Senu River
Senu River region, Papua New Guinea
Linguistic classificationOne of the world's primary language families
kwom1263  (Kwomtari–Nai)
Kwomtari-Fas languages.png
The neighboring Kwomtari–Nai and Fas language families

The Senu River languages are a small language family spoken in the Senu River watershed of Papua New Guinea. They consist at least of the Kwomtari languages, Kwomtari and Nai, with several additional languages more distantly related to them.


The family consists of at least the two relatively closely related languages Kwomtari and Nai.

Baron (1983)

Baron adds the highly divergent language Guriaso:

Guriaso shares a small number of cognates with Kwomtari–Nai. Baron (1983) considers the evidence to be convincing when a correspondence between /ɾ~l/ and /n/ (from ) is established:

Gloss Guriaso Kwomtari
Verb suffixes
(1pl, 2pl, 3pl)
-nɔ, -mɛ, -no -ɾe, -mo, -ɾe*
dog map mau
ear mətɛnu futɛne
crocodile mɔməni maməle
small tɔkəno tɔkweɾo
nose apədu tipu**

* Compare Biaka -ɾo, -mo, -na.

** Metathesis of /p/ and /t/.

Usher (2020)

Usher further classifies Yale (Nagatman) with Guriaso, and adds Busa, all under the name "Senu River".[1]

Senu River (Kwomtari–Busa)

Confusion from Laycock

There has been confusion over the membership of the Kwomtari family, apparently due to a misalignment in the publication (Loving & Bass 1964) of the data used for the initial classification. (See Baron 1983.) Because of this, Laycock classified the Kwomtari languages as part of a spurious Kwomtari–Fas family, which confusingly was also often called "Kwomtari" in the literature. However, Baron sees no evidence that the similarities are due to relationship. Usher likewise discounts the inclusion of the Fas languages. See Kwomtari–Fas languages for details.


  • Baron, Wietze (1983). "Kwomtari survey" (PDF). ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Laycock, Donald C. (1975). "Sko, Kwomtari, and Left May (Arai) phyla". In Stephen A. Wurm (ed.). Papuan languages and the New Guinea linguistic scene: New Guinea area languages and language study 1. Canberra: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University. pp. 849–858. OCLC 37096514.
  • Loving, Richard; Jack Bass (1964). Languages of the Amanab sub-district. Port Moresby: Department of Information and Extension Services. OCLC 17101737.