by Christopher Moseley, 425–577. New York: Routledge.