Western Dani
RegionHighland Papua, Indonesia
Native speakers
(180,000 cited 1993)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3dnw
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Western Dani, or Lani, is a Nuclear-Trans-New Guinea language. It is the Papuan language with the most speakers in Indonesian New Guinea. It is spoken by the Lani people in the province of Highland Papua.

The Baliem Valley tribes are called Oeringoep and Timorini in literature from the 1920s, but those names are no longer used.



The consonant phoneme inventory of Western Dani has been described as follows:[2]

Consonant phonemes
Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
plain lab.
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
prenasal ᵐb ⁿd ᵑɡ ᵑɡʷ
Fricative β ɣ ɣʷ
Flap ɾ
Lateral l
Approximant w ɹ

At the beginning of words, oral stops have aspirated allophones [pʰ, tʰ, kʰ, kʷʰ]; intervocalically, voiceless /p t k / have voiced allophones [β d ~ ɾ ɣ ~ ʁ], for instance following the prefix no-/na- meaning "my".

Word-initial Intervocalic Word-final
/p/ [ ɐɾum ]


[ nɔβɐɾum ]

‘my corn’

[ ɐːp ]


/t/ [ owe ]


[ nɐɾowe]

‘my bird’

[ ɐɾet ]


/k/ [ ɒm ]


[ nɐɣɒm ]

‘my taro’

[ lek ]


An intervocalic /ɣ/ is pronounced as [ʁ], and a /ɹ/ before a high vowel becomes a fricative [z].


Vowel phonemes
Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e ɒ ɒː
Low ɐ ɐː

Vowels /i, u, ɒ/ have allophones [ɪ, ʊ, ɔ].

Vowel length is contrastive in Western Dani, as illustrated by the minimal and near minimal pairs below:

Quality Short Long
/e/ vs. /eː/ / teʁe /


/ tʁe /

‘drive away’

/ɐ/ vs. /ɐː/ / ɐɣe /


/ ɐːɣe /


/ɒ/ vs. /ɒː/ / kɒɾɒk /


/ kɒːɾɒk /


/u/ vs. /uː/ / jum /

‘net bag’

/ m /



  1. ^ Western Dani at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Barclay, Peter (2008). A Grammar of Western Dani.