Edopi, Turu
Native toIndonesia
RegionWestern New Guinea
Native speakers
2,100 (2000–2012)[1]
  • Foi
  • Turu
  • Iau
  • Edopi
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
tmu – Iau
dbf – Edopi

Iau (Iaw, Yau) or Turu is a Lakes Plain language of West Papua, Indonesia, spoken by about 600 people. Most speakers are monolingual, and their number is growing. Other peoples in the western Lakes Plain area speak basic Iau. Iau is heavily tonal, with 11 tones on nouns and 19 simple and compound tones on verbs.

Names and dialects

Dialects are Foi (Poi), Turu, Edopi (Elopi), and Iau proper; these may be distinct enough to be considered separate languages. Foi is spoken on the large Tariku River (Rouffaer River), Turu on the Van Daalen River, Iau proper between the rivers, and Edopi at the juncture of the Tariku and Kliki (Fou) rivers.

Another name for the language is Urundi ~ Ururi. Dosobou (Dou, Doufou) is specifically Edopi.

In Puncak Jaya Regency, Iau dialects are spoken in Bakusi, Duita, Fawi, and Fi villages, located between the Rouffaer River and Van Daalen River in Fawi District.[2]


The following discussion is based on Bateman (1990a).


Consonant phonemes of Iau
Labial Coronal Velar
Voiceless plosive /t/ [t] /k/ [k]
Implosivenasal /b/ [ɓ] /d/ [ɗ]
Fricative /f/ [ɸ ~ h] /s/ [s]

There are six consonants. /t d/ are dental; /s/ is alveolar. /b d/ are implosive, and may be realized as nasals [m], [n] before the low nasal vowel /a/ ([ã]). /d/ may also be realized as the liquid [l] before /a/.

/f/ is pronounced [ɸ]~[h] word-initially, or optionally as [x] before the high nonback vowels /i ɨ/. The labial allophone [ɸ] is preferred in the Foi dialect; the glottal allophone [h] is preferred in Turu. /f/ is always pronounced [h] word-medially and as an unreleased plosive [] word-finally. /f/ is the only consonant that can occur word-finally, and occurs only in a limited number of words.


Front Central Back
Fricated // [ij]
Close /i/ /u/
Near-close /ɪ/ /ʊ/
Open-mid /e/ [ɛ ~ æ] /o/ [ɔ]
Open /a/ [ã]

The low vowel is always nasalized, except when it is a component of a diphthong. The open-mid front vowel varies between [ɛ] and [æ].

The following diphthongs exist:

ɛ ɪ ʊ i u
a ai au ai̝
ɛ ɛi
ɔ ɔɛ ɔi
ʊ ʊɪ
u ui

No diphthongs begin with /ɪ i i̝/ or end in /a ɔ/.

There are two triphthongs: /aui/ and /aʊɪ/. The back components of these triphthongs are realized as unrounded [ɯ] and [ɯ̽].


Syllables consist minimally of a vowel. They may include a single onset consonant and/or a single coda consonant. Diphthongs and triphthongs are attested. The template is (C)(V)V(V)(C). The tone-bearing unit is the syllable.


Stress in Iau is predictable: it falls on the final syllable of disyllabic words. (Words may not be longer than two syllables.) The interaction between stress and tone is not clear.


Iau is the most tonally complex Lakes Plain language. Unlike other Lakes Plain languages which can be disyllabic or trisyllabic, Iau word structure is predominantly monosyllabic. Iau has eight phonemic tones, transcribed by Bateman using numerical tone numbers (with 1 high and 5 low, as in much of Africa and America but the opposite of the convention used with Asian languages): two level tones (low and high), two rising tones (low rising and high rising), three falling tones (high-low, high-mid, and mid-low), and one falling-rising tone. Phonetically, these are:[3]

A sequence of two tones (called a tone cluster) may occur on one syllable. There are eleven tone clusters that can occur on verbs to mark aspect; only three of these can occur on nouns.

Some minimal sets in Iau illustrating phonemic tonal contrasts:[3]

Examples of monosyllabic words with the three 'compound' tones are /da˧˦˧/ 'mountain', /oi˦˥˧/ 'hand' and /sae˨˧˦˧/ 'knife'.

There is downdrift after low (3) and falling tones, and also of (24) following (243). A high-rising (21) tone rises slightly after another.

Tone is lexical on nouns, pronouns, numerals, prepositions and other parts of speech, but verbs are unmarked for tone. In verbs, each tone represents a different aspect or aktionsart. The complex system of aspectual marking via tone is discussed in Bateman (1986).


Iau also displays complex tonal verb morphology. Verbal roots do not have any inherent tone, but tone is used to mark aspect on verbs. Example paradigms:[3]

Tone Aspect ba 'come' tai 'moving s.t. toward' da 'locate s.t. inside'
tone 2 totality of action, punctual ba˦ 'came' tai˦ 'pulled' da˦ 'ate, put it in (stomach)'
tone 3 resultative durative ba˧ 'has come' tai˧ 'has been pulled off' da˧ 'has been loaded onto s.t.'
tone 21 totality of action, incomplete ba˦˥ 'might come' tai˦˥ 'might pull'
tone 43 resultative punctual ba˨˧ 'came to get' tai˨˧ 'land on s.t.' da˨˧ 'dip into water, wash s.t.'
tone 24 telic punctual ba˦˨ 'came to end' tai˦˨ 'fell to ground' da˦˨ 'eaten it all up'
tone 23 telic, incomplete ba˦˧ 'still coming' tai˦˧ 'still falling' da˦˧ 'still eating it up'
tone 34 totality of action, durative ba˧˨ 'be coming' tai˧˨ 'be pulling'
tone 243 telic durative ba˦˨˧ 'sticking to' tai˦˨˧ 'be falling'
tai˦˥–˧˨ 'pull on s.t., shake hands'
tai˦˥–˧ 'have pulled s.t., shook hands'


Tonal alternations can also serve as final mood and speech act particles.[3]

Example sentences:[4]
















a˦˧ ty˦˥ bi˦˥e˦ a˦˥se˦ u˨˧ di˦ be˦?

father people PN SEQ before kill.TOTAL.PUNCT Q.FACT

'So the people from Bie killed father first?'








fv˦˥ ba˦˥ ba˧˨?


'Is the plane coming?'










da˦ a˦˨˧ tv˦ be˦˧?

2.PL land travel.TOTAL.PUNCT Q.GUESS

'(I'm guessing) did you (pl) go by land?'


  1. ^ Iau at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Edopi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Eberhard, David M.; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2019). "Indonesia languages". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (22nd ed.). Dallas: SIL International.
  3. ^ a b c d 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.
  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.