The Tae' language is also known as Luwu'-Rongkong. Rongkong refers to the language as spoken along the upper and lower courses of the Rongkong River, while Luwu' refers to the language spoken in the lower foothills and mountains which ring the Gulf of Bone, both eastward past Bonebone and southward past Larompong. For maps showing the location of the Tae' language, see particularly Vail (1991:62, 79).
Rongkong and Luwu' are closely related to Sa'dan Toraja, and as such Luwu' should not be confused with the Luwu' dialect of Bugis which is also spoken in this same area along the coastal plain (and which has influenced Tae'). For that matter, though, even the preferred self-designation, Tae'—from the negator /taeʔ/—has the potential to be confused with Sa'dan Toraja, which also uses this negator and has been known by the same name. For issues regarding how this language is to be named, see Vail (1991:56–57).
Both Van der Veen (1929) and Grimes and Grimes (1987:44 ff.) drew a language boundary that divided Rongkong from Luwu'. However, a subsequent survey by K. Valkama (1987) revealed more extensive dialect chaining in the Luwu'-Rongkong area than had previously been realized. Vail (1991) distinguishes four major dialects: Northeast Luwu', Rongkong, Bua, and South Luwu'. Friberg and Laskowske (1989:8–9) present a similar view, but treat Bua as a subdialect. By combining these two studies, the following picture emerges of Tae' dialects (circles) and subdialects (names linked by lines):
From the viewpoint of lexical similarity (lexicostatistics), the Northeast Luwu' dialect is closer to Rongkong than it is to South Luwu'.
The 2000 Indonesian census reports 320,000 ‘Luwu’ in South Sulawesi (Suryadinata, Arifin and Ananta 2003:7), of which perhaps some 50,000 live in the Rongkong area.
Friberg, Timothy; and Thomas V. Laskowske. 1989. South Sulawesi languages, 1989. Studies in Sulawesi linguistics, part 1 (NUSA: Linguistic Studies of Indonesian and Other Languages in Indonesia, 31), edited by James N. Sneddon, 1–17. Jakarta: Badan Penyelenggara Seri Nusa, Universitas Katolik Indonesia Atma Jaya. [Reproduced online. URL: http://sealang.net/archives/nusa/pdf/nusa-v31-p1-18.pdf (accessed January 13, 2014).]
Grimes, Charles E.; and Barbara D. Grimes. 1987. Languages of South Sulawesi. (Pacific Linguistics, D-78.) Canberra: Australian National University.
Suryadinata, Leo; Evi Nurvidya Arifin, and Aris Ananta. 2003. Indonesia’s population: Ethnicity and religion in a changing political landscape. (Indonesia’s Population Series, 1.) Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Vail, I. W. 1991. Sociolinguistic survey report Kabupaten Luwu: Report on the Rongkong-Luwu languages. UNHAS-SIL more Sulawesi sociolinguistic surveys, 1987–1991 (Workpapers in Indonesian Languages and Cultures, 11), edited by Timothy Friberg, 55–120. Ujung Pandang: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
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.
Veen, H. van der. 1929. Nota betreffende de grenzen van de Sa'dansche taalgroep en het haar aanverwante taalgebied. Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 69:58–96.