The precarious position of the Taje language—owing to their few numbers, lack of contact between the three Taje communities, intermarriage with non-Taje, and pressure from surrounding languages, particularly Kaili and even Tajio—has been discussed at length by Himmelmann, who considered the language to be moribund (Himmelmann 2001:30–31, 2010:64–65).
What Others Have Written
Only very few Taje exist, all of whom live somewhat removed from the coast either in resettlement projects (Sipotara and Tanampedagi), or as a minority group in an inland village (Petapa). No close ties exist between these three groups of Taje speakers.
Truly native Taje, i.e. both parents being Taje, are few: Estimates varied around 15 per cent of the [Petapa] village population (ca. 200 people). There are, however, considerably more people who know some Taje because one parent was Taje. That these people know some Taje at all is probably due to the fact that most of the Taje live in one dusun (Kamonji) which is separated by a few rice fields from the other parts of the village.
Most Taje [in Petapa village] claimed that they didn't know the language very well and pointed to one older man as the one person who really knew the language (and the one to ask questions about the language). In eliciting lexical items, the four contributors I worked with made an effort to find words that are different from Rai or Tara (which did not always produce satisfactory results). In eliciting and recording clauses, however, many Tara and Rai items surfaced, bearing witness to the fact that Taje in Petapa is heavily influenced by these languages.
Taje (East Coast) may become extinct in the next decades or two, since the younger generation in Petapa hardly has a command of the language at all and in Tanampedagi and Singura there is a strong convergence with the other local Tomini-Tolitoli language, i.e. Lauje and Tajio, respectively.
About 200 persons whose parents were both Taje live in a village near Parigi. Considerably more know some Taje because one of their parents was Taje. However, most speakers do not know the language well, except for one old man. The language is heavily influenced by neighboring languages. One hundred and fifty more had to be resettled near Ampibabo, 50km north of Parigi, and about thirty more even further north. The language was regarded as nearly extinct in 1902 by a visiting linguist, and is now certainly moribund and nearly extinct.
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.