RegionNew Guinea
Native speakers
100 (2018)[1]
  • Ngkâlmpw (Ngkontar)
  • Bädi
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
kcd – Ngkâlmpw Kanum
khd – Bädi Kanum

Ngkolmpu Kanum, or Ngkontar, is part of a dialect chain in the Yam family spoken by the Kanum people of New Guinea. The Ngkâlmpw (Ngkontar) and moribund Bädi varieties have limited mutual intelligibility may be considered distinct languages.[1]


Languages spoken by the Kanum have variously been referred to as Ngkâlmpw Kanum, Enkelembu, Kenume, and Knwne.[2][3] Carroll describes three varieties forming a dialect chain. Ngkolmpu is divided into Ngkontar and the moribund variety Baedi (Bädi).



Ngkolmpu Kanum has 15 consonant phonemes (plus two marginal phonemes) at three points of articulation: bilabial, coronal, and velar. Prenasalized voiceless stops and fricatives contrast with voiceless and nasal realizations, which is typologically unusual. The orthography is enclosed in angle brackets.

Bilabial Coronal Velar
Nasal m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩
Plosive voiceless p ⟨p⟩ t ⟨t⟩ k ⟨k⟩
prenasal ᵐp ⟨mp⟩ ⁿt ⟨nt⟩ ᵑk ⟨ngk⟩
voiced b ⟨b⟩ (ɡ) ⟨g⟩
Fricative plain s ⟨s⟩
prenasal ⁿs ⟨ns⟩,⟨nc⟩
Trill r ⟨r⟩
Liquid l ⟨l⟩
Glide w ⟨w⟩ j ⟨y⟩


The Ngkolmpu (Ngkâlmpw) Kanum variety is notable for its complex verbal inflection and tendency to distribute grammatical features throughout an utterance, referred to as distributed exponence.[3]


  1. ^ a b Evans, Nicholas (2018). "The languages of Southern New Guinea". 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. 641–774. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ngkolmpu Kanum language". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b Carroll, Matthew J. (2016). The Ngkolmpu Language with special reference to distributed exponence (PhD thesis). The Australian National University. doi:10.25911/5D74E0CFD5B85.