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Mek
Goliath
EthnicityMek people
Geographic
distribution
New Guinea
Linguistic classificationTrans–New Guinea
Glottologmekk1240
Mek languages.svg
Map: The Mek languages of New Guinea
  The Mek languages
  Other Trans–New Guinea languages
  Other Papuan languages
  Austronesian languages
  Uninhabited

The Mek languages are a well established family of Papuan languages spoken by the Mek peoples. They form a branch of the Trans–New Guinea languages (TNG) in the classifications of Stephen Wurm (1975) and of Malcolm Ross (2005).

Mek, then called Goliath, was identified by M. Bromley in 1967. It was placed in TNG by Wurm (1975).

Languages

The Mek languages form three dialect chains (Heeschen 1998):

Proto-language

Phonemes

Usher (2020) reconstructs the consonant and vowel inventories as 'perhaps' as follows:[2]

*m *n
*p *t *k *kʷ
*(m)b *(n)d *(ŋ)g *(ŋ)gʷ
*s
*w *l *j
i u
e o
ɛ ɔ
a ɒ
ei ou
ɛi ɔu
ai au

Pronouns

Pronouns are:[2]

sg pl
1 *na *nu[n]
2 *kan *kun (?)
3 *ɛl *tun, *[t/s]ig

The difference between the two 3pl forms is not known. 2pl and 3pl have parallels in Momuna /kun tun/.

Basic vocabulary

Some lexical reconstructions by Usher (2020) are:[2]

gloss Proto-Mek Proto-East Mek Kimyal Proto-Northwest Mek Proto-Momuna-Mek Momuna
hair/feather *p[ɔ]t[ɔ]ŋ *pɔtɔŋ osoŋ *hɔŋ
ear/twelve *aᵓ ɔ *aᵓ
eye *atiŋ *asiŋ isiŋ *haⁱŋ *ɒtig ɒtù
tooth/sharp *jo̝ *jo̝
tongue *se̝l[ija]mu *[se̝]l[ija]mu selamu *se̝l[i]mu
foot/leg *jan *jan jan *jan *j[a/ɒ]n
blood *e̝ne̝ŋ *ɪnɪŋ eneŋ *e̝ne̝ŋ *jo̝ne̝g
bone *jɔk *jɔk jw-aʔ *jɔʔ[ɔ]
breast *mɔᵘm *mɔᵘm moᵘm *mɔᵘm *mɔᵘm mɒ̃ᵘ
louse *ami *ami imi *ami *ami ami
dog *gam *[k/g]am gam *gam *gɒm kɒ̀
pig *be̝sam *bɪsam *bham wɒ́
bird *mak, *mag *mak -ma (?) *-ma (?) *mak
egg/fruit/seed *do̝[k] *dʊk do *do̝[k] dɒko ~ dɒku
tree/wood *gal gal *gal *gɒl kɒ̀
woman/wife *ge̝l *[k/g]ɪl gel *ge̝l
sun *k[ɛ]t[e̝]ŋ *k[ɛ]t[ɪ]ŋ isiŋ *he̝ŋ
moon *wal *wal wal *wal
water/river *m[ɛ/a]g *mɛk mag *m[ɛ/a]g
fire *o̝ᵘg *ʊᵘk ug *[u]g
stone *gɛⁱl; *gidig *[k/g]ɛⁱl girig *gidig
path/way *bi[t/s]ig *bi[t/s]ik bisig *bhig
name *si *si si *si *si si
eat/drink *de̝-(b) *dɪ-(b) de- *de̝-(b) de-
one *[na]tɔn *tɔn nason *nhɔn
two/ring finger *b[e̝/ɛ]te̝ne̝ *b[ɪ/ɛ]tɪnɪ besene *bhe̝ne̝

Vocabulary comparison

The following basic vocabulary words are from McElhanon & Voorhoeve (1970),[3] Voorhoeve (1975),[4] and Heeschen (1978),[5] as cited in the Trans-New Guinea database:[6]

gloss Eipomek Korapun-Sela Nalca Una Yale, Korsarek Ketengban
head kiisok asak huk heiyɔ´; khe yok giso
hair fotong asuŋ hoŋ otoŋ hong; hɔŋ potong
ear amol amalé amol
eye asing isiŋ hiŋ atsiŋ heiŋ; hɩng asorue
nose uu uryam u
tooth sii si si tsi si tsi
tongue sii tang selemú lyemngwe
leg yan saŋ yan yan yan
louse amnye wutnavu amnya ami; ami´ amnye
dog kam kʰam; kham kam kam kam
pig basam pham pham uduk pam; pham besam
bird make winaŋ winiŋ mai winang; winaŋ ma
egg duk waŋga doug winaŋ wana; winang wangká do
blood ining iniŋ iniŋ eneŋ; ining yabye
bone yoke iaŋ birin yog yok; you yo
skin boxa phok kon
breast taram saram taram
tree yo kal; khal kal; khal kal co
man nimi nim nimi
woman kilape kəlabo nerape
sky iim im im
sun ketinge isiŋ hiŋ hein; hɛng getane
moon wale wal ware
water mek mak mek meye mak me
fire uukwe uk uk uke ouk̂; ow ukwe
stone kedinge khirik kirik waliŋ kirik gil
road, path biisiik bi bisi
name sii utnimi si si si
eat dibmal dilom kwaːniŋ el dilamla; tiu loŋa jibmar
one ton thoxunok nhon otunohon; se'lek tegen
two bisini phein pɛndɛ; phende bitini

Evolution

Mek reflexes of proto-Trans-New Guinea (pTNG) etyma are:[7]

Eipo language:

Bime language:

Kosarek language:

Yale language:

Further reading

References

  1. ^ Momuna–Mek, New Guinea World
  2. ^ a b c New Guinea World
  3. ^ McElhanon, K.A. and Voorhoeve, C.L. The Trans-New Guinea Phylum: Explorations in deep-level genetic relationships. B-16, vi + 112 pages. Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University, 1970. doi:10.15144/PL-B16
  4. ^ Voorhoeve, C.L. Languages of Irian Jaya: Checklist. Preliminary classification, language maps, wordlists. B-31, iv + 133 pages. Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University, 1975. doi:10.15144/PL-B31
  5. ^ Heeschen, V. 1978. The Mek languages of Irian Jaya with special reference to the Eipo language. Irian 2: 3-67.
  6. ^ Greenhill, Simon (2016). "TransNewGuinea.org - database of the languages of New Guinea". Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  7. ^ 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.