Alorese is spoken in coastal areas of the Alor archipelago in eastern Indonesia, located in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. It is the only Austronesian local language spoken in the Alor archipelago, which is otherwise mostly home to Alor-Pantar (Papuan) languages. The speakers of Alorese are predominantly Muslims, among a majority of Christian inhabitants of the Alor Regency.
This dissertation reconstructs the history of Alorese by combining perspectives from oral history and historical linguistics. The social history of the Alorese people is reconstructed through migration stories based on narrative accounts from fourteen Alorese villages. The historical linguistic study of Alorese begins with a grammatical description of the Alorese dialect spoken in northeast Pantar. This is followed by a study of Alorese historical phonology, in which varieties of Alorese are compared with varieties of its sister language, Western Lamaholot. This dissertation also examines lexical borrowing from the Alor-Pantar (Papuan) languages into Alorese and vice versa.
Based on a combined investigation of lingusitic and oral history, this dissertation proposes that the homeland of the Alorese people may have been in northeast Pantar. The study of Alorese historical phonology results in the bottom-up reconstruction of the sounds of Proto-Alorese and its vocabulary, and the establishment of Alorese as a subgroup of the Flores-Lembata languages, the next higher group within Malayo-Polynesian. In addition, the investigation of loanwords also provides insight into the history of contact between the Alorese and the speakers of the Alor-Pantar (Papuan) languages in the Alor archipelago.