Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionUmboi Island, Morobe Province
Native speakers
6,000 (2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3kqb

Kovai (Kobai, Kowai) is a Papuan language spoken on Umboi Island, halfway between mainland Papua New Guinea and the island of New Britain, and mostly within the caldera of that volcanic island.



Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b ɡ
Nasal m n ŋ
Fricative voiceless s
voiced z
Trill r
Approximant w l j


  1. ^ Kovai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Bugenhagen, Robert D. (1994). Language change on Umboi island. Tom Dutton and Darrell T. Tryon (eds.), Language contact and change in the Austronesian world: Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. p. 46.
  3. ^ Brown, Alan (1992). Kovai (Umboi) organized phonology data. SIL.