Madang and Morobe Provinces, Papua New Guinea
Linguistic classificationAustronesian

The Markham languages form a family of the Huon Gulf languages. It consists of a dozen languages spoken in the Ramu Valley, Markham Valley and associated valley systems in the lowlands of the Madang and Morobe Provinces of Papua New Guinea.[1][2] Unlike almost other Western Oceanic languages of New Guinea, which are spoken exclusively in coastal areas, many Markham languages are spoken in the mountainous interior of Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, where they are in heavy contact with Trans-New Guinea languages.[3]

Although the Markham languages are Austronesian, they have had much contact with neighboring Papuan languages.

A phonological reconstruction of Proto-Markham is presented in Holzknecht (1989) and is summarized below.[1]


Labu (= Hapa)

Lower Markham
Aribwaung (= Aribwaungg, Yalu), Aribwatsa (= Lae, Lahe), Musom, Nafi (= Sirak), Duwet (= Guwot, Waing), Wampar, Silisili (Middle Watut), Maralango (South Watut), Dangal (South Watut)
Upper Markham
Adzera (dialect cluster: Sarasira, Sukurum), Mari, Wampur


Reconstruction ofMarkham languages

Proto-Markham was reconstructed by Susanne Holzknecht in 1989 in her paper The Markham Languages of Papua New Guinea. It descends from Proto-Huon Gulf on the basis of shared phonological, morphosyntactic and lexicosemantic innovations, such as the merger of Proto-Huon Gulf *t, *r, and *R as Proto-Markham *r, the accretion of *ka- into focal pronoun bases (Proto-Oceanic *kamu "you" > Proto-Markham *ka-gam "id."), and the replacement of Proto-Oceanic *qacan "name" by Proto-Markham *biŋa "id.", among many others.


The vowels of Proto-Markham, according to Holzknecht, are:

Front Central Back
Close *i *u
Close-mid *e *o
Open *a


The consonants of Proto-Markham, according to Holzknecht, are:

Labiovelar Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Stop voiced *b *d *ɟ *g
voiceless *kʷ *p *t *c *k
Nasal *mʷ *m, *ᵐb *n, *ⁿd *ᶮɟ *ŋ, *ᵑɡ
Fricative *f *s
Approximant *w *l, *r


  1. ^ a b Holzknecht, Susanne (1989). The Markham Languages of Papua New Guinea. Pacific Linguistics. ISBN 0-85883-394-8.
  2. ^ Lynch, John; Malcolm Ross; Terry Crowley (2002). The Oceanic languages. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon. ISBN 978-0-7007-1128-4. OCLC 48929366.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2019). "Glottolog". 3.4. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.