Native toPapua New Guinea
Regionnear the mouth of the Purari River in Gulf Province[1]
Native speakers
7,000 (2011)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3iar

Purari (Namau) is a Papuan language of Papua New Guinea.


Purari is also known as Koriki, Evorra, I'ai, Maipua, and Namau. "Namau" is a colonial term which means "deaf (lit.), inattentive, or stupid (Williams 1924: 4)." Today people of the Purari Delta find this term very offensive. F.E. Williams reports that the "[a]n interpreter suggests that by some misunderstanding the name had its origin in the despair of an early missionary, who, finding the natives turned a deaf ear to his teaching, dubbed them all 'Namau'." (Williams 1924: 4). Koriki, I'ai, and Maipua refer to self-defining groups that make up the six groups that today compose the people who speak Purari. Along with the Baroi (formerly known as the Evorra, which was the name of a village site), Kaimari and the Vaimuru, these groups speak mutually intelligible dialects of Purari.

The name Baimuru (after Baimuru Rural LLG) is given in Petterson (2019).[4]


Some literature exists in Purari, mainly Scripture portions produced by missionaries and Bible agencies. The first items in the language were a primer and hymnal published for the London Missionary Society in 1902. Later a New Testament, called 'Ene amua Iesu Keriso onu kuruei voa Nawawrea Eire', was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1920, which was republished in 1947.


Noting that the few similarities with the Eleman languages may be because of loanwords, Pawley and Hammarström (2018) leave it as unclassified rather than as part of Trans-New Guinea.[1]


Pronouns are 1sg nai, 2sg ni, 1pl enei. The first may resemble Trans–New Guinea *na, but Purari appears to be related to the Binanderean–Goilalan languages.[3]


Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Plosive p (t) k ʔ
Nasal m n
Fricative v
Approximant l, r

The phoneme /t/ is said to appear in a few rare words, but never in casual speech.[5]

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

Unlike most other neighboring Papuan languages, Purari (Baimuru) is non-tonal.[4]


The following basic vocabulary words are from Franklin (1973),[6] as cited in the Trans-New Guinea database:[7]

gloss Purari
head uku
hair kimari
ear keporo
eye inamu
nose pina
tooth niʔiri
tongue anae
leg ari
louse kaeriʔi
dog oroko
bird nako
egg munu
blood aro
bone laʔaro
skin kape
breast ame
tree iri
man vake
woman aʔe
sun lare
moon ia
water ere
fire iau
stone rore
name noe
eat navai
one monou
two leʔeo


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Purari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b New Guinea World, Oro – Wharton Range
  4. ^ a b Petterson, Robert. 2019. Interesting Features of Porome: An Isolate Language of PNG. Paper presented at the LSPNG 2019 Conference. 30pp.
  5. ^ a b c Holmes, J. H. (January–June 1913). "A Preliminary Study of the Namau Language, Purari Delta, Papua". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 43. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland: 124–142. doi:10.2307/2843165. JSTOR 2843165.
  6. ^ Franklin, K.J. "Other Language Groups in the Gulf District and Adjacent Areas". In Franklin, K. editor, The linguistic situation in the Gulf District and adjacent areas, Papua New Guinea. C-26:261-278. Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University, 1973. doi:10.15144/PL-C26.261
  7. ^ Greenhill, Simon (2016). "TransNewGuinea.org - database of the languages of New Guinea". Retrieved 2020-11-05.

Further reading