Sa'dan Toraja—also simply ‘Sa'dan’ or ‘Toraja’ or in Indonesian reversed to Toraja Sa'dan—is spoken in the upper region of the Sa'dan River. It is one of the principal language of northern South Sulawesi.
At a higher level, the name Toraja Sa'dan is also applied linguistically to a language complex that includes not only Toraja Sa'dan proper but also the Mamasa, Kalumpang and Tae' (Luwu'-Rongkong) languages—although sometimes these have been treated as dialects of Sa'dan. For discussion, see among others Van der Veen (1929); Mills (1975:101 ff); and Noorduyn (1991:202–203).
There exist several statements on the dialects of Toraja Sa'dan proper, including Salzner (1960:15), Mills (1975:103–104), Sneddon (1983b), and Grimes and Grimes (1987:48). Although differing in detail, they have in common that they distinguish a Rantepao dialect in the north from a Makale dialect in the south, and usually both of these from a western dialect, called Mappa-Pana. Makale itself has a southern subdialect in the area where Sa'dan Toraja borders the Duri language; in fact the border area between Toraja and Massenrempulu is probably best viewed as a dialect continuum (Mills 1975:101–102; Yatim and Machmoed 2007). Rantepao is the prestige dialect.
The national census for the year 2000 reports 750,000 people in South Sulawesi who self-identify as ‘Toraja’ (Suryadinata, Arifin and Ananta 2003:7).
Grimes, Charles E.; and Barbara D. Grimes. 1987. Languages of South Sulawesi. (Pacific Linguistics, D-78.) Canberra: Australian National University.
Mills, Roger Frederick. 1975. Proto South Sulawesi and Proto Austronesian phonology. PhD dissertation, University of Michigan.
Noorduyn, J. 1991. A critical survey of studies on the languages of Sulawesi. (Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Bibliographic Series 18.) Leiden: KITLV Press.
Salzner, Richard. 1960. Sprachenatlas des indopazifischen raumes. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
Sneddon, J. N. (compiler.) 1983. Southern Celebes (Sulawesi). Language atlas of the Pacific area, part 2: Japan area, Taiwan (Formosa), Philippines, mainland and insular South-east Asia (Pacific Linguistics, C‑67), edited by Stephen A. Wurm and Shirô Hattori, map 44. Canberra: Australian National University, Australian Academy of the Humanities and The Japan Academy.
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.
Yatim, Nurdin; and Hamzah Machmoed. 2007. Distribusi bahasa Duri dan bahasa Toraja: Suatu analisis geografi dialek. Linguistik Indonesia 25(1):35–51.