RegionPapua: Mamberamo Raya Regency, Mamberamo Tengah subdistrict, Burmeso village on the banks of the Middle Mamberamo River
Native speakers
(250 cited 1998)[1]
West Papuan or language isolate
  • (extended) East Bird's Head
    • Burmeso
Language codes
ISO 639-3bzu

The Burmeso language – also known as Taurap – is spoken by some 300 people in Burmeso village along the mid Mamberamo River in Mamberamo Tengah subdistrict, Mamberamo Raya Regency, Papua province, Indonesia. It is surrounded by the Kwerba languages to the north, the Lakes Plain languages to the south, and the East Cenderawasih Bay languages to the west.

Burmeso forms a branch of Malcolm Ross's family of East Bird's Head – Sentani languages, but had been considered a language isolate by Stephen Wurm and William A. Foley.[2] The language has very distinct grammatical structure.[3] It has SOV word order.[2]


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless t k
voiced b d ʤ ɡ
Fricative plain ɸ s h
Liquid r
Semivowel w j

Probable sound changes proposed by Foley (2018):

Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


Burmeso independent pronouns are:[2]

sg du pl
1 da day boro
2 ba bito


Burmeso has six noun classes, which are:[2]

class semantic category
1 male humans and associated things (contains half of all nouns)
2 female humans and associated things
3 body parts, insects, and lizards; material culture like axes and canoes, some foods; many natural phenomena
4 mass nouns
5 the two staple foods: sago tree and banana
6 arrows, coconuts, and rice (traded items)

Burmeso nouns have three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.[4] Singular concordial suffixes are:

Examples of nominal concordial suffixes in usage:






koya bek-ab

grandfather good-M.SG

‘Grandfather is good.’






asia ek-an

grandmother good-F.SG

‘Grandmother is good.’

Basic vocabulary

Basic vocabulary of Burmeso (singular and plural nominal forms) listed in Foley (2018):[2]

Burmeso basic vocabulary
gloss singular plural
‘bird’ tahabo tohwodo
‘blood’ sar sarido
‘bone’ hiwraf himaruro
‘breast’ mom momut
‘ear’ ara
‘eat’ bomo
‘egg’ kahup kohuro
‘eye’ anar anuro
‘fire’ hor horemir
‘give’ i ~ o
‘hair’ ihna ihiro
‘leg’ ago agoro
‘louse’ hati
‘man’ tamo dit
‘name’ ahau
‘one’ neisano
‘see’ ihi
‘stone’ ako hiruro
‘sun’ misiabo misiado
‘tooth’ arawar araruro
‘tree’ haman hememido
‘water’ baw bagaruro
‘woman’ nawak nudo

Many Burmeso nouns display irregular and suppletive plural forms.[2]

gloss singular plural
‘man’ tamo dit
‘banana’ mibo mirar
‘dog’ jamo juwdo
‘pig’ sibo sirudo
white cockatoo ayab ayot
‘house’ konor konodo
‘mat’ wira wirasamir

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

gloss Burmeso
head agum
hair ihiro
eye jenar
tooth araruro
leg jago
louse hati
dog jamo
pig sibo
bird tohodo
egg kohũp
blood sar
bone hiurap
skin asi memiro
tree haman
man tamo
sun misiavo
water bau
fire hor
stone ako
name ahau
eat bomo
one neisano
two sor


  1. ^ Burmeso at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h 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. ^ Haspelmath, Martin. "Grammatical, Gender and Linguistic Complexity Volume I: General issues and Specific studies". langsci-press.org. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  4. ^ Foley, William A. (2018). "The morphosyntactic typology of Papuan languages". 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. 895–938. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ Greenhill, Simon (2016). "TransNewGuinea.org - database of the languages of New Guinea". Retrieved 2020-11-05.

Further reading