Monday, March 20, 2006


To my utter amazement, RTTL, which broadcasts the only television station in the country, is relaying the Commonwealth Games from my home city of Melbourne! Not so long ago this media company (or the government, we are not sure) banned all English language (and Indonesian) programming in favour of limited Tetum programming with the rest in Portuguese.
We are blessed with five and a half hours a day of the Games and yesterday I watched sports such as the women’s weightlifting (Wales gold, Canada silver and bronze). It was so good to watch women in a traditionally male sport. I thanked goddess that I am a privileged Western woman and amazed again at how many more opportunities in life I have compared with my Timorese sisters who remain shackled by strong patriarchal traditions. Daniel and I wondered what the Timorese who were watching thought about women lifting weights twice their body size.
This morning I watched the 20km women’s walk (Australia gold, silver and bronze – boring) and my small television screen was graced with the beautiful sights of harbour side Melbourne: tall modern buildings of glass and steel, palm trees sans the deadly coconuts, the iconic Yarra River. My eyes started to water as I longed for some of that clean air, water, paved roads and modernity.

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Português/Portuguese Français/French Deutsch/German Italiano/Italian Español/Spanish 日本語/Japanese 한국어/Korean 中文(简体)/Chinese Simplified


Bondia, di'ak ka lae?

Came across your blog through the Tetum website, which I am helping to develop. Will add a link to the excellent website.

I understand that TVTL doesn't broadcast in Indonesian any more, but I thought it rebroadcast BBC World and ABC Asia Pacific in English.

However, it's hard to tell without being in Timor as their website is STILL under construction, none of their e-mail addresses work, and they don't have a local fax number, only a US fax-to-email number. OK for people outside Timor, but people inside have to pay big bucks!

As regards your comments about the Portuguese equivalent of the Commonwealth (CPLP), the (ex-British) Commonwealth isn't much better.

Yeah, Mozambique is a member, but Portugal-bashing Aussies go there thinking that everyone speaks English and nobody speaks Portuguese any more, they're in for a shock. The only familiar thing will be traffic on the left!

If Timorese have Portuguese passports, it's because of Portuguese nationality laws, not because of the CPLP.

I read with interest your comments about language, which are a lot more intelligent and balanced than most what most Australians journalists have written.

The Timorese have NOTHING to learn from Australians or Indonesians about languages! As you have found from speaking to 'Skip' and Antonio, learning Portuguese doesn't preclude you from learning or using other languages.

Tetum is an official language along with Portuguese, but I fear that senior leaders are not committed to that. However, there is a great deal of Portuguese-derived words in Tetum, much of which are similar to English or English-derived Indonesian words becasue they share a Latin root.

Lucky Hungary or Finland wasn't the colonial power - their languages are completely unintelligible.

However, Indonesian is also an impediment to the development of Tetum, particularly as a written medium. Indonesia has many different regional languages, some of which spoken by millions, but they're just vernaculars.

I also agree with you that, sadly, many Portuguese in Timor are aloof, don't integrate, make little effort to learn Tetum (in spite of the number of Portuguese words) and are employed on expatriate salaries. Even other Portuguese people have said that.

I suspect that this also applies to many Brazilians, which is sad, given that they have a great tradition of volunteer teachers going out into rural areas and living on local salaries.

Raun di'ak ba ema hotu iha Timor Lorosa'e!

By Anonymous Ken Westmoreland, at 4:28 pm  

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