Madang–Adelbert Range
Papua New Guinea
Linguistic classificationNortheast New Guinea and/or Trans–New Guinea
Map: The Madang languages of New Guinea
  The Madang languages
  Trans–New Guinea languages
  Other Papuan languages
  Austronesian languages

The Madang or Madang–Adelbert Range languages are a language family of Papua New Guinea. They were classified as a branch of Trans–New Guinea by Stephen Wurm, followed by Malcolm Ross. William A. Foley concurs that it is "highly likely" that the Madang languages are part of TNG, although the pronouns, the usual basis for classification in TNG, have been "replaced" in Madang. Timothy Usher finds that Madang is closest to the Upper Yuat River languages and other families to its west, but does not for now address whether this larger group forms part of the TNG family.[1]

The family is named after Madang Province and the Adelbert Range.


Sidney Herbert Ray identified the Rai Coast family in 1919. In 1951 these were linked with the Mabuso languages by Arthur Capell to create his Madang family. John Z'graggen (1971, 1975) expanded Madang to languages of the Adelbert Range and renamed the family Madang–Adelbert Range, and Stephen Wurm (1975)[2] adopted this as a branch of his Trans–New Guinea phylum. For the most part, Malcolm Ross's (2005) Madang family includes the same languages as Z'graggen Madang–Adelbert Range, but the internal classification is different in several respects, such as the dissolution of the Brahman branch.

Internal classification

The languages are as follows:[1][3]

The time depth of Madang is comparable to that of Austronesian or Indo-European.


Ross (2000) reconstructed the pronouns as follows:

sg pl
1 *ya *i[4]
2 *na *ni, *ta
3 *nu

These are not the common TNG pronouns. However, Ross postulates that the TNG dual suffixes *-le and *-t remain, and suggests that the TNG pronouns live on as Kalam verbal suffixes.


See also: Kalam language § Evolution, and Apali language § Evolution

Madang family reflexes of proto-Trans-New Guinea (pTNG) etyma:[5]

Family-wide innovations


Garuh language:

Pay language:

Proto-Northern Adelbert:[6]


Kalam language (most closely related to the Rai Coast languages):

Rai Coast

Dumpu language:

Southern Adelbert

Sirva language:


The following selected reconstructions of Proto-Madang by Ross (2014)[7] are from the Trans-New Guinea database.[8] Proto-Trans–New Guinea reconstructions are from Andrew Pawley and Harald Hammarström (2018).[5]: 141–146 

gloss Proto-Madang Proto-Trans–New Guinea
head *gat(a,i)(m) *kV(mb,p)utu; mVtVna
hair *imunu *(nd,s)umu(n,t)[V]; *iti
ear *kaun(i) *kand(i,e)k[V]
eye *amu *ŋg(a,u)mu; *(ŋg,k)iti-maŋgV; *nVpV
nose *mutu(gu) *mundu
tooth *make *titi
tongue *mele *me(l,n)e; *mbilaŋ
leg *kani(n) *k(a,o)nd(a,o)[C]; *kitu
louse *[n]iman *(n)iman
bird *kVbara *yaka[i]; *n[e]i
egg *munaka *mun(a,e,i)ka; *maŋgV
blood *ka(d,r)a; *kara *ke(nj,s)a
bone *kwaten *kondaC
skin *ga(n,r)a *(ŋg,k)a(nd,t)apu
breast *amu(na) *amu
tree *tari *inda
woman *na-gali(k) *panV
sky *ku(m,b)ut *kumut, *tumuk; *samb[V]
sun *kamali *kamali; *ketane
moon *kalam; *takun *kal(a,i)m; *takVn[V]
water *yag(V) *(n)ok[V]
fire *k(a,e)dap *k(a,o)nd(a,u)p; *inda; *kambu
stone *namanu *[na]muna; *kamb(a,u)na
name *ibi; *wañim *imbi; *wani
eat *(n,ñ)a *na-
one *kati(ŋ,g)a
two *arigita *ta(l,t)(a,e)


  1. ^ a b c Madang
  2. ^ Ethnologue (15th edition)
  3. ^ Pick, Andrew (2019). "Yamben: A previously undocumented language of Madang" (PDF). 5th Workshop on the Languages of Papua. Universitas Negeri Papua, Manokwari, West Papua, Indonesia.
  4. ^ actually i ~ si
  5. ^ a b Pawley, Andrew; Hammarström, Harald (2018). "The Trans New Guinea family". 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. 21–196. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  6. ^ Pick, Andrew (2020). A reconstruction of Proto-Northern Adelbert phonology and lexicon (PDF) (PhD dissertation). University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
  7. ^ Ross, Malcolm. 2014. Proto-Madang.
  8. ^ Greenhill, Simon (2016). " - database of the languages of New Guinea". Retrieved 2020-11-05.


CLDF Dataset