Classification and Name
Da’a is a member of the Kaili language complex along with Baras, Ledo and Unde. As with other varieties of Kaili, the name comes from the local word for ‘no,’ namely /daʔa/. Unusually for this area, the Da’a exhibit physical characteristics (small stature, frizzy hair) reminiscent of so-called Negrito populations of the Philippines (Kaudern 1937:86 ff.).
Location and Population
The Da’a homeland is located to the west and southwest of the provincial capital Palu, in the mountains which rise on the western side of the Palu valley. Most of the estimated 55,000 speakers of Da’a reside in Central Sulawesi, although a few thousand live in bordering areas of West Sulawesi.
Traditionally two dialects have been recognized, one centered around the village of Dombu in which da’a is the negator, and another in which inde is the negator. Because these two varieties are upwards of 98% lexically similar (Donald Barr 2002:pers.comm.), they probably merit only subdialect status.
Following Kruyt (1938:110 ff.), who included the To ri Io as part and parcel of his Pakawa group, we include their speech variety (named Tado after the local word for ‘no’) as a dialect of Da’a. A lexicostatistical study which found Tado and Da’a to be 88% lexically similar in basic vocabulary (Valkama 1987:105) strengthens this assessment. The Tado reside in West Sulawesi (Valkama 1987:106). They are not to be confused with the Lindu, who by coincidence also use tado as their word for ‘no.’
Kaudern, Walter. 1937. Anthropological notes from Celebes. Ethnological Studies 4:84–127.
Kruyt, Alb. C. 1938. De West-Toradjas op Midden-Celebes (Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandsche Akademie van Wetenschappen te Amsterdam, Afdeling Letterkunde, Nieuwe Reeks 40), volume 1. Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers-Maatschappij.
Valkama, Kari. 1987. Kabupatens Pinrang, Enrekang, Tana Toraja, Luwu and eastern part of Poliwali Mamasa. UNHAS-SIL South Sulawesi sociolinguistic surveys, 1983–1987 (Workpapers in Indonesian Languages and Cultures, 5), edited by Timothy Friberg, 119–136. Ujung Pandang: Summer Institute of Linguistics.