Native toPapua New Guinea
RegionMorobe Province
Native speakers
2,100 (2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3tmy

Tami is an Austronesian language on the Tami Islands and in a few villages at the tip of the Huon Peninsula in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. It is not closely related to the other Huon Gulf languages, but like other North New Guinea languages in Morobe Province, its basic word order is subject–verb–object (SVO).


Tami distinguishes five vowels (i, e, a, o, u) and the following consonants (Colich 1995). Voiced obstruents do not occur in syllable-final position, while glottal stop only occurs at the end of a syllable.

Bilabial Labiovelar Dental Alveopalatal Velar Glottal
Voiceless p pw t k -c [ʔ]
Voiced b bw d j [d͡ʒ] g
Prenasalized mb mbw nd nj ŋg
Nasal m mw n ŋ
Fricative v [β] s
Liquid l
Approximant w y


Traditional Tami counting practices begin with the fingers of the hands, then continue on the feet to reach twenty, which translates as 'whole person'. Higher numbers are multiples of 'whole person'. Nowadays, most counting above five is done in Tok Pisin. An alternate form of the numeral 'one', dan, functions as an indefinite article. Distributive numerals are formed via reduplication: lualu 'two by two', tolatol 'three by three' and so forth (Bamler 1900:204).

Numeral Term Gloss
1 te 'one'
2 lu 'two'
3 tol 'three'
4 pat 'four'
5 lim 'five, hand'
6 lim ma te 'hand and one'
7 lima ma lu 'hand and two'
8 lima ma tol 'hand and three'
9 lim ma pat 'hand and four'
10 limantalu 'hands both'
20 damo monte 'person whole'



  1. ^ Tami at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)