Native toIndonesia and Papua New Guinea
RegionJetfa District in Pegunungan Bintang Regency
EthnicityYetfa, Biksi
Native speakers
(1,000 cited 1996)[1]
  • Yetfa
  • Biksi
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3yet

Yetfa and Biksi (Biaksi; Inisine[2]) are dialects of a language spoken in Jetfa District, Pegunungan Bintang Regency, Highland Papua, Indonesia, and across the border in Papua New Guinea. It is a trade language spoken in Western New Guinea up to the PNG border.

According to Hammarström (2008), it is being passed on to children and is not in immediate danger.

External relationships

Yetfa is not close to other languages. Ross (2005), following Laycock & Z’Graggen (1975), places Biksi in its own branch of the Sepik family, but there is little data to base a classification on. The similarities noted by Laycock are sporadic and may simply be loans; Ross based his classification on pronouns, but they are dissimilar enough for the connection to be uncertain. Usher found it to be a Southern Pauwasi language. Foley (2018) classifies it as a language isolate.[2]

Foley (2018b: 295-296) notes that first person pronoun and third-person singular masculine pronoun in Yetfa match pronouns found in Sepik languages, with some resemblances such as nim ‘louse’ with proto-Sepik *nim ‘louse’, and wal ‘ear’ with proto-Sepik *wan. However, Foley (2018b) considers the evidence linking Yetfa to the Sepik family to be insufficient, thus classifying Yetfa as a language isolate until further evidence can be found.[3]


Pronouns from Ross (2005):

I nyo we nana
thou pwo you so
s/he do they dwa

Pronouns from Kim (2005), as quoted in Foley (2018):[2]

Yetfa independent pronouns
sg pl
1 na no
2 po so-na-m
3 do do-na-ma

Basic vocabulary

Basic vocabulary of Yetfa from Kim (2006), quoted in Foley (2018):[4][2]

Yetfa basic vocabulary
gloss Yetfa
‘bird’ dau
‘blood’ dueal
‘bone’ fan
‘breast’ nom
‘ear’ wal
‘eat’ ɲa
‘egg’ nela
‘eye’ i
‘fire’ yao
‘give’ ni-
‘go’ la-
‘ground’ permai
‘hair’ framai
‘hear’ wi-
‘I’ na(wo)
‘leg’ yop
‘louse’ nim
‘man’ nam
‘moon’ dirmanel
‘name’ met
‘one’ kəsa
‘road, path’ mla
‘see’ am-
‘sky’ aklai
‘stone’ tekop
‘sun’ imenel
‘tongue’ mor
‘tooth’ doa
‘tree’ yo
‘two’ daisil
‘water’ ket
‘we’ no(wo)
‘woman’ romo
‘you (sg)’ po(wo)
‘you (pl)’ sonam

The following basic vocabulary words are from Conrad & Dye (1975)[5] and Voorhoeve (1975),[6] as cited in the Trans-New Guinea database:[7]

gloss Yetfa
head fran; ᵽr᷈an
hair fra may; ᵽʌřamai
eye i; ʔiʔ
nose ndor
tooth ɔřa; rwa
tongue moR᷈
louse ni:m; yim
dog say
pig mbaR᷈; mualə
bird rawi
egg řonǏa
blood ndwal
bone fan
skin tol; toR᷈
tree yau; yo; yɔ
man nam
woman namiyaA
sun məlel
water kel; kɛr᷈
fire yaʋ; yau
stone təkoup; tɩkɔᵽ
road, path miaA
eat ŋa; ntɛřᵽI
one kəsa; kɛsa
two ndyesel; tesyɛnsaR᷈


There is very little sentence data for Yetfa. Some of the few documented Yetfa sentences are:[2]








do mete ti-yo

3SG yesterday come-TNS

‘She came yesterday’










do muni ɲ(a)-awa-te ni-yo

3SG money 1SG-father-DAT? give-TNS

‘She gave money to my father.’

The Yetfa tense suffix -(y)o is also present in Tofanma.[2]


  1. ^ Biksi-Yetfa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Foley, William A. (2018). "The languages of Northwest New Guinea". In Palmer, Bill (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area: A Comprehensive Guide. The World of Linguistics. Vol. 4. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 433–568. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  3. ^ Foley, William A. (2018). "The Languages of the Sepik-Ramu Basin and Environs". In Palmer, Bill (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area: A Comprehensive Guide. The World of Linguistics. Vol. 4. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 197–432. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  4. ^ Kim, So Hyun. 2006. Survey Report on the Yetfa Language of Papua, Indonesia. Unpublished report. Jayapura: SIL Indonesia.
  5. ^ Conrad, R. and Dye, W. "Some Language Relationships in the Upper Sepik Region of Papua New Guinea". In Conrad, R., Dye, W., Thomson, N. and Bruce Jr., L. editors, Papers in New Guinea Linguistics No. 18. A-40:1-36. Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University, 1975. doi:10.15144/PL-A40.1
  6. ^ Voorhoeve, C.L. Languages of Irian Jaya: Checklist. Preliminary classification, language maps, wordlists. B-31, iv + 133 pages. Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University, 1975. doi:10.15144/PL-B31
  7. ^ Greenhill, Simon (2016). " - database of the languages of New Guinea". Retrieved 2020-11-05.