Tetum or Tetun is the indigenous language of East Timor. It is in the Austronesian family. Both it and Portuguese are widely used. Article 13 of the constitution defines them as the two official languages.

The Tetum name for the country is Timor Lorosa'e (also written Timor Loro Sae), loro sa'e literally meaning rising sun. (The Portuguese name is Timor-Leste, and that's how it's known as a member of the United Nations.)

There are fifteen native languages in East Timor, eleven of them being Austronesian (akin to Malay or Indonesian), and four being Papuan languages of the Trans-New Guinean phylum.

The main language is Tetum, called by its speakers Lia-Tetun or 'language of the plains', a creole, of which the Dili dialect Tetum-Pra├ža or Tetun-Prasa is the common language of the country. It arose as a contact language before the arrival of the Portuguese in the 1550s, and was promoted by the Portuguese as a lingua franca when they moved the capital from Lifau in Oecussi to Dili in 1769. It was adopted by the Church as the liturgical language in 1980 after the banning of Portuguese by the occupying forces.

The numerals one to ten in Tetum are: ida, rua, tolu, haat, lima, neen, hitu, ualu, sia, sanulu.

Thanks to Gritchka for most of this. Source for official Tetum forms: government website for East Timor in English, Tetum, Portuguese, and Indonesian at www.gov.east-timor.org.

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