nuxule meŋ 'our language'
Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionOksapmin Rural LLG, Telefomin District, Sandaun
Native speakers
12,000 (2005)[1]
  • Upper Oksapmin
  • Lower Oksapmin
Language codes
ISO 639-3opm
Map: The Oksapmin language of New Guinea
  The Oksapmin language
  Other Trans–New Guinea languages
  Other Papuan languages
  Austronesian languages
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Oksapmin is a Trans–New Guinea language spoken in Oksapmin Rural LLG, Telefomin District, Sandaun, Papua New Guinea. The two principal dialects are distinct enough to cause some problems with mutual intelligibility.

Oksapmin has dyadic kinship terms[2] and a body-part counting system that goes up to 27.[3] Notable ethnographic research by Geoffrey B. Saxe at UC Berkeley has documented the encounter between pre-contact uses of number and its cultural evolution under conditions of monetization and exposure to schooling and the formal economy among the Oksapmin.[4]


Oksapmin has been influenced by the Mountain Ok languages (the name "Oksapmin" is from Telefol), and the similarities with those languages were attributed to borrowing in the classifications of both Stephen Wurm (1975) and Malcolm Ross (2005), where Oksapmin was placed as an independent branch of Trans–New Guinea. Loughnane (2009)[5] and Loughnane and Fedden (2011)[6] conclude that it is related to the Ok languages, though those languages share innovative features not found in Oksapmin. Usher finds Oksapmin is not related to the Ok languages specifically, though it is related at some level to the southwestern branches of Trans–New Guinea.



There are six monophthongs, /i e ə a o u/, and one diphthong, /ai/.


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
unrounded rounded
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop voiceless t k
prenasal ᵐb ⁿd ᵑɡ ᵑɡʷ
Fricative ɸ s x
Lateral l
Semivowel j w
Phoneme Allophone
/t/ [t], []
/k/ [k], []
/ᵐb/ [ᵐb], [m]
/ⁿd/ [ⁿd], [n]
/ᵑɡ/ [ᵑɡ], [ŋ]
/ɸ/ [ɸ], [β], [p], [~]
/s/ [s], [z]
/x/ [x], [ɣ], [ç], [ʝ]


Oksapmin contrasts two tones: high and low.


  1. ^ Oksapmin at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ The Oksapmin Kinship System Archived 2009-09-20 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved May 21, 2009.
  3. ^ Saxe, Geoffrey B.; Moylan, Thomas (1982). "The development of measurement operations among the Oksapmin of Papua New Guinea". Child Development. 53 (5): 1242–1248. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1982.tb04161.x. JSTOR 1129012..
  4. ^ Saxe, Geoffrey (2012). Cultural development of mathematical ideas: Papua New Guinea studies. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521761666.
  5. ^ Loughnane (2009)
  6. ^ Loughnane, Robyn; Fedden, Sebastian (2011). "Is Oksapmin Ok?—A Study of the Genetic Relationship between Oksapmin and the Ok Languages" (PDF). Australian Journal of Linguistics. 31 (1): 1–42. doi:10.1080/07268602.2011.533635. S2CID 58263200.