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Tetum Translation Service

Tetum (also Tetun) is an Austronesian language, a national language and one of the two official languages of East Timor. Some of its dialects have been greatly influenced by Portuguese, the other official language of the country, especially in their vocabulary, but also in aspects of their grammar.

Tetum has four dialects:

Tetun-Dili, or Tetun-Prasa (literally "city Tetum"), is spoken in the capital, Dili, and its surroundings, in the north of the country.

Tetun-Terik is spoken in the south and southwestern coastal regions.

Tetun-Belu, or the Belunese dialect, is spoken in a central strip of the island of Timor from the Ombai Strait to the Timor Sea, and is split between East Timor and West Timor, where it is considered a bahasa daerah or "regional language", with no official status in Indonesia, although it is used by the Diocese of Atambua in Roman Catholic rites.

The Nana'ek dialect is spoken in the village of Metinaro, on the coastal road between Dili and Manatuto.

Tetun-Belu and Tetun-Terik are not spoken or well understood outside their home territories. Tetun-Prasa is the form of Tetum that is spoken throughout East Timor. Although Portuguese was the official language of Portuguese Timor until 1975, Tetun-Prasa has always been the predominant lingua franca in the eastern part of the island.

In the fifteenth century, before the arrival of the Portuguese, Tetum had spread through central and eastern Timor as a contact language under the aegis of the Belunese-speaking Kingdom of Wehali, at that time the most powerful kingdom in the island. The Portuguese (present in Timor from c. 1556) made most of their settlements in the west, where Dawan was spoken, and it was not until 1769, when the capital was moved from Lifau (Oecussi) to Dili that they began to promote Tetum as an inter-regional language in their colony. Timor was one of the few Portuguese colonies where a local language, and not a form of Portuguese, became the lingua franca: this is because Portuguese rule was indirect rather than direct, the Europeans governing through local kings who embraced Catholicism and became vassals of the King of Portugal.

When Indonesia occupied East Timor in 1975, declaring it "the Republic's 27th Province", the use of Portuguese was banned, and Indonesian was declared the sole official language, but the Roman Catholic Church adopted Tetum as its liturgical language, making it a focus for cultural and national identity. When East Timor gained its independence in 2002, Tetum and Portuguese were declared as official languages.

In addition to regional varieties of Tetum in East Timor, there are variations in vocabulary and pronunciation, partly due to Portuguese and Indonesian influence. The Tetum spoken by East Timorese migrants in Portugal and Australia is more Portuguese-influenced, as many of those speakers were not educated in Indonesian.

Accurate Tetum translation the first time around

Trust in your translation provider is the key to receiving the quality translation you are looking for. At WorldAccess we pride ourselves on delivering your Tetum translation project that is backed up with a guarantee.

Your Tetum translation will only be done by in-country translators with proven experience in the subject of your original document. A Project Manager, who is also an experienced linguist, will be dedicated to your translation project.

We'll provide your Tetum translated document in exactly the same format as your original unless specified different. This means you'll have an accurate Tetum translation you can use straight away.

Things to consider when translating between Tetum and other Languages

Layout designs - Text typically expands or contracts when translating one language to another. English to Tetum translations and Tetum to English translations, will contract or expand depending on the subject matter.

Which Tetum do you need for your translation?

Getting the Tetum translation of your documents right can be very tricky. Clearly there's only one Tetum language but as in most countries different sections of the population will have different ways of saying things. Your Account Manager will discuss the target market of your document with you. Clearly if your Tetum translation is aimed at teenagers it will need to use their phrases and maybe even slang. Missing these small issues can be the difference between a successful translation and a bad one.

Specialist industry Tetum translators

With a large network of in-country, bilingual Tetum translator, WorldAccess Translations can respond quickly and effectively to your Tetum language translation needs. Our translation teams are professional linguists performing translation from English to Tetum and Tetum to English for a range of documents in various industries.

Tetum Translation Quality Procedures

We work within documented quality procedures and will adopt additional quality controls in order to align with client-side process. Each Tetum translator is selected based on their experience and special areas of expertise.

Translation Confidentiality

All translators are bound by a commercial confidentiality and corporate nondisclosure agreement.
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