Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionOro Province
Native speakers
(1,400 Gaina and Bareji cited 1971)[1]
3,600 Korafe and Yegha (2003)
  • Korafe
  • Yegha[2]
  • Gaina
  • Bareji[3]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
kpr – Korafe-Yegha
gcn – Gaina-Bareji

Korafe is a Papuan language spoken in Oro Province, in the "tail" of Papua New Guinea. It is part of the Binanderean family of the Trans–New Guinea phylum of languages. Korafe or could also be called Kailikaili, Kaire, Korafe, Korafi, Korape, and Kwarafe is a language spoken in the Oro Province more specifically in the Tufi District, and Cape Nelson Headlands.

Korafe has been heavily influenced by Oceanic languages.[4]


For the people that lived of the Korafe language lived with three main principles:

  1. Self-sustaining economy
  2. Responsibilities and such go beyond one generation and can be passed down to one's children and so on and so forth
  3. Belief in magic powers as well as a [[spirit world]] that are involved in a good well being for the community

The Korafe people are a people that live in a mainly tribal manner as they wear very outlandish headgear as well as many other types of jewelry not commonly found anywhere else. The people were rich in culture and that can be seen within the complexity in the Korafe Language.



Bilabial Dental/Alveolar/Postveolar Palatal Velar
Plosive b t d k g
Nasal m n
Tap or Flap r
Lateral Fricative f v s j gh
Approximant y
front mid central back
Open a
Close i e o u



Uppercase letters A B D E F G Gh I J K M N O R S T U V Y
Lowercase letters a b d e f g gh I j k m n o r s t u v y
IPA /ɑ/ /b/ /d/ /e/ /ɸ/ /ɡ/ /ɣ/ /i/ /ʤ/ /k/ /m/ /n/ /o/ /ɾ/ /s/ /t/ /u/ /β/ /j/


The Korafe language has primarily SOV or Subject-Object-Verb word order. An example of the use of Subject-Object-Verb word order is shown below:



‘I am planting’


I you he,she,it you(plural)/they
Korafe na ni nu ne


who what which how
Korafe ave/mave re ningi ninge

Stems and Verbs

For stem verbs I the structure of that verb would be said root word followed by -e, -i, or -u.


sé íti gémbu

say.I cook.I write.I

Stem II verbs are normally somewhat close to Stem I verbs but with a few changes whether it be a vowel shift, reduplication etc. Normally, removes one of the vowels which are most likely -u, or -i


si itutu gefu

say.II cook.II write.II

Verbs follow serial verb construction, or basically using more than 1 verb next to each other in a clause.


si-r-ur-ono s gefu-sira

ay .II-EPEN-IPF-SIM.lR. l S.DS write.II-DP.3S.FN

'while I will be speaking' 'he wrote'

Non-Finite Verb Forms

Positive Deverbals

When creating a positive deverbal it is a root word followed by the suffix -ari.


s-ari it-ari gemb-ari

say.I-DvB cook.l-DVB write. I-DVB

'to speak/speaking' 'to cook/cooking' 'to write/writing'

Negative Deverbals

Negative versions of Positive Deverbals are the same structurally but just has a different suffix which for negatives is -ae


s-ae it-ae gemb-ae

say.l-not.do cook.l-not.do write.l-not.do

'not saying' 'not cooking' 'not writing'

Verb Formation

In Korafe only one heavy syllable is allowed (vv in the Rhyme)

Almost all imperfective verbs will use the -ere rules

-ere replacement rules

  1. When the verb is a stem II verb and also follows any of the following order V, CV, VCV, CVCV, VNCV, CVNCV, then the -ere will be put right before the stem word


ere-gefu ere-bundi ere-oji

IPF-write.TI IPF-bind.II IPF -butcher.I1

'be writing' 'be binding' 'be butchering'

2. Verb is stem two but have longer configurations such as VCVCV, CVCVCV, VNCVCV, CYNCVCV. In this case the -ere rule applies by having the root word followed by -ere.


teteru-ere-u t undudu-ere-u

eter-er-u undud-er-u

enter.II-IPF-do.lI.IMP nurture. 11-IPF -do.II'! MP

'be entering' be nurturing'

Nominal and Verb Combinations

Some phrases and expressions can be made with the use nominals and verbs together.

Examples using -e,-se,-ghe
Korafe N(N)+V: Literal rendering Free translation
isoro e war make 'wage war on enemies'
saramana e work do 'work'
dubo mema e neck pain do 'feel sad, grieve'
Baiboro se Bible say 'promise on the Bible'
kori se shout say 'shout'
tirotaroghe ripples do again ' slosh, ripple, lap'
(bain) bainghe nod do again 'nod off, bow head'

The Epenthetic Insertion Rules

The epenthetic rules are used in order to avoid changing the meaning of words that would be changed from suffixes.

Epenthetic r-insertion (imperfective)

For r-insertion it is normally used between the stem II verb and the -uru


gefu-uru --> gefu-r-uru

write. I1-IPF --> write.II-EPEN-IPF

'be writing while'

r-Insertion for one syllable (Ci or Cu stems)

For this case an r is inserted between the stem II verb and the suffix -arira (will)


barija di-arira --> barija di-r-arira, Not --> d-arira

rainfall rain-F.3S.FN --> rainfall rain-EPEN-F.3S.FN

'it will rain'


Noun Phrases

Structure of Noun Phrases
Pre-head Head Post-Head
possesor noun/nominal compound (qualifier) ( quantifier) ( determiner)


  1. ^ Korafe-Yegha at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Gaina-Bareji at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ not the same as the Yegha dialect of Ewage
  3. ^ not the same as the Bareji language
  4. ^ Bradshaw, Joel (2017). Evidence of contact between Binanderean and Oceanic languages. Oceanic Linguistics 56:395–414.
  5. ^ Farr, James; Farr, Cynthia (2008). "The Korafe-Yegha Dictionary" (PDF). ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)