Tobelo is a member of the North Halmahera group of West Papuan languages. It is spoken by about 30,000 people mainly in the north of the island of Halmahera in North Maluku Province in eastern Indonesia. In particular, Tobelo is spoken in the Tobelo and South Tobelo districts on the west shore of Kao Bay in the Halmahera Utara Regency, in Wasile district in the Halmahera Timur Regency on the south and east shores of Kao Bay, and in the north of Morotai Island.

Tobelo is spoken by people of all ages in rural areas. However, there is a shift to Indonesian among Tobelo people in urban areas.

Dialects of Tobelo include Heleworuru, Boeng, Dodinga, Lake Paca, Kukumutuk and Popon. The last three are collectively known as Tugutil or Forest Tobelo. The Heleworuru dialect is most comonly used in literature. Tobelo is closely related to Galela, Loloda, Modole, Pagu, and Tabaru.

Tobelo was first written by missionaries in the early 20th century, who devised ways to write it with the Latin alphabet. Written material in Tobelo is mainly religious, including a translation of the Bible.

Tobelo alphabet

Tobelo alphabet and pronunciation

Download an alphabet chart for Tobelo (Excel)


It is not clear how the vowels with umlauts (ä) are pronounced.

Sample text (The Lord's Prayer - Luke 11: 2-4)

  1. De o Yesus wätemo onangika, ”Nako ngini nimäniata, ni temo hoko nënanga, ’Ama, Ngona ma Jou Madutu noma Tëngo-tëngoka. Tanu Ngona inihuba deʼ inihoromati.
  2. Nomihidöaka o wange higetongo o inomo ngomi mipoparalu.
  3. Nohi apongo mia baradoha, hababu ngomiö mia hiapongo o nyawa yahowo-howonoka ngomino.



  1. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
  2. Give us day by day our daily bread.
  3. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.


Sample videos

Information about Tobelo | Tower of Babel


Information about Tobeloęzyk_tobelo

West Papuan languages

Galela, Meyah, Tobelo

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page created: 10.10.23. Last modified: 15.07.24


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