In an analysis of Lauje language vitality, in broad strokes Himmelmann (2010:69–70) distinguishes two communities: a multilingual coastal community, including Lauje, Kaili, Gorontalo and Indonesian, and a hill community where Lauje predominated. Furthermore, it appeared to Himmelmann that interaction between these communities helped reinforce the use of Lauje among the coastal community. We follow UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (Moseley 2010) and rate Lauje as 4/Vulnerable. Ampibabo-Lauje is an exclusively coastal community in an area now heavily settled by Kaili Rai and Kaili Ledo speakers (Himmelmann 2010:68).
What Others Have Written
Such a reinforcement [of language use between hill and coastal communities] is presently observable in the Lauje area around Tinombo, an area almost exclusively populated by some 30.000 Lauje who live in all three agro-ecological zones (coastal, middle and inner hills) … Even in Tinombo, the subdistrict capital, where only about 60% of the population are Lauje and strong Kaili and Gorontalo communities exist, the tendency towards language shift is not as pronounced as in other subdistrict capitals. One of the reasons for this seems to be the fact that many coastal Lauje have relatives among the middle hill Lauje and interact fairly regularly with them for personal and economic reasons. On these occasions, only Lauje is spoken since the command of Indonesian among the middle hill people is generally poor.
The prospects for Lauje are probably the best among the Tomini-Tolitoli languages because of the demographic, geographic, and economic factors just mentioned. This, however, does not mean that they are immune to language shift. It is almost certain that all Lauje will become bilingual in Lauje and Indonesian in the near future (this is already the case for coastal Lauje). What is not so clear is whether this bilingual setting will be stable or just represents an intermediate stage in a complete shift towards Indonesian.
Lauje, Tialo, Tajio and Boano on the East Coast are still very much the languages of everyday communication in their central areas. The younger generation appears to have a reasonably full command of these languages.
In the case of the Ampibabo-Lauje and the Tajio, the larger area where these speech communities are found is heavily populated by Rai and Ledo, with the Tomini-Tolitoli villages being surrounded by Ledo/Rai villages.
The coastal [Lauje] villages are overcrowded and relatively poor. Steep mountains are very close to the coast, leaving little land for rice fields and gardens, and no incentive for immigrants. In Tinombo, 60 per cent of the population is Lauje, with strong Kaili and Gorontalo communities. There is less tendency to language shift than in other provincial capitals. Coastal Lauje interact regularly with middle hill Lauje among whom they have relatives, speaking only Lauje on these occasions. There is no space for the resettlement projects close to the coast for the inner hill Lauje which also contributes to the maintenance of Lauje. There is some literacy in it. Only the children who receive their primary school instruction in Indonesian constitute a possible threat to the language, which may therefore be potentially endangered.
Its [Ampibabo-Lauje’s] general area is heavily populated by speakers of other large languages, such as the Ledo language. There is a strong inclination of Ampibabo Lauje speakers to reside temporarily outside their area for wage work, but there are few opportunities for that at present. There are 6,000 speakers, but the two factors mentioned are driving the language towards being 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.
Moseley, Christopher (ed.) 2010. Atlas of the world’s languages in danger, 3rd ed., entirely revised, enlarged and updated. (Memory of Peoples Series.) Paris: UNESCO Publishing.
Wurm, Stephen A. 2007. Australasia and the Pacific. Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages, edited by Christopher Moseley, 425–577. New York: Routledge.