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Middle Yuat River
Yuat River area, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Linguistic classificationOne of the world's primary language families

The Yuat languages are an independent family of five Papuan languages spoken along the Yuat River in East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. They are an independent family in the classification of Malcolm Ross, but are included in Stephen Wurm's Sepik–Ramu proposal. However, Foley and Ross could find no lexical or morphological evidence that they are related to the Sepik or Ramu languages.

It is named after the Yuat River of northern Papua New Guinea. Yuat languages are spoken mostly in Yuat Rural LLG of East Sepik Province.[1][2]


The Yuat languages proper are:


Foley (2018) provides the following classification.[3]

Yuat family

Changriwa and Mekmek are attested only by short words, and are tentatively grouped as separate branches by Foley (2018: 226) due to scanty evidence.


The pronouns Ross (2005) reconstructs for proto-Yuat are:

I *ŋun we *amba
thou *ndi you *mba
s/he *wu they ?

Mundukumo and Miyak pronouns are:[3]

person Mundukumo Miyak
1sg ŋə ŋə
3sg u u
1excl i ni
1incl abə aba
2pl ya be
3pl wa vara

Vocabulary comparison

The following basic vocabulary words are from Davies & Comrie (1985),[4] as cited in the Trans-New Guinea database:[5]

gloss Biwat[6] Kyenele (Kyaimbarang dialect) Kyenele (Miyak dialect)
head fop; fopeh ϕɔp∘ ᵽop
hair fufuimaivi; fufuimaye ϕə'ziru fusibɩľu
ear tuanhe; tundu 'twan tandu
eye siketeh; sipta 'ɕikɯ sɩpʰala
nose gerekeh; ŋerek 'ŋəŋərɩ nʌnɛlɩŋ
tooth andu; andusivahe 'ŋandu ŋandu
tongue be; behe 'mbᴶe mpe
leg gambang; geambangeh ŋkaᵐbaᵐgat∘ ŋgambaŋ
louse uta; utaeh uta wututʰoma
dog ken; kenhe kᴶɛn gɛn
pig vereh; vre βɛrɩ ƀeǏe
bird kaok; kaokhek hɔpᴶɛ wanma
egg momoateh; mumuat 'majmuma wanmuma
blood amberaeh; ambra ambara ambala
bone amfuva; amfuvaheh amϕu amᵽuwa
skin gamfuin; iaveteh 'vɨza nᵽɩsakʰ
breast meru; meruhe mi miřu
tree mung; mungeh mu
man foakpa; fuakpahe aβɨd aƀɷt
woman arepa; arepahe mᴶe miandu
sun va; vaeh βanma ƀanma
moon mumere; mumereh 'gəŋat∘ ŋgɨŋat
water mam; mumeh 'maŋam maŋam
fire mehen; men mɨn mɨn
stone ghateh; yiak mɨndəm mɨndɩm
road, path maikua; miakuahe maj mayt
name vu'geh; vuŋ wuŋ
eat ueh jiveh; u-u give ɕɛnɕɛn tšɛntšɛntšuƀa
one nategeh; natek ŋajkə ŋaykʰʌkʰ
two arauu; aravueh aɽawi aǏawin


Yuat languages distinguish inclusive and exclusive first person pronouns, a feature not found in most other Papuan languages. This tyopological feature has also diffused from Yuat into the Grass languages, which are spoken contiguously to the Yuat languages.[3]

Yuat grammar and phonology are similar to those of the neighboring Ramu languages.[3] Yuat verbal morphology is relatively simple.[3]: 230 

Yuat languages are accusative, unlike many other Papuan languages, e.g., Trans New Guinea, East Cenderawasih Bay, Lakes Plain, South Bougainville, which are all ergative.[7]

Word order in Yuat languages, like in the Yawa languages, is rigidly SOV, whereas in many other Papuan families, OSV word order is often permitted (as long as the verb is final).[7]: 920 

See also


  1. ^ Eberhard, David M.; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2019). "Papua New Guinea languages". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (22nd ed.). Dallas: SIL International.
  2. ^ United Nations in Papua New Guinea (2018). "Papua New Guinea Village Coordinates Lookup". Humanitarian Data Exchange. 1.31.9.
  3. ^ a b c d e Foley, William A. (2018). "The Languages of the Sepik-Ramu Basin and Environs". 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. 197–432. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  4. ^ Davies, J. and Comrie, B. "A linguistic survey of the Upper Yuat". In Adams, K., Lauck, L., Miedema, J., Welling, F., Stokhof, W., Flassy, D., Oguri, H., Collier, K., Gregerson, K., Phinnemore, T., Scorza, D., Davies, J., Comrie, B. and Abbott, S. editors, Papers in New Guinea Linguistics No. 22. A-63:275-312. Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University, 1985. doi:10.15144/PL-A63.275
  5. ^ Greenhill, Simon (2016). " - database of the languages of New Guinea". Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  6. ^ SIL (1975) & SIL (1976)
  7. ^ a b Foley, William A. (2018). "The morphosyntactic typology of Papuan languages". 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. 895–938. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  • Ross, Malcolm (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages". In Andrew Pawley; Robert Attenborough; Robin Hide; Jack Golson (eds.). Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp. 15–66. ISBN 0858835622. OCLC 67292782.