South Bougainville
East Bougainville
Bougainville Island
Linguistic classificationOne of the world's primary language families
  • Buin
  • Nasioi
Solomons language families.png
Language families of the Solomon Islands.
  South Bougainville

The South Bougainville or East Bougainville languages are a small language family spoken on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. They were classified as East Papuan languages by Stephen Wurm, but this does not now seem tenable, and was abandoned in Ethnologue (2009).


The languages include a closely related group called Nasioi and three more divergent languages tentatively classified together under the name Buin:

Proto-South Bougainville


Ross reconstructed three pronoun paradigms for proto-South Bougainville, free forms plus agentive and patientive (see morphosyntactic alignment) affixes:

I we you s/he, they
free *ni(ŋ) *nee DL
*ni PL
*da SG
*dee DL
*dai PL
*ba SG
*bee DL
*bai PL
patientive *-m *-d *-b
agentive *a *o *i or *e *u
SG: singular; DL: dual; PL: plural


A detailed historical-comparative study of South Bougainville has been carried out by Evans (2009).[1] Reconstructed Proto-South Bougainville lexicon from Evans (2009):

Proto-South Bougainville reconstructed lexicon
Gloss Proto-South Bougainville
blood *ereŋ
bone *kōna
ear *rome
eye *rutɔ
fat, grease *titi
guts *kō
hand (arm) *komɔ
head *bore
knee *mī
left (hand) *mɔre-
liver *nonɔŋ
neck *kuru
nose *keni
right (hand) *mē-
tongue *meneŋ
wing *kupɔ
three *be-
four *kɔre-
ten *nɔraŋ
brother (older of male) *batato
brother (older of male) *tāta
child *tōtō
daughter (my) *norɔ
father *bomɔ
husband *bɔ[m,ŋ]
man *nugaŋ
mother *bōko
person *nɔmm[e,ai]
name *mīŋ
son (my) *nuri
wife *bana
cloud *kɔmo
dust *rɔmo
garden *kɔti
island *mɔto
ocean *maira
sand *piti(a)
sea *piruŋ
sky *pɔn(iŋ)
sun *rua
water *doŋ
betelnut *mōti
branch *āgu
coconut (tree) *mou
fruit, seed *tinaŋ
leaf *pɔda
mango *baiti
sugarcane *tɔnɔŋ
sweet potato (*ane)
tobacco *buru
tree *koi
(tree) trunk *mono
bird *bɔrege
dog *masika
eel *baramɔ
fowl, chicken *kokore
rat *koto
bad *orara
big *pɔn(n)ɔ
black *muŋ[i,o]
cold *kamari
dirty *kumi
far *iti-
hungry *perɔ
long, tall *iti-
old *uri-
sick *tipɔ
thick *mōtu
warm, hot *tɔkɔtɔkɔ
white *kākɔtɔ
fall *ru-
flow *tū
go *be-
push *tūme
put *ti-
turn *bero-
breathe, live *roma-
cough *k(o)u-
die *bō
drink, eat *nai
hear *tarɔ-
sleep *ati-
smell *nū-
spit *tutu-
suck *muti-

Austronesian influence

South Bougainville words of likely Proto-Oceanic origin:[2]

language family pig fence left fish back shark
Nagovisi South Bougainville polo para akona- kalege vilo
Nasioi South Bougainville poro parang mare- taki bilo'
Buin South Bougainville uuru holo mori- iana muure paaoi
Motuna South Bougainville huuru horo mori- koringi muuri pakoi
Proto-Oceanic Austronesian *borok *bara *mawiri *ikan *muri- *bakiwa
Torau Austronesian boo barabara mairi- iala mudi- vavoi
Uruava Austronesian boro bara iana pou- bakubaku
Mono-Alu Austronesian boʔo karaka iana aro- baʔoi


South Bougainville languages have SOV word order, unlike the SVO Oceanic languages.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Evans, Bethwyn. 2009. Beyond pronouns: further evidence for South Bougainville. In Bethwyn Evans (ed.), Discovering history through language: Papers in honour of Malcolm Ross, 73-101. Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University.
  2. ^ a b Stebbins, Tonya; Evans, Bethwyn; Terrill, Angela (2018). "The Papuan languages of Island Melanesia". 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. 775–894. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  • Structural Phylogenetics and the Reconstruction of Ancient Language History. Michael Dunn, Angela Terrill, Ger Reesink, Robert A. Foley, Stephen C. Levinson. Science magazine, 23 Sept. 2005, vol. 309, p 2072.
  • Malcolm Ross (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages." In: Andrew Pawley, Robert Attenborough, Robin Hide and Jack Golson, eds, Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples, 15-66. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.